When I began university as an undergraduate, in 2003, I was far from calling myself a feminist. Like many New Zealand school leavers, I had heartfelt but fledgling convictions and, feeling poorly informed, scarce confidence in them. For me, resistance meant making posters targeting the beauty industry that I never pasted anywhere, and fantasising with my friend about throwing eggs at a billboard on the local shopping mall that advertised cosmetic surgery with the line Be all you can be. I didn’t feel I had the voice to defend these actions, so I didn’t do them. It angered me that these industries could profit from instilling shame in girls and women and in me, leaving us to do little but starve ourselves in response.
The misogynists I spent my high school years with, who also sought to instill me with shame at every opportunity, managed to go under my rage radar. I took their behaviour for granted. I never questioned that it was inevitable that boys were going to follow me home from my job, toot and shout at me from cars when I walked home from school, vocally imagine me re-enacting porn scenes, call me a wench, make oral sex gestures at me across the room in class, or pressure me to pash them at parties. I swallowed the justification that “boys will be boys”, and simply shrunk myself to fit the little space that was left after they had finished taking up everything to which they were apparently naturally entitled.
By eighteen, I was enrolled for university. I was nervous, believing that most other first year students would be far smarter, sexier and generally ahead in life than me – but I was also excited. Studying was going to transform my sense of shame, expand my shrunken self and offer me the tools to help me mobilise the social conscience I carried so uneasily. Universities have a statutory role to do just that, and I was hungry for it. It embarrassed me that I still participated in World Vision 40-hour famines, just because I didn’t have any better ideas about how to respond to social problems as pressing as global poverty; it embarrassed me as much as being called a “wench” at school embarrassed me. I felt childish, but believed that at university, I would grow up.
Over the three years of my Bachelor of Arts degree, I was gradually introduced to theories of postmodernism and cultural relativism. In hindsight, it is actually as though these paradigms are designed to disperse and dissipate the energy trapped inside a restless social conscience. In art history, which was my major, discussions of “women’s art” tended to be highly sexualised – women make art about “the body” – as though we are cadavers, and as though the association of man to mind and woman to body is avant-garde and not the oldest sexist dichotomy there is. Such misogyny is difficult to oppose, without alternate frames of reference, and seeking those is difficult when you are fed the idea that there is no truth, because “truth” is relative and mythical. By the time I came out of university, I was disoriented, confused about where “culture” ended and human rights began, none the wiser about feminism, and still deeply ashamed.
My experience studying at Victoria University’s education faculty in 2011 is what first truly politicised me. Signing up to study in order to take responsibility for classroom after classroom full of children made my bullshit radar much more sensitive: I expected to be trained to meet that responsibility and wasn’t going to accept any less. Through that lens, it was easy to see that the university in its current form is in fact not a conscience-driven institution at all, but a neoliberal one. I saw how the way that literacy is taught to student teachers, for instance, is not only incidentially slow to fix the literacy gap in our country, or cumbersome; on closer inspection, the theories and methods with which the university operates are actually part of the reason we have a literacy gap in the first place. I saw how the university is not only laissez-faire in offering solutions to social problems, but that it is part of the system that manufactures, maintains and exacerbates these problems.
By 2013 I met Pala Molisa, a ni-Vanuatu academic at Victoria University’s business school whose work is profoundly influenced by the feminism of his mother, Grace Molisa. My eyes were opened to a body of literature I was never introduced to at university: feminist literature. Real, feminist literature that helped me understand the issues that plagued my conscience, like global poverty, which is not by accident largely a women’s burden; and the predatory beauty industry practices I always loathed. It also helped me dig further to recognise and confront the ways I was treated by my peers in adolescence, and the shame that produced. It taught me how that behaviour was connected to the porn addictions that I was aware of, but took for granted – and how this addiction fuels an industry that affects the women inside it in worse ways than it did me.
I have seen many a student stop Molisa on the street to thank him for his work as a lecturer and tutor, and he is an academic of which Victoria University should be proud. He is the exception to the rule in New Zealand, where universities are anything but feminist institutions.
By 2016 I started to see that what was true of the literacy gap is also true of misogyny: the university is not just a bit “slow” to contribute to addressing systemic crises and injustice, it is engaged in bonda fide promotion of the mechanisms that fuel both. This makes sense wherever the predominant narratives and explanations for culture and social norms are relativist and postmodern, because where the grounds for objecting to injustice are shaky it cannot be readily resisted. If women cannot resist, default misogyny will prevail, and it will be promoted, because that is where the profit and the overwhelming pressure is.
Massey’s Massive magazine proved this in its March issue in 2016, which sported a manga-style cover to sell a sensationalised story about the increasing numbers of female students entering prostitution to pay their way through study. This article was not just a one-off. Both Massive and Salient magazines are engaged in routine sex trade promotion, detailed on this blog previously. The Press Council, an an industry body, supports both outlets to keep this up: they dismissed a complaint about the Massive cover in 2016, and another in 2017 about Salient’s history of sex trade promotion. It is no wonder: the Press Council is comprised of industry representatives including journalists from tabloid media. Not giving a thought to the impact on women when magazines show us being objectified is their daily bread: business as usual.
The campus sex trade promotion engaged in by outlets like Salient and Massive obviously does not begin with student contributors, who would not be able to repetitively publish the same perspectives on prostitution year upon year if these views did not have an originating source. That source is certainly not women in prostitution, who are overwhelmingly poor, disproportionately brown, and wield no influence over media and certainly not in shaping which narratives become commonplace. The sex trade lobby though, waits at every turn to make mascots of women who will parrot the notion that “women love sex work” – and student media, which loves to present itself as dangerous and risqué, is happy to take the cue.
Student magazines often attribute responsibility for sex trade promotion to guest editing women’s or “feminist” or “queer” groups and associations on campus. These groups in turn follow the lead of Gender Studies departments, as well as the sex trade lobby itself. The grassroots-sounding New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective (NZPC) is the New Zealand branch of an international sex trade lobby that operates as the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) and is the organisation behind the red umbrella logo. It is also responsible for normalising the phrase “sex workers”, which it admits encapsulates the pimps involved in running this lobby, and it encourages women to embrace the term “whore”, a tactic that Salient obediently followed through with in 2017. NZPC maintains close contact with many student groups and magazines, and in 2010 was found actively recruiting Chinese students on Auckland University campus with its Chinese language pamphlet Working in New Zealand.
As for Gender Studies departments: these usurped Women’s Studies late last century, as part of the backlash against second wave women’s liberation struggle. Many feminists have written about this backlash, the book The Sexual Liberals and the Attack on Feminism a notable anthology of records and perspectives on it. One local product of this misogynist backlash is NZPC programmes coordinator Calum Bennachie. A Gender Studies “academic”, Bennachie actually singled out Sheila Jeffreys, one of the authors in the Sexual Liberals anthology, in a 2010 article published in the NSWP newsletter. The article, titled Their Words Are Killing Us, uses Jeffreys as an example of the kind of feminist writer who is actually directly responsible for causing the violence in prostitution, since describing its exploitative nature supposedly generates the so-called “stigma” that in turn leads to violence. Few better examples can be found of how Gender Studies academics are actually involved in developing the doublethink of pro-prostitution, anti-feminist backlash.
In New Zealand, the complementary ideas that women can become responsible for violence just through perceiving prostitution as exploitation, while punters are merely lonely men who women in prostitution “choose” to allow to fuck them, are institutionalised and mainstream. NZPC promotes these idea with the help of government funding, university backing, and representation in both tabloid and leftist print, radio and digital media. It is an irony that the position that “women choose sex work” has become so boringly ordinary whilst still being presented as a “marginalised” perspective every time. You can find all number of articles in leftist media, tabloid media, university papers and journals, radio, magazines, that make a claim that “as a sex worker my voice is marginalised”. Please.
Full and comprehensive accounts from women who call themselves prostitution survivors, because they reject prostitution as either “sex” or “work”, are completely lacking. Where can we read or hear the voices of women who feel lucky to have got out of prostitution while they could, or still struggle to exit, without their words being steamrolled or twisted or undermined for industry’s sake? Only in the work of the feminists who men like Bennachie actively rail against and seek to censor and have no-platformed.
Really – can nobody see what is going on here?
It should go without saying that university research should not be bias toward industry and industry slogans. As long as academics favour industry bodies, they will alienate those actually prepared to provide the critical and conscience-driven accounts of profit-driven ideologies that universities have a statutory role to seek out. Academics who participate in reinforcing the NSWP’s “sex work is work” party line contribute to the marginalisation of survivors, and are in direct breach of their reponsibilities as intellectuals. Despite this, one consequence of the full decriminalisation, and therefore the legitimisation, of prostitution in New Zealand is that academic sex trade lobbyists are now a dime a dozen.
All of New Zealand’s major universities host pro-sex trade academics. Bridie Sweetman is a legal advisor for NZPC, and works alongside Gillian Abel, Lisa Fitzgerald, and Cheryl Brunton who generate pro-industry research at Otago University. Irene de Haan works with Natalie Thorburn at Auckland University on research that would be critical, if it did not call prostituted children “child sex workers” to promote an ultimately pro-sex trade stance – a stance Thorburn also takes to her role as Women’s Refuge policy advisor. Also at Auckland University, Madeline V. Henry works alongside Panteà Farvid, whose wordy and tangled views on prostitution include the notion that being a supporter of this hypercapitalist industry is “Marxist”.
Farvid recently guest-edited an entirely one-sided “sex work” issue of the Women’s Studies Journal. Her word salad editorial, while arguing that sex trade advocates are Marxists even though prostitution commodifies sex, also states that the industry is not sexist, even while it is “gendered” and allows punters’ behaviour to go under the radar; that it involves “asymmetries” of power, but is not abusive, and that it is somehow “disruptive” in a feminist sense because it makes the universal sexual and economic exploitation of women under patriarchy “more transparent”. This issue, which made no attempt at balance, let alone conscience-driven critique – also featured several contributions from NZPC, alongside Polly Stupples from Victoria University’s Geography department. Stupples’ article, about prostitution in Vanuatu and its prevalence, is titled “’I stap long blad’ (‘It’s in the blood’)”.
In her essay Prostitution and the New Slavery, published by Spinifex Press, Vednita Carter critiques such essentialist, sexist and racist explanations for why most prostituted women are women of colour. “Racist stereotypes in the mainstream media and porn portray Black women as wild animals,” she writes, “who are ready for any kind of sex, anytime, with anybody.”
Everything about African-American women is sexualised in pornography, even our efforts to win civil rights for our people. Another porn magazine ‘quotes’ a Black woman saying, ‘Black power comes in many forms, this is my favourite one: a big juicy chocolate jism stick totally filling my mouth.’
As Carter states, it is no woman’s inborn destiny to be sold as “brown sugar”, “black meat”, “black bitch” or “black ass” – to name a few tame examples of how pimps and punters refer to women of colour. As both Angela Davis and Catherine MacKinnon have pointed out, the idea of black women having innate, irrepressible, animalistic sex drives is typical to narratives promoting slavery based on both race and on sex – by now, any academic who supports the idea of prostitution as destiny should see female students and feminist groups on campus boycotting lectures.
Alongside Stupples, Victoria University was also the stomping ground of Bennachie, NZPC’s aforementioned programmes coordinator, who is currently involved in a sex trade lobby and academic collaboration geared openly and explicitly toward sanitising language and discussion around sex trafficking. Lynzi Armstrong, also from Victoria University, demonstrates how this sanitisation works in Farvid’s “sex work” journal: the circumstances in which trafficked women are exploited get glossed over with the language of “migrant sex work”. So-called “migrant sex workers” are unfairly disadvantaged in New Zealand. This is not because they are lured overseas, often from marginalised communities, often under false pretences, often trapped through debt bondage, passport confiscation and threats of deportation and then bribed into enduring long hours of assault whilst pimps keep the money. No. They are unfairly disadvantaged because our laws, which still criminalise the prostituting of women on temporary visas, unfairly restrict the opportunities foreign women have to travel across the world in order to be fucked by the New Zealand boy racers, abusive husbands, farmers, rugbyheads, hipsters and corporate wankers who are so clearly internationally sought after.
Armstrong is now managing a project with assistance from Cherida Fraser, another pro-sex trade academic associated directly with NZPC, who is based at Victoria University. Her callout for sex trade research participants (predictably, for “sex workers” to interview), recently posted on Facebook, was decorated with the NSWP red umbrella logo. This exemplifies the current academic landscape with regards to prostitution, and the engagement I had online with Fraser was also illustrative of a typical studied ignorance and disregard both for prostitution survivors and the university’s critic and conscience role among sex trade academics today.
Nothing exemplifies this disregard, though, quite as clearly as this testimony from April 2016, which was published on social media by a woman who had just returned home from a shift in an Auckland brothel that she, and every other woman she knew there, hated being stuck in.
So me and my bestie got booked by a woman tonight. She said she worked in corrections (sex offender stuff) and that she used to manage a brothel, and that she’s written about prostitution for the uni (I assume auckland uni) and that she considers herself a feminist but is pro-porn and pro-prostitution. I did not mention my position on the topic, she booked us for 3 hours. Words cannot describe the level of awkward.
The disregard sex trade academics have for women who are sexually exploited also influences campus culture a great deal. When Auckland University Students Association hosted an on-campus “Sex Week”, we need look no further to understand why this event was as desperately faux-avant garde and “risqué” as the high school boys I used to know, and the sex trade lobby slogans are. Handing out blindfolds and handcuffs on campus is a pathetic plea for social capital that makes a mockery of the already pallid concept of “consent education” these same organisations purport to passionately advocate.
This climate also replicates another dynamic that campus feminism simultaneously claims to abhor: the demonisation of women in the face of explicitly sanctioned male sexual entitlement. When universities hand out handcuffs during “Sex Week”, publish accounts of women loving “sex work” in student media, publish papers on how prostitution is “in the blood” of indigenous women, and host seminars on the question of just how much women love pornography, this amounts to a great deal of pressure on female students to step up and sexually peform. When they do respond accordingly – like when a 30-year-old woman e-mailed her lecturer with an invitation to sex in Bali in 2016 – guess who does face consequences? The woman in question was suspended from Auckland University.
Remind me again how we are living in a “postfeminist milieu”? Because while this student was suspended, NZPC faced no consequences for trying to recruit Chinese students on campus; Carwyn Walsh was not suspended for publishing an image of a woman being raped from behind on the cover of Massive; Bennachie’s academic career is not affected at all by the fact that he has spent years disseminating booklets to women through NZPC that instruct them on how to tolerate demand for anal penetration, and to yell “FIRE” if someone tries to rape them in the back of a car. These men remain unscathed despite their blatant promotion of abuse, whilst a woman without any power to abuse is banished for sending a forward e-mail. This, incidentally, is the same double standard we see in jurisdictions where women in prostitution are criminalised but pimps and punters are not; the same dynamic results from a fully decriminalised sex trade that also does nothing to address male power to victimise and assault. In New Zealand, under a policy of full decriminalisation that normalises prostitution, university academics act like a pimp lobby, whilst females who do nothing but comply with their messages are still found guilty.
This double standard is not only woman-hating, it is contrary to the university’s statutory obligations. Academic research is not supposed to be bias toward any industry – academic research should not favour industry bodies or sport industry logos. It would not be acceptable for a human geography academic to publish a call for oil industrialist interviewees decorated with the British Petroleum logo; or for an anthropologist to seek fashion industry interviewees through a callout covered in Nike ticks. Neither of these would attract the voices of those who carry a weighty testimony that speaks to violence, exploitation and devastation. Equally, it is totally inappropriate to see academics doing call outs for interviewees in prostitution that promote the red umbrella. This is not only sexist and biased, it is corrupt.
It is time that students pushed back. Students have a history of protest because students have a role to play in social change: critical thinking should be based on looking at the impacts that dominant ideologies have on those who might be negatively affected by them. Once it is clear that a particular ideology serves a few at the expense of many who are wounded by it and by its implementation, that ideology needs to be challenged by all who can see its harm, until it is changed. This is the kind of awareness that universities should encourage students to value and engage – this is their role.
Given the corporatisation of universities, of which sex trade academics are one expression, students cannot rely on waged staff to feed and mobilise their consciences nowadays – it will not happen. Today, students need to take it upon themselves to use the resources available to them to think critically and from the conscience. It is up to students to take initiative in actively protesting the promotion of the sex trade going on in their university: the ideological and industrial promotion, and the direct promotion to female students of getting fucked for money as a viable career option. No female student will be able to undo the effects of being violently raped by a punter or a pimp, once it has happened; nor will she be able to hold the university that made the industry appeal to her accountable after the fact. Students must begin speaking out and organising collective resistance now, before more students take the bait that is so prevalent on campus. In a word, it is time for students to tell sex trade academics: Time’s Up.
26 thoughts on “It's time students told pro-sex trade academics: #TimesUp”
This just inspired me to write my own post about my experience with the sex-positive Campus Women’s Organization of Pitt I attended.
Excellent! Link it here after you do!
Ha ha, now I actually have to get down to business and write it past the first paragraph…
Here it is. A bit tired from work so not as extensive as yours….:) https://anthrofeminist.blog/2018/02/03/sex-toy-parties-and-working-in-porn-my-cwo-experience/
A terrific, beautifully written piece of writing.
Moral clarity (and simple fairness) seems increasingly to be subsumed under some pseudo-hip “up-for-it” vibe and false claims of empowerment (which Dworkin warned of). The winners and losers? Same as ever.
I’ve just been emailed a link to this piece and I am shocked by what you have written here about me and the article co-written by myself and Masters student Kate Burry. It makes me think you haven’t actually read the article because the point it makes is exactly the opposite of what you claim. I urge you to read the article and then think again about your comment about me, as it is inaccurate and very offensive. I am open to talking to you at any time about the article and its findings, and your opinions.
I urge you to reconsider the term ‘sex worker’. Due to the ubiquity of that term the Modern Slavery Act has now put sex-trafficking in the same category as ‘forced labour’, essentially equating being raped by multiple men every day with being forced to pick potatoes. So it would be a great thing if academics , media and the general public all stopped using the term altogether. In this you even refer to a 17 year old child as a ‘sex worker’. The use of the word ‘agency’ is problematic . While seemingly being appreciative of patriarchal structures and a focus on Christianity, you missed the boat by not clearly using the word patriarchy. Look it up. You also had an opportunity here to talk about how the idea of reducing stigma against prostituted girls and women is really a tool used as a deflection from the stigmatisation of men who sexually use and abuse us. The men doing this are paying sexual abusers, and the men you call ‘mediators’ are pimps. As an indigenous sex-trade survivor (of both the legal and illegal kind) it is, I think, it is incumbent on academics to use appropriate language when it comes to male violence, where ever it happens.
Thank you for this piece Renee Gerlich. Despite academics claiming otherwise, their insistence on calling this ‘work’ is leading to pro sex-trade lobbyists entering remote communities here in Australia and talking about prostituted women as ‘workers’ as opposed to victims of sexual abuse. It may seem an innocuous thing for me to keep focussing on but prostituted women really are discussed as specimens . (The idea of a ‘sex worker specific methodology’ is just stunning frankly). I’m not sure what to even say about that in the context of such obviously brutal male violence. And if we are told that ‘stigma’ is the problem rather than male violence there is little value in most academic papers other than to normalise sexual exploitation. No matter how often they mention gender-roles and inequity they never quite bridge the gap between what is happening vs not making waves to upset the status quo. Which is another reason groups such as the Scarlet Alliance and so on can target students (who are often poor even if they are fortunate enough to make it to uni) at university career days calling prostitution a career option. Also like to point out that you didn’t target one paper in particular but pointed to various instances of academic violation and those who are upset about you mentioning them might want to consider what the entirety of your piece is about. (As in read it 😉 ) It is the endemic failure of academia to put it’s head above the parapet and say enough is enough to the preferred,coddled language of virtue-signalling. While I understand individuals may feel a bit upset at being included in this piece I’m glad to see in this instance some want to reach out to you to discuss. But there is so much codswallop in the face of such an URGENT problem I despair. Maybe we’ll get somewhere here . Thanks again for the piece.
Thank you for your comment. I have edited my article in response to your comment on my piece, but please note that my objections remain. I did read your article, despite being profoundly put off by the title, to put it politely. I received the original call for papers for this journal early last year, and I cannot understand how anyone could respond to a call for papers on so-called “sex work” – meaning the journal issue would be clearly bias in favour of the sex trade lobby – with an article on indigenous women called “It’s in the blood”. I really do not know how you could think that it was an appropriate, or a good idea to head an article about indigenous women being subjected to simultaneous sexual and economic abuse with the title “It’s in the blood”. It is really hard to fathom that decision. It is also hard to fathom the fact that the title remained in place throughout the editing and publication process.
I also do not believe that your article allows you to dissociate from the sexist, racist and essentialist implications of its title quite so easily. Your article pays lip service to the abuse women face in prostitution in Vanuatu, but there is not a single passage that makes your objection to this abuse clear at all. On the contrary – you continue to refer to ni-Vanuatu women who are prostituted as “sex workers”, as though this is somehow a vocation, and prefer to wax philosophical about “body work”, “agency”, the “body as text” and “bodies without organs” than to talk about colonisation, oppression, routine and systematic rape and sexual violence, resistance and feminism. I believe that your willingness to write pseudo-philosophically about the systemic abuse of indigenous women without opposing it, or indeed examining the history and status of indigenous women’s opposition to prostitution, has implications that are indeed uncomfortable.
The phrase “sex work” implies that prostitution is both “sex” – i.e. that it is mutual – and that it is “work”, rather than abuse. Calling women in prostitution – and even one seventeen year old girl – “sex workers” already sanitises and condones both male violence and colonisation – and paedophilia.
Perhaps you do not see prostitution as an instrument of colonisation, then? It seems not, or you would not call it “an important option” and an “opportunity” to earn income. If it is not an instrument of colonisation, then perhaps you see it is an indigenous practice. And if on top of that, you do not see it as a form of male violence, which it also appears you do not, then the implication is that it is by nature an indigenous women’s practice. The very basis of your argument, and the language that you use, and your apparent opposition to the criminalisation of pimps, does, actually, suggest that to you, “sex work” is “in the blood” of indigenous women. And this is essentialist, sexist and racist. There are entire feminist organisations – like Af3irm and Indigenous Women Against the Sex Trade – that exist to oppose frameworks like the ones you have relied on for this article. Where is your discussion of the resistance Pacific women wage against the sex industry?
I understand that academia comes with various pressures, but I am not an academic myself, I am a blogger. Incidentally, unemployed because of the sex trade lobby. So please do not expect me to swallow the word soups that academics concoct when they awkwardly combine postmodernism with so-called “rights” based frameworks in order to philosophise about women’s oppression without naming it.
I’m sorry if it offends you, but I am tired of pro-sex trade academia, I am tired as a woman, as a woman who sees its wider social impacts and their escalation, as a woman who wants male violence to end, and as a woman who was once a student and needed lecturers and teachers who were prepared to help me recognise, and not relax, the boundaries I had not yet learned to assert for myself at eighteen. I am no threat to you, but I believe that work like your article, produced and disseminated from a position of privilege and influence, is disingenuous and irresponsible and only serves to further distort conversations on colonisation, male violence and women’s rights.
You have told me that you are willing to engage in dialogue. That is great – please seek out anti-prostitution academics and start a dialogue with them.
I’m an exited sirvivor of the sex trade and I just tried to read what you and Kate Burry co-authored. What I saw was jargon laden snobbery designed to keep prostituted and formerly prostituted women out of the conversation. What apalls me even more is how little is actually being stated amongst it all. The use of Pro-Trade lobby language to describe prostituted women, pimps, child molestation and commercial sexual exploitation sanitises an abusive worldwide slave trade numbering at 42 million people; 81% of which are women and girls.
I, as both an exited woman and public speaker on the sex trade, really don’t appreciate intellectual wankery masquerading as authority. We are the experts on our own exploitation and we are capable of speaking on our own behalf using inclusive language.
… Except you utterly fail to differentiate between pro-industry and pro-rights. You might want to A.) check the facts on you’ve completely misinterpreted the meaning of one of the quotes you have here (i.e. bastardised its actual use in the article mentioned), B) rethink some of your pretty tenuous claims about who’s doing what work (one of the academics mentioned has never even done prostitution research), and C.) question whether you are making false equivalences between corporations such as Nike and non-profit, rights-based organisations. Of course when you’re recruiting for a sensitive study you showcase your credentials by making it clear you’re not anti-sex workers , because why would a potential participant trust you otherwise? This reeks of white feminism and white saviour-ness.
Thanks for your comment. You might need to clarify the points you make here.
First of all, I do not fail to “differentiate between pro-industry and pro-rights”. Please see the analysis of NSWP – people may believe it is a “sex worker rights” group, but it is not, it is an industry lobby. That should not need to be explained: equating prostitution with “sex” and “work” is sanitising, and what’s more, for the NSWP so-called “sex workers” include pimps, who are represented by and run the lobby. Think about this for a second. The NSWP, who is responsible for popularising the Orwellian notion of “sex worker rights” is in fact not concerned about anyone’s rights, but about profit. Again: THINK about this.
Secondly, if you think I have misinterpreted a quote, you might like to mention what quote.
If I have included the name of an academic who is not involved in prostitution research, I apologise in advance – which academic have I mentioned that you believe I am wrong about?
Lastly, no, I am not making false equivalents between corporates like Nike and the NSWP, which is not a rights-based organisation. It represents pimps.
As for your accusation of “white feminism” – lol! Nice try! I’ve heard that before and I absolutely do not take anyone seriously who levels the accusation of “white feminism” at women who oppose prostitution. It actually implies that prostitution is somehow special to or precious to indigenous women, a comment I have heard somewhere before – and it is racist and ridiculous.
I especially love the accusation of white feminism in light of your mention of the organization Indigenous Women Against the Sex Trade and the fact that you specifically mention ni-Vanuatu resistance. Do they think these organizations and individuals are brain-washed by white women? That they are incapable of their own thought processes? Jesus Christ.
Pingback: Sex Toy Parties and Working in Porn: My CWO Experience – ANTHRO FEMINISM
Hi Renee, I feel that your anger here is pretty misguided. The article written by Kate and Polly is absolutely focused on the exploitation of women and young girls here in Vanuatu (where I live). I agree, the title is controversial when taken out of context and your frustration with some of the language used such as “sex workers” is justifiable in some way. But let me make this clear, as women we are not here to further divide and dismiss each other when in fact we are all fighting under the same cause. The article that was published is an important step towards beginning a conversation and starting to change the way prostitutes and sex workers (whatever they may be called) are treated in countries where they have no rights (as in Vanuatu). So to dismiss their article and put people (women) down who are actively trying to change things is not helpful. After all, are we not all on the same side here?
I’m a prostitution abolitionist. I’m on the same side as other prostitution abolitionists. Just to be clear.
And Daria, “they” are not “prostitutes” or “sex workers”. They are women. In this context, prostituted women. For future reference. Nobody calling any woman a “sex worker” is making any positive steps toward social change. Especially not if they are also going to call prostitution an “opportunity”, an “important option”, and talk about “middle men”, “paid sex”, “lower status body work” (!!) and whatever the hell else. Just no. Absolutely NO.
“Nobody calling any woman a “sex worker” is making any positive steps toward social change.”. Except that you being a prostitution abolitionist, as you grandly term yourself, actually translates to you being an armchair warrior while the rest of us are actually out doing the work (I gather your work quite rightly took issue with your oppressive anti-trans sentiments and fired you, so evidently you’re not joining us in actually supporting women). Those that you criticise, on the other hand, are actually working with women – hundreds of them. Yet you feel you’re entitled to pass comment (which does largely go unchallenged, because others don’t have that much fucking time on our hands like you do to write about feelings and opinions, because, you know, actual work) on their lives, based on your opinion and that of your chosen few? I’m sure that makes you feel really good about yourself, but let’s face it – you’re not contributing to positive change, because your ‘work’ is basically self-gratifying indulgence. And, for Christ’s sake, the word you’re looking for is ‘biased’, not ‘bias’. Correct your damn tenses.
Have you finished with your “real work” for tonight now, Jay? Attacking a woman on her blog comments with speculation and spelling corrections while ignoring all the survivors commenting right above you? Are you quite done with your big serious contribution to the world for tonight now hon?
Because I’m quite done with your rambling. So you might as well call it a night because you’re not coming back here, kay? Find some new entertainment. Goodbye.
Hi, Renee! I belong to a platform of Translators for the Abolition of Prostitution in Spain, and I’m currently translating this article, which I find extreeeeemely interesting (I was in academia, in the field of women’s studies. until not long ago) for our blog. I hope it is ok with you to have it translated 🙂
I just deleted my previous comment – yours came into my e-mail and I made a mistake about which article it was under. I’d be honoured if you would translate this piece. Thank you so much!
Thank you so much, Renee! I’ll send you the link once it’s posted on the blog. (This will take a while, since the article quite long and it will have to revised by another colleague when I finish it.)
Pingback: Longtime U.S. feminist challenges NZPC “gatekeeping” | Feminist Legal Clinic
Pingback: INTERVIEW: Renee Gerlich on the fight for women's rights in New Zealand
Veryy thoughtful blog