Well, I'll go to the foot of my stairs...

Often startled, frequently amused, sometimes scared; rarely speechless. Can be found at witchywoo22@yahoo.co.uk

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Witchy-woo's Wednesday Wow!

...this week comes from nectarine at Anger to Activism who, like so many of us anti-pornstitution radfems, has been accused of alignment with the religious right because of a post she made about pro-porn 'feminists' and language.

There is a multi-blog debate going on at the moment between that teeny, tiny minority of vocal, articulate and monied career prostitutes with web access and IT skills who are arguing in favour of the unionisation of sex workers in the UK (without sparing a thought for the impact that would have on the the lives of the vast majority of those unwilling sex workers who have little or no voice at all in the debate) and those of us with a slightly wider view.

The teeny, tiny minority simply don't seem to want to recognise that legitimising what men do to them has a huge and very destructive impact on the lives of every woman and girl, everywhere - sex worker or not. It's an incredibly blinkered stance.

nectarine voiced her concerns about the sexually negative connotations in language used by pro-pornstitution 'feminists' in that post she made at the weekend and, hey, guess what, she's been labelled as aligning with the right wing religious fundies! Of course! (Well, it's got to be either that, or she's a prude...)

Like nectarine, I, too, am tired of that inarticulate, unreasoned, juvenile and aggressive response from the defenders of men's absolute 'right' to sexual access to women's bodies. There seems to be no room for an exchange of ideas with most pro-pornstitution 'feminists'. Any discussion I've been able to have that hasn't ended with me being labelled a right wing religious fundie or a prude has ended up with "well, what about meeeee?" from a woman who is in total denial of her complicity in the rule of the cock over her 'sisters'.

I believe that feminism is about taking women's lives out from under men - in every respect - (that's all women, everywhere) and 'what about me' really doesn't cut it when you're arguing to legitimise the most basic subordination from which all oppression of women stems. Feminism is about the freedom to actually be human - not a commodity.

Like Julie Bindel says:

"...it is the very act of women's bodies being bought and sold by men that sustains the subordinate position of women and children on a global scale".

I just wish the pro-pornstitution 'feminists' could understand that that's how patriarchial capitalism rules all of us - women and men, those with the power to purchase versus those who are purchasable - not a whiff of anyone's humanity in there at all. And the religious right are as patriarchial as you can get.

As for the alignment of radfems with the religious right and nectarine's post, here's a taste:

I AM ANTI_PORN BECAUSE IT DEGRADES WOMEN AND TREATS THEM AS OTHER

Why am I anti the religious right?
Oh yeah because it degrades women and treats them as other.

Makes perfect sense to me....

39 Comments:

  • At 5:30 AM, Blogger lost clown said…

    Hear hear. Wonderful posts. I've noticed that people don't actually engage with my arguements, they just slander me. Which of course is awesome.

    I'm proud to be a prude! (though I think that my definition may be slightly different then the classical definition, but alas...)

     
  • At 2:29 PM, Blogger antiprincess said…

    lc - please name a time where I've slandered you and I will immediately apologize. It's not my intent to engage in that sort of thing and I feel I should be held accountable. so please, let me know where I've done you wrong and I'll try to make it right.

    I may have misinterpreted you (an accident), or disagreed with you (on purpose), but it was not my intention to say things about you that weren't true.

    I just wish the pro-pornstitution 'feminists' could understand that that's how patriarchial capitalism rules all of us - women and men, those with the power to purchase versus those who are purchasable - not a whiff of anyone's humanity in there at all.

    sounds more marxist than feminist to me - not that this is a bad thing. it's just that feminists have not cornered the market on that analysis. thinking that way doesn't automatically confer the title, nor does disagreeing with that analysis automatically strip the title away.

    I've learned a lot from the discussion of prostitution on y'all's blogs. It's certainly caused me to carefully examine some views I had before. you'd all have to agree this is a good thing, right?

    note re nectarine: are you referring to belledame's comment where she said (a direct quote):

    "No, nectarine, I recognize you as *not* being a supporter of the religious right."

     
  • At 3:45 PM, Blogger belledame222 said…

    Uh, okay: "what about me" doesn't count, because -you- get to decide what is or isn't good for "all women?" fabulous. Are we Whitney Houston now? "I'm every woman! It's all in meeeeee"

    and let me clarify something, w-w, speaking of "slander," or at least being, y'know, misrepresented? I am a dyke. I'm pretty much just *not interested* in the power of "the cock." Never have been. Real sorry I don't fit into your procrustean bed, there.

    >And the religious right are as patriarchial as you can get.

    No shit. That's kind of exactly the problem?

    There are a fuckload of links and actual citations of how Dworkin and MacKinnon's activities ' (I did NOT, in fact explicitly went out my way to NOT, call nectarine allied with the radical right, IN fact) dovetailed nicely with that of the religious right. my concern is with the *result* of that; it doesn't much matter to me how good someone's intentions are if where they lead is more repression of actual women, which I submit is where it did. feel free to address any of those concerns or bring in your own research (as opposed to MacKinnon said it, I believe it, that settles it) at any time.

     
  • At 7:38 PM, Blogger nectarine said…

    hey thanks for that, think you said it more coherently than I could

     
  • At 7:48 PM, Blogger antiprincess said…

    I should apologize - I see now where I was mistaken. nectarine helpfully pointed it out in my comments, and I apologized there too.

    I see where I misunderstood, at least as far as what belledame said to nectarine.

    no slander intended, at least not on my part.

     
  • At 8:27 PM, Blogger ms. jared said…

    amen, sister! (pun intended. hee)

    i'm writing a letter to the editor at BITCH because they're doing so much pro-porn shit these days it's really getting on my nerves. and they NEVER do any articles AGAINST porn. it's like they've got stock in suicide girls or playboy or something. jesus! (pun. again! hee.)

    xoxo, jared

     
  • At 10:26 PM, Blogger asdgasdfaserwe said…

    *long loud clap*

    Well put Witchy. Thank you for the post. Feminists have to keep speaking up against that torrent of woman hating - it is so loud and sometimes it is very difficult to distinguish the feminist voices amongst all that patriarchal NOISE.

     
  • At 10:27 PM, Blogger nectarine said…

    I am a dyke. I'm pretty much just *not interested* in the power of "the cock.

    while you may not be interested in the "power of the cock" as in an apendage of the male body it seems you may well be interested in and suportive of "the power of the phallus" as in the symbolic cock, the patriachal powerbase that fucks women over. Being a lesbian does not stop you buying into a structure that opresses women

     
  • At 11:59 PM, Anonymous Sam said…

    Actually, I went to Bitch Magazine's a site a few months ago and saw them advertising Playboy jewelry, so that "stock in Playboy" thing may not be too far off when you factor in that and their uncritical adoration of a certain Playboy columnist named Susie Bright. They bow to the bunny in sexily approved pro-pornstitution feministy ironic ways.

     
  • At 12:04 AM, Blogger asdgasdfaserwe said…

    Just to add to Nectarine's comment, in the words of Catherine MacKinnon:

    'The fact is that the materials [lesbian pornography] themselves in general are about the use of women for sex and when women are being used for sex that is about a male-dominant model of sex, whether men are doing it or not. It's not biological. It's about sex roles. Anyone can play them'.

    (The Guardian 12/04/06)

     
  • At 7:18 PM, Blogger antiprincess said…

    Today's post on my blog has a little more on the whole radfem/christian right issue, if anyone would care to comment.

    I'd appreciate any input at all.

     
  • At 7:55 PM, Blogger Amy's Brain Today said…

    Great post! Just wondering, has the post you've linked to been taken down? Because the link seems to not be working.

    MacKinnon also said, at the Dworkin Conference:

    "As to the actual misrepresentation: Andrea Dworkin was never allied with the far right and, indeed, the Christian right never supported the MacKinnon Dworkin Ordinance – not any time and not anywhere – and in both the connections of these two things, these are two items that were reports that were created by a PR firm which was hired and funded by the pornographers to flood the press with these two lies so that you would all think these two things. The reason that the Christian right didn’t support the MacKinnon/Dworkin Ordinance is because it’s a sex equality law and that is why the fundamentalists – the Islamic fundamentalists – don’t support it either."

    This is in the question and answer period of Alison Assiter's speech which WW herself transcribed.

     
  • At 9:14 PM, Blogger witchy-woo said…

    Links sorted - thanks Amy :)

    It's very clear to me that Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon were not ideologically aligned with the religious right and MacKinnon has clearly explained why that was so.

    The notion that radical feminist thinking comes from a moral rather than a political standpoint is often used by those who haven't taken the time to explore it but simply believe what they read in the press and are often seeking to denigrate radical feminism - Alison Assiter is a prime example of that.

    It obviously makes lots of us very angry when we're persistently (willfully?) misunderstood and/or misrepresented and it's tiring to have to keep saying the same thing over and over again.

    I guess we just need to keep challenging the crap and stating our case until even those who disagree with it at least have a better understanding.

     
  • At 3:38 AM, Blogger dykotomy said…

    I hear you Witchy Woo - the only part that concerns me is the definition of porn and the resulting murky waters of censorship. How do we negotiate that? And, who decides what is porn (needing censorship) and what is "art (aka writing, painting, photography, film, etc.)?" Who defines/decides??

     
  • At 1:28 PM, Blogger witchy-woo said…

    I'm not entirely sure a generic definition of pornography is helpful because, as you say, who gets to decide what is and what isn't porn and on what basis - i.e. whose agenda are we supposed to bow down to next? Very dangerous territory, if you ask me - it's an open invitation to the thought police and extremists of all kinds.

    Nor am I an advocate for censorship for the same reasons.

    Two more reasons why radical feminists don't ally with the religious right. ;)

     
  • At 2:08 PM, Blogger asdgasdfaserwe said…

    Who said we can't fight pornography without first defining it?

    We can easily distinguish materials that are gender discriminatory and all pornography falls within this category, as does a lot of material which isn't pornographic.

     
  • At 11:58 PM, Blogger spotted elephant said…

    Great post Witchy-woo! I hate that knee-jerk simplistic dismissal. Can people not realize, or, why will people not realize that life is complex.

     
  • At 9:23 AM, Blogger Kim said…

    Hey Witchy: Tough battle this anti-prostitution is. I think sometimes folks who defend prostitution just don't allow themselves to think about how, no matter how they managed to find some "good" in it (?), underneath it hurts women.
    As SE says, "the knee-jerk simplistic dismissal."

    No matter how some manage to find ways to defend prostituion, I suspect somewhere inside them a voice whispers "Bullshit" so they talk even LOUDER to drown out that voice, ya know?
    Great post -- and thanks for your sweet comment on my latest post :)

     
  • At 1:01 PM, Blogger Sarah said…

    "I AM ANTI_PORN BECAUSE IT DEGRADES WOMEN AND TREATS THEM AS OTHER

    Why am I anti the religious right?
    Oh yeah because it degrades women and treats them as other."

    Me too, oh me too hon!

     
  • At 2:02 PM, Blogger asdgasdfaserwe said…

    Kaka, that is so true; it is commonly referred to by psychologist as [remind me someone, I've forgotten the term! he he].

    When the emotional investment in a belief is that great and the belief is in disaccord with the facts the individual is presented with, the individual in question will proceed to re-interpret or dismiss the facts they are presented with in order that the belief remain intact.

    This is, as Kaka so rightly points out, commonly known as shouting LOUDLY and a porn apologist is easily identified simply by this (metaphorical) shouting.

    Must write a post about this sometime.

     
  • At 12:19 AM, Blogger dykotomy said…

    I'm not shouting loudly I'm very much interested in what everyone has to say.

    I have a question though - saying that you area against porn (and I do think it requires definition) does what? What comes next? Is it simply a matter of cleansing ourselves of negative conditioning or is it changing the world? And, I guess if anyone has answers to those I'll have even more questions! : )

     
  • At 10:12 AM, Blogger Sarah said…

    Reckon it's changing the world meself!

    BTW did you see what Nestle have done now?
    http://business.guardian.co.uk/story/0,,1784966,00.html
    Grrr.

     
  • At 2:48 PM, Blogger asdgasdfaserwe said…

    Another common characteristic of pornstitution-apologists is that they presume the right to dictate the terms of engagement.

     
  • At 5:33 PM, Blogger antiprincess said…

    "Another common characteristic of pornstitution-apologists is that they presume the right to dictate the terms of engagement."

    well, at the very least, we presume the right to know what the terms of engagement are. That's easier to do when people are clear about their terms and have solid definitions to refer back to when things get muddy.

    me personally - I'm more porn-neutral than a pornstitution-apologist. but I'll happily speak for the pornstitution-apologist (such as exists) if it makes things easier for y'all.

     
  • At 6:23 PM, Blogger dykotomy said…

    "Another common characteristic of pornstitution-apologists is that they presume the right to dictate the terms of engagement."

    Labelling and generalisations are not helpful when trying to exchange thought especially about a subject so charged for so many people.

    What did you really mean by that comment ff?

     
  • At 3:25 AM, Anonymous Pony said…

    Heh. I have to laugh at all these so-called sex-pos feminists who know so many prostitutes.

    Or better yet, they were prostitutes!!

    Or they are prostitutes!!!

    And therefore they've got the word on the subject, so you can just close your pie hole.



    Is that Danish cheese I smell?

     
  • At 9:36 AM, Blogger asdgasdfaserwe said…

    The point that you are missing, dikotomy; the point some of us have been trying to make here, is that anyone voicing an anti-porn stance will find herself misrepresented and accused of being aligned with the religious right. When I say that 'pornstitution-apologist presume the right to dictate the terms of engagement' I mean exactly that.

    I googled the words 'anti' 'porn' 'feminism' and virtually all the websites that popped up were ones criticising anti-porn feminists. Here are extracts from the first five sites:

    1. The basic argument that anti-porn feminists have is that pornography is morally wrong.

    2. ANTI-PORN & PRO-CENSORSHIP FEMINISM

    3. Anti-pornography femi- nists are actually undermining the safety of sex workers when they treat them as 'indoctrinated women

    4. Thus the anti-porn feminist position aligns itself with the move to censor pornography

    5. Exposing the fallacies of anti-porn feminism

    As you can see, many of these websites attribute to anti-porn feminists, views they do not in fact hold. More significantly, these are not anti-porn feminism websites, which is what I was hopping to find. These websites are not representative, but they nonetheless illustrate the fact that it is difficult for radical feminists to make themselves heard above the lies told about them.

    This is how porn-apologists, in fact, dictate the terms of engagement, by only allowing dialogue on the condition that we refute the accusations against us. We are thus not afforded the position of accuser, but given the unenviable position of defenders of positions we do not hold.

    This is an observation - not a label. This observation has very much to do with why many anti-porn feminists refuse to engage with the pro-porn lobby.

    I can not speak on behalf of Witchy, but it seems to me this post is about the 'in bed with the religious right' accusation often thrown at anti-porn feminists. Your own comments, dikotomy, do not address this topic, but instead point at other topics you wish to discuss. You have questions, but I very much doubt that these are asked in earnest. Rather, to me, they look more like bait: something that will reel someone into a discussion where you have, yourself, laid down the terms, i.e. let's discuss censorship or let's discuss definitions.

    I have clicked on your profile and note from your blog that you discuss the definitin of porn yourself. You have referred to the origins of the word, but failed to include the etymological meaning of it: depictions of women as whores. This is a significant omission (given that most dictionaries, online or otherwise, carry etymological information) - one that tells me something about the extent of your interest in defining pornography.

    As for anti-princess, who further up the thread invited people onto her blog: I visited your blog and was insulted and ridiculed, not very much unlike what I expected, but nonetheless hurtful seen as I'd taken the bait, so to speak.

     
  • At 1:25 PM, Blogger antiprincess said…

    Pony - I know two. a micro-minority, to be sure. but it's what I know.

    I hope that I'm not discussing the subject in such a way that it looks like I want all dissenting pie holes closed. I will be more careful in future.

    Unfortunately I don't understand the smelly danish cheese reference so if you were trying to be insulting your aim was off slightly. did you mean cheese from denmark or the cheese often found in so-called danish pastry?

    seriously - I bet you can come up with a thousand more effective insults to hurl - I'm wide open on my best day, and with your undisguised contempt for everything and everyone you see as "so-called sex positive", there must be ample opportunity for you to come up with something more incisive.

    alternately you could try to conduct a civil conversation.

     
  • At 3:23 PM, Blogger antiprincess said…

    As for anti-princess, who further up the thread invited people onto her blog: I visited your blog and was insulted and ridiculed, not very much unlike what I expected, but nonetheless hurtful seen as I'd taken the bait, so to speak.

    I asked you for a reference, politely and sincerely. you took your toys and went home. yet no one insulted you. I think a couple folks pointed out an apparent inconsistency in your behavior vis-a-vis the radfem line on power games. no insult was meant, and if you'd stuck around to prove your point you'd know that.

    basically, what you condescended to say on my blog was "you don't get it, honey, because you just don't get it." when I asked you for help in 'getting it' you coyly and slyly slithered away, saying "I'm not here to tell you what to think." And when I tried to distinguish the difference between a book recommendation and mind control, you took off.

     
  • At 4:34 PM, Anonymous Pony said…

    antifeminist:

    Sorry you don't get my sense of humour. You sex pos people have to lighten up. Really.

     
  • At 6:21 PM, Blogger dykotomy said…

    Wow! I try to enter into discussion without assumptions but I guess you got me pegged, don't you, ff?

    Thing is I'm not going to apply generalities based on your obvious judgment and rage to anyone who holds your point of view. (Not like you seem to have done to me)

    I'm a flesh and blood person, not the websites you googled, not the sum of my blog (in which I raise the same questions) and whether you like it or not I wasn't "baiting" you. But, you have baited me.

    I'm genuinely interested in understanding what anti-porn feminists believe should be a course of action - given the stance they hold.

    And, I guess, according to you, I'm unaware of how this whole comment thing works on blogs: that people aren't allowed to bounce off of other’s comments that relate to the original post? So, therefore, I was setting the agenda? Well, okay then..

    Also, was your misspelling my profile intentional?

    Seems to me there isn't much room to talk at all, so, have fun preaching to the converted (and that was NOT meant to be an inference of any religious affiliation).

    So, thanks for clarifying.

     
  • At 10:43 PM, Blogger witchy-woo said…

    The religious right object to any and all sexually explicit material on moral grounds.

    Radical feminists have no objection to sexually explicit material per se.

    Rather, the radical feminist objection is to the sexualisation of the imbalance of gender power relations through the sexual (ab)use of the bodies of women and children that underpins and reinforces sexism and the oppression of Class Women by Class Man.

    Therefore the radical feminist argument against pornography is a political argument that requires political awareness and discussion in order to effect change rather than the 'waggy-fingered' moralising of the religious right.

    Radical feminism has absolutely nothing to do with waggy-fingered moralising.

    If you're still interested in what radical feminism actually is, can I suggest you go here?

    http://womensspace.wordpress.com/2006/05/28/
    on-what-radical-feminism-is-and-isnt-2/#comments

    (scroll up)

     
  • At 1:36 AM, Anonymous Pony said…

    May I suggest a tour through the delights of IBTP for the antifemi ... er antiprincess.

    Is this a guy? This is a guy right? It's that Anthony dolt.

     
  • At 1:48 AM, Blogger antiprincess said…

    twisty and the rest of y'all raked me over the coals pretty thoroughly back in march. despite that, I still read her often.

    I like twisty's site. she's got a way with words, no doubt.

    why do people think I'm a guy? I hate that.

    still don't get the cheese joke.

     
  • At 3:29 AM, Anonymous Pony said…

    The cheese reference is from Hamlet. Obliquely.

    As for people thinking you're a guy:

    Quack. Quack.

     
  • At 12:54 PM, Blogger Spc. Freeman said…

    If I may, I have some thoughts on this subject. I firmly agree with you on many points, but I'll admit I respectfully disagree on a few others. Please, bear with me.

    I think we can all agree that the worlds of prostitution and pornography are major sources of gender violence and degradation of women. In America, the life expectancy of the average prostitute is five years. Turn on the TV, and one can see a number of Hollywood biographies covering female porn actresses whose lifestyles consumed and often killed them.

    I think it's extremely important that we concede these facts if we are to win the battle to eradicate gender oppression. That being said, I have to admit that I found some of these response to be good, but somehow "black and white." These, I think we can all agree, are complex issues. So while I join you, Ms. Witchy, in decrying prostitution as a source of gender violence, I have to say I disagree with your criticism of calls for unionization of sex work. I don't know how things work in England, but here in the States, unfortunately, many underprivileged women still turn to prostitution as a means of making ends meet, often to cope with drug addiction, and none of them can count on any protection from the health-care or criminal justice systems. If a prostitute is assaulted or robbed, she has no legal recourse, and if she goes to a hospital for her injuries, she is likely to be turned in immediately to the police as well. Most of the unsolved homicides in urban America center around murdered sex workers, and generally, the police invest little effort in delivering their killers to justice. While I agree that prostitution is generally a social evil, I think a far greater social evil exists in the unwillingness of governments to provide sex workers protection under their respective labor laws. In simply decrying the evils of prostitution by blaming one gender for its rise, we are ignoring the steps we could take to make those underprivileged women's lives both healthier and safer--and in so doing, perhaps provide them an opportunity to escape that line of work. Which, I think, is a goal upon which we can all agree.

    As for "porn," well, what kind of porn, exactly? Are we talking films filled with desperate actresses looking for their next crack fix? Or are we talking about the amateur couple who films their sexual exploits and then distributes them over homegrown web-sites? Furthermore, are we talking literary erotica, erotic art and sculpture? Couples videography? Sex, like any drug, comes in many formulas, with many different types of users and desired effects. I'm certainly willing to agree with you that pornstitution is a market dominated by men (and accordingly, men's views on women as sexual instruments), but my question is, at what point does simple sexual exhibitionism become kowtowing to Patriarchal interests? Because I do believe there is a distinct difference, and I do believe that these two extremes often get lumped under one ugly banner.

    Anyway, long story short... Want to stamp out prostitution? Ok. Soooo... make it superfluous. Ensure that those currently working in the sex industry receive their entitlements to equal protection under the law. Take the money being used to fight "The War on Drugs" and dump it into drug counseling and rehabilitation programs. Abolish mandatory minimum sentences for drug and soliciting offenders. MAKE IT SO THAT NO WOMAN HAS TO SUFFER. Don't just criticize the poor women (and occasionally young men) who engage in it as servants of the Patriarchy.

    From my experience, to paraphrase "The Boondock Saints," there is no greater evil than the indifference of good human beings.

     
  • At 3:25 PM, Anonymous Dawn Annandale said…

    "Prostitution" is a banner encompassing many different variants. I worked (willingly) for an escort agency and do not consider myself in the same situation as a Thai (as an example) teenager sold into prostitution. I had a choice, she doesn't. As a prostitute (former, I might add, with three years working experience) I would have welcomed the opportunity to belong to a union, to have had the same right over working conditions etc as every other person is entitled to in "normal" jobs. How sensible to suggest that prostitutes these willing prostitutes could register for tax and in return increase the coffers of the exchequer and therefore help finance programs as suggested directly above. Yes, I concede I am in teh minority of prostitutes, but make I make so bold as to suggest that lots of contributors to this debate are talking out of the sides of their arses - I've been there honey, I know. I did an interview on radio 4 for Woman's Hour and another of the guests wouldn't listen to the arguments put forward, insisting that that all prostitution is violence against women and children. All of it is not. Some of it is - a large proportion in fact but those of us who make an informed choice and work for escort agancies and in massage parlours or brothels more often than not do it out of choice. There are many many more who dont and you just cant lump us all together. I think the point that is being missed here is the need to tackle the route of the problem. How the hell does a 12 year old boy or girl end up selling their body for a fix ? She/he is the one that needs saving - not me. Stop moralising and do something positive.

     
  • At 3:51 PM, Blogger witchy-woo said…

    "Stop moralising and do something positive."

    D'you see?

    Even after it was spelled out in bold letters only four posts up - radical feminism has absolutely nothing to do with waggy-fingered moralising - someone is still saying 'stop moralising'. *tuts*

    Show me the moralising, please.

    And as for the "do something positive" - that indicates a pretty arrogant assumption about what people do in their lives.

    One person's take on being a prostitute, one person's experience, isn't enough to make me change my politics - particularly when (due to one of the positive things that I happen to do in my life) it totally contradicts the majority of women's experiences of prostitution I have knowledge of.

    Oh, and in case it's still not clear to anyone -
    radical feminism has nothing to do with waggy-fingered moralising

     
  • At 3:58 PM, Blogger simply wondered said…

    so tell me again: what has radical feminism to do with waggy-fingered moralising?
    boy at the back of the class looking out of the window

     

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