Renegade Evolution (who is brill) has a rather lovely takedown of a particular poster’s, um, “arguments” against supporting sex workers. Not the porn industry, not porn itself, but sex workers.
Think on that for a second.
Now, look, I don’t want to become all “no true Scotsman”-ey. I know that there are problems with an industry that men construct to serve male pleasure. I know that there are feminist issues with working in such an industry. I know that an enormous amount of porn is explicitly degrading to women, and in fact, if someone says, “porn is degrading to women,” I am not inclined to disagree.
But when someone says, “You don’t support sex workers,” and your response is, “Well, we also don’t support drug dealers, bank robbery, embezzlement, arson, murder and a host of other things even tho women do them. Oh! How rude of feminists not to support all the choices of women!” then you Do. Not. Get. It.
You are not a true feminist, and I am revoking your card, and it was Andrea Dworkin who died and put me in charge.
You can critique the sex industry. You can critique sex work. I will even allow that you can critique the decision to go into sex work, but I would not do it, because you do not know all of the everything it is to be her, and unless you are willing to wrest agency out of her hands, I would suggest you not imply that she is acting the role of a puppet, rather than a person.
The thing you absolutely cannot, cannot do is say that sex workers are not women who deserve fair pay, worker’s compensation, and all the other rights afforded to people doing what is, in fact, relatively taxing, dangerous work. You especially cannot do this by making an appeal to the bloody criminal justice system, which is not precisely a floating orb of social justice, vacuum-insulated from the patriarchy that birthed it.
I don’t want national borders to exist, but that doesn’t mean I ought to say, “Immigrant women? Fuck ‘em. They broke the law, don’tcha know?”. I don’t want race to exist, but that doesn’t mean I get a free pass to ignore the particular issues faced by women who are not of mine. I don’t want capitalism to exist, but that doesn’t make the gendered effects of poverty somehow not a feminist issue.
You don’t want the for-men-controlled-by-men sex industry to exist but that does not give you the ability to, as a “feminist,” shit on women doing sex work. It does not give you the ability to erase their agency. It does not give you the ability to erase their rights. It does not give you the ability to erase them.