It’s not all about you

Recognizing that it’s about “us”, not about “me”. That’s what makes some of us radical, and some of us liberal or libertarian. It’s not enough to slap a bit of liberal feminism on our radical leftist politics. If you’re going to be a radical, then BE a radical.

“Somewhere along the way ‘the personal is political’ became – not about the way that patriarchal society shapes the detail of women’s lives, not about the commonalities of experiences and certainly not about the social and political forces defining and constraining what it is to be a woman – but about identity, the individual, empowerment, the freedom to choose, the freedom to excel, to achieve.

“The conflation of empowerment and the personal – as an individual, not social being – as the political undermines collective action to dismantle the structures upholding inequality. Emphasising self-determination and personal achievement is conservative, it protects the status quo if it stops us from recognising or caring about the barriers that others face. Autonomy, choice, agency, empowerment are at best tools, political means not ends. If we confuse them with our goals then we might as well watch the chance to create a fairer and more just society for all slip through our fingers.”

Karen Ingala Smith

Last week, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner released a report on the impact of pornography on young people. Tweets about this report from the perspective on an organisation working with women, young people and children elicited responses including the following:

“so improve porn. Don’t ban young people from seeing it. Porn is a healthy aid to masturbation. It’s just badly done.”

“Telling women they’re debased by sex. Feminism.”

“I’m sick of people shaming porn. I’ve been watching porn since I was 11. It’s a healthy part of my life.”

Since then, the voices of so-called pro-porn, pro-sex-work and tory-feminists have started to sound increasingly similar to me. The young woman defending porn as a healthy aid to masturbation, the sex-worker celebrating her mastery of her craft or the former-tory politician describing that hard work that she had to undertake to reach the lofty heights of power, to my ears…

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Pimps Posing as “Sex Worker Activists” « My Body the City: The Secret Life of a Callgirl

Pimps Posing as “Sex Worker Activists” « My Body the City: The Secret Life of a Callgirl.

“But pimps don’t like that word. So these founders and leaders of ‘sex worker activist’ organizations say they’re sex workers. They appropriate the identity of those they exploit. It’s a bit like a plantation owner in blackface pretending to be one of the slaves they oppress. They’re trying to steal our survivor voices.
“Douglas Fox, the main ‘activist’ at the International Union of Sex Workers, claims to be a male sex worker. But he and his partner John Dottery were featured as the owners of a large UK escort agency in the British documentary ‘The Escort Agency.’ On a website he co-edits Fox states his partner owns an escort agency and argues ridiculously that pimps are ‘sex workers.’”

The piece Stella Marr links to in this post should tell you all you need to know about “sex worker unions”.  Fox claims that pimps “share equally” in the sex work business.  He whines that pimps work longer hours than any prostitute.  Hey, asshole, do you or any of your pimp buddies face rape, beatings, and dehumanization at the hands of misogynist johns?  I thought not.

Frederick Douglass

I originally wrote this piece for Righteous Anger.

Douglass, as most of us were taught in grade school, was a former African-American slave who fought for the abolition of slavery.  We aren’t often told that he was also one of the very few men who also fought for women’s rights.  While the female abolitionists were almost all women’s rights activists, as well, most of the males were not.  In fact, when Lucretia Mott and other women attended an 1840 worldwide anti-slavery convention in England, they were refused seating.  Douglass not only fought for the freedom of his African-American men, but also for the women–white and black–who fought beside him and lived as chattel of white men.

Beyond his fight to end the lives of African-Americans and women as property, his speeches should give strength to anyone who fights to end injustice of any kind.  In the speech he delivered in Rochester, New York on July 4, 1852, he had the following to say:

“I will not equivocate, I will not excuse”; I will use the severest language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, shall not confess to be right and just….

The words of Douglass speak to my manner of approaching injustice.  I am not one to plead.  I am not one to beg.  I am not one to cajole.  I am one to express moral outrage where moral outrage is required.  It’s my firm belief that this is the only way to win “hearts and minds”.  People are moved to act when they see something they simply cannot accept for one minute longer.  Logic and discussion have their places, but Righteous Anger is what inspires people.