"When someone tells me she has feminist concerns with sex work, knowing that sex work is my only solution to the problem of poverty, I have a lot of trouble taking her feminism seriously because she is not taking the reality of my life seriously. Acknowledging that “there has to be a better way” isn’t good enough. I need to not live in poverty. Not after the revolution. Right now. Knowing how I feel about some feminists’ disregard for my experiences of intersecting oppression, if someone offers me a version of feminism that doesn’t confront its own colonizing or transphobic practices, I’m not going to take that very seriously either."

Reblogged from sexworkerproblems February 17, 2012 by clownyprincess

To the would-be sex work abolitionist, or, ‘ain’t I a woman’? | rabble.ca (via workingsex)

When someone tells me she has feminist concerns with sex work, I tell her to fuck off.

But the above is good too.


Reblogged from abimused November 9, 2011 by clownyprincess

abimused:

I ask myself this question ALL THE TIME!

Because fashion trends progress, evolve and shift (hem hem, don’t forget Chanel was responsible for the mini-skirt), not to mention the attitudes enshrining women’s fashion, presentation, bodies and freedom of expression. Neither are superior, they’re just different. 
I prefer vintage fashion too, but I’m not going to take a photo of 3 very pretty girls (total strangers to me besides) who are clearly having a good time together as friends - I mean, it’s not even a model shoot, it’s someone’s private photo that some asshole has picked up somewhere and slapped some text over - and imply that there’s something wrong with them because they’re dressed in modern-styled clothes & are styled in a contemporary fashion. 
Sooooooo bored and sick of the ‘women had more class in the olden days’ rhetoric (it’s not true. They dressed and groomed to the times. Women still smoked, drank, swore, fucked, backstabbed, bickered, cheated & anything that suggests they didn’t was a carefully constructed Hollywood fantasy).
So bored and sick of the overvaluing of notions of ‘class’ full-stop. Just another set of ideas designed to trap women and hold us hostage to constantly pleasing another instead of ourselves.
This reminds me of a similar macro which has a super-glam studio shot of Marilyn on one side and a candid social photo of a modern girl on the other looking a little worse for wear (is it Snooki? Can’t remember) with the same caption…
… it’s such a joke. I idolise Marilyn, but the woman didn’t spend her life as a frozen-fully-made-up-glamour photo. She also boozed and took a LOT of drugs. And she was promiscuous. None of that is a big deal, in my opinion - except that, like these women of the 1940s above, she is being used as a paragon of ‘class’ and ‘modesty’ and ‘virtue’ against modern girls. And actually, she was as fallible and human - and even as TRASHY and boozy and CHEAP - as any girl today. 
This isn’t even about fashion, these little ‘comparisons’ that get floated around the web. In the end, this is, once again, about shaming women for not behaving. For all we know,  those modern girls are virgins who only drink soda and those 1940s dames are high on coke and off to an orgy. But who cares when they look so ‘classy’ and so therefore can be used to shame every girl today for not knowing her place, right? 
Edit: two other points of interest:
1. The woman often credited with ‘bringing back’ vintage glamour - Dita Von Teese - also did hardcore porn. Yes, it’s hardcore, I’ve watched it.
2. The fashion of the 20s was pretty much headed in a modern direction with shorter and shorter skirts, dramatic straight hairstyles and lots of women engaging in ‘unfeminine’ behaviour such as campaigning for women’s rights & snorting heaps of cocaine - with skinny figures being favoured to boot. The reason it changed and went back to modest, hyper-femininity was because of the Depression. The Depression motivated a renewed valuing of ‘old’ traditions and values. Women’s fashion went back to conservative and very feminine styles to encourage women to go back to their ‘rightful place’ as homemakers and modest examples of virtue. The evolution of 30s-40s fashion was, in this way, a subterfuge way of repressing women.

abimused:

I ask myself this question ALL THE TIME!

Because fashion trends progress, evolve and shift (hem hem, don’t forget Chanel was responsible for the mini-skirt), not to mention the attitudes enshrining women’s fashion, presentation, bodies and freedom of expression. Neither are superior, they’re just different. 

I prefer vintage fashion too, but I’m not going to take a photo of 3 very pretty girls (total strangers to me besides) who are clearly having a good time together as friends - I mean, it’s not even a model shoot, it’s someone’s private photo that some asshole has picked up somewhere and slapped some text over - and imply that there’s something wrong with them because they’re dressed in modern-styled clothes & are styled in a contemporary fashion. 

Sooooooo bored and sick of the ‘women had more class in the olden days’ rhetoric (it’s not true. They dressed and groomed to the times. Women still smoked, drank, swore, fucked, backstabbed, bickered, cheated & anything that suggests they didn’t was a carefully constructed Hollywood fantasy).

So bored and sick of the overvaluing of notions of ‘class’ full-stop. Just another set of ideas designed to trap women and hold us hostage to constantly pleasing another instead of ourselves.

This reminds me of a similar macro which has a super-glam studio shot of Marilyn on one side and a candid social photo of a modern girl on the other looking a little worse for wear (is it Snooki? Can’t remember) with the same caption…

… it’s such a joke. I idolise Marilyn, but the woman didn’t spend her life as a frozen-fully-made-up-glamour photo. She also boozed and took a LOT of drugs. And she was promiscuous. None of that is a big deal, in my opinion - except that, like these women of the 1940s above, she is being used as a paragon of ‘class’ and ‘modesty’ and ‘virtue’ against modern girls. And actually, she was as fallible and human - and even as TRASHY and boozy and CHEAP - as any girl today. 

This isn’t even about fashion, these little ‘comparisons’ that get floated around the web. In the end, this is, once again, about shaming women for not behaving. For all we know,  those modern girls are virgins who only drink soda and those 1940s dames are high on coke and off to an orgy. But who cares when they look so ‘classy’ and so therefore can be used to shame every girl today for not knowing her place, right? 

Edit: two other points of interest:

1. The woman often credited with ‘bringing back’ vintage glamour - Dita Von Teese - also did hardcore porn. Yes, it’s hardcore, I’ve watched it.

2. The fashion of the 20s was pretty much headed in a modern direction with shorter and shorter skirts, dramatic straight hairstyles and lots of women engaging in ‘unfeminine’ behaviour such as campaigning for women’s rights & snorting heaps of cocaine - with skinny figures being favoured to boot. The reason it changed and went back to modest, hyper-femininity was because of the Depression. The Depression motivated a renewed valuing of ‘old’ traditions and values. Women’s fashion went back to conservative and very feminine styles to encourage women to go back to their ‘rightful place’ as homemakers and modest examples of virtue. The evolution of 30s-40s fashion was, in this way, a subterfuge way of repressing women.


Reblogged from thelaughingcrow April 14, 2011 by clownyprincess

thelaughingcrow:

“But what about her responsibility as a creator” SHUT UP. I was getting to that. Objectively speaking her only responsibility as a creator is to weave tales to engage the mind and stimulate our imaginations, she chose to go beyond that responsibility, to rise above it, presenting characters in her media as positively as she can regardless of race, gender, station, sexual preferences and all those minute differences which the human race seems to take an almost childish delight in pointing out.

Are you GENUINELY this stupid? Really? No, really. I wanna know. Because dude, damn, your idiocy is BREATHTAKING. 
Stimulate our minds and imaginations, is, objectively, YES, her only true responsibility as a storyteller.
But guess what, buddy? “OUR” minds are not just white, cissexual, able-bodied/minded, heterosexual male minds. 
The fact that you would say she is going ‘beyond’ the call of duty by being inclusive is a statement of staggering stupidity beyond all comprehension, despite the unbearable pompousness that reeks throughout. It betrays the fact that you are speaking from a perspective where so-called ‘minute differences’ are apparently OTHER - not actually a part of ‘our’ reality. 
NO. DIPSHIT. NO. The world comprises of much more than the MINORITY (white, cissexual, able-bodied/minded, heterosexual male) privileged population comics and other media currently focus on. 
The role of storytellers is TO TELL STORIES THAT ENCOMPASS OUR WORLD AND BEYOND, THAT WE CAN CONNECT TO, RELATE TO, BE STIMULATED BY, SEE OURSELVES WITHIN, BUILD UPON… stories, since day DOT, have reflected REALITY even if they go larger than life, because it is through stories that we preserve our history, learn about ourselves and explore the themes, passions and ambitions that compel us. 
THAT INCLUDES EVERYBODY’S.
NO CONTEMPORARY WRITER IS GOING BEYOND THEIR RESPONSIBILITY by being inclusive. Fuck me, the mythology and legends of old are littered with themes that POSITIVELY explore and/or depict issues of race, genderqueerness, homosexuality, feminism, classism, even disability… fucking Hephaestus, a GOD, was CRIPPLED… because all of these aspects have ALWAYS been part of the human identity and experience. And it IS OUR IDENTITIES AND EXPERIENCES THAT FUEL OUR MINDS, OUR IMAGINATIONS AND OUR STORIES.
Seriously. DIPSHIT.  This entire fiasco has been one long stomach-churning miasma of FAIL but when the stupid people chime in… God, I hate stupid people.

thelaughingcrow:

“But what about her responsibility as a creator” SHUT UP. I was getting to that. Objectively speaking her only responsibility as a creator is to weave tales to engage the mind and stimulate our imaginations, she chose to go beyond that responsibility, to rise above it, presenting characters in her media as positively as she can regardless of race, gender, station, sexual preferences and all those minute differences which the human race seems to take an almost childish delight in pointing out.

Are you GENUINELY this stupid? Really? No, really. I wanna know. Because dude, damn, your idiocy is BREATHTAKING. 

Stimulate our minds and imaginations, is, objectively, YES, her only true responsibility as a storyteller.

But guess what, buddy? “OUR” minds are not just white, cissexual, able-bodied/minded, heterosexual male minds. 

The fact that you would say she is going ‘beyond’ the call of duty by being inclusive is a statement of staggering stupidity beyond all comprehension, despite the unbearable pompousness that reeks throughout. It betrays the fact that you are speaking from a perspective where so-called ‘minute differences’ are apparently OTHER - not actually a part of ‘our’ reality. 

NO. DIPSHIT. NO. The world comprises of much more than the MINORITY (white, cissexual, able-bodied/minded, heterosexual male) privileged population comics and other media currently focus on. 

The role of storytellers is TO TELL STORIES THAT ENCOMPASS OUR WORLD AND BEYOND, THAT WE CAN CONNECT TO, RELATE TO, BE STIMULATED BY, SEE OURSELVES WITHIN, BUILD UPON… stories, since day DOT, have reflected REALITY even if they go larger than life, because it is through stories that we preserve our history, learn about ourselves and explore the themes, passions and ambitions that compel us. 

THAT INCLUDES EVERYBODY’S.

NO CONTEMPORARY WRITER IS GOING BEYOND THEIR RESPONSIBILITY by being inclusive. Fuck me, the mythology and legends of old are littered with themes that POSITIVELY explore and/or depict issues of race, genderqueerness, homosexuality, feminism, classism, even disability… fucking Hephaestus, a GOD, was CRIPPLED… because all of these aspects have ALWAYS been part of the human identity and experience. And it IS OUR IDENTITIES AND EXPERIENCES THAT FUEL OUR MINDS, OUR IMAGINATIONS AND OUR STORIES.

Seriously. DIPSHIT.  This entire fiasco has been one long stomach-churning miasma of FAIL but when the stupid people chime in… God, I hate stupid people.


Longb'ox: Comics Industry to fans: "We're sorry for everything"

Reblogged from awyeahlongbox April 14, 2011

fuckyeahlongbox:

Spontaneous parades were held across the world today after the comics industry issued a statement apologising for almost everything they’d ever done. “We’ve finally taken the time to understand the criticism we’ve been getting, and we feel really bad,” said the entire comics industry. “We’re sorry for the queer bigotry, the misogyny, the racism. We’re sorry that we continually promote straight white cis-gendered men as ‘normal’ and put every other character in the ‘too hard’ basket. We’re sorry for storylines that continue to denigrate characters of colour, female characters, queer characters. We’re sorry that we’re continuing to employ writers, artists, and editors, who think that this denigration is acceptable. And we’re sorry that for so long we’ve treated minority characters as fodder in our quest for more angst and more edginess.

“We hope that, in time, our readers will be able to forgive us. We look forward to working more closely with our community of fans to ensure that our characters and stories respect everyone - not because we want to be PC, but because we want to really show the world, not only as it is, but as it should be.”

Forrest Wilson, a spokesperson for all comics fans everywhere, was quoted as saying, “LOL no 1 gives a shit about any of that. If their going2 apologiz about anythin it shuld be 4 makin Wolverine in2 such a pussy”


"Can We Stop Using the Term Ally?"

Reblogged from wundy-deactivated20120102-deact March 20, 2011

technicolortimecoat:

We really need to stop using the term ally. This applies to all of us in anti-oppression work, whether in the work in question we are part of the oppressed or oppressor class*. This is not about people who self-identify as allies and don’t work on their privilege and refuse to listen to members of the oppressed group, but to all people who might self-identify as an ally to an oppressed group. Ally is an inherently problematic. It:

1.) Presupposes you are doing a good job, and by its very use, is a coercive request to members of the oppressed group to give approval to the person in question, and more so, it is linked to an expectation of gratitude for attempting to do two things:

a) Acknowledge and work on** one’s privilege as a member of an oppressor class.

b) Helping to make voices of the oppressed class heard, and actively standing up in solidarity with the oppressed class.

(a) is just part of being a decent human being. If you are not acknowledging your various privileges and trying to understand what it is to be a member of an oppressor class, you going from benefiting from an oppressive system (which, as a member of the oppressor class, you can’t help but do) to contributing your energies to maintaining and strengthening that oppressive system. (b) is working in solidarity, and working in solidarity is a necessary part of a strong, broad-reaching anti-oppression movement.

2.) Distracts attention from members of the oppressed class and focuses on the self-identified ally. Anti-racist, anti-cissexist, anti-sexist, anti-ablist, anti-classist work needs to focus on the voices and experiences of the oppressed class, not the members of the oppressor class who are attempting to be decent human beings and/or working in solidarity.

3.) By self-identifying as an ally, you are building an identity on others’ oppression. This is profoundly appropriative, because it is making oppression you do not experience part of your own identity. It also furthers the Othering of oppressed classes, as it once again has people defining themselves in terms of not being the Other, and reinforcing the view of the Other at the margins.

So, if you’re acknowledging your privilege, seeing how you systematically benefit from it, and centering the concerns of those who do not share said privilege, you’re trying to be a decent human being. Congratulations. Have a cookie. And if you’re actively engaging in anti-oppression work in areas in which you’re not oppressed, you’re doing solidarity work. Just say you’re working in solidarity with members of the oppressed class. This centers the work being done, and the members of the oppressed class, and not you. Because when you’re a member of the oppressor class in dealing with a particular oppression, It. Is. Not. About. You.

*Yes, I recognize we are all variously members of the oppressor class and members of the oppressed class when it comes to various oppressions. Kyriarchy is ever shifting, and we all have some privilege, somewhere.

**By “work on” I mean being attentive to how one systematically benefits from it, and trying to center the concerns of those who do not share the privilege.

I can’t remember how I found this now. It was in a list of links somewhere online but I’ve been browsing so much today I just can’t be bothered to look again.


{ firecrackers & maple syrup }: Sex Worker Characters in Comics: What NOT To Do

Reblogged from them-witches March 11, 2011

spectralradiance:

clownyprincess:

This list is not intended to be exhaustive, more a crash-course in the simplest things you can do to avoid coming across as a vile whorephobe in your work.

What this list deals with is overused tropes and cliches that contribute to widespread misinformation and…


Important stuff, people.

I’m reblogging this to add a couple of things. I’ll edit the original post to include them, too.

Do not have your non-sex worker characters use words like ‘whore’, ‘ho’, ‘hooker’, etc

I know it tends to invite ridicule to say things like ‘don’t use those words! Those are our words!’ but - well - how else to say it? 

Like racial or homophobic or ableist slurs, or any other slurs focused on a particular aspect that is the direct reason for discrimination against a marginalised group, the ownership of those words with the purpose to reclaim is exclusively that of the group they are used against. 

This is not your language. It’s OURS. You don’t get to use it. No, not even through your characters unless your point is to draw attention to the fact your character is a whorephobic douchebag.

And THAT has to be very clear.

Words like ‘ho’ and ‘whore’ are offlimits. We use them amongst ourselves (though, like any reclaimed slur, there is debate around this), but it’s really not okay for people outside the community to adopt them, certainly not in the grotesquely casual way that so rarely goes challenged.

And no, don’t go telling me that will make your character’s dialogue ‘unrealistic’. Comics are unrealistic!!! By nature!! In intent! No one reads comics for realism!

And don’t try and flip THAT around by arguing that ‘if comics are unrealistic, you have no obligation to not write seedy, gross & exploitative stories about sex workers’. Both the issue of language and of plot choices comes back to the fact that they reinforce negative stereotypes which feeds into a broader attitude of active discrimination that has real negative impacts on sex workers’ lives. And that’s not acceptable.

Don’t give them HIV/AIDS

The rate of transmission of HIV/AIDS between sex workers and clients is so miniscule it doesn’t even register.

That’s not to say there are no sex workers with HIV/AIDS, but the likelihood of them having contracted it on the job is extremely low, as is the likelihood of them contracting Hep C or STIs. 

Why?

Because a sex worker’s body is literally OUR BUSINESS in most forms of sex work, excepting phone sex. Without our health, we cannot work. And we live in a capitalist society. We gotta be able to work.

Furthermore, because of the pervasiveness of discriminatory laws against us, we are obliged to take measures on our own initiative to protect ourselves.

This means that sex workers aggressively and consistently practice safe sex. We are educated, informed and aware about the risks, we supply our own condoms and other PPEs (personal protective equipment) such as gloves and dams, and we use them in our work with our clients, often times educating them along the way as well.

Sure, accidents happen, as they can do to anyone. But, overwhelmingly, sex workers have better sexual health than the rest of the population.

(Incidentally, in places where this isn’t true, there is also a marked lack of condoms & safe sex education available to access - which is the fault of archaic law and governments, not sex workers)

So once again this trope is perpetuating false information and actively contributing to the ongoing negative stereotypes about sex workers and sex work.


Sex Worker Characters in Comics: What NOT To Do

March 11, 2011 by clownyprincess

This list is not intended to be exhaustive, more a crash-course in the simplest things you can do to avoid coming across as a vile whorephobe in your work.

What this list deals with is overused tropes and cliches that contribute to widespread misinformation and pathologisation of sex workers.

It’s not that these things never happen or are beyond the scope of possibility.

It’s that these things are depicted to the exclusion of all other experiences and that has a negative overall effect on society’s perceptions and understanding of sex workers and the sex industry.

When you come from a marginalised group of people who are discriminated against and oppressed within society, depicting them in a very limited and narrow range ultimately has a hugely detrimental impact because people begin to overwhelmingly believe this is the default experience.

And when that perceived default experience is also overwhelmingly NEGATIVE, it enables society to continue to marginalise and oppress, to pathologise and VICTIMISE. 

And this plays into an overall culture that perpetuates the discrimination far beyond Law & Order: SVU - but into the very laws and governings that impact the daily lives of sex workers. The laws that create unsafe environments for sex workers to work in. The laws that mean sex workers have to be terrified of being outed as it may uproot their entire life. The laws that mean sex workers have no legal recourse if something bad DOES happen. 

What NOT To Do When Writing Sex Workers

1. Give them a childhood filled with sexual abuse

No really, this is paint-by-numbers pathology. Not everyone who works in the sex industry was abused as a child and not every person who was abused as a child goes onto become a sex worker. By giving your sex worker characters an abused childhood you are basically saying you believe that sex is so broken, ugly and wrong a thing that only damaged and broken people can do it commercially. This is bullshit. 

Were some sex workers abused as children?

Sure. 

But so were some lawyers and some doctors and some psychologists and some hairdressers and some salespeople and some jewellery makers and so on and so on.

The idea that abused people become so denigrated that they end up ‘selling themselves’ is offensive on a couple of levels - it demonstrates the most superficial understanding of what is a very complex reality which is dealt with in myriad ways AND it demonstrates that you believe sex work is the last refuge of the degraded, which means you have no respect for sex workers.

So how the fuck do you expect to write about them in any sort of real and sensitive way?

It also means you have some pretty fucked up ideas about sex.

No, really. If you believe sex is inherently corrupting and degrading simply because an exchange of money is involved you have some really fucked up paranoid, phobic ideas around sex. And guess what? That’s about YOU, NOT sex workers. So. Stop projecting, okay?

Either way, you clearly don’t regard sex workers as human beings enough to give them anything but a lazy and cliche background in lieu of actual character development. -Insert tragic childhood here- is just as sloppy and unconvincing a way to build character as we have all discussed ad nauseum that having a female character be raped to give her an agenda is.

2. Have them raped by a client and/or a pimp

Believe it or not, hookers and strippers do not get raped on a nightly basis. What happens between a client and a worker is negotiated beforehand and the entire process usually involves an ongoing negotiation if necessary (just like recreational sex generally does!). Sex workers develop methods of communication with clients in order to maintain boundaries. If drunk or disrespectful clients are pushing boundaries, sex workers have ways of distracting them and their attention in other ways to maintain control of the situation. Flirtation and coyness is a tactic, not a default state of being. Sex workers are not obligated or forced to see clients. Sex workers can walk out of a booking without giving a refund if the client is disrespectful. 

More sex workers work without pimps than do. Pimps are largely an overblown media fantasy. They exist, but they are nowhere near as prevalent as media would have you believe NOR are the relationships between hookers and pimps always as simplistically abusive as is ALWAYS portrayed.

But once again it is reinforcing dangerous, harmful and bluntly insulting preconceptions about sex workers because it is placing us into the fixed state of perpetual ‘victim’. And we’re NOT. Okay? We’re REAL people, with agency, with complexity, with diversity, with varied lives and experiences. Stop imagining our lives as this grotesque excursion into endlessly-violated depravity for your own sheer VOYEURISTIC satisfaction. Because that’s what it is. You like to imagine us as constantly raped because rape culture has characterised sexual abuse as something almost fucking *sexy*, something *juicy* and it’s easier to imagine it happening to sex workers because you don’t think of us as truly human, not really. 

The other reason not to do these things, apart from the fact this ‘plot’ device once again forces sex workers into a permanent victim position, is that it demonises clients and pimps. 

Now, MOST clients are just average people who want a service.

No, really. It’s really as simple as that.

They’re not base, grotesque, anti-social, disgusting perverts who just want to degrade women, trans* folk and other ‘cast-offs’ of society.

They’re just regular shmoes who want to get their rocks off. Or who want to talk. Or who want to be taught something. Or who want to experiment with something they have no one else to ask about. Or who just need a goddamn hug.

No. REALLY.

3. Give them a stalker

This also reflects the ‘permanent victim’ fixation and again demonises clients.

Stalkers, it has been proven time and time again, do not simply fixate on ‘loose’ women. Anyone at all for any reason at all can become the target of a stalker. 

Do sex workers get stalkers? Sure. And yes, they’re often clients who have become obsessed.

BUT once again, it’s about BALANCE. 

I SHOULDN’T have to be afraid of admitting that sometimes, now and again, some sex workers (out of the millions worldwide) will get a stalker. I shouldn’t have to be afraid of admitting that, but I am because I KNOW a whorephobic audience is going to pounce on that one concession and conflate it with reality. 

And when you are CONSTANTLY depicting sex workers with inherently negative lives - lives that are constantly violated in one way or another by boogeymen like stalkers and pimps and drugs - and associating those lives with our work, YOU ARE contributing to the ingrained societal mindset that sex work itself is inherently negative and that is really, really dangerous. Because it allows people to continue to justify their pathologising, victimising attitudes to sex workers, allows unfair laws and discrimination to remain intact and protected, allows the continued popularisation of false information and allows fantasy to stand in the way of fact.

And this allows the world to continue to not think of us as really human. 

AND it ALSO is just another facet of the old virgin/whore dichotomy - of rape culture. The patently FALSE notion that if you lead a certain kind of life, you will naturally attract violation and assault. That such terrible things can be avoided if only you toe the line like a good virtuous, well-behaved, complacent little virgin - but is only to be EXPECTED if you are ‘loose’, ‘slutty’, ‘trampy’ - indeed, if you’re any of the latter, well, you just DESERVE it, don’t you? Not only is this dehumanising of sex workers and permitting people to hold discriminatory and prejudicial attitudes towards us, it creates a false perception of reality, a blame-the-victim mentality that deceives people. The truth is, predators like stalkers and rapists are not exclusively ‘attracted’ to sex workers. Anyone could be targeted by them at any time. It just allows society to ignore the real problem - that BEHAVIOUR by predators and how it is nurtured and perpetuated by society - which just loves to blame the victim.

How hard is it to really imagine a sex worker without some constantly horrible thing happening to them, just leading an average life, working hard to pay the mortgage and the bills and the kid’s school tuition. Truth? That’s the most common reality. Oh, but that lacks drama, right?

You know, if you REALLY want to violate your sex worker character over and over, how about you examine how that is done LEGALLY, within the very infrastructure of the law? How about you look at the laws and institutionalised statutes that make a sex workers life and work harder for them, the stupid rules and obstructions we have to navigate just to make a living? That’s a violation too! A violation of human rights and freedom to work. But I guess that’s just not as sexy as a crying woman in her underwear tied to a bed whilst getting threatened with a knife. Vomit.

4. Have your hero save them from a stalker/rapist/serial killer/pimp

To put your sex worker character in a horribly abusive situation just to have your hero be more heroic is one of the more petty, grotesque, lazy and discriminatory plot devices you can come up with.

It’s become colloquially known as ‘fridging’. For fuck’s sake, don’t do it.

5. Kill them

Another dehumanising technique, used with rash abandon over the years on promiscuous women, queers, trans* people and sex workers alike. Even in ‘sympathetic’ stories, these ‘underdogs’ must die tragically and preferably horribly for their cause - to make a point. And that point is? To atone for their sinful lives by being scrubbed out of existence. 

GOD, IT’S SO FUCKING BORING, TRITE, ARCHAIC AND UNCREATIVE!!!!

6. Do not have your non-sex worker characters use words like ‘whore’, ‘ho’, ‘hooker’, etc

I know it tends to invite ridicule to say things like ‘don’t use those words! Those are our words!’ but - well - how else to say it? 

Like racial or homophobic or ableist slurs, or any other slurs focused on a particular aspect that is the direct reason for discrimination against a marginalised group, the ownership of those words with the purpose to reclaim is exclusively that of the group they are used against. 

This is not your language. It’s OURS. You don’t get to use it. No, not even through your characters unless your point is to draw attention to the fact your character is a whorephobic douchebag.

And THAT has to be very clear.

Words like ‘ho’ and ‘whore’ are offlimits. We use them amongst ourselves (though, like any reclaimed slur, there is debate around this), but it’s really not okay for people outside the community to adopt them, certainly not in the grotesquely casual way that so rarely goes challenged.

And no, don’t go telling me that will make your character’s dialogue ‘unrealistic’.Comics are unrealistic!!! By nature!! In intent! No one reads comics for realism!

And don’t try and flip THAT around by arguing that ‘if comics are unrealistic, you have no obligation to not write seedy, gross & exploitative stories about sex workers’. Both the issue of language and of plot choices comes back to the fact that they reinforce negative stereotypes which feeds into a broader attitude of active discrimination that has real negative impacts on sex workers’ lives. And that’s not acceptable.

7. Don’t give them HIV/AIDS

The rate of transmission of HIV/AIDS between sex workers and clients is so miniscule it doesn’t even register.

That’s not to say there are no sex workers with HIV/AIDS, but the likelihood of them having contracted it on the job is extremely low, as is the likelihood of them contracting Hep C or STIs. 

Why?

Because a sex worker’s body is literally OUR BUSINESS in most forms of sex work, excepting phone sex. Without our health, we cannot work. And we live in a capitalist society. We gotta be able to work.

Furthermore, because of the pervasiveness of discriminatory laws against us, we are obliged to take measures on our own initiative to protect ourselves.

This means that sex workers aggressively and consistently practice safe sex. We are educated, informed and aware about the risks, we supply our own condoms and other PPEs (personal protective equipment) such as gloves and dams, and we use them in our work with our clients, often times educating them along the way as well.

Sure, accidents happen, as they can do to anyone. But, overwhelmingly, sex workers have better sexual health than the rest of the population.

(Incidentally, in places where this isn’t true, there is also a marked lack of condoms & safe sex education available to access - which is the fault of archaic law and governments, not sex workers)

So once again this trope is perpetuating false information and actively contributing to the ongoing negative stereotypes about sex workers and sex work.

8. Write them with respect

All of the above are crucial factors in depicting sex worker characters with respect, but considering how you place them within a story and how they interact with other characters all contributes to the sense of respect shown for the sex worker character - by the other characters and by YOU. 

If you have your other characters-  particularly your leading characters, the ones the audience is meant to empathise/symapthise with - making snide/discriminatory/abusive remarks to the sex worker character about their ‘sluttiness’, about their work, about their lifestyle - without those remarks being corrected/chided/called-out/slammed and without that character facing any sort of censure or exile for their whorephobia you are sending a pretty fucking strong message to your reader and that is that it’s totally okay to debase and degrade a sex worker because of their work.

So WHAT if some stripper did topless movies? So. Fucking. What? If you have to write a character being evidently offended by that, rather than pass it off as comic relief - or worse, as righteous moralising - why not have another character ask them what their fucking issue is? Point out how fucking ridiculous they are being.

Like any marginalised group, sex workers simply need more balance in the way we are depicted. Overwhelmingly, our depiction is done in the most negative, fetishising and trivialising way possible, preventing any understanding of the true diversity of our experience and reducing it to one exoticised, voyeuristic cliche, used mainly to satiate some perverse ‘normal*’ person need to see horrible things happen to those they conceptualise as sub-human as well as reassure their own smug and complacent sense of self-satisfaction in what they believe to be their superior lifestyles. 

If you want to ring the bell for anti-racism, anti-homophobia, anti-transphobia, anti-misogyny, anti-ableism, anti-classism and anti-fatphobia, then know this: SEX WORKERS ARE OVERWHELMINGLY OF COLOUR, QUEER, TRANS*, FEMALE, DIFFERENTLY-ABLED, POOR AND WITH A WIDE VARIETY OF BODY TYPES.

Sex work offers a flexibility and income for people with varying intersections of marginalisation that many other industries simply do NOT. In the sex industry, people can make a good income for being ‘different’ compared to other industries where that ‘difference’ will see them discriminated against. It is VERY complex and not at all perfect but part of the solution is TO NOT:

- demonise

- pathologise

- victimise

us, not to reduce our existence to the easiest and simplest trope to write.

And all you tumbloggers out there, the ones who are sharp enough to see the subtlest discrimination in comics when it comes in form of homophobia, racism, transphobia, misogyny, ableism, classism and fatphobia then I am, as of right now, calling on you TO SEE THE WHOREPHOBIA AS WELL. If you are really serious with this anti-discrimination, struggle-for-equality objective, then you need to broaden your gaze still further and that may involve taking a really hard look at some of your own preconceptions and ideas. I am sick of feeling like I am the only person to see this stuff. It is just as important and just as relevant and just as intersectional. 

And you know what? It’s great to like this but… reblog it. This issue gets nowhere near the exposure that other issues do and it SHOULD because it intersects with all of them AND deals with humans being treated as sub-human in a variety of ways. Get it out there and try and participate. Put your politics where your mouths are.


Top Ten Ways to be a Feminist in 2010

November 16, 2010

I enjoyed this list though I wish she’d spent as much time on trans-inclusion, racism-intersectionality with misogyny and rape culture as she did on ‘bitch’.

1. Stop making rape jokes. These jokes are becoming really popular right now and they are not funny. The other day, I heard a really famous musician say, “This is my rape face!” while narrowing his eyes and wrinkling up his nose. Another man sitting nearby replied, “Every face is a rape face!” and laughed. Why is it considered socially acceptable for people to act this way? How can we stop rape if people think it is a joke?

2. Recognize white privilege, straight privilege, class privilege, and other forms of privilege that make being one kind of woman pretty different from being another kind of woman. Then, do what you can to level the playing field for all women. That means fighting racism, heterosexism, and class-ism wherever you see them. Remember that sexism is entangled in all of those forms of discrimination.

3. Support other women around you, and support women you don’t even know! In the world we live in right now, with its endless stream of reality shows, we think of our lives as games to be won, and we love to laugh when others fail. Don’t let jealousy or the competitive instinct keep you from supporting other women. Recognize that the world wants you to criticize Ms. X, and then actively decide to say something really positive about Ms. X. instead.

4. Recognize that “woman” now means a lot of different things. Doing what’s good for women always means supporting transpeople, and people who don’t identify with any little gendered boxes. In the end, we all have the same interests, which are: Dismantling those little boxes, dismantling the power structures of the patriarchy, helping everyone live the way they really want to.

5. If you have been hurt by sexual violence, domestic or relationship abuse, remember that that is not your fault. Consider this: that you are not a victim. Instead, you are a survivor. Survivors are strong.

6. Find your own path in life. Sometimes being a radical is as simple as following your heart. If you’re a girl or a woman, trying to do what you want to do can be a path fraught with many social, emotional, and psychological obstacles. Find out what being free means to you, and then try your best to live that way. If you want to wear makeup and shave your legs, that’s cool. Do it. But make sure you’re doing it because you want to, and not because you feel you have to. If you don’t want to wear makeup or shave your legs, that’s cool! Whatever! Do it your way. Make your choices freely. Mentally, you’ve got to be free yourself before you can free anyone else.

7. Read read read! To be a feminist, you’ve got to know the history of the women who came before you. There are so many great books on the women’s movement of the 70’s, and there are lots of great books on the early suffragettes, and there are books by bell hooks and Angela Davis, and there are books by Adrienne Rich and Audre Lorde, and now there’s even a great book about the history of riot grrrls! Reading can give you powerful ideas, and can inspire you to create your own ideas too. If you don’t know what to read, then ask a friend! She probably has a recommendation.

8. Stop referring to women as bitches. I am really tired of hearing the b- word used so often, and casually, as if it doesn’t have any meaning at all. Right now, many young, self-described political liberals, who do not use the f- word to refer to queer men because that word is offensive, still use the b- word regularly as a way to refer to the ladies. Why is the word bitch now classified as a slang term, and not as a serious insult? I’m not sure what the real cause is, and there are probably a lot of contributing factors. One factor that I can think of right now is the way we’ve all been raised on a diet of crappy top 40 radio “rap”-dance crossover hits made by copycat “artists” with not much to say. (I’m putting “rap” and “artists” in quotation marks here because I think that real rap artists have a lot of important things to say, but, for the most part, these things haven’t made it onto the radio in the past decade.) In the songs we do hear on the radio, women are always the b- word, if they’re given any identity at all besides series of oddly de-constructed, almost autopsied body parts (butt, thighs, etc.) So, let’s talk about what the word bitch actually means: 1. “a woman,” 2. “a woman who gets angry or disagrees with you,” and 3. “a man who is weak, (like we expect a woman to be.)” In case you hadn’t noticed, the word’s dual, and yes, contradictory meaning functions to criticize men and women alike. Anyone who dares to cross over into enemy territory gets branded with an insulting label, discouraging her or him from ever visiting that territory again. Perhaps this is why people love to use this word so much. Like a particularly good policeman, Officer B does twice the work of any other officer on the streets. Officer B effectively enforces the boundaries between the neighborhoods of men and women. And, if you ever talk back to Officer B, if you ever challenge the authority of that word, that’s the easiest way to get labeled a bitch yourself! To me, the worst part of people’s constant use of the b- word is that it actually makes women fear they’re going to be labeled the b- word for doing anything outside the norm. This includes, but is not limited to: Women standing up for themselves, women fighting back at the social construction of gender, women getting angry about anything in general, and women asserting themselves. Ultimately, the b-word demonstrates the way in which we are constantly using language to build those infamous little boxes for men and women to live in. Let’s not forget that our language is a tool that creates meaning in the world. We don’t just describe the world when we talk—we invent that which we talk about. We make it real.

9. Get involved in an organization that helps women. This can be any kind of organization you want. It should just be a cause that you feel strongly about. If you see a need in your community for a certain kind of organization that does not exist, then start your own organization. Remember that you have power, and a voice, and that you can help change the bad things that you see around you.

10. Start a blog! (Hey, that’s what I’m doing.) So many of the world’s stories, from the ones on TV to the ones in pop songs, to the ones in the history books, are told by men. Isn’t that unfair? It means that the stories we take as The Truth often have a male perspective embedded in them. But now our generation has a secret weapon: the internet. The ability to use the internet is a real privilege that previous generations of girls and women didn’t have. So let’s take advantage of that privilege, and tell our own stories in our own voices. Self-publishing is radical, and fun! Let’s all do it!


Red Light Politics: When privilege fits in a bottle of Coca Cola

Reblogged from redlightpolitics October 9, 2010

redlightpolitics:

A couple of things occupy my mind today. Last night I joked snarked about the proposal to prevent people on foodstamps from buying soda/ fizzy drinks in New York (for the culturally different among us, soda means “bubble water”, like Perrier or Evian around these parts). One idea in that…

 You should click through and read this, it’s great.


"I went to this anti-war protest in the Spring, I believe. This was before I really dug into reading more about white privilege. There was a table that was offering information about veganism. I thought, “Cool.” I also thought it’d be a good idea for me to ask more questions at these type off things. Normally I’d just walk around and say nothing. But I was pretty determined this time to at least try to ask one question. I went to the vegan table and asked something along the lines of “How should vegans approach poor countries where food is scarce and meat is the main food source?” The question in itself is pretty privileged but I was wondering how privileged people who can eat whatever they want, whenever they want, however they want… who can choose to be so precise about their diet that they can be vegan and hate on those who aren’t vegan… how do they even begin to comprehend spreading their message to areas where the people don’t have that same ability. And I wasn’t even just talking about local, in the States, although that is definitely something to look at. But this white lady stared at me and fumbled over some bullshit answer that I can’t even remember. Something about teaching them how to garden. But I kept pressing her and then she just ignored me. Fuck you and your fucking baby chick stickers. Fuck these pamphlets about how to eat vegan and save the animals but nowhere do I see how can we help nourish the world, how we can get food into the mouths of everyone. I don’t see any of that. I don’t see discussions on food in relation to power, privilege, and race. I see cartoons of baby chicks and cows with whack ass PETA sheets on how to get protein. And yeah, I love animals. I’m a vegan. But the discussions a lot of (white) vegans are having aren’t good enough for me.
And I’ve said in previous posts that no way in hell do I want or expect everyone to be a vegan. I know wanting that is dripping with privilege and it’s disgusting. I want the entire food system to change for the better but telling people the only way to do this is to stop eating animals and animal byproducts just blows my mind. That just isn’t how shit is set up. And there are a shitload of other issues even if everyone did adapt a vegan/vegetarian diet. Can we talk about Monsanto for a minute and their monopoly on food? How this company can own the seeds we put in the ground and the food we put in our mouths? RAMBLE RAMBLE GRUMBLE BYE."

September 11, 2010 by clownyprincess

chelsea:

via yiduiqie

(via ardhra)

As a veg*n of ten years, I co-sign this!


Those Nasty Minorities Read Comics In Public Day II: Electric Boogaloo

August 30, 2010 by clownyprincess

I vote next year we up the ante and make it ‘Women, POC, Trans*, Sex Workers, Queers & Differently-Abled Folk Read Comics in Public Day’.

Let’s sock it to ‘em.

(In saying this, I note of course that many of the people who took photos this year for WRCIP were of colour, differently-abled, queer, trans and so on and by no means suggest that we are all mutually exclusive, but I do think there is value in identifying the many and often intersectional aspects of marginalisation when it comes to raising awareness about just who out there is reading comics… or, you know, breathing)


APE IN A CAPE: You Know What? (or: Anyone With Morals is Probably a Hypocrite)

Reblogged from shadoestar July 6, 2010

shadoestar:

But what about that gray area? The one where some people in one group will find certain term offensive while others in that same group won’t? Like the term “lame?” Getting wound up over stuff like that is pointless to me. To me, that points out just how futile and pointless political correctness is.

And that’s why so many people, myself included, really detest political correctness. It’s futile and seems to have done nothing but produce a lot of wound-up people and bland art.

I disagree and I think conflating political-correctness with a lack of imagination or a breakdown of creativity is problematic itself. I mean, if any art relies on being offensive to a group traditionally and significantly oppressed, maybe it’s actually not that creative or imaginative to begin with? Isn’t the objective of thinking beyond the easiness of offensiveness worth it to any artist who really wants to challenge themselves?

(I am not against parody or satire or even of being judiciously offensive in art to explore various concepts and ideologies dear to humanity. I myself have created both stories and performance art considered highly offensive in many ways, but my target is usually ‘polite society’. ;) I’m not at all about treating everything even slightly controversial as sacrosanct - but I’m also not about simply reaching or the lowest common denominator or doing it with total disregard to what it may mean to other people. Awareness and ownership.)

I do see what you’re saying re the black & white vs the grey areas.

But I just don’t see the same problems with the never-endingness of the grey area of it that you do, I guess. There is no brain-trust, in any group. There is always going to be debate around this stuff, both externally to those groups and internally. The discourse is worth having. The discourse and the debate, IMO, add richness of experience, of potential, of creativity, approach and perspective. The process of constantly breaking things down itself can be explored in imaginative and creative ways.

I think it’s important that,with regards to the grey areas, we continue to do the best we can and accept that will be ever-changing and subjective and often won’t be clear-cut or easily resolved or satisfy everyone.  It can’t - humanity is too diverse. But that’s okay. We are nothing if not an adaptable species after all…

Because there are always going to be people who dive into the black & white with gleeful malice and use the greys - this argument of degrees - as an excuse.

Thank you very much for being willing to engage with me on this. I appreciate it.