Anti-Libertarian Criticism

Keeping libertarians in check and exposing it as a bankrupt ideology

The Liberty of Sexual Commodification


It seems that for some so-called feminists, especially the kind of feminism that some libertarians have found convenient to promote, sexualized sadism and masochism is female liberation. We now have a celebrity “Duke porn star” who is using their choice to go into porn to help pay for their attendance at a prestigious private university as a rationale to promote libertarian arguments about the cost of higher education and privatizing schooling (note the convenient plug to left-libertarian Sheldon Richman at the end), while also identifying and being held up by some as a feminist. Some libertarians are making her a heroine and a publicity token. Things get extra odd if one investigates her work to find it to include a few examples of her being verbally humiliated and treated to sadistic sexual behavior, while her humiliator harkens to add the irony and snark of saying “this is feminism 101″.

So let me get this straight. Out of one side of their mouths, many libertarian feminists want to wield rhetoric about patriarchy and misogyny, while out of the other side of their mouths they are ideologically focused on supporting hyper-sexuality even if it involves participation in and propagation of submissive female gender roles and the very culture of sexual violence that one simultaneously frequently hears feminists talk about. Much of hardcore porn is more or less characterized by a fetishization of female submission to male sadism. While it is one thing for libertarians to support the general legal status of porn, as is normal per their view, it’s an awkward and different matter when they take the next step to basically being committed to defending and enabling the culture of porn (at least implicitly) by framing it in terms of the liberty to consent to masochism or merely as a career choice on the market that those nasty state interventions get in the way of.

I think it’s pretty clear that the S&M world has ambiguities about consent that can get it into tricky territory, and that community regularly debates among itself about that, and this is the reason for ideas like safe words. I think it may be the case that in the porn industry the lines of consent can blur as well. But even if we do recognize that,in some sense those who participate in masochistic porn are consenting, it’s consensual nature becomes irrelevant as far as recognizing that it’s a symptom of a cultural problem. It may be a decision made on the market, but it seems misleading if not bizarre to characterize it in terms of female liberation when it essentially propagates sexuality as a power play while reinforcing the idea that women are sexual objects. Does objectification cease to matter when money is involved? I don’t understand how this could be a coherent form of feminism.

For those who are ideologically committed to “sex positivity”, one is necessarily regressive if one criticizes the culture of hyper-sexuality. It’s as for them one has a one-dimensional choice between their views and a socially conservative view – surely you must be a stuffy prude who is trying to stop others from having fun and opposes sex before marriage! But what’s really going on is that some people recognize that the commodification of sexuality is a problem. Perhaps both a culture of sexual repression and a culture of normalized sexual objectification have problems. Maybe there’s a difference between genuinely free sexuality and the adoption of hyper-sexuality as a social norm or of sexuality on the market; the sexual accessorizing of human beings as dispensable tools to use power on, and sexuality as a purchasable fantasy product.

Sexuality as an object of marketing, and as something one approaches as a competitive market for consumer goods, is responsible for superficiality in popular culture and reinforces dubious gender norms. This has probably produced an overall increase in the amount of people who have no idea how to have meaningful relationships, because their idea of relationships comes from media-generated fantasy or they are part of a dating market that thrives on short-term relationships mainly revolved around sexual gratification. This does not mean I think we should normalize the repression of sexuality, but rather that we shouldn’t blindly promote it without considering its power. I observe that the cultural move since the 60’s toward unleashing previously repressed sexuality by going to the oppose extreme, in conjunction with market forces, has created a different problem of its own.

45 responses to “The Liberty of Sexual Commodification

  1. n8chz June 26, 2014 at 3:15 AM

    This was a hard, hard post for me to read. I think I endorse what brainpolice2 is trying to accomplish with this blog, but this post, wow, I don’t know what to think.

    “Porn star who is using their choice to go into porn to help pay for their attendance at a prestigious private university” has been a stock go-to item for talk TV shows for literally decades. The “debate” in venues of that type is essentially over who has the last laugh. Who is being used more thoroughly, the student whose role is as a thing for someone’s gratification, whose current career has a short shelf life, and a heavy social stigma (and that can definitely close doors of opportunity based on “morals clause” type bullshit, even if, like me, you don’t believe in such bullshit)? Or is the student who’s slaving away in some food service job, or taking on student debt, or foregoing higher education, getting the short end of the stick and basically being a sucker?

    I don’t know or care what is the answer to that one. I do respect that sex work is way outside the comfort zone of many (including myself) and I generally resent that there should have to be “hard choices” of such magnitude as between hooking (or whatever) one’s way thru school and not going to school.

    “Hyper-sexuality” is a word that isn’t in my vocabulary. Like most words that start with “hyper” (i.e. “too much”) it has the look and feel of a value judgment. Likewise, BDSM in a non-professional context is something I have no gripe with. I don’t understand it. I certainly want a world whose range of non-sexual social settings has zero place for either domination or submission. Seriously, if abolition of domination and submission is not the very definition of anarchism, then what the hell is? For all I know, maybe *DS* in sex play gets those impulses out of some people’s systems (as some say violent video games might do for people’s violent impulses) so they don’t have to bring them into places we all have to deal with, such as the workplace. OTOH, some claim more violence in video games means more violence in the real world, so who knows? I do know that pathologization of sexual orientations and practices has personally bit me in the ass in significant and life-damaging ways and that one thing I will never do is question the legitimacy of the BDSM activities of consenting adults.

    “Dubious gender norms” is a phrase you will definitely never hear me utter, except possibly in an explicitly ironic tone as in “reefer madness” or something.

    Likewise, I’m never going to stand in judgment over sex work as a career choice, with the caveat that my definition of choice is very exacting. Basically, my take in sex work is a split decision because I’m pro-sex and anti-work. If there’s a dispute or political or other rivalry between the prostitutes and the pimps, you better believe I’m pro sex-worker, because I’m in solidarity with all workers. Likewise, if it’s sex workers vs. the police, because I’m in opposition to all authority. The problem with a lot of the pro-sex work rhetoric is that it’s largely about sisters doin’ it for themselves, meaning being self-employed, or free agents, or whatever. Which is a (comparatively?) positive development, of course, but again, “if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em.”

    My thoughts on the intersection between sex and money are summed up here.

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  2. Julia June 26, 2014 at 4:06 PM

    The sex industry survives off of misogyny. I cannot imagine why an industry would exist if patriarchal structures did not exist. Granted, you will always see images of individuals engaged in sexual activity (“amateur porn”) but reducing the industry of porn/prostitution to such a thing is pretty much akin to reducing capitalism down to two individuals trading apples for bread.

    Most sexpoz really does seem more like superficial lifestyle politics than anything remotely related to feminism. Ignoring the fact that power relations are at play in sex doesn’t make those power imbalances go away. I would liken it to the people who assume a vegan lifestyle will crash the food industry: even if you’re consuming soy and carrots rather than meat and eggs you’re still contributing to Big Food and the culture which celebrates excessive eating and food faddisms. In fact, in some ways lifestyle politics legitimizes the dominant culture even further since its entire mantra rests on the notion that the only thing wrong with these structures is what people consume. So in regards to the sex industry, you have people who assume the only thing wrong with it is that women are shamed for going into it, and the solution is to thus change people’s public opinion about it rather than understanding how such an industry reproduces patriarchal values and furthers the commodification of female bodies. Then you look at the number of sex workers with PTSD and other physical or mental conditions caused by the nature of their jobs. Granted, I know of a handful of young women who have entered the sex industry on the basis that they assume lots of sex will “empower” them. These women are usually the least likely people to enter prostitution: they’re white, healthy, from middle-class backgrounds, college educated (the sec. general of the sex workers’ union in here in France has a Master’s Degree from the Sorbonne!), and had far more chances to avoid having to go into such an industry as the average prostitute, porn star, or stripper usually does. So no, I don’t think it’s reasonable to point to the one happy hooker and prioritize her narrative above all others’.

    One more thing: I question to what extent our culture is “liberated” in regards to sexuality just because we live in a porn culture. Cultures that were/are far more repressive when it comes to sexuality (i.e. the Victorians, Islamic states) saw “sex” everywhere too. I would argue, it’s how we talk about sex that makes the difference.

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    • nataliyapetrova July 3, 2014 at 10:47 PM

      Julia,

      Straight or gay males can be porn actors or prostitutes. In light of that; how is hatred of women cruical to prostitution, pornography, and the sex industry generally? Are you opposed to all depictions of sex or just commodifed ones? What’s the difference except money is involved?

      And where is your evidence for many sex workers having physical or mental conditions caused by their jobs? Or a lack of happy hookers? I have known a woman who was far from rich who became an escort and still loves her work as far as I know.

      Yes

      She had a college degree and came from an upper middle class background but split from her family.

      Same for another person I know who I suspect is not middle class in income and engages in sex work.

      I’ve de facto visited a prostitute and watched pornography in my life. In no way am I sexist.

      And at the moment bodywise/sexual orientation; I am a straight male.

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      • Brainpolice2 July 3, 2014 at 10:56 PM

        ” how is hatred of women cruical to prostitution, pornography, and the sex industry generally?”

        Hardcore porn is based largely on fetishization of submission to male sadism. So it does not at all seem like a leap to say that it’s based on hatred of women – when so much of it is based on using sexuality aggressively, getting one’s kicks by hurting women, and in foster the fantastical image of the woman as a bimbo who “deserves” to be “punished” through sexuality. The idea of a woman just “taking it” from a gang of men is largely the appeal of it.

        “What’s the difference except money is involved?”

        That money is involved introduces a whole series of dynamics that affects things – as basically all of the negative aspects of capitalism come into play. Since money is involved, it becomes an object of profit, as porn organizations as capitalist institutions are therefore incentived to make profit at all costs, no matter how much women are damaged in the process. How does the involvement of money not change things?

        “And where is your evidence for many sex workers having physical or mental conditions caused by their jobs?”

        Is this really a question? This is common knowledge backed up by plenty of research. Don’t make us do a basic google search for you. There are plenty of ex-pornstars who openly talk about the physical conditions they have to deal with because of their experience in porn.

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        • nataliyapetrova July 3, 2014 at 11:05 PM

          Bullshit

          Having watched plenty of hardcore pornography; the notion that it’s generally sadistic in the sense of physical beatings or violent coercion or other things is absurd.

          But even if true; you’re conflating sex work and pornography with the current form it takes. You can have a different kind of pornography or sex work that is not exploitiative. I think you are franky led astray by dogmatic opposition to markets here.

          “Is this really a question? This is common knowledge backed up by plenty of research. Don’t make us do a basic google search for you. There are plenty of ex-pornstars who openly talk about the physical conditions they have to deal with because of their experience in porn.”

          Actually,

          As another poster posted; this is not a settled question and many people who tout such claims have a bias against sex work in the first place.

          Even if true; that wouldn’t mean it has to be that way.

          “That money is involved introduces a whole series of dynamics that affects things – as basically all of the negative aspects of capitalism come into play. Since money is involved, it becomes an object of profit, as porn organizations as capitalist institutions are therefore incentived to make profit at all costs, no matter how much women are damaged in the process. How does the involvement of money not change things?”

          And money is not inherently capitalistic nor are all profit making ventures based on such incentives. The Lusty Lady was a worker owned strip club as one example.

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          • Brainpolice2 July 3, 2014 at 11:45 PM

            “Having watched plenty of hardcore pornography; the notion that it’s generally sadistic in the sense of physical beatings or violent coercion or other things is absurd.”

            I believe you misunderstand what I mean when I say it’s based on sadism. Outright physical beating is not necessary – how typical for a libertarian to only think of the most obvious and blatant violence. Getting off on slapping her around is sadistic. Getting off on throat fucking with breath play is sadistic. The very nature of these things involve the infliction of pain. There is nothing “bullshit” about this.

            “But even if true; you’re conflating sex work and pornography with the current form it takes. You can have a different kind of pornography or sex work that is not exploitiative.”

            I recognize the existence of “different porn”. The reality is that it is not the mainstream. What you’re much more likely to see is rough throatfucking and gang bangs, with a host of fetishes on the side.

            Obviously I’m not going to convince you of the problems that the profit motive introduce into society, because as a libertarian you are a capitalist ideologue.

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  3. Brainpolice2 June 26, 2014 at 10:31 PM

    This article captures my point pretty well from a self-identified feminist perspective:

    http://www.newstatesman.com/lifestyle/2014/03/sex-positive-feminism-doing-patriarchys-work-it

    Quote: “we’ve reached a point where sex-positive feminism is doing the patriarchy’s work for it. All those good girls who grew up fearful of breaking the rules? They’ve discovered a way to do exactly what’s required of them without acknowledging the impact on others. All the old stereotypes are alive and well, and they’re being propped up by ideological virgins claiming to be whores.”

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  4. N July 3, 2014 at 11:58 AM

    You don’t have to be a sex-negative assclench to find sex-positivity ultimately vapid.

    Anti-feminist sort-of-former sex worker FurryGirl on the empowered sex worker image (NSFW): http://www.feminisnt.com/2011/do-you-have-what-it-takes-to-be-an-empowered-sex-worker/

    And on “feminist porn”: http://www.feminisnt.com/2013/feminist-porn-isnt-a-branch-of-sex-workers-rights-its-an-obstacle/

    Or take MRA GirlWritesWhat on why reclaiming ‘slut’ is pointless: http://owningyourshit.blogspot.nl/2011/05/whats-in-word.html

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  5. Brainpolice2 July 3, 2014 at 1:51 PM

    Noor, I think the designation “sex-negative” is largely artificial, and a term mainly created and weilded by sex-positives against *anyone who critisizes from within*.

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  6. N July 3, 2014 at 5:23 PM

    I use it as roughly an umbrella term for anyone opposed to sex work generally on the basis of it being ‘exploitative’, ‘patriarchical’, or something along those lines, including feminists and traditional conservatives. Treating issues of sex work as different from that of other work-related concerns, basically. With conservative types pretty much all of them oppose sex work but with feminists the term sex-negative is more useful, though I do have a strong preference for the simple term ‘anti-sex work’.

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  7. Brainpolice2 July 3, 2014 at 10:17 PM

    I would say I treat sex work the same as other work-related concerns, in that I reject the idea that we can’t criticize it or that it’s all hunky dory just because of the shallow “consent” of signing a contract. But there is also a difference – sex work entails all the negative things that go along with conventional employment *plus* the very nature of the job being a matter of overt sexual exploitation. The obligations of the employment extend to the use of the person’s body, making it doubly exploitative in comparison to other work.

    At another level, I also criticize sex work insofar as the women involved obviously have a warped psychology. When we’re not talking about sex slavery, and the context is largely middle class white women, this is not something that people choose to do in the absence of psychological problems and abusive histories. I think that it’s ridiculous to react to an analysis of the psychological context of this as simply a matter of “sex negative” busybodies who can’t stand the thought of other people being kinky. No, this is about acknowledging social reality and not taking people at face value uncritically who claim that they enjoy their own exploitation.

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    • nataliyapetrova July 3, 2014 at 10:58 PM

      Brainpolice2,

      How would you know this about sex workers and especially all sex workers? You’re not a qualified psychologist. Do you have any evidence? I knew a sex worker with a history of abuse, but she also told me it helped her work through it.

      And another I know had no history of abuse as far as I know.

      Furthermore,

      You don’t own a person’s body in sex work nor use it in that exploitiative sense. Sex workers do and can set rules or limits to what they are willing to do just like non-commercial sexual interaction. Some people like to be other people’s fantasies up to a point, and I really don’t see the point of moralizing about it.

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      • Brainpolice2 July 3, 2014 at 11:49 PM

        I don’t claim to be a psychologist and I don’t claim to personally know a bunch of people. But I don’t believe that’s required to make my judgements.
        I’m sure replicating one’s abuse for money can “help one work through it”, in a twisted kind of way. That doesn’t mean it isn’t still twisted.

        “You don’t own a person’s body in sex work nor use it in that exploitiative sense. Sex workers do and can set rules or limits to what they are willing to do just like non-commercial sexual interaction.”

        The moment you sign a contract, you are binding yourself to rules and obligations, and in effect signing away some of your liberty. This applies to sex work as much as it applies to more normal jobs.

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    • Will May July 5, 2014 at 3:52 AM

      Yeah, I have to call bs on this. You’re obviously poorly informed about this issue, and have a desire to believe the worst about sex work (for whatever reason).

      Your concerns may be valid in black market sex work — I don’t know as much about that — but you’re so far off in regards to porn and legal prostitution that it’s painful. You sound like someone who has uncritically accepted every negative claim about sex work they’ve stumbled across. Which to be honest is pretty common, but that doesn’t make it any less wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Brainpolice2 July 5, 2014 at 6:19 AM

        I don’t see how my concerns don’t apply, in addition to black market sex work, to the sadistic depths of hardcore porn. My claims aren’t particularly based on something I read, but my experiences, observations and thoughts. In addition to that, though, I have been reading some feminist critique that makes a lot of sense to me, and some of that critique does depend on various other negative claims.

        I do not think it should be controversial or is necessarily uninformed to be responding as I am to the BS Belle Knox is being used for to promote libertarianism. This is a naive young girl who is basically a pawn in a publicity game, and who cannot be taken at face value when claiming that *some of the most denigrating porn out there* is “liberating” and immune from critique just because it’s a choice.

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        • Will May July 5, 2014 at 8:11 AM

          If you haven’t worked in the sex industry, and you aren’t basing this on something you’ve read, then your “experiences, observations and thoughts” don’t add up to much.

          Yes, there are feminist critiques. But most feminists don’t do any kind of sex work, and they can be just as clueless as you are.

          I also get the impression that Belle Knox is being used as a pawn, and it’s weird. This seems a lot more exploitative than any porn work she’s done.

          I’m also not arguing that shooting porn is liberating– it’s basically just a job.

          I am arguing against your characterization of the porn industry. It flies in the face of research and first-hand accounts given by porn actors/actresses.

          This is the big problem here:
          “not taking people at face value uncritically who claim that they enjoy their own exploitation”

          You didn’t start with an open mind and reach your conclusions due to research. You chose your conclusion, and then you decided to ignore all the information which contradicted it.

          Not that it matters if they enjoy it or not. It’s a job. They get paid. Sometimes I don’t enjoy my job either, doesn’t mean I was sexually abused as a child and now I’m punishing myself (or whatever the story is). And it doesn’t mean my job is somehow morally wrong.

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          • Brainpolice2 July 5, 2014 at 8:15 AM

            “It flies in the face of research and first-hand accounts given by porn actors/actresses.”

            What of all the first-hand accounts by those porn actresses who speak out against the industry? Do we ignore those?

            About it being “a job”, yes it is a job, but I don’t think it can purely be equated as being quite of the same nature as a more conventional job. The job entails obligation to the direct use of the body and the connotations of non-compliance get into weird territory. Conventional employment already can function to entrap people into their jobs out of practical necessity. I see the possibility in porn for this entrapment to basically amount to something extra horrific for those who want out.

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            • N July 7, 2014 at 1:08 PM

              Every job entails use of the body. Hell, construction work entails more direct use of the physical body than some sex work jobs, like phone sex operating.

              All that the experiences of unhappy sex workers prove that it isn’t a perfect job, much less so for everyone, and much more so when affected by capitalism, global disparities, and culture. I think you’ll have a nearly impossible time trying to find anyone, especially a sex worker, saying that anyone can or should do it.

              Like

  8. Anonymous July 3, 2014 at 10:58 PM

    “At another level, I also criticize sex work insofar as the women involved obviously have a warped psychology. When we’re not talking about sex slavery, and the context is largely middle class white women, this is not something that people choose to do in the absence of psychological problems and abusive histories.”

    I think you may be mistaken in this BP. This hypothesis is frequently touted and rarely demonstrated to be true. This study, for example, would suggest this assertion to be false. While I do not think it is appropriate to go by a single study, the fact there is clear contrary evidence is cause to question blanket claims on the psychology of sex workers. From the abstract:

    “The damaged goods hypothesis posits that female performers in the adult entertainment industry have higher rates of childhood sexual abuse (CSA), psychological problems, and drug use compared to the typical woman. The present study compared the self-reports of 177 porn actresses to a sample of women matched on age, ethnicity, and marital status. Comparisons were conducted on sexual behaviors and attitudes, self-esteem, quality of life, and drug use. Porn actresses were more likely to identify as bisexual, first had sex at an earlier age, had more sexual partners, were more concerned about contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD), and enjoyed sex more than the matched sample, although there were no differences in incidence of CSA. In terms of psychological characteristics, porn actresses had higher levels of self-esteem, positive feelings, social support, sexual satisfaction, and spirituality compared to the matched group. Last, female performers were more likely to have ever used 10 different types of drugs compared to the comparison group. A discriminant function analysis was able to correctly classify 83% of the participants concerning whether they were a porn actress or member of the matched sample. These findings did not provide support for the damaged goods hypothesis”

    http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00224499.2012.719168?journalCode=hjsr20#.U7Xd2ijeRZI

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    • Brainpolice2 July 3, 2014 at 11:11 PM

      And yet if you go watch the lovely video of Ms Bella Knox, you can note the part where those filming her note the self-imposed wounds on her legs.
      I question what logic goes through anyone’s heads who considers involving themselves in this, aside from the simple incentive to make money. It does not seem like a long-shot to speculate that one has to do some jedi mind tricks in order to ideologically justify it to oneself.
      I’ll take the evidence right in my face over a single study. Aside from the fact that it doesn’t address what I mean by pornstars and prostitutes having psychological problems, when it comes to the internalization of the values that are used against them. No study can counteract that, because we’re talking at a broader level of psychoanalysis than whether or not people have “self-confidence” on the surface.

      Liked by 1 person

      • N July 3, 2014 at 11:16 PM

        That’s one sex worker. If you want to listen to one, I say read FurryGirl.

        Like

        • Brainpolice2 July 3, 2014 at 11:51 PM

          It’s all the one sex worker being held up as a libertarian icon by Cathy Reisenwitz and being used as part of a PR campaign for libertarianism, so she is most relevant to my critique.

          Like

      • Will May July 5, 2014 at 6:05 AM

        “No study can counteract that, because we’re talking at a broader level of psychoanalysis than whether or not people have “self-confidence” on the surface.”

        And here you’ve waded into a cesspool of psycho-voodoo that rivals the libertarians. Your theory can’t be falsified? Oh, awesome.

        You’ve passed “bad” and gone into “ugly”. Maybe you should take a break from this topic for a while.

        Like

        • Brainpolice2 July 5, 2014 at 6:28 AM

          Im not sure where you get non-falsifiability from. My main contention is that the kind of identity politics involved in the libertarian defenses of sex work over focuses on individual choice in such a way that bars the matter from any real critique of the social dynamics the phenomena takes place in – we’re apparently not allowed to observe the cultural problem it takes place within, we’re just supposed to support individual choice without thinking about it. It would be nice to be able to talk about the socially problematic aspects of this without it knee-jerkedly being personalized as an attack on the people involved, and without the critic being lambasted as ignorant and misrepresented as a conservative prude.

          This topic was resurrected by a little flood of comments long after this stuff was posted from a number of people, including a trans folk with an axe to grind against me and what I think is a vengeful psychotic streak. I can’t take a break from a topic that was thrown back in my face when my most recent piece was a more general thing about individualism, which happens to overlap with this topic, but my point wasn’t primarily about it.

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          • Will May July 5, 2014 at 8:31 AM

            If no study can counteract it, then it’s unfalsifiable.

            “It would be nice to be able to talk about the socially problematic aspects of this without it knee-jerkedly being personalized as an attack on the people involved, and without the critic being lambasted as ignorant and misrepresented as a conservative prude.”

            Well, let’s take a look at this.

            1) “being personalized as an attack on the people involved”
            You’re accusing lots of women you know basically nothing about of being psychologically damaged. That does seem a lot like an attack.

            2) “without the critic being lambasted as ignorant”
            You’ve admitted that you haven’t read much about this. I think you mentioned there was one porn actress who didn’t like it earlier. You’re making lots of sweeping claims here based on … next to nothing.

            3) “conservative prude”
            This actually is a conservative position on porn and sexuality.

            Even if they have the wrong motivations, these criticisms don’t seem that far off.

            Liked by 1 person

  9. N July 3, 2014 at 11:08 PM

    You can only hold to a position that sex work ‘uses’ a person’s body in a separate sense from other work, if you believe sexuality is something ‘sacred’. That’s a conservative traditionalist premise. I’m not calling you one, but I’m saying you do hold to one of their basic premises, which really isn’t very far from saying that sex should be only between people who love each other or are married.

    If you accept “fuck buddies”, two people mutually ‘exploiting’ each other, the only real difference that remains is an issue of money being exchanged. If that’s where the problem lies, then it’s not the sex aspect, it’s only the work-for-money aspect that you’re opposed to.

    “Obviously”? That’s a pretty broad generalization. Sex slavery is not half as hyped up as it is by feminists either. Laura Agustin and others have written plenty on this and they’ve actually talked to sex workers in third-world countries, who still choose to do it, and how feminists are pushing them into doing even worse-paid sweatshop-factory labor because that’s deemed ‘better’ than sex work.

    Saying sex workers all have warped psychologies is a pretty fucking broad generalization also. You might as well say that anyone skeptical of authority had parental abuse in their childhood, so they lash out against all authority. That’s a common line used against anti-statists and anti-capitalists. It’s all about making unfalsifiable claims that you can then project, because when others deny them, you can claim it’s due to their psychological issues.

    You seem to buy into the bullshit myths made up by the anti-sex work assclenches, both traditionalist and feminist. Contrary to popular opinion, most sex workers in the West are neither $5 hookers nor six-figure luxury escorts, but somewhere in between. And as far as criticism of wage labor, sex workers in the West have more freedom, many being basically self-employed, than people do in other wage jobs. Strippers can bounce between clubs unlike bartenders and waitresses, and online models and escorts can get up at any time of the day they wish. Not quite perfect if you want to criticize all work, but pretty decent for corporate America where most labor thankless 9-5 jobs.

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    • Brainpolice2 July 3, 2014 at 11:22 PM

      “You can only hold to a position that sex work ‘uses’ a person’s body in a separate sense from other work, if you believe sexuality is something ‘sacred’.”

      I’m sorry Noor, but this is a red herring to what you want to focus on. This has nothing to do with any notion of sexuality being something sacred. It has to do with the fact that the very nature of the job is submission to the sexual use of one’s body. There is no requirement for a Christian-specific ethos for us to call something what it plainly is.

      “That’s a conservative traditionalist premise.”

      I think both you and sex-positive feminists erect a strawman in making a dichotomy between a liberal-capitalist acceptance of sex work and conservative ethics. This is a false dichotomy.

      ” I’m not calling you one, but I’m saying you do hold to one of their basic premises, which really isn’t very far from saying that sex should be only between people who love each other or are married.”

      I hold to no such premise.

      “If you accept “fuck buddies”, two people mutually ‘exploiting’ each other, the only real difference that remains is an issue of money being exchanged.”

      Sex work is not fuck buddies + money. Your analogies don’t work. Sex work functions in an institutional context. It is not merely consenting to sex outside a relationship with money involved, nor is it merely a private interaction relationship between those directly involved. Your narrative depends on going back to libertarian economic reductionism in which we only see things as an exchange between individuals, without considering social impact and externalities, psychological dynamics, and the affects of institutional forces.

      You can ignore the social reality of sex work if you want, but I personally am annoyed by your ignorance.

      Like

      • N July 4, 2014 at 12:10 AM

        “Submission to the sexual use of one’s body”

        Take out the “sexual” and you have a critiicism of wage labor and/or all work. That’s my point. That you cannot treat sex work as different from similar work if you do not believe ‘sex’ is something ‘special’ or ‘sacred’.

        “Sex work is not fuck buddies + money. Your analogies don’t work. Sex work functions in an institutional context. It is not merely consenting to sex outside a relationship with money involved, nor is it merely a private interaction relationship between those directly involved. Your narrative depends on going back to libertarian economic reductionism in which we only see things as an exchange between individuals, without considering social impact and externalities, psychological dynamics, and the affects of institutional forces.”

        This is far too vague and overstated, and I don’t really think you’re capable of examining the complex system of sex work from the armchair position you’re in. No interaction occurs in a vacuum and by that reasoning anything, absolutely anything, can be criticized on that sort of basis by pulling out stuff about externalities and institutional forces. I can say that everything you say is, in fact, contributing to institutional forces that further marginalize sex workers, resulting in sex work being less legal, thus decreasing their chances of being able to safely report crimes and such.

        (As a quick note, I’ve been reading about mountaineering and one thing that strikes me is how many people die up there. The highest mountains have death rates of about one-third to one-half, but I don’t really think of what goes in the minds of climbers when they choose to take such obviously huge risks all for the glory of reaching the top – whether that’s personal or publicity. It’s just armchair psychologizing.)

        Overall, I think you’re kind of acting like this external observer making, from an extremely armchair-psychologizing viewpoint, ‘insightful’ observations of things you know nothing much about, while convincing yourself that you do. You seem to think that ‘evolving’ through different fields gives you a better perspective, but the fact is that everywhere, people from all ideologies ‘evolve’ to completely different viewpoints while they think they’re all each better, because they’ve been at the other before. I appreciate evolving and refining one’s viewpoints, but it’s important to be careful and not be overconfident in a new viewpoint.

        Like

        • Anonymous July 4, 2014 at 6:03 AM

          Everyone reading this should look over at the other thread at the “Paradox of Consent” article.

          Brainpolice has just come out as transphobic and well as whorephobic. I hope that everyone here who values the rights and dignity of human beings will turn their backs on Brainpolice as a friend and comrade. This is the voice of hatred and exclusion.

          Like

          • N July 4, 2014 at 1:48 PM

            Seems to me that he wants to appeal too much to anti-sex work feminists simply because they have criticisms of libertarianism that resound well. Shallow ideological alliances fall apart easily however.

            That, and like I said in one other comment earlier, there are certain people that remain continuously moving through ideologies, and mistake their changing positions as always evolving towards a better position.

            Like

            • Brainpolice2 July 4, 2014 at 11:04 PM

              Actually I have not used any criticism of libertarianism from anti-sex work feminists. Rather, I’m using anti-sex work feminists as part of my critique of libertarianism, particularly as I’ve become increasingly concious of the element in libertarianism that is embracing the pitfalls of left-wing lifestyle politics.

              Moving away from libertarianism and becoming more aware of the reality of capitalism has factually been a better position.

              Like

          • Brainpolice2 July 4, 2014 at 11:07 PM

            http://afeministroars.wordpress.com/musings/you-may-call-me-a-terf-but-i-am-not-transphobic/

            Eat it. I am not “phobic” of either “trans” or “whore”. I merely have an opinion about it that you don’t like.

            The true voices of hatred and exclusion are those who think it’s rational to engage in character assassination campaigns against those who disagree with them, because they mistakenly perceive social criticism as a personal attack.

            Have a good day, LadyAster

            Like

  10. Vince July 4, 2014 at 11:10 AM

    You wrote: “I think it’s pretty clear that the S&M world has ambiguities about consent that can get it into tricky territory, and that community regularly debates among itself about that, and this is the reason for ideas like safe words.”

    What you are implying here is not correct. In reality, BDSM enthusiasts typically are the safest, most well-informed, and most conscious about permission, boundaries, and opting-in. Poke around on the web on kink social networking sites and you’ll see the candor with which people talk about these issues. Besides, is proactively defining “safe words” not evidence of this?

    The variety of libertarians is as wide as libertarianism itself. To some, libertarianism is about questioning authority, dogma, and grandfathered-in notions, taking nothing in history or philosophy as a given, and reframing all options to maximize one’s freedom. This aspect of libertarianism highlights the philosophy’s rejection of arbitrary systems and hierarchies. To others, libertarianism is a political and philosophical framework which stresses things like federalism, nullification, and the like, which is used to combat the centralizing force of the state. Hence, the Christian homeschooler and the sex worker, who may seem to have little in common at first glance, are more than likely than not to both fit well within libertarianism.

    -Vince

    Like

  11. freemarketanticapitalist July 5, 2014 at 8:48 PM

    “some so-called feminists”? As opposed to the real thing, I suppose — someone who during their time in the libertarian movement was (by numerous, mutually corroborating horrified accounts) a dudebro engaged in serial sexual harassment, and went from there to the kind of born-again SWERFY-TERFY radfeminism that champs at the bit to restrict women’s agency “for their own good”? The white male savior complex is no less repulsive than the guy who went around screaming “Splooge!”

    Like

    • N July 5, 2014 at 11:49 PM

      Most of the “splooge!” stuff came off as that of a sexually liberal but extremely socially awkward guy. From what I know I wouldn’t call it harassment, unless he repeatedly persisted after being told to stop.

      I’m not sure what the point of this is other than discredit him via ad hominem, though.

      Funny you mention the white male savior, because I see it all over left-libertarianism. It’s why I ran straight out.

      Like

    • Brainpolice2 July 7, 2014 at 10:16 PM

      As Noor said: “I’m not sure what the point of this is other than discredit him via ad hominem, though.”

      I think you misunderstand what position I’m claiming to be taking, since I still don’t entirely identify ideologically with the feminists whose commentary I’m agreeing with. And I think your characterization of non-sex-positive feminists is unfair. Are people able to make criticism about sexual culture without being characterized as actively trying to control other people’s sex lives? If someone criticizes sex work as culturally problematic and links it to the problems of capitalism, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are “trying to restrict women’s agency”. The basic idea here is that it is nonsensical to wield rhetoric about patriarchy while actively participating in and promoting things that propagate sex as a commodity and fetishizes submission to the more violent aspects of sexuality. That is my main issue with libertarians touting Belle Knox (who has a video where she tries to resist and stop the scene and is basically raped on camera) as a heroin. There’s a big leap from that kind of criticism to “restricting women’s agency for their own good”.

      Like

      • Brainpolice2 July 7, 2014 at 10:38 PM

        As for my character, while I have perhaps engaged in some shameful trolling, if you actually knew me as a person to begin with you would know that a “bro” is the last thing I am. I am someone who has never fit into machismo male culture, and that was one of the reasons I’ve found feminism intriguing at various points, since I think the social construction of gender is also problematic for males. I’m a straight male, yet I don’t particularly fit into normal hetero culture and I was not raised to value the things that most men were. The real dudebros I know wouldn’t even make a shallow attempt to come to grips with and think about feminism – they think it’s all bullshit. There might be some cognitive dissonance between my past actions and my commentary, but that doesn’t qualify as a refutation of my commentary.

        There are white male saviors who get into feminism – and I know of quite a few of them in the left-libertarian movement, and they’re by and large not people who are critical of sex positive feminism (of course, sex positive feminism benefits them). The White Knights like Roman Periah are the ultimate white male saviors, butting into every conversation to protect their female friends and general coddling them with a protector role. Or those who hang around Cathy Reisenwitz and suck up to her. Or those who get into polyamory as a scheme to fuck all the radical women while maintaining double standards in their relationships. These are your average manarchist dudebros, if you really want to go after them. They *love* the idea of women adopting a kind of feminism that’s all about celebrating sexual promiscuity – because that’s the kind of feminism that plays into male sexual fantasy neatly.

        Like

      • N July 8, 2014 at 3:32 PM

        You can certainly criticize people or trends if their positions seem to be inconsistent or selling out.

        What you don’t get to do is take on ignorant positions yourself, and then run and hide under the cover of “I’m just pointing out inconsistencies in others’ positions.”

        Like

    • Julia July 8, 2014 at 11:55 AM

      I don’t see how anything Alex said equates to a “male savoir” complex. Pointing out how the sex industry furthers a culture of patriarchy is hardly “saving” the privileged white college-educated women who enter prostitution merely because they enjoy fucking.

      Also, “SWERF”?? Since when have radical feminists EVER tried to exclude sex workers? There are plenty of radfems who came to radical feminism because of their experiences as prostitutes or strippers and who fully agree with the critiques of this industry.

      Like

      • Julia July 8, 2014 at 12:07 PM

        One more thing: it’s highly essentialist to assume marginalized peoples can’t contribute to their own oppression through the actions they chose due to the influence of the ruling ideology. Are the working-class people who embrace fascism or the homebrewers who vote for statists “revolutionary” simply because they are workers or homebrewers? Is sex-poz “feminist” just because women are the ones taking it up?

        It’s completely pathetic that leftist mantra has become tangled up in a “you can’t criticize anything” on the basis that people have freely chosen to engage in what is being criticized. You can’t criticize the happy slave for giving an idyllic view of slavery because you’re morally obligated to respect that person’s “agency” or whatever; you can only criticize the people criticizing the happy slave for being [insert accusation of prejudice here].

        And Alex is correct that the biggest male saviors on the far-left are the ones who basically pander to women as means of either 1) getting on our “good side”, 2) recruiting us into political organizations, 3) getting in our pants, or 4) all of the above. These dudes will constantly apologize for the shitty things women do and say which contributes to our oppression under patriarchy, or they’ll try to convince women that fucking lots of dudes will enable us to overcome whatever sexual repression we face. I don’t like it and I find it pathetic.

        Like

        • N July 8, 2014 at 7:37 PM

          Alex IS being a bit of a savior type, though in a different and perhaps milder way than those mentioned. It’s hard not to see statements that sex workers are all psychologically damaged, as seeing them as all victims in need of ‘saving’.

          I don’t believe in listening wholeheartedly to any classification of people either. It’s why I don’t really listen to women with a victim complex who believe they are the only victims of a ‘patriarchy’.

          Like

      • freemarketanticapitalist July 8, 2014 at 7:26 PM

        So SWERFs aren’t a thing because they’ve always accepted former sex workers who now agree with them.

        “Our church isn’t homophobic — many of our members are former homosexuals who were cured!”

        Liked by 1 person

      • Brainpolice2 July 9, 2014 at 12:47 AM

        I learned long ago that I can’t save someone who cannot or doesn’t want to save themselves. I don’t claim to be saving anyone, but I do find the lengths some people will go to in order to rationalize and enable psychological cycles of abuse and self-harm to be sad. It should not be taboo to talk of the problematic social-psychological trappings around commodified sex, whether legal or illegal.

        I do not hate or fear sex workers. The idea of attaching the term “phobia” to it is misleading and insulting. Criticism of the conditions within which people make choices and the mechanisms to entrap them from their choices is not a criticism of individuals. Even if there is criticism of the individual, it is not done out of the desire to exclude.

        Like

        • N July 9, 2014 at 7:29 PM

          I don’t think anyone here has been resorting to “sex work is voluntary, that’s all, shut up on criticizing it”. What you are being called out on, are the assumptions that sex work is inherently more exploitative than other work due to the ‘sex’ part, and that only a damaged psyche can ever get one to do sex work today.

          Homophobia is rarely used for those who literally hate or fear gays. It will be used in a negative way for those who make claims like that gays shouldn’t be allowed to adopt, on no other basis than that they are gay. Homophobes actually like to resort to a “hate the game, not the player” which is what you’re basically doing right now with sex work.

          I absolutely do criticize conditions where people are made to do sex work when they are not comfortable with it, but I see those as issues of current statist and capitalist structures, that also result in people in sweatshops and such.

          Like

          • N July 10, 2014 at 3:14 PM

            Also, no one is saying that it’s taboo to criticize – maybe so in many modernsay leftist circles, but not so much here. The closest to ‘taboo’ is when you make unfalsifiable and ignorant statements about a good portion of people and even then you’re not being called out because of norms on what is ‘socially acceptable’, you’re getting called out for the bullshit.

            I suppose one could make a case that some sex work is more directly involved with the body (ignoring that penetrative sex for cash is only one of many fields of sex work, and that sex work is defined not by how directly it is involved with the physical body, but more on using one’s sexual labor to turn others on) but one would have to argue jobs like beekeeping and food tasting is extra exploitative as well. Food tasting directly involves the physical body, as opposed to some types of sex work like phone sex or cam modeling. The level of involvement with the physical is a pretty poor indicator of how exploitative a job is.

            Like

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