May 28th, 2014

Recommended Reading #203: Listening to Sex Workers, Pt. III

      “Antiporn Land” by Rachel Hills (Pornography, Sex Work, Sex and Culture, Gender Socialization) 5/27/14

I found this a thoughtful, considered, and indeed interesting piece. In what I interpret in the author’s discussions with Ms. Dines, I feel disturbed by lack of mention of men, which is one of the things I’ve consistently found sexist and disturbing in anti-pornography arguments. As though men, of course, can take care of themselves, and sex, after all, is the realm of men. Women, on the other hand, must be protected, and if they are having sex, it must automatically be in reaction or relation to men, since they wouldn’t have sex on their own or possess the autonomy to discern how, when, and with whom they want to. Thus, I have still found myself almost grating my teeth when I see arguments about “what the women feel/think/do” or “what choices the women have” in porn. To me, it reflects the aforementioned bias and attitude, which I find without merit and indeed rather infurating. That, of course, is a reflection on my interpretation of Ms. Dines’s expression of her perspective more than on this article itself. I did perceive other parts of Ms. Dines’s perspective in a more expanded way after reading this, and I appreciate that. I also appreciate the author’s contention that there is room to evaluate the porn industry in a more nuanced way, as we often have other forms of media. I myself do not find porn inherently degrading as a medium by a long shot—quite the contrary, really, and I have detailed on this blog why I find that postulation problematic. I had not, however, considered examining the current porn industry as a business, much like, for example, Hollywood, and its cultural effects. Or perhaps a more accurate way of putting that is that it had not occurred to me to separate the discussion of pornography as a medium in and of itself from a discussion of the pornography industry and how it operates in a capitalistic environment (again, much like, to use another example, the news industry, which I’ve felt no discord about pretty harshly condemning, even as I don’t necessarily find a system of reporting news [though, to digress for moment, I sure wish we’d reevaluate what we consider “news”] inherently problematic). I very much appreciate having read this piece.


      “The Price of a Sex-Slave Rescue Fantasy” by Melissa Gira Grant (Sex Work, Human Trafficking, Journalism) 5/29/14

This strikes me as a tragic situation, and I find this piece informative and disturbing. It seems important to me that well-intentioned individuals recognize the implications some may not recognize or be aware of in certain ways of combating human trafficking in the sex trade. (I also appreciate the mention of the considerable numbers around human trafficking in other labor areas, which sometimes seems forgotten in a strident focus on sexual labor. Though this goes without saying, I find all human trafficking and even the idea that it exists horrific beyond articulation.) As long as trafficking in the sex trade is tied up with cultural assumptions and prejudices around sex work, the risk of such motivations getting in the way of the true focus of horrendous exploitation and disregard of human rights, regardless of the area of labor, seems a risk to me.


      “What does a ‘representative’ sex worker look like?” by Celine Bisette (Sex Work, Sex and Culture, Sociology) 5/13/14

Certainly I agree with the author’s point that it should not surprise anyone when a sex worker seems articulate—there is no irony intended when I say that I did find this piece exceptionally articulate (regardless of the profession of the author).


Recommended Reading posted every Wednesday

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