This is our truth, tell us yours
Recently I saw an anti sex workers rights org claiming men (or rather patriarchy) supported the sex workers rights movement. Then this week Sarah Ditwad has criticised the Green Party for failing to be feminist enough, one of her criticisms being that they support the radical idea sex workers are people too.
Now Carter wrote brilliantly here of why capitalism hates independent sex workers. I have written before of why whorephobia is a patriarchal tool to keep the breeding stock in line.The only form of sex work that swerfs talk about is the form capitalist patriarchy likes, legalized sex work. In legalised frameworks that radical independence, a woman earning money from her own sexual and emotional labour is turned into conventional alienated capitalist labour. The sex worker simply becomes another worker, producing for those who exploit all workers, another cog in the wheel of capitalism.
Of course there will be some who prefer to work for others, just as not everyone is cut out in any industry to be self-employed. Legalised sex work is the apogee of the capitalist view of the worker though since it criminalized all labour that is not for the benefit of the class of bosses. Imagine that in any other industry? Imagine if Gregs were legal, but if you tried to set up an independent sandwich shop you would be breaking the law?
So by focusing on legalized sex work, the model they have in Nevada and Germany, swerfs make clear that their only concerns are the concerns of capitalist patriarchy, they signal boost a voice that needs no megaphone, and ensure the conversation remains focussed on those who have the most in our society.
If feminism were concerned with sex work (and the first person to say #NotAllFeminists will be blocked) what would it look like? Well for a start the fact it is women of colour, and trans women of colour who suffer the most from criminalization would be a feminist issue. The fact it isn’t raises huge questions in my mind.
Consider for a moment the issue of FGM. A cruel practice that is the result of patriarchal beliefs around the control of women’s sexuality. A tool that was used up until the twentieth century in the west. However it is women of colour who routinely perform, and are arrested for the practice now. New legislation in the UK deliberately frames parents, and particularly mothers, as a danger to their own children, It seems to me that FGM has become the cause of the moment for white feminism because it gives them a legitimate (in their own eyes) reason to criticise, and even imprison women of colour.
Compare this with the women of the global south who are raped just for carrying condoms, who are murdered because a sex workers life is seen as valueless? The trans women who are seen as bringing their murder on themselves simply by expressing their gender? Here it is men who are responsible, men who are raping and murdering women, yet, white feminism remains silent. Since campaigning for the rights of sex workers would protect women from the abuses of men one must ask why feminism remains so opposed to it? It looks as if white feminism will only support those laws and causes which allow the criminalization and oppression of women it deems lesser, and actively campaigns against laws which might interfere with mens ability to abuse women.
It is a simple fact that if you support the criminalization of sex work you are protecting men, you are protecting rapists, you are protecting murderers. You are saying that the patriarchal oppression of women is acceptable, indeed, is a good and positive thine. (Which is of course exactly what Sweden says, a country which sets a rapist free because a girl was well developed) It is interesting how swerfs love that instrument of patriarchal control, the police, believing it is acceptable to throw lesser women as some kind of perverse scapegoat to an organisation that routinely abuses women under its control. It may be a form of scapegoating, hoping that they will be saved from abuse if they offer up another victim, even if that is the case it is unacceptable.
Currently the mainstream position of feminism is one that is soley concerned about protecting the rights and privileges of patriarchy when it comes to sex work. Sex workers are the sacrifical victim it offers on the altar of patriarchy. I only hope they believe being the favoured daughter is worth it,
There thou mightst behold the great image of authority: a dog’s obeyed in office.
Thou rascal beadle, hold thy bloody hand.
Why dost thou lash that whore? Strip thine own back.
Thou hotly lust’st to use her in that kind
For which thou whipp’st her. The usurer hangs the cozener.
Through tattered clothes great vices do appear;
Robes and furred gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold,
And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks.
Arm it in rags, a pigmy’s straw does pierce it.
None does offend—none, I say, none. I’ll able ’em.
Take that of me, my friend, who have the power
To seal th’ accuser’s lips. Get thee glass eyes,
And like a scurvy politician seem
To see the things thou dost not.”