Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair ~versus~ kink.com

Yeah yeah yeah. I’m late to the party, I’m not going to the show and nobody cares anyways.

Still…

I thought I may as well note the controversy on my blog — it raises a whole host of issues — and maybe return to it later.

In the meantime:

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s Letter on the Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair (February 7, 2013).
• Some of the discussion re sex-as/and-labour brings to mind Dworkin’s writings on bodily integrity and penetration as invasion.
• I really oughta finish that thing I was gonna write about Lies.

See also : Betrayal: A critical analysis of rape culture in anarchist subcultures [PDF] (They’re fucking sick of disclaimers btw.)

Because capitalism.

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2014 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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22 Responses to Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair ~versus~ kink.com

  1. anonymous says:

    This is a gutless post. Is the problem with workers being treated badly or is it with sex work or with BDSM? I’ve done sex work. I’ve also been raped. It is possible for sex workers to actually be raped, not just go to work. I am incredibly angry at the two being conflated this way and with the patronising way the debate has been had out from people who have no actual stake in the issues.

  2. I don’t buy that this is all about the industrial rights issues at Kink. The first criticisms didn’t even mention these and only seemed to be concerned with bdsm, and were also very anti sex work and anti kink, to the point that people felt attacked. It was only later, and seemingly after sex workers entered the conversation and were like “hey there are some problems with Kink.com but don’t conflate them with bdsm or sex work in general” that people started mentioning these things in opposition to the bookfair being held there.

    I have a hard time believing that the people so concerned with where the book fair is being have very much interest whatsoever in sex worker rights and safety, like where is the anarchist support when sex worker rallies are held or when the police are victimising sex workers or when we are attacked by people like Dines and Jeffreys? Where was the anarchist support when the cam models were striking? Most of the time there is a resounding silence, except when sex worker industrial issues can be used to support an already established position.

    I’m also not sure if you are endorsing Ortiz, Dines or Dworkin’s stances on sex work/porn or if you are just posting them but as a sex worker I find views like that incredibly patronising and infantalising. Whether one agrees with porn or with kink, comparing women consenting (for financial reasons or not) to engage in bdsm porn to the torture of prisoners is ridiculous. I hope you don’t think so little of women and our capacity to navigate our way through capitalism and patriarchy, as to think that we need saving from our own choices.

  3. @ndy says:

    @anonymous: I think the post is fairly straightfwd: ‘here’s a controversy I haven’t previously written about, maybe I will later, and here are some links’. I wasn’t aware I was conflating the possibility or the reality of sex workers being raped with them doing their jobs; I’m obviously not responsible for whatever contributions others may have made to the debate, or the manner in which they’ve done so.

    @Anarcha Sexworker: I haven’t argued that the controversy solely revolves around industrial matters. The small number of criticisms I’ve read raise other issues: the Dunbar-Ortiz article to which I’ve linked is concerned with what she deems to be the torture of women by kink.com, approvingly republishing Dines’ article; others have expressed concern over the site and what it may trigger in a number of women who might otherwise attend the bookfair. Otherwise, I don’t speak for any who’ve expressed concern over the location of the fair and I’m also obviously unaware of what, if anything, these nameless critics have done with regards any of the issues you raise.

  4. @ndy says:

    More disco and lots more links here:

    Kink, Inc. to host Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair; controversy misses every salient issue, Maybe Days, February 11, 2103.

  5. If you link to Dines or people who have based their arguments on her work and who reprint an article of hers in full, with no critique of your own, what is it if not an endorsement of an academic who has made a name for herself on the back of the very people whose livelihoods she seeks to destroy?

    There are other issues at hand but the original criticism, published in counterpunch and the Dunbar-Ortiz post that you linked to do not address them and instead base their criticisms on an anti-porn, anti-sex work stance that ignores the agency of the women involved and others people whose sexuality involves kink. Attitudes like this stigmatise sex workers and people involved in the kink community and make us less welcome at events such as book fairs. As does citing people such as Dines, if anarchists don’t want to exclude sex workers from anarchist spaces then they should consider how the sex work community is impacted by the people they are endorsing.

    It would also be kinda good if people listened to porn actors on the issue, rather than people like Dines.

  6. @ndy says:

    “If you link to Dines or people who have based their arguments on her work and who reprint an article of hers in full, with no critique of your own, what is it if not an endorsement of an academic who has made a name for herself on the back of the very people whose livelihoods she seeks to destroy? ”

    I frequently link to articles with which I disagree, either in full or in part. So do any number of other bloggers (and online users generally). Perhaps, as some people who maintain Twitter accounts do, I should make this explicit: ‘Retweets do not equal endorsements’ (or something similar). But as I indicated in the post itself, and again in reply to anonymous, I think my intent was quite clear: ‘here’s a controversy, here are some links, I don’t have time to comment on it now, I may later’. In other words, pointing out that Dunbar-Ortiz has expressed an opinion, or that the bookfair organisers also have an opinion, should not be read as an endorsement.

    More later.

  7. anonymous says:

    You also link to the “Betrayal” pamphlet, which is really good but has nothing to do with this debate or about porn. That implies that by having it at that venue the ABF is promoting rape culture in some way, either because porn causes rape (studies show no correlation at all between porn consumption and rape) or because sex work itself is rape. Maybe that was not your intention but it’s how it comes across.

    Also your links to articles were all on one side of the debate. You didn’t link to the ABF’s response explaining their choice of venue and that it was just the least bad choice when it came to venues that size.

    If there had been an actual call by sex workers to boycott the venue then I think that would need to be respected, but I haven’t actually seen one so far. Just that after the Counterpunch article some people mentioned it, and now it is just being used as a secondary argument to draw in people who wouldn’t support the anti-sex work one by itself. Trying to tie together opposing interests like this is really dodgy. It will not be a victory for sex workers if boycotting the venue also ends up being a big boost in support for people who would have their employment banned.

    Also (and this comment isn’t directed you or this blog), it really frustrates me that discussion about rape culture in activism gets diverted into these symbolic issues and especially into anti-sex-work stuff. Most people just don’t want to know if women around them are being abused. Hardly anyone is willing to stick their necks out. But when it comes to symbolic issues that don’t require any risk of personal discomfort everyone becomes very vocal. I think it actually just ends up diverting energy from dealing with real issues.

  8. It probably is a good idea to preface links like that with your own views on the topic or on the person being cited. Gail Dines is a pretty controversial person and sex workers and the trans community have good reason to be opposed to her and to voice this opposition. I also think it is pretty reasonable to expect people who are impacted by the hatred that Dines spreads to voice anger at her being used in arguments against the venue choice for the Bay Area Book Fair.

    When you connect porn/sex work with rape it implies two things. One, that the women in the sex industry are at some level responsible for sexual violence against ‘good’ (ie. non sex working) women and two, that women in the sex industry do not have the capacity to consent to the acts we engage in. Both are bs and offensive.

    People like Gail Dines spread views and stigma that puts sex workers at risk. It isn’t merely a matter of it being a dispute where I happen to fall on the other side of than the people opposing the venue choice, it is that the arguments they are using are based on beliefs that harm people in the sex industry. I also think it is mistake to not look at this in in the wider context of how society, anarchists, activists, feminists etc view sex work and sex workers and the support (or lack there of) that is afforded to sex workers.

    http://m.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/mar/05/hatred-prostitutes-feminists-brutality

  9. Like maybe if the anarchists in the Bay Area who are opposing the venue are so concerned about women working in the sex industry they can do something about things like this, instead of supporting views that stigmatise women in the sex industry, thus making it easier for predators to prey on us.

    http://purrversatility.tumblr.com/post/44607739339/please-read-share-if-you-are-a-bay-area-sex#notes

  10. Doug says:

    @ Anonymous,
    Of course it could just be that the very idea of “rape culture” itself is based on false premises and the wanderings of hysterical minds.
    According to Erin Pizzey Susan Brownmiller recanted her original thesis on “rape culture” some thirty three years ago during a lecture at the U.S embassy in London and Betty Freidan supposedly also changed her views on the matter.
    Feminism and “women’s rights” has become such a destructive monster and such an immovable pillar of the capitalist system that it’s now one of the primary weapons used by the bosses against dissenters and to split fringe social movements.
    Maybe it’s time for activists to say Basta! to feminist foot stamping and to, as you say, focus on real issues.

  11. Felix Wilde says:

    These ‘feminists’ demean sex workers more than any patriarch ever could. I’ve seen a scary resurgence of this puritanical, anti-porn feminist ideology within the anarchist movement recently. I had hoped rationalism and libertarianism would counterbalance this hysteria, but I’ve been disappointed again. I’ve even seen one ‘anarcha-feminist’ (read: transphobic, misandrist elitist authoritarian) get confused and claim that porn featuring only “men” is exploitative of women; she also takes the opportunity to demonstrate her inability to distinguish between conscious action and biological reality, portraying having a cock as a crime akin to theft.

    This kind of thought marginalises those that feminism claims to be protecting, and even worse than belittling them, actually exposes them to harm. Dines is one step away from rape apologism.

    On Brownmiller: isn’t she the same one who suggested rape is a conspiracy by all men everywhere to keep all women everywhere in a state of perpetual fear? I damn well hope she renounced that view on rape too.

  12. @ndy says:

    A few things.

    @anonymous:

    Yes, I provided a link to ‘Betrayal’. Why? Because somebody recently drew it to my attention, I read it, and I thought it worthwhile. Further, because it addresses some of the issues that have been raised in this context, including issues of consent, community and culture. I don’t think it’s the intention of bookfair organisers to promote rape or ‘rape culture’; in fact, I imagine they would be horrified to learn that this is what they are doing by hosting the event at kink.com’s headquarters (as people like Dunbar-Ortiz argue). Arguments regarding the impact of pornography consumption on sexual behaviour is a large subject which it was not my intention to address in the post.

    I provided four links in the post: one to the bookfair, one to the Counterpunch article, one to Dunbar-Ortiz’s open letter and one to an article on a fetish site critical of working conditions at kink.com. I could have provided more links, obviously, but I think these are representative and give someone wanting to find out more about the controversy some background. I have since provided only one other link which, whatever its merits, also provides links to many more articles discussing the issues. Otherwise, this post (which precedes the controversy) includes a closer look at Sexism and Rape Culture in San Francisco’s Kink Community. So: as stated, I merely wished to take note of the debate; anyone wishing to read the bookfair’s response will find it on their blog; there is obviously much more to be discussed, and this is partly why I allow commentary on my blog, to which I add my own (and for which purpose I also Tweet and Facebook).

    I think if there had been a call by sex workers to boycott the venue, it would be worth paying attention to. I think the same applies in the case of non-sex workers, especially (although not exclusively) anarchists. In other words, I think whatever arguments are offered for or against a boycott, or for some other action, should be judged on their merits. Certainly, if you look, you’ll find complaints of exploitation by former kink.com employees. Former employee/’independent contractor’ Maxine Holloway writes: “My misclassification and later dismissal by a company that had set a standard in the treatment of models was a big “Fuck You” to all workers and sex workers”; she has subsequently established her own company.

    As a general rule, there is a niche market for ethical consumers, whether of pr0n or prawn.

    @Anarcha Sexworker:

    To preface every link I provide with my own views — and I’ve provided literally tens of thousands of links, to all different sorts of texts, on all different sorts of topics — would be extremely time-consuming. Easier, I think, to elaborate my views at my own pace, sometimes in response to commentary such as this.

    With regards Dines, I’ve made three passing references to her on my blog. The first in August 2008 when I drew attention to the film The Price of Pleasure: Pornography, Sexuality and Relationships, then in May 2011 when I noted that she thought SlutWalk was crap and finally in January last year when she was accused of being “hysterical” by a local writer. I’ve read a few small items by her I think, but not her book on pr0n. My impression is that she articulates a fairly conventional radfem critique. Certainly, whatever the precise nature of her views, I don’t recall ever having stopped anyone being critical of them on my blog. And yes, to the extent that her arguments are used by those opposed to the bookfair being held at kink.com, it’s reasonable to expect her critics not to be swayed by them.

    Otherwise: whatever the connections are between pornography, sex work, rape and sexual violence, I don’t believe that women in the sex industry are responsible for the crimes committed against them; nor do I believe that women in the sex industry do not have the capacity to consent to the acts they engage in.

    PS. The blogger you link to has some thoughts on the bookfair here.

    @Doug:

    Leaving aside the utility of the concept of ‘rape culture’, the closest thing I could find to anything about Pizzey and Brownmiller is a claim in an interview titled ‘Refuting 40 years of lies about domestic violence’.

    Dean: You mentioned feminism is a sort of liberal leftist movement which I think it was originally; although you do have women who consider themselves…

    Erin: Yeah, at some point, try and read Susan Brownmiller’s book, because she sent me her books on rape in the very beginning. I couldn’t read them, bless her heart, but she has since recanted. And that was an amazing thing. I was also at the American Embassy when Betty Friedan recanted what she’d said and she said, “I apologize. We, as women have gone to the male, for the throat over economics and that isn’t what we should have done. We should have built the relationship between men and women.”

    Dean: Betty Friedan said that?

    Erin: Yes, she did, in the American Embassy about 1980, ’81. And I just remember looking at her and thinking, “look at the damage you’ve done with what you’ve said over the years!” It’s all very well everybody recanting, but, the damage is done.

    Dean: Well, and where is the knowledge that they’ve recanted? Susan Brownmiller published a simply horrible screed about rape and how…

    Erin: No she has since then written a book…we’re friends, I know her…she’s since then wrote a book and just said, “I was wrong.”

    Dean: Really?

    Erin: Yep.

    Dean: That’s actually good for me to hear, because her original writings on rape about it being this… I don’t know… men have been raping women for millions of years and… very upsetting stuff! It’s good to hear that you’re friends and that she’s recanted her views on that. I’d probably like to talk to her some time. But, it seems to me as if people either want to see women as exclusively victims or as somehow angelic figures.

    The interviewer provides the following footnotes:

    Susan Brownmiller: Rape is “nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear.”
    http://www.susanbrownmiller.com/susanbrownmiller/html/against_our_will.html

    Susan Brownmiller: I cannot at this time verify that Brownmiller ever said she was wrong. But her web site is here and if someone can verify the recanting I will reference it.
    http://www.susanbrownmiller.com

    I’m not sure what relevance Brownmiller’s unconfirmed recantation of some previously expressed opinion has to the above discussion.

    Finally, the relationship between feminism, rights and capitalism is complex, but I think it’s rather a stretch to claim feminism is a destructive monster, a mere tool employed by bosses against ‘dissenters’(?) or to splinter fringe social movements.

  13. I think her thoughts on it would be at least as relevant (if not more so) than those of the people linked to in your post (btw, thankyou for making me aware that she had posted about it in tumblr, I had read her views on the bookfair on facebook but was not aware that she had blogged about them).

    You still haven’t said your views on Dines or Dunbar-Ortiz’s argument based largely on Dines’ theories. Only that she has a pretty conventional radfem critique. Every time someone uses her in an argument like this they are legitimising the radfem anti sex work stance. You may have just shared links, without stating support for them but it is still giving more oxygen to someone who works towards putting countless people (many of them women) out of work and while it is unlikely the sex industry could be ended, it can be made more dangerous and pushed underground which is what happens when anti sex work radfems influence policy. It may be a “pretty conventional” radfem critique but it is still a critique that if followed risks putting some of the most vulnerable of workers at risk.

    And I think my point still stands that aside from occasionally mulling over the ethics of selling sexual services (be it in porn, fs sex work, stripping, cam work or the many other ways) there is very little anarchist interest in sex worker rights. Look at the things that are happening now around sex worker rights in this country and yet how much support or interest is shown from activists outside of the sex industry? Like how long have you been blogging and how many other industrial rights issues have you touched on and then how many sex worker rights issues have you posted about? And I am not having a go at you personally, because it isn’t just you, it is everyone but it is frustrating when the only time this stuff ever gets any interest is when people want to talk about how unethical the existence of the industry is (which is how Dines and Dunbar-Ortiz view it) and all the times when we could really benefit from some interest, like the proposed changes to brothel laws in NSW or police preying on street sex workers in St Kilda, barely anyone outside of the sex industry pays it any attention.

  14. anonymous says:

    “I don’t think it’s the intention of bookfair organisers to promote rape or ‘rape culture’; in fact, I imagine they would be horrified to learn that this is what they are doing by hosting the event at kink.com’s headquarters (as people like Dunbar-Ortiz argue).”
    So you are saying that having the event at his venue promotes rape culture then? Just that they are too dumb (as presumably are the rest of us) to notice that till radfems point it out?

    “Otherwise: whatever the connections are between pornography, sex work, rape and sexual violence, I don’t believe that women in the sex industry are responsible for the crimes committed against them; nor do I believe that women in the sex industry do not have the capacity to consent to the acts they engage in.”
    So women in the sex industry having crimes committed against them, but sometimes consent to them?

    It’s really fucking shitty for a man to have discussions with women about feminism but continually twist people’s words and play stupid fucking games.

  15. @ndy says:

    It’s really fucking shitty for a man to have discussions with women about feminism but continually twist people’s words and play stupid fucking games.

    I’m not twisting words and I’m not playing games.

    So you are saying that having the event at [t]his venue promotes rape culture then? Just that they are too dumb (as presumably are the rest of us) to notice that till radfems point it out?

    I wrote that Dunbar-Ortiz appears to believe that kink.com promotes rape culture and that this is not the organisers’ intent. Obviously, the meaning and significance of the contents of kink.com, especially its political significance and cultural impact, is contested.

    So women in the sex industry hav[e] crimes committed against them, but sometimes consent to them?

    Yes, crimes are committed against women in the sex industry; no, they do not consent to these crimes being committed (by definition — assuming that by ‘crime’ one means things like rape (and) sexual assault).

  16. Doug says:

    Performing in sex videos isn’t prostitution, nor is it glorifying rape, in fact there have recently been a few fairly in depth studies of the lifestyles of female porn performers and they reveal a very different picture of the type of person the Radfems claim is involved in the industry. I’m not suggesting there’s no crossover between the two lines of work but even though like a lot of outgoing people they are often natural risk takers in the majority of cases it seems that the porn starlets are reasonably balanced and self confident people.

    http://www.livescience.com/25058-porn-stars-self-esteem-spirituality.html

    For those who absolutely must persist with this silly gendered theory there are other things to worry about in porn, for example why do male performers only make about a third the wage of females? In a similar vein why is it that there is rarely any sensual treatment of the male physique in hetero pornography, in many cases the actor’s face is not even seen, he’s just a disembodied penis, the only time the male body is studied to any degree is in Gay movies.

  17. @Doug. Both are forms of sex work and it doesn’t help anyone to throw one form of sex worker under the bus (in this case full service sex workers, and just so you know most of us find the term prostitute offensive) in an attempt to argue the legitimacy of another form. The work may be different but all sex workers face a lot of the same stigma, especially when it comes to the anti sex work radfem stance where we are all painted by the same brush.

    And the rest of your comment just sounded like “what about the menz”. While I don’t support an anti sex work stance, for any sector of the sex industry, I also don’t think it is some women-ruled parallel reality where men are oppressed because of their gender.

    There are valid criticisms of some of the practices at kink.com (criticisms coming from the people who have worked there) but if these criticisms are hijacked in order to push anti porn and anti kink dogmas then the only people who benefit will be people like Dines and the people who have the most at stake will have gained nothing and lost a lot.

  18. Doug says:

    @ anarcha sexworker
    I wasn’t arguing one way or another merely pointing out a contradiction, the perception of injustice to women in the professional porn industry can’t be sustained on economic grounds, merely on the basis of personal tastes and ideology.
    The kind of gross profiteering which occurred in the Hollywood porno industry in the 1980s and 90s is largely a thing of the past, it’s business model has been undermined by technology, by free porn sites and the cottage industry of DIY performers with their own private subscriber base.

    I think we both know that a normal person can understand sex work and pornography, it’s the zealots at either end of the political spectrum who are confused and they can’t (or won’t) understand anything because they have tunnel vision.

    @ndy, please elaborate on the “utility” of rape culture, at this point I can’t see any use for it, but then I’m just a simple Anarch, not an “Anarchist”, I need something solid to hang on to.

  19. @ndy says:

    @Anarcha Sexworker:

    1. It’s true to say that many radfems view the sex industry as highly exploitative, especially of women, and argue for its abolition. How they intend to achieve this varies, from legislative and political measures thru to cultural and social revolution. Like Emma Goldman, I think the merciless Moloch of capitalism is to blame.

    2. Dines describes the material on kink.com as torture porn. This is not a bad description. Much of the content on the site involves women being subject to painful treatment. It is a BDSM site, after all. She further claims that the activities featured on the site — women and some men are “stretched out on racks, hogtied, urine squirting in their mouths, and suspended from the ceiling while attached to electrodes, including ones inserted into their vaginas” — are a violation of the United Nations Convention Against Torture. She argues that it’s simply not possible for women to consent to these practices: both by law and because the women “like others who enter porn, are young and often don’t know the full extent of what will happen on the set, and cannot anticipate the lasting psychological and emotional effects”.

    I think Dines is mistaken to describe the activities depicted on kink.com as a violation of the Convention: the prisoners at Abu Ghraib, to whom she compares the workers at kink.com, are in a very different position. I’m also not convinced that women and men are unable to give informed consent to engaging in these practices. Partly, this is an empirical question, and in this context it should be noted that questions have been raised regarding the alleged violation of boundaries by the bosses at kink. But I think it also worth noting that simply because an act is ‘consensual’, it is not therefore beyond criticism…

    3. Dunbar-Ortiz describes the kink.com building as a corporate dungeon — again, a fairly accurate description — and therefore not a suitable site for an anarchist gathering. In selecting the site, Dunbar-Ortiz argues that bookfair organisers have given kink.com its “stamp of approval”. This is arguable. She also speaks as a feminist: “I am equally embarrassed as a feminist at a time when violence against women and rape culture are epidemic”. In other words, the eroticisation of women’s pain on kink.com is incompatible with or antagonistic to attempts to minimise violence against women outside of their corporate dungeon. Again, this is arguable.

    4. As I see it, the debate revolves around several key points. One is ‘what does it mean that the bookfair has selected a particular venue?’ As I noted on Facebook:

    In terms of the bookfair, the main concern expressed by organisers — and the reasons for their decision to become kinky — was that the previous venue was too expensive and no suitable alternative could be found.

    The organisers list the following as criteria:

    Costs below $10,000 for two full days of rental (including tables, chairs, security)
    Can accommodate 100 6-ft vendor tables indoors
    Has a separate room (or two) for speakers that has a minimum capacity of 50
    Is accessible by public transportation
    Will not object to the political nature of the event

    Given these criteria, the ownership of the venue, and the uses to which any profit might be made, is completely irrelevant. In a sense, then, the ‘debate’, such as it is, is over before it’s begun. Of course, this assumes that there aren’t other criteria, which are unstated. Thus it would be difficult to believe that the organisers would truly be unconcerned if a venue were found which was owned, for example, by a company dedicated to union-busting, or devoted to some other, objectionable practice… Perhaps.

    So: what does it mean to be a client of a business like kink.com as opposed to, say, a University? According to the bookfair organisers, it means little; according to Dunbar-Ortiz, the organisers have given kink.com the official stamp of approval.

    Another issue concerns kink.com as employer. That is, leaving aside the nature of the work — men and women being subject to pain and torment — are workers ‘fairly’ compensated, for example? What are their working conditions? I’ve linked to a few accounts which claim conditions are worse than the owners claim; further, that workers (performers) are financially rewarded for not reporting what would otherwise be considered abuse.

    A further issue concerns the nature of the work — as work — and ‘BDSM’ as a category of sexual activity. That is, kink.com is a business: an organisation dedicated to profit. As such, and like other businesses, it’s subject to commercial pressures, and these pressures are what provide the context for the labour performed by its employees. In a non-commercial context, I think BDSM presents similar problems (and opportunities) to other forms of sexual expression.

    5. Beyond this, I think that for anarchists in particular (but also many other radicals), specific issues arise when notions of agency, autonomy, consent and voluntary servitude come into play (if you’ll pardon my — awful — pun). Thus one of the recurrent themes in political philosophy is the limits of state power. These boundaries are established, typically, only in some mythological sense, by the consent of the governed. On the other hand, there are moral, philosophical and political questions surrounding the notion of the will to power. What kinds of distinction can be made between the personal (sexual) and the political (public) is another area of enquiry. The following quote by a bondage enthusiast I think helps to highlight why these sorts of questions are of particular concern to anarchists, and hence why the site of the bookfair is controversial:

    …there is danger and sometimes abuse in the BDSM community, the same way there is abuse in all communities. But that goes for any group where power and status are involved. Yet Saletan isn’t calling for the abolition of government. Or sports teams. Or the Catholic priesthood.

    I guess one of the things I’m trying to communicate is that I don’t view the issues raised by this controversy as simple or reducible to the proposition that X = Bad and Y = Good.

    6. I’ve been blogging regularly since the end of 2005 — so over seven years now. I occasionally refer to industrial matters — the last time I did so was in October last year re a dispute in Geelong (Little Creatures) and in the previous month I blogged about one at Domino’s (in which anarcho-syndicalists took part). Generally speaking, I’m happy to promote community pickets, typically when they’re promoted by groups like the (temporarily?) moribund Workers Solidarity Network. You’re correct that I’ve not blogged about sex worker rights, but if not blogging about something is evidence of either disinterest or hostility, then there’s vast realms of life for which I’m a hater. In any case, whatever support for or interest I have in sex workers’ rights, their health and well-being, has taken place outside of my blog, and is more likely to have involved a chat over a cup of tea than a pledge of support for an industrial campaign.

    Your comment also brought to mind an earlier criticism:

    Davey boy says:
    April 1, 2010

    What’s notable about your blog is that any serious commentary relating to workers issues – which you give links to – has very virtually zero commentary, or is dam[n]ing. The Westgate issue – zero comments; Ark – zero comments; your inflam[m]atory KKK article – nothing but hostility.

    But when you talk about sects, who your readers shitcan, the commentators have plenty to say. I’d suggest this is indicative of a crappy site, crowded out by dheads.

    In any event, you may be right about there being little interest by anarchists in sex worker rights, but I’m not yet convinced. Or rather, I think the reasons for this are pretty mundane/I’m not sure it carries the implications you do. To begin with, there are very, very few anarchists in Australia. Thus if there are 20,000 sex workers in the country, these vastly outnumber the anarchists. Further, while I really have only anecdotal evidence to rely upon, those anarchists I know to have been sex workers who have also engaged in industrial organising have done so without attaching the anarchist label to it (a phenomenon which is not confined to the sex industry).

    Is there a particular organising project you think anarchists should support?

  20. @ndy says:

    @Felix Wilde:

    On Brownmiller: isn’t she the same one who suggested rape is a conspiracy by all men everywhere to keep all women everywhere in a state of perpetual fear? I damn well hope she renounced that view on rape too.

    I’m not sure she uses the term ‘conspiracy’, but she does have a rather odd conception of history.

    Man’s discovery that his genitalia could serve as a weapon to generate fear must rank as one of the most important discoveries of prehistoric times, along with the use of fire and the first crude stone axe. From prehistoric times to the present, I believe, rape has played a critical function. It is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which *all men* keep *all women* in a state of fear.

    @Doug:

    Performing in sex videos isn’t prostitution…

    Er…

    …nor is it glorifying rape, in fact there have recently been a few fairly in depth studies of the lifestyles of female porn performers and they reveal a very different picture of the type of person the Radfems claim is involved in the industry. I’m not suggesting there’s no crossover between the two lines of work but even though like a lot of outgoing people they are often natural risk takers in the majority of cases it seems that the porn starlets are reasonably balanced and self confident people.

    I dunno. I haven’t read any studies on the mental health of female sex workers in the pornographic film industry; the link you provide is to a summary of a journal article. I dunno if I could be bothered reading it. I’m not sure it makes sense to describe these women or explain their participation in the industry in terms of personality traits such as being extroverted.

    For those who absolutely must persist with this silly gendered theory there are other things to worry about in porn, for example why do male performers only make about a third the wage of females? In a similar vein why is it that there is rarely any sensual treatment of the male physique in hetero pornography, in many cases the actor’s face is not even seen, he’s just a disembodied penis, the only time the male body is studied to any degree is in Gay movies.

    I’m not sure what the silly gendered theory thing is; the reasons male performers earn less, on average, than female performers, is a question of economics; the content of pornography is usually explained in similar terms. That is, the market for ‘hetero’ pr0n is largely male and men don’t consume it in order to see an actor’s face or penis (other than as an instrument).

    …the perception of injustice to women in the professional porn industry can’t be sustained on economic grounds, merely on the basis of personal tastes and ideology.

    Really? Why not on the basis that they’re workers whose labour is used to generate a profit for others? Is that not exploitation? Is that not injustice?

    @ndy, please elaborate on the “utility” of rape culture, at this point I can’t see any use for it, but then I’m just a simple Anarch, not an “Anarchist”, I need something solid to hang on to.

    I suppose one way of arguing for its relevance is by way of looking at the stats regarding men’s sexual violence towards women. A pattern of abuse would suggest something about our culture.

  21. @ndy says:

    The problem of leisure
    What to do for pleasure
    Ideal love a new purchase
    A market of the senses
    Dream of the perfect life
    Economic circumstances
    The body is good business
    Sell out, maintain the interest
    Remember Lot’s wife
    Renounce all sin and vice
    Dream of the perfect life
    This heaven gives me migraine
    The problem of leisure
    What to do for pleasure

    Coercion of the senses
    We are not so gullible
    Our great expectations
    A future for the good
    Fornication makes you happy
    No escape from society
    Natural is not in it
    Your relations are of power
    We all have good intentions
    But all with strings attached

    Repackaged sex keeps your interest

    The problem of leisure
    What to do for pleasure
    Ideal love a new purchase
    A market of the senses
    Dream of the perfect life
    Economic circumstances
    The body is good business
    Sell out, maintain the interest
    Remember Lot’s wife
    Renounce all sin and vice
    Dream of the perfect life
    This heaven gives me migraine
    This heaven gives me migraine
    This heaven gives me migraine

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