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Regarding the Sex Industry and “Empowerment”, Part 1

Posted by A birch tree on April 4, 2008

Ok, so, this was the rant that inspired me to start a blog in the first place. I posted this at a site with many members who are very hostile to radical feminism or any critique of pornography and the sex industry at large. So, I decided to maybe save this idea to a place where it might be more permanantly kept, and easier to refer to if I, or anyone else, needs the ideas contained therein.

This has been edited slightly to make it more blog-relevant than messageboard-relevant.

Feminists seek empowerment for women. That’s pretty much a given. The “sex-pos” crowd claims, among other things, that the sex industry is a road to that empowerment.

What kind of empowerment are we talking about here?

Prostitutes don’t seem very empowered to me. See Prostitution Research for lots of facts and information, to wit:

  • The vast majority of prostitutes world-wide don’t want unions; they want out
  • The vast majority of prostitutes are against the legalization of prostitution
  • Even in the USA, a significant number of prostitutes were trafficked across borders against their will; slavery is still alive and well in the US sex industry
  • 68% of prostitutes in the US suffer from PTSD; a rate higher than soldiers returning from Iraq

How is that empowerment? How is fighting for the right of women to become a prostitute “empowering” them? And is it the same kind of “empowerment” males like me enjoy? I don’t have to worry about any of that to make a comfortable living and be taken seriously by the culture’s dominant group.

Strippers aren’t particularly empowered, either. I’ve been to strip clubs, and I fail to see how a woman can be empowered when she is crawling on her hands and knees with her butt in the air while dirty, ugly dudes stuff dollar bills between her breasts, or while pretending to be orgasmically excited by the act of grinding into the lap of some of the grodiest huggers in the world while they try to finger her without the bouncer noticing. That’s not exactly the kind of “empowerment” I want, and I’m pretty glad I don’t have it.

I’d also like to point out that even if a woman can feel empowered by such a profession, does it really make her more powerful? More well-respected? More able to fight off oppression and degredation in daily life, more resistant to laws and policies which deny her personhood?

If so, I fail to see how; in fact, I live in a Navy barracks, I know exactly what men think of strippers, and the language is some of the crudest and most misogynist I’ve ever had the misfortune to encounter, so respect is out the window. The very process of giving a lap dance is pretty much inherently degrading; at least, I know I’d feel pretty degraded if I had to pretend I was enjoying dry-humping a woman who weighed 300lbs and hadn’t showered in weeks just to earn a few dollars stuffed into my thong while she called me the foulest names and blatantly copped feels. Is it the “sex-positive” feminist’s position that women actually enjoy doing that? Maybe they really are so vastly different than men in their desires and thought patterns that I could never begin to understand them, if that’s the case.

I can’t think of any job, at any salary, that men have to do for which sexual harassment is not only common, but enduring it every single day is part of my job description, and if I could think of such an occupation, I sure as hell wouldn’t call it “empowered”.

Personally, I’d feel a lot more empowered as a CEO or a journeyman carpenter than as a Chippendale’s dancer… but maybe I’m just strange.

Finally, we have pornography. What are women “empowered” to do when they’re porn stars? Do they make a lot of money, at least? I don’t know… I hear men say that alot, but even Jenna Jameson doesn’t own the rights to any of her movies; her husband does. In fact, the vast, VAST majority of money going into porn goes straight into mens’ wallets rather than womens’ purses. Seems like porn is about empowering men to make money off of womens’ bodies rather than empowering women to do anything at all.

Especially with as violent as pornography is becoming; is it the position of “sex-positive” feminists that women actually enjoy and are empowered by A2M, double- and triple-penetration, facial shots, donkey punches, rape scenes, and worse? I doubt it.

Jersey Jaxin left pornography, and gives an interview about what went on both behind and in front of the camera. Why don’t we call her up and tell her how “empowered” she really was? I’m sure she’d appreciate the info.

Jersey Jaxin, Pt. 1
Jersey Jaxin, Pt. 2

Also, Gail Dines makes a great speech about pornography in this video; I wish I could find more on the conference, because there was also an excellent study presented about the kinds and prevelance of sexual violence in the industry’s top-selling movies, but I guess that bit didn’t get onto youtube.

I, as a male, enjoy lots of empowerment. I have the power to walk into an employment office with no skills and no education and walk out with a job as a construction electrician’s helper, and the power to work my way up to electrician, job foreman, project manager…. the sky’s the limit. And at no point is rape an occupational hazard. At no point does my job description include smiling coyly at a fat, smelly, sweaty man waving a five dollar bill at me yelling “bring that snatch over here!”. At no point do I have to pretend to enjoy incredibly painful, body-punishing acts of penetration as a condition of my continued employment.

So am I equally empowered as a prostitute, stripper, or porn star? The kind of “empowerment” that the sex-positive feminists talk about is really nothing more than the power to gain male acceptance as sexual objects, because I can’t find any other power they’re getting. It really seems like that model puts the power in male hands more firmly than it is already.

If women in this society really had true empowerment over their bodies and their lives, there would be a lot less pornography, a lot fewer strippers, and a lot less prostitution. Those industries exist solely for the benefit of men, and are all exceptionally harmful to women.

Or maybe I’m just blind, and am missing the “empowerment” part. It seems like that this is the kind of “empowerment” just about every male in the world can readily get behind, because for the most part, it’s exactly what they wish women would be anyway; what red-blooded american male doesn’t want a nympho stripper/porn star in bed exploring her “sexual liberation”?

True sexual liberation is the abilty to say “no, I don’t want to have sex right now” and have it stick. The sex industry only gives women the ability to say “yes”. How is that liberating? How is that empowering? It’s not even novel. The ability to say “no” and have that “no” respected would be incredibly revolutionary. The ability to say “yes” is what men have been fighting for women to have since the beginning of time.

A woman who says “no, I will not be in a relationship with a man who uses porn or goes to strip clubs” is not seen as exercising her sexual liberation, she’s seen as a prude who apparently just needs a good fucking. Apparently “sexual freedom” only means the freedom to have wild, kinky sex, go to strip clubs, and watch porn, not the freedom to say “no, I won’t tolerate those abuses of my body and my sense of self-worth”.

And it’s THAT power which will really shake the world up in terms of equality. So of course, that’s the stuff that’s met the with most violent, nasty resistance.


4 Responses to “Regarding the Sex Industry and “Empowerment”, Part 1”

  1. […] Birch Tree also has a great series Regarding the Sex Industry and Empowerment. This is from part […]

  2. stormy said

    Hi Birchtree

    I watched the two YouTubes, also discovered that Shelley Lubbin, a former ‘pornstar’ is helping other women get out of the industry and exposing the industry for what it is. So here is a link dump:

  3. stormy said

    I forgot to add, that whilst Ms Lubbin is doing the right thing, it is a shame that she discovered Gawd rather than Radical Feminism. Shame.

  4. I believe the porn movie content analysis presentation you are looking for can be found here:
    Video Presentation: A Content Analysis of 50 of Today’s Top Selling Porn Films (explicit language)

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