Illegitimate

Illegitimate

The most important lesson of the “Me Too” phenomenon has, of course, gone completely ignored:  it is the same as the most important lesson that ubiquitous cell phone video and Donald Trump’s presidency have taught us, which is that absolutely no one, no matter how respected by peers or loved by the masses or showered with professional accolades by superiors, can be trusted with power over other people.  Any power which can be misused, will be misused, and even if a given holder of power manages to do too little evil with it to be noticed, you can safely bet the farm that other individuals with the same power, either contemporary power-holders or inheritors of that power, will misuse it in some more spectacular fashion.  People with control over others’ livelihood will use it to extort sex; people with “authority” to inflict violence without personal consequence will do so, arbitrarily and capriciously, even upon women and children; people who believe themselves immune to the caprice of authoritarian thugs will not hesitate to summon those thugs in hope of inflicting violence upon others who somehow annoy or upset them; people with “authority” to impose ridiculous laws on others will do so even if they are fully aware of the damage those laws will do; and mad emperors supported by a chorus of sycophants will give orders so bizarre and logically incoherent they make the promotion of an actual horse to high political office look mild and benign in comparison.  And yet people refuse to learn what is right in front of their faces; they instead fetishize the magical power of “democracy” (a fancy name for mob rule) to somehow locate and elevate to rulership individuals who actually can be trusted with power, despite the obvious fact that no such human exists, or ever has, or ever will.

Humans are not yet ready for pure anarchy, and may never be; however, there are functional anarchist societies (I happen to be a member of one), and a small government of strictly-enumerated powers with ironclad guarantees of individual rights is probably the closest we will ever come to a just and incorruptible one.  As I wrote in “A Necessary Evil“, a large part of the problem is that people’s moral perspectives are blighted by a sick infatuation with government, a belief that there are some circumstances in which it’s not only tolerable but desirable to inflict violence on people who have done none to others, in furtherance of some pipe-dream of Utopia.  But this is the vile and barbaric belief-system of savages; as I point out every year on this daynations and empires are as mortal as living creatures, and none enjoy the mandate of Heaven.

As I wrote in “Tiger, Tiger“:

“…no person is morally bound to obey “authorities” merely because he or she happens to be physically located within imaginary lines on a map…the moral authority of ANY politician…is exactly as legitimate as the moral authority of a tiger pissing on trees to mark its territory.  In other words, one should be mindful that there’s a dangerous and irrational animal in the area…but that animal’s behavior doesn’t represent “justice” or a “social contract” or “divine right” or anything else but the predictable behavior of a violent animal with no understanding of what right & wrong actually mean.  “Authorities”, like tigers, are best avoided unless they’re locked up in cages where they can’t maim others…they are NOT to be given…any kind of obedience or deference except what’s minimally necessary to get away safely if one happens to run into one…”

There is not and in fact cannot be any such thing as “legitimate” authority, whether that authority is chosen by elections, lots, birth, examining goat entrails, or pulling swords out of lakes.  And until humans collectively get that through their thick simian skulls, we are doomed to suffer an endless succession of evil rulers stomping on human freedom and dignity until they at last succeed in wiping us all out.

Republished from The Honest Courtesan with permission granted by the author, Maggie McNeill

Illegitimate

The State, Individuals, and Decriminalizing Sex Work

The chair of the Libertarian Party of Chicago, Justin Tucker, and Outright Libertarians recently hosted heroic sex worker rights activist, journalist, and proprietor of The Honest Courtesan blog, Maggie McNeill, while she was promoting her latest book of short stories, The Forms of Things Unknown.

Maggie has been a sex worker rights activist since 2004. She regularly reports on sex work news, critiques the way her profession is treated in the media and by governments, and has become renowned as an expert on the subject by academics and journalists alike. Her work has been featured in Cato Unbound, Reason Magazine, and she was most recently interviewed on renegade historian Thaddeus Russell’s new podcast, Unregistered.

Before the Chicago event, Maggie sat down with Hard Lens Media’s Kit Cabello to discuss individual liberty, the fight over sex work decriminalization in America, and the expansive power of the state to regulate, degrade, and persecute individuals engaged in voluntary association and peaceful commerce.

Illegitimate

The Power of Passivity

[Editor’s Note: Maggie McNeill will be joining the Libertarian Institute for an event Friday, June 23, 2017, in Chicago alongside the Libertarian Party and Sex Workers Outreach Project – Chicago, among others, while on her book tour in the area June 21 – 24. More details on the event soon!]

Three years ago I wrote “Passive Voice“, an indictment of those who use that sentence form to shift blame from the actual culprit to some amorphous & anonymous scapegoat, or even to the victim.  Cops who murder people, for example, always shift blame from themselves with constructions like “shots were fired” and “he was struck by bullets”; it’s a bit harder when the assault the cop commits is a sexual one, but they still manage a subtle version even when they aren’t claiming it was “consensual” (because obviously women are all running around hankering to spread our legs for whatever random cop pulls us over on the highway).  This is done by a manipulation of the idea of consent; most people understand that consent obtained under certain circumstances is invalid, so it’s easy to choose words that imply invalid consent is a characteristic of the victim of a sexual assault rather than of her assailant.  A couple of weeks ago, for example, I saw a comment about this story containing the phrase, “a prisoner is unable to consent to sex”; though I understand what the commenter meant, I still refuse to phrase that in the way “authorities” prefer:  “She is unable to consent”, as though SHE was defective.  The problem isn’t that prisoners lack something (ability to consent), but that anyone in power in such a situation MUST be presumed to be using it coercively.  The “authorities” don’t want to phrase it as a problem with state actors (“People in power must be assumed to be coercive”), so they phrase it as a deficiency in prisoners (“People in jail cannot give consent”) instead.

This may seem like splitting hairs, but it isn’t by a long shot; years of speaking about legal minors as though they were small children who are literally unable to understand the ramifications of sex and therefore cannot be treated as fully-informed agents, has led to the idea that this is indeed the case.  The notion that a person 17-years-and-assorted-months old is literally a child, actually unable to give sexual consent, while the same person on her 18th birthday is fully adult & sexually competent even if she’s a sheltered virgin, is so ludicrous it tests the bounds of credulity, and yet people run around acting as though this were actually, factually true.

Teens having sex with one another, or even just flirting by sending partially-nude selfies, are labeled “victims” of “child rape”, regardless of how willing they were; whichever partner is older, or sometimes whichever is male, is on the other hand held to be a “sex criminal” or a “predator” because everybody knows that only predatory perverts are interested in sex with anyone below magic 18.  That’s right, there’s a detector in the brain that magically knows the actual, legal age of anyone the eyes gaze upon, and in healthy people of any age it totally shuts down sexual response if the person is even one second below the sacred Age of Shazam.

That such an absurd idea is so common is why I’m so suspicious of stories like this:  “Based on observations or tips, school staff now quietly keep an eye on kids they worry are sexually aggressive…the school intervenes if behavior threatens to escalate, whether the student is a kindergartener or about to graduate…” The story goes on to use words like “attacks” and “sexual assaults”, but in truth the majority of sexual contact between peers or near-peers is consensual; the only “aggressor” is the one teachers or administrators label as such, usually on the basis of age and/or sex.  The phrase “overly sexualized behavior”, which also appears therein, is very telling; it’s US bureaucratese for either “sexual behavior” or “behavior with sexual undertones”.

The reason for the passive construction is the aforementioned official US dogma that nobody under 18 has natural sexual impulses at all, so if anyone below that age demonstrates any sexuality at all, they must have been “sexualized” by someone or something.  Since any sexuality in any person below 18 is held to be “unnatural”, any external sexual behavior at all is “overly sexualized” and the young person displaying it is a “predator” because his peers are all below Magic 18.  Yet cops who commit willful murder, torture or rape are excused by the same linguistic sleight-of-hand; once we accept that responsibility can be shifted by words, we shouldn’t be surprised when the State uses that power to shift responsibility from its own actors, steal the agency of those it wishes to control, and assign blame to those it wishes to crush.

Republished with the author’s permission from her blog, The Honest Courtesan.

The Forms of Things Unknown: Short Stories by Maggie McNeill. JUST RELEASED! 

Buy your copy now at Amazon or your favorite bookseller.

Signed copies available for sale by Maggie McNeill via her website as well.

Illegitimate

A Brief History of Prostitution in the US

Since long before human beings were fully human, males have in general wanted more sex than females were willing to supply. And by the basic laws of economics, any demand will inevitably be met by someone willing to supply, if the price is right. Chimpanzees trade food for sex,1  and every human society ever recorded has a certain fraction of women who, for a fee, will provide sex to men outside of formal relationships such as marriage. In pre-industrial times sex work was one of the few ways a woman could make a good living for herself, and it is estimated that in the nineteenth century about 5.5% of the female population of the typical European or North American city was thus employed.2 Then, as now, businesspeople will often go where others fear to tread, so the fraction of sex workers among the earliest settlers in any land is always disproportionately high; in many Western frontier towns they were virtually the only women to be found, 3  and so many of the early female inhabitants of New Orleans were prostitutes that when a priest suggested to one of the first governors of Louisiana that he banish all “disreputable women”, the governor replied, “If I send away all the loose females, there will be no women left here at all.” 4

The governor’s attitude was not at all unusual for his time; though clergymen and moralists might press for the persecution of sex workers, government was largely uninterested. Prostitution was accepted as a fact of life even by those who disapproved of it, and the majority of American laws on the subject were municipal ordinances dealing with where, when and how a professional might ply her trade. 5  That started to change around the mid-19th century; the Age of Steam made it possible for large numbers of people to move about the globe freely in a way previously unprecedented in human history. 6  While before long-distance travel was for the few and the migration of large groups was a slow, arduous, overland process, the railroad and the steamship made it relatively inexpensive for individuals seeking a better life to go almost anywhere on Earth where they thought such a better life might be found. 7  Many of those migrants chose to seek their fortunes in the young and relatively open United States, much to the chagrin of the white Anglo-Saxon Protestants who dominated the country at that time. 8  And though the Jews, Irish, and Italians all suffered from prevailing racism, they were all at least European and their customs were not quite so alien. 9  When Chinese immigrants began to pour into California, however, it was another matter entirely; white Americans feared these new arrivals whose ways were so different from their own.10  Congress was loath to ban anyone from immigration on the basis of race or national origin, so it chose a stealthier approach: most female Chinese immigrants of the time were either prostitutes or second wives in polygamous marriages, so in 1875 Congress passed the Page Law, which banned the immigration of women for “lewd and immoral purposes”.11  In a way, the law backfired; Chinese men flooded into the country anyway (especially into California and New York), and since there was a shortage of Chinese women, many of them either patronized white prostitutes or set up small brothels and hired them; others married or cohabited with working-class white women.12  The self-appointed guardians of public morality were scandalized, and the seeds of moral panic were sown.

The existence of prostitutes required considerable cognitive gymnastics to reconcile with the Victorian view that women were intrinsically asexual. 13  While some writers opined that prostitutes were simply “lazy”14  and wished to avoid “real work,”15  the popular scholarly view was that prostitutes represented regressions to a more “primitive” type of woman.16  This racist view could be used to explain away non-European sex workers or those of supposedly “degraded” nationalities, but those involved in the increasingly popular “rescue” movement17  soon discovered to their horror that there were more than a few Anglo-Saxon prostitutes, including some middle-class girls of “good breeding” and education.18  It was therefore proposed that white prostitutes “had…fallen into the hands of ‘professional seducers’, who had manipulated their sexless victims into submission.”19  This narrative of helpless young white women forced into a life of exploitation, had tremendous popular appeal; it was heavily promoted from the 1880s on by organizations like the Salvation Army20  and found especially fertile soil in areas where white prostitutes worked alongside those of other ethnicities or catered to a nonwhite clientele. The myth of “white slavery”21  (as it was then called) also appealed to middle-class discomfort with female autonomy; if women who travelled large distances and made their way by either casual or professional prostitution could be cast as the victims of evil men, there was no need to rethink the notion of female helplessness.22  Women working as prostitutes far from their original homes did not get there by their own devices and then make the pragmatic decision to do a form of labor which paid vastly more than other “women’s work” and offered much better conditions; 23  no, they were brought there against their wills and forced into it by evil (but far more competent) men. Like all moral panics, the “white slavery” hysteria thus cast a challenge to prevailing social norms as a threat from outside forces to be fought.24

By the end of the first decade of the 20th century, America was consumed with a moral fervor to “rescue” helpless damsels in distress from sex and autonomy. “White slavery” became a popular theme of books, plays and the new motion pictures, and politicians were close behind; in 1910 Congress passed the infamously-vague25 White Slave Traffic Act (better known as the Mann Act),26  and in the next four years literally every American state criminalized prostitution itself,27  regardless of whether the woman was coerced. Before 1910, the actual transaction was not illegal in any state; by the end of 1914, it was illegal in all of them. To be sure, brothels were officially tolerated beyond that date in several places (New Orleans until 1917,28  Honolulu until 194429), and unofficially in many others for decades (New York Mayor La Guardia’s campaign against adult businesses in the mid-1930s demonstrated how common they were there30). But in general, prostitution in the United States was marginalized and persecuted from that point onward. In the second half of the 19th century, brothels had grown steadily larger and more opulent, employing ever-larger numbers of women in comfortable, safe surroundings which produced a tremendous amount of revenue for local governments; “parlor houses” like New Orleans’ Mahogany Hall and The Arlington, Chicago’s Everleigh Club, 31  and Mary Ann Hall’s in Washington DC32  were their times’ equivalent of Las Vegas, upscale entertainment for adults where sex was but one of the attractions. But after the advent of criminalization, all that was over, and sex workers were pushed into the shadows in much the same way as was another consensual activity just a few years later with the arrival of Prohibition. But while the country repented of the latter just a few years later in 1932, prostitution remained criminalized and Americans now seem to take for granted that this is simply the way things are.

For decades, sex work continued in the shadows; sex could be purchased at massage parlors, independent workers looked for likely customers at bars and hotels, and those who provided outstanding service drew referrals by word of mouth just as other businesses do. By the 1950s escort services started to become popular, and for the most part enforcement of the law concentrated on street workers, the smallest (roughly 15% of all American sex workers33) but most visible segment of the market. But those who were charged found themselves permanently stigmatized, unable to get other work because of a criminal record. Margo St. James, who founded COYOTE (the first sex worker rights organization) in 1973, argued that state control of women’s sexual behavior was something the young feminist movement should fight, and many feminists agreed: NOW made it part of their platform that same year.34  For a while, it looked as though the prohibition of sex work might soon follow the prohibition of alcohol: The gay rights movement was started by gay sex workers at the Stonewall Inn in 1969,35 Nevada had legalized closed brothels in 1971, 36  the Roe v. Wade decision was announced in 1973, and in 1976 COYOTE filed the lawsuit which would eventually (in 1980) lead to the settlement which decriminalized prostitution in Rhode Island until it was re-criminalized by new legislation in 2009.37  Unfortunately, all this ended with the AIDS epidemic, which allowed those who oppose sexual freedom to gain ascendancy both in the feminist movement and among the general public.

But after a lull of almost two decades, the US sex worker rights movement, inspired by the achievements of activists in Europe and Australia, returned to prominence. The internet, by making advertising and client screening cheap and easy, has enabled more sex workers than ever to work independently, out of sight of the police; the street segment of the market is now smaller than it’s ever been. At the same time, the internet has allowed sex workers to speak for themselves via blogging and social media, thus dispelling myths and allowing many more people to learn the truth of their lives. Of course, this has upset and infuriated those who wish sex workers persecuted and suppressed, so they have revived the old “white slavery” hysteria under a new name and redoubled their efforts to criminalize it. But such campaigns cannot last forever; in 2012 the United Nations adopted a policy of encouraging the decriminalization of sex work, 38  and many other prominent human rights organizations have as well. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has stated that he feels the court’s 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision (which declared sodomy laws unconstitutional) also invalidates prostitution law,39  so perhaps all that is needed is a test case to open the next chapter in the long history of sex work in the United States.

Republished with permission of the author. Originally published April 2012.

The Forms of Things Unknown: Short Stories by Maggie McNeill. JUST RELEASED! 

Buy your copy now at Amazon or your favorite bookseller.

Signed copies will soon be available for sale by Maggie McNeill via her website as well.


1 Maggie McNeill, An Older Profession Than You May Have Thought, THE HONEST COURTESAN (October 12, 2010), http://maggiemcneill.wordpress.com/2010/10/12/an-older-profession-than-you-may-have-thought/.

2 NICKIE ROBERTS, WHORES IN HISTORY: PROSTITUTION IN WESTERN SOCIETY 222 (1992).

3 See generally THADDEUS RUSSELL, A RENEGADE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES, Chapter 4 (2010).

4 Maggie McNeill, Storyville, THE HONEST COURTESAN (September 3, 2010), http://maggiemcneill.wordpress.com/2010/09/03/storyville/.

5 Historical Timeline of Prostitution, PROCON.ORG (last updated Jan. 31, 2012, 12:38 PM), http://prostitution.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000117.

6 See generally Ran Abramitzky et al., Europe’s Tired, Poor, Huddled Masses: Self-Selection and Economic Outcomes in the Age of Mass Migration, 102 AM. ECON. REV. 1832, 1832, 1836 (2012).

7 See generally Charles A. Wills, European Emigration, PBS.COM, http://www.pbs.org/destinationamerica/usim_wn.html (last visited August 18, 2013).

8 See generally Abramitzsky et al., supra note 6.

9 See generally LEONARD DINNERSTEIN, THE SUPREME COURT AND THE RIGHTS OF ALIENS (reprinted from THIS CONSTITUTION: A BICENTENNIAL CHRONICLE (1985)).

10 See generally Kerry Abrams, Polygamy, Prostitution, and the Federalization of Immigration Law, 105 COLUM. L. REV. 641, 642–43 (2005).

11 Id. at 643.

12 See Mary Ting Yi Lui, Saving Young Girls from Chinatown: White Slavery and Woman Suffrage, 1910–1920, 18 J. HIST. SEXUALITY 393, 394–95, 413 (2009).

13 Maggie McNeill, Déjà Vu, THE HONEST COURTESAN (June 25, 2011), http://maggiemcneill.wordpress.com/2011/06/25/deja-vu/.

14 Id.

15 Id.

16 Id.

17 See generally Lucy Bland, ‘Purifying’ the Public World: Feminist Vigilantes in Late Victorian England, 1 WOMEN’S HIST. REV. 397, 400–01, 407 (1992).

18 NICKIE ROBERTS, WHORES IN HISTORY: PROSTITUTION IN WESTERN SOCIETY 211–12, 218–19 (1992).

19 ROBERTS, supra note 18, at 225.

20 See generally Maxwell Ryan, Rescue the Perishing, SALVATIONIST.CA (May 17, 2011), http://salvationist.ca/2011/05/rescue-the-perishing/.

21 See generally LAURA MARIA AGUSTÍN, SEX AT THE MARGINS: MIGRATION, LABOUR MARKETS AND THE RESCUE INDUSTRY 119 (2007).

22 See id.

23 NICKIE ROBERTS, WHORES IN HISTORY: PROSTITUTION IN WESTERN SOCIETY 231 (1992)..

24 See generally STANLEY COHEN, FOLK DEVILS AND MORAL PANICS 9 (1972) (broadly discussing a wide variety of “moral panics,” defined by that author as occurring when a “condition, episode, person or group of persons emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests”).

25 See Javier Lavagnino, What is the Mann Act and is It Still Used by Law Enforcement?, FINDLAW BLOTTER (April 1, 2009, 10:02 AM), http://blogs.findlaw.com/blotter/2009/04/what-is-the-mann-act-and-is-it-still-used-by-lawenforcement.html (discussing the broadness and vagueness of the Act, and ways in which this has led to abuse of the Act for racial or political purposes).

26 Historical Timeline of Prostitution, PROCON.ORG (last updated Jan. 31, 2012, 12:38 PM), http://prostitution.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000117; see also White-Slave Traffic (Mann) Act, ch. 395, 36 Stat. 825 (1910).

27 See Historical Timeline of Prostitution, supra note 26.

28 Maggie McNeill, Storyville, THE HONEST COURTESAN (September 3, 2010), http://maggiemcneill.wordpress.com/2010/09/03/storyville/.

29 Maggie McNeill, Honolulu Harlots, THE HONEST COURTESAN (July 5, 2011), http://maggiemcneill.wordpress.com/2011/07/05/honolulu-harlots/.

30 Maggie McNeill, Polly Adler, THE HONEST COURTESAN (July 12, 2012), http://maggiemcneill.wordpress.com/2012/07/12/polly-adler/.

31 ROBERTS, supra note 18, at 209-212.

32 T. Rees Shapiro, D.C.’s Civil War Madam Could Keep a Secret, THE WASHINGTON POST (Apr. 29, 2013), http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/washingtons-civil-war-madam-could-keep-asecret/2013/04/26/515aa746-7143-11e2-ac36-3d8d9dcaa2e2_story.html.

33 Prostitution in the United states: The Statistics, PROSTITUTES’ EDUCATION NETWORK (last visited Oct. 15, 2013), http://www.bayswan.org/stats.html

34 Maggie McNeill, Coyote Beauty, THE HONEST COURTESAN (May 13, 2013), http://maggiemcneill.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/coyote-beauty/.

35 Stonewall Riots, WIKIPEDIA (last visited Oct. 15, 2013), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonewall_riots

36 See Historical Timeline of Prostitution, supra note 26.

37 Maggie McNeill, Challenge, THE HONEST COURTESAN (May 2, 2013), http://maggiemcneill.wordpress.com/2013/05/02/challenge/.

38 New UN report takes a stark look at links between sex work, HIV and the law in Asia and the Pacific, UNITED NATIONS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME (Oct. 18, 2012), http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/presscenter/pressreleases/2012/10/18/new-un-report-takes-a-stark-lookat-links-between-sex-work-hiv-and-the-law-in-asia-and-the-pacific.html

39 Maggie McNeill, Peeping Toms, THE HONEST COURTESAN (July 27, 2011), http://maggiemcneill.wordpress.com/2011/07/27/peeping-toms/.

(The section on the development of “white slavery” hysteria from the influx of Chinese immigrants was adapted by the author from her paper “Mind-witness Testimony”, to be published in the Albany Government Law Review, Spring 2014.)

 

 

Illegitimate

Policing Womanhood

It’s a sad fact that more women than men support the violent policing of women’s sexualities.  Think about that:  despite all the “feminist” rhetoric supporting a woman’s supposed right to control her body and sexuality, polls consistently show that more women than men are in favor of criminalizing prostitution; that is, more women than men believe male cops should deceive, rape, rob, brutalize, humiliate, cage and ruin the lives of other women for having sex for reasons of which these women disapprove.  Presumably-sane women, many of whom would call themselves “feminists”, think it’s perfectly OK for a state mostly run by men to make laws giving other men the “right” to guess why a particular woman is having sex, raping her if the cop claims it’s to “gather evidence”, then taking her possessions, locking her in a cage and inviting news media to splash her picture all over papers, TV and the internet…because her motivation for having sex is “wrong”.  They tacitly approve of her reputation being destroyed, her children abducted from her and any hope of a straight job forever closed to her because they wouldn’t have sex for the reasons she chooses to have it.  Oh, some of them like to pretend that they don’t want this to happen, claiming that the “Swedish model” decriminalizes sex workers (an obvious absurdity given “accessory” laws, “avails” laws, “brothel-keeping” laws, etc); however, even if it really did what the propaganda says, that would still mean they supported the principle of starving other women into homelessness and financial ruin for the “crime” of wrongthink.

There are a lot of theories, guesses and opinions as to why this might be, including mate-guarding (i.e., attacking other women their husbands might choose to fuck) and the idea that whores lower the price of sex by charging a flat fee rather than forcing men to accept a possible lifelong burden in order to get it.  And while these ideas might have some merit, they don’t explain why these same women aren’t equally upset by women who essentially give sex away, nor why lesbians are well-represented in the whore-hating crowd despite their sexual disinterest in men.  Now, it’s absolutely true that behaviors deriving from evolution aren’t logical; for example, a lot of human sexual behavior is clearly designed to increase the number of offspring that individual can produce, even if the individual has absolutely no conscious interest in producing children and even if he or she is sterile.  But given the human history of promiscuity and casual prostitution (read Sex at Dawn if you haven’t already), I’m not really convinced that whore-hating has a deep evolutionary motive, at least not directly; I think it’s more likely a byproduct of a general female behavior pattern which probably does have an evolutionary origin, but which isn’t specifically aimed at whores.

I don’t think it’s too controversial to say that in general, women tend to put more emphasis on social interactions than do men.  Baby girls stare at faces for longer than baby boys do, girls tend to travel in duos or small groups, women tend to have higher “social intelligence”, we work through difficulties by interacting with each other, we bond by sharing vulnerabilities, we emphasize consensus-building, etc, etc.  The reasons for this aren’t important to consider in this limited space; what does matter is that women have a much more pronounced tendency to think of ourselves as members of a group than men do, and a much stronger tendency to feel that the actions of other women reflect upon us.  In general, guys aren’t all that likely to be concerned that some individual dude’s behavior “makes all men look bad”, while it isn’t at all hard to find some collectivist “feminist” blathering about how the mere existence of Barbie, sex workers, sexy lingerie, kink, labioplasty or some other thing “demeans all women” or even “harms all women”.  Women trapped in this belief-system seem to imagine a deep and mystical interconnectedness of all women, as though we were all “merely the three-dimensional projections of a single hydra-like gestalt entity floating in hyperspace“; they therefore imagine that “any single woman’s sexual activities performed in private magically affect all women throughout the world as though we were one huge set of Corsican sisters, and therefore all women must submit to whatever limitations are imposed on our sexuality by our rightful leaders“.  Once one accepts the absurd premise, the anti-sex “feminist” demand for suppression of sex work actually makes a twisted kind of sense; to someone trapped in this horrifying belief-system, all the women in the world are stuck in one immense elevator together and the whores are smoking, farting and pissing on the floor.

The best evidence for my theory being the correct one is that, as I alluded to above, sex workers aren’t the only women policed in this fashion.  The women who demand the criminalization of commercial sex also tend to be anti-kink and bigoted toward transwomen; this cannot be explained by “mate guarding” or “sex price depression” theories, but it makes perfect sense in light of the notion that nonconforming women somehow “pollute” womanhood by our very existence.  The poison vomited out by Trans-Exclusionary “Radical” Feminists (TERFs) is especially telling (the fact that these women are in no way “radical” is a subject for another day); their screeds tend to be larded with nonsense about some imaginary monolithic “shared female experience” (as though there were such a thing) which excludes transwomen, and how that makes them not “real women” (a slur that, not coincidentally, is often hurled at sex workers as well).  Add to that the fact that TERFs are nearly always Sex Work Exclusionary “Radical” Feminists (SWERFs) as well, and I think we have a smoking gun.  But wait, there’s more:  as many bisexual women can attest, there are still quite a few lesbians out there (though, thank Aphrodite, not as many as there used to be) who insist that bi-women can’t have “real” lesbian relationships, or that we aren’t “really” queer, or whatever; when I tweeted about this last week I received no fewer than four replies to this effect from would-be Dyke Cops within two hours.  Back in my formative years in the ’80s, it was even worse; I was actually told by many older lesbians (older than me, that is; some were as young as 30-something) that “real” lesbians didn’t use dildoes on each other, that fisting was abhorrent, and that kink was basically a mortal sin (“How could you possibly want to hurt another woman?!?  What’s wrong with you?!?”)  It’s absolutely true that the latter kind of sex-act-policing has largely vanished from lesbian communities, but the fact that it ever existed speaks volumes.  There is a large and very vocal subset of women who are deeply horrified by the fact that other women are unlike them sexually, and many if not most of them are perfectly willing to use coercion – up to and including the threat of sexual violence inflicted by armed men – to punish these other women for the sin of being different.

Republished with permission from Maggie McNeill’s blog, The Honest Courtesan.

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Coming to Palestine

by Sheldon Richman

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