I’m writing this on an airplane from Toronto, Ontario, to San Francisco, California. I’ve just spent six days among other women, other queers, other porn performers, and other feminists at the Feminist Porn Awards and the Feminist Porn Conference. In that time, I have witnessed moments that made my heart soar, my eyes tear up with love and the fiercest of joys, pride in the people I hold close to me. I have experienced moments that hurt my heart, that disappointed me, moments that underlined how privilege can alienate and divide us. I spoke to academics, I spoke to sex workers, I spoke to sex workers who were academics. It was a weekend of realizations, inspiration, determination … and I came away from it all feeling exhilarated and ready to change the world.
I also realized that the sex wars are still very much A Thing. There are still Good Feminists and Bad Feminists, though the definition of which is which varies depending on who you ask. It’s saddening to see us fighting each other, women who have been called prudes for asserting their sexual choices attacking women who have been called whores for asserting their sexual choices … and vice versa. This is, of course, exactly what the patriarchy wants. While we bicker about whether or not porn is empowering, we are being systematically marginalized, turned away from jobs, thrown out of school, our kids and our workspaces and our money and our privacy taken away from us. The act of having sex on film or any other sex work may empower some and humiliate others, or we might start feeling one way and eventually feel another. (The same holds true for food service workers, though we ask that question far less often). In our current culture we are all experiencing and navigating the effects of capitalist patriarchy. Keep reading »
It’s easy to say that pornography is empowering for women, or that it degrades them. Oversimplifying, certainly, but easy.
The truth is it’s much more complicated than that.
I was 19 when I realized I could go to college without the debt that my friends were already beginning to complain about. I could take care of myself. It was when I held in my hand $100 for one hour of nude modeling, something I never even realized a chubby girl could make money doing. I was juggling three jobs that paid me only twice that amount per 40-hour week doing physically stressful work for minimum wage.
At the time, it was simple mathematics. Keep reading »
We’re pretty intrigued by this photo series project called “Feminism is not a means to just justify self entitlement,” in which signs held by a man and a woman clarify what it can mean to be in a relationship while being a feminist. I know I’ve definitely had moments where I’ve gotten caught up in where feminism fit within traditional dating rituals; this series explains some points of confusion about gender roles and simply being a loving partner.
Do these pictures resonate with you or do you feel like they already go without saying? I find myself leaning in both ways — these are important points that some people don’t understand, but I would hope a reasonably thoughtful person doesn’t need the difference between chivalry and oppression to be spelled out. I’d love your thoughts. [Jezebel, Imgur]
Recently, London comedian Jenny Collier tweeted a screen grab of an email she received from a booker informing her that she was kicked off a show because there were too many women already on the line-up.
Yes. That’s right. Keep reading »
“Of course I’m a feminist … I know that I get talked to in label meetings and by executives like a woman. It’s demoralising and sneering, and we apparently don’t have an opinion. It’s done in a way to make you feel ashamed, whether they know they’re doing it or not. There are women in the room, in those meetings, and no-one says, ‘Don’t talk to her like that.’ That’s the only way I feel like it’s going to change, when people start saying, ‘You can’t fucking do that!’”
Lily Allen fans were collectively confused last week when the pop star was quoted in The Shortlist saying she “hates” the word feminism because “it shouldn’t even be a thing anymore.” The “Hard Out Here” singer continued that there was no “man version of feminism” and that “I don’t think men are the enemy, I think women are the enemy.” The blogosphere veritably exploded. Plenty of people wondered why Lily, who has spoken up about feminism, politics and body image issues numerous times, would say such a thing. Well, she would like a do-over: Lily told the UK’s The Debrief that she was misquoted and misunderstood. What she apparently meant was that feminism should no longer need to exist, because men and women should be treated equally, and that jealousy amongst women is as harsh as anything the patriarchy does. I still think she should be more careful how she speaks, though. [The Debrief UK] [Image via Getty]
Before she transcribed this interview, our intern told me that she wasn’t entirely sure who Anita Hill was. I could hardly blame her. Even with a segment on the Anita Hill testimony during a gender studies class in college, I didn’t know too much about Anita Hill myself.
The new documentary,”ANITA,” revisits Anita Hill’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991 after she revealed that her former employer, Clarence Thomas, had sexually harassed her. A quiet law professor in Oklahoma, Hill had privately revealed the sexual harassment she suffered under Thomas, which was then leaked to the press. Immediately thrust in the public eye, she was asked to publicly testify against Thomas and decided to go for it. Sexual harassment laws were on the books, but this was the first time in many people’s memory that a woman subordinate to a very powerful man had spoken out. Not at all surprisingly, Hill was repeatedly asked to repeat graphic testimony about Thomas’ behavior; she was accused of being a liar or a “scorned woman”; and worst of all, treated as if it were her character that was under consideration. That both Hill and now Supreme Court Justice are both Black only added another layer of pressure to her decision to speak up. Thomas famously accused the 14 all-white men seated on the Senate Judiciary Committee investigating Hill’s allegations of conducting a “high tech lynching.” (He later blamed “pro-choice liberals” for going after him.) Eventually, Thomas was narrowly confirmed by the Senate. Keep reading »
If you’ve done any reading on the Internet about the business of sex work, chances are you’ve come across Melissa Gira Grant. She’s written about sex, politics, labor and tech everywhere from the UK’s Guardian to The Atlantic to Jezebel and Valleywag, making her one of the top intellectuals to turn to when America needs an explanation about why we’re so weird about sex.
A former “web cam girl,” Grant just published her latest book, Playing The Whore: The Work Of Sex Work, which is unlike any book about sex work or feminism that I’ve ever read. In it, she critiques law enforcement’s treatment of actual or perceived sex workers; labor issues surrounding sex work; and the tendency for governments and some outreach workers to treat all sex workers as “victims” in need of being “rescued.” However complicated you might have thought issues pertaining to sex work were before, Grant’s excellent book is extraordinarily illuminating.
Grant recently spoke to me about “whore stigma,” feminism, police, and the media’s struggle to accurately cover sex workers. Our Q&A begins after the jump: Keep reading »
“As I was watching [Beyoncé's visual album] I felt very conflicted, I felt her message felt very conflicted in the sense that on the one hand she is putting herself in a category of a feminist, but then the camera, it felt very male, such a male voyeuristic experience of her.”
Emma Watson and Rookie Mag editor Tavi Gevinson had a chat for Wonderland magazine and naturally the subject turned to Beyoncé (because every subject eventually turns to Beyoncé) and feminism. Tavi gave a much longer, well-thought-out response with her opinions about Beyoncé, sexuality and agency, but I tend to agree with how Emma Watson feels here. That is, I generally enjoy Bey’s music but I’m conflicted about her lyrics and some imagery in her videos. It seems to me that Bey sings and presents some problematic stuff in her videos, but everyone just fawns all over her anyway, for being a mega-super-famous superstar who identifies as feminist. (I am also fairly certain this viewpoint might get me fired from The Frisky, as Amelia is Beyonce’s number one fan, as in she wants to wear Bey like a skin suit. If I’m not here Monday, you know what happened.) [NYMag.com via Wonderland]