I’d like to propose a truce on this whole “sex wars” thing. It’s a battle that’s been raging since before my time, but that doesn’t mean it has to go on forever. No matter how we define ourselves, at the core of it we all want women to be treated as people, right? We want to end oppression, right? Correct me if I’m wrong, but if feminism had to be summed up in one sentence it would be fair to say that feminists “seek to end oppression” perhaps throwing in a comment on how feminism’s focus tends to be on gender.
So why do we have to tear into each other when it comes to… well, everything, really. But, talking about the sex wars, why is it when one of us makes a post on the sex work industry, it all too often is addressed to the “opposing side” which isn’t, as one would think, the industry itself, but rather the feminists who take a different approach?
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that women shouldn’t be the focus of this battle. And by that I mean we shouldn’t target them — we should target the sex work industry. When talking to feminists outside of our particular mindset, what’s to be gained by dragging the conversation down into the pros/cons of being a sex worker, or watching porn, or whatever? All it does is make it personal, therefore obscuring any useful conversation that could have taken place about the human rights abuses that do happen.
Listen, when it comes down to it, whether or not women should do sex work is a theoretical debate. The fact is, for good or ill, women do. And, even if you believe that no woman would freely choose that, it’s an ending point, not a starting one. If we want to stop the oppression, we gotta start with the begining, and it’s one I think we can all agree on: our sexual culture is hostile to women. Before we do anything, we have to change that.
So, are we going to sit here complaining about women and each other, or are we going to look into ways of changing the sexual culture so that the sex work industry can’t degrade, dehumanize, and traffic in the women unfortunate enough to not have a choice in how they work? Are we going to address pornography, not in terms of ban/not-ban, but rather in terms of critiquing content and treatment of the actors? What about looking at how popular culture feeds into and is influenced by sexual culture, and how that culture has a different standard for women than for men?
Respecting women starts with respecting each other.