A Feminism that Looks Out for Women


Not all of today’s young feminists accept the message that porn, prostitution and stripping are “liberating” for women. In this article from the Bucknell University student magazine The Counterweight, first-year student Lee Markison shares her disappointment that a university women’s group invited local “sex workers” to put on a sexually explicit show on campus:

Nipple tassels, “smut” stories, and strippers. One would expect the mere mention of these things to cause hordes of feminists to storm the nearest fraternity house complete with burning brassieres and demands that the oppressive men inside respect women. But we are living in strange times, and at Bucknell nipple tassels, “smut”, and strippers are apparently synonymous with feminism.

In mid-February the Bucknell University Conservatives Club was asked by the Bucknell Feminist Majority to help fund a show to bring sex workers (strippers, prostitutes, phone sex operators, etc.) to campus to celebrate their professions. “Of course we’ll fund it, we like free speech,” was the expected response. We respectfully declined, because while we hate the idea of censoring speech, we do not feel a need to support all speech…
Markison goes on to describe the performances, which included several strip shows punctuated by comic songs satirizing “those who think sex work is dangerous, unhealthy, and a poor choice for women.” Other musical offerings included a man lubing himself with baby oil while singing “Requiem for a ‘ho’ ass nigger,” an epithet he applied to antislavery heroine Harriet Tubman, among others.
If this leaves you scratching your head saying, “But, how does this promote a positive view of women?” fear not, you are not alone. I asked Annie Oakley, the leader of the troupe, that same question after the show. She replied by saying, “It promotes good body image, owning your sexuality…” I interrupted her answer by asking, “Is it good to promote owning your sexuality if a man is paying you to provide him with friction?” With a smile she replied, “Sure, yes it is” and marched on.

For two months now, we’ve seen all that the “Feminist Majority” at Bucknell has to offer women. We’ve seen V-Day Bucknell proudly declare that they are “Bucknell Vaginas”, and ask women, “What does your vagina smell like?” We saw them treat women as little more than a vagina, and all that implied.

Now a month after V-Day’s antics ended Bucknell was presented with an even more overt display from the Feminist Majority. Rather than promoting causes like ending the international sex trade, where countless women’s lives are ruined as they are sold into sexual slavery, Bucknell’s “feminists” made a joke of prostitution. Actually, what they did was worse; they celebrated it.

The supposed message of this show was that sex workers are people, they could be your neighbor, your sister, your mother (read your, not my) and you should not look down on them. Unfortunately, this message was lost by a stunning display of nipple tassels, political jabs, stripping, lubing, and overall degradation. It was in fact nothing short of a carnival promoting sex work and the supposed empowerment that it offers.
Read the full article.

6 thoughts on “A Feminism that Looks Out for Women

  1. *gasp*

    women who enjoy sex enough to be paid for it guilt free…

    *double gasp*

    women who challenge your victorian notions of “what women want”

    *triple gasp*

    (once again) conflating legitimate sex work in america with human trafficking and slavery. now that’s just shameful. SHAME ON YOU, MR. COHEN.

  2. Sounds like you need to read our FAQ:

    Q: Women enter the porn industry of their free will and are well-compensated. Why criticize their choice?

    A: We would argue that many women who enter the porn industry do so without appreciating their slim chances
    of a positive outcome. Others have their judgment clouded by drugs,
    sexual abuse and our pornified culture. STDs are endemic to the
    industry, and most porn actresses certainly exit the business quickly
    enough. As for the supposed rich pay, this is enjoyed only by a few.
    U.S. News reports (2/10/97):

    “There is a constant demand for new talent, and few actresses last more
    than a year or two… Checks sometimes bounce. The borderline legal
    status of the industry makes performers reluctant to seek redress in
    court… The highest-paid performers, the actresses with exclusive
    contracts, earn between $80,000 and $100,000 a year for doing about 20
    sex scenes and making a dozen or so personal appearances. Only a
    handful of actresses–perhaps 10 to 15–are signed to such contracts.
    Other leading stars are paid roughly $1,000 per scene. The vast
    majority of porn actresses are “B girls,” who earn about $300 a scene.
    They typically try to do two scenes a day, four or five times a week.
    At the moment, there is an oversupply of women in Southern California
    hoping to enter the porn industry. Overtime is a thing of the past, and
    some newcomers will work for $150 a scene.”

    You would also benefit from reading Dr. Layden’s testimony on The Science Behind Pornography Addiction:

    [Performers in the sex industry] have high rates of substance abuse,
    typically alcohol and cocaine, depression, borderline personality
    disorder which is a particularly serious disorder and dissociative
    identity disorder which used to be called multiple personality
    disorder. The experience I find most common among the performers is
    that they have to be drunk, high or dissociated in order to go to work.
    Their work environment is particularly toxic. One study on strippers
    indicated that they were likely to be punched, slapped, grabbed, called
    cunt and whore and to be followed home or stalked. Not surprisingly,
    these women often work with bodyguards. This live form of pornography
    causes violence and the customers receiving these Permission-Giving
    Beliefs become carriers of these beliefs back to their homes, onto
    their jobs, into the street, onto the school yard. There they encounter
    women and children who do not have bodyguards.

    The terrible work
    life of the pornography performer is often followed by an equally
    terrible home life. They have an increased risk of sexually transmitted
    disease including HIV, domestic violence and have about a 25% chance of
    making a marriage that lasts as long as 3 years.

    Shame on those who spread harmful misinformation without anything to back it up.

  3. A) Relevance of your “facts” about the adult film industry to the above description of burlesque performers?

    B) There is a slim chance that the neighborhood black top star will join the NBA. Yet many Black youths pursue a career in basketball (or boxing, or whatever) at the expense of other career paths. Should we raze basketball courts?

    C) The description of strippers work environment sounds incredibly dubious to me. Providence, RI boasts a number of strip clubs and I dare say that if one attempted to call a performers a “cunt” they’d be nursing a broken limb.

    D) Relevance of (alleged) drug use in the adult film industry to the above description of burlesque? You may also be shocked to find out that the music industry has high rates of cocaine, heroin and cannabis use. Please keep this in mind for your future website NoRecordStoresNorthampton.org

    E) The difference between underpaid sex work and underpaid work of other kinds seems unclear. Please unpack this for me. Perhaps all your “facts” (sans documentation) about pay rates in the adult film industry mean is that the performers need a good union.

    F) Implicit in this- and quite frankly, ALL of the material I’ve found on your site- is an idea of women who enjoy pornography similar to Queen Victoria’s position on lesbianism (i.e. that it doesn’t exist because women aren’t like that). Clearly any woman having anything but missionary sex in the dark in bed for the purpose of bearing children with a partner to whom she is legally and religiously bound has been duped by the patriarchy and our “pornified” culture. Correct or incorrect Mr. Cohen? I suggest that you take a walk one night down to any of our fair city’s lesbian-dominated haunts and count the number of women wearing leather wrist cuffs. It’s not a new fashion- it’s called “flagging” and that particular form of it refers explicitly to sado-masochism and bondage. Try explaining to these women the folly of their choices and please bring me with so I can witness it first hand…

  4. Yes, the number of people who will make it big in basketball or music is limited, but there can be benefits from these activities (exercise, teamwork, beautiful sounds) along the way. We say the benefits from being a porn worker are much smaller, and the inherent harm from the process (STDs, physical abuse) much greater.

    Maybe you’re polite to strippers in Providence, but those who study sex workers report this is not the general experience, especially in relation to those who employ or supervise sex workers.

    Drug use in the porn industry is a sign to us that porn workers are suffering and trying to escape from this suffering. It also suggests many are not making the “free choice” celebrated by some. That fact that people might be using drugs elsewhere doesn’t mean you can ignore it’s relevance to the debate at hand.

    We mention that many porn workers are poorly paid to counter the false assertion that they are generally well-compensated.

    Rather than prescribing a limited mode of sexual expression, we prefer to encourage people to look inside themselves and ask if they are on a good path. For some, that path might include leather wrist cuffs, for others, it might not.

  5. From our FAQ…

    FAQ: Some of your facts and arguments come from controversial sources like the Meese Commission or Andrea Dworkin. Do you endorse everything they did or wrote?

    A: Not necessarily. We have selected out facts and arguments from many sources when we feel they have merit. These sources may present other facts and arguments elsewhere that we might question or disagree with. This doesn’t mean the facts we do cite on our blog are invalid, or can be conveniently ignored.

    —————–
    Is it anti-feminist to observe that women are hurt to the point of crying in some porn productions, or that porn trains viewers to treat women badly?

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