Freedom . . .
“Sexuality is to feminism what work is to Marxism: that which is most one’s own yet most taken away.” - Catherine MacKinnon1
PERSONAL IS POLITICAL Introduction.
@X+ Manifesto (p 4)
I. Sexuality and the Illegitimized Woman An Introduction to Sex-Positive Feminism 1. Virgin/Whore: Dividing & Conquering Women (p 6) 2. Commoditizing the Female Body: Marriage (p 10) 3. Enslavement of Female Labor: The Informal Private Sphere of Mothers, Housewives, and Sex Workers (p 12) 4. Written in the Books: Biology and Religion As Ideological Cohorts of Patriarchy (p 14)
II. Globalization, Race, and Migration: A Racialized Servant Class of Female Care Workers am W ebster
Dictio nary Main En Pronu try: free·d nc o Funct iation: \frē m ion: n -dəm\ oun Date: be 1 : the fore 12th c en q of nec uality or st tury ate of essity, be coerci b : lib er on, or ing free: as constr power ation from a : the ai sl o a of bei f another : avery or res nt in choice bsence ng exe indepe traint o r actio o m n onero n us <fr pt or relea dence c : th r from the sed us eedom e qual the lan u ity al fr g frank, uage with f om care> d ly from som or state reedom : ease open, ething , or out f : imp spoke > e : the qu facility <sp roper n <an oke ality o famili execu swe fb ar tio of the n h : unres ity g : boldn red with fre eing ir hom tricted e e e> use <g ss of conce dom> ption ave hi or m the 2a:a freedo politic m al righ t b : fr anchis e, priv ilege
Catherine MacKinnon is a feminist scholar and lawyer against prostitution and pornography. Her speeches on the subject reveal that she is somewhat misguided about the global realities of sex worker and migrant agency. However, her analysis of sexuality within a Marxist framework can also be used to justify a sex-positive feminist position. 1
III. Reclaiming the Illegitimate Woman Ten Reasons Why Sex Work is Considered Immoral 6. Burning Bush: Counter-Arguments Against the Ten 7. Confining Masculinities: John’s Evolving Manhood 8. What’s Wrong with Tradition? 9. Greater Social Implcations IV. Dignified Sex Work and Conscious Sex Consumerism Towards a Theory of Ethical Practices in Commercial Sex 10. Limits of Performance: Degradation and Feeling 11. More Than a Right: Respect and Virtue 12. Pride: Honoring Your Body, Healing Yourself 13. What Sex Workers Can Teach Other Woman About Empowerment 14. Guide for Clients As Allies 15. Peer Outreach V.
Light and Intimate: Personal Story
Sex Worker Resources
Copyright 2010 | Annabelle Xaah www.
Summary of Positions Consensual sex should not be criminalized. Voluntary sex work should be legal in the United States.
All people have a right to protection from coercion, violence, and exploitation. Anyone who is held against her or his will in prostitution should be helped to get out. The sale and purchase of sex is not inherently immoral or degrading. Oppressive social stigma is most harmful to workers. The social construction of prostitution as an immoral and degrading act is based on patriarchal notions of sexual propriety, which have been used throughout history to control and discipline women, and force them to accept a traditionally inferior position in the monogamous heterosexual household. These “moral” views are inconsistent and hypocritical within modern sexual culture. Prostitution exists within a wide range of contexts and conditions worldwide. Few generalizations can be made without biasing particular conditions and workers over others. Poverty and structural inequality in the global economy and the United States is unjust, and women bear a disproportionate amount of burden. Within this structural injustice, prostitution can be viewed as the best possible choice among worse options. Prostitutes provide a valued service and are not directly harmful to other human beings or themselves. All people should have the freedom to choose what is best for their own bodies, so long as they do not harm others. The exchange of sexual services for money has existed throughout history and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. Instead of criminalizing prostitutes, which further drives the industry underground, policymakers should focus on shaping best possible conditions to realistically protect the human rights of sex workers, as dignified and contributing members of society.
It is a commonly accepted belief that in the United States, wives achieved political equality with husbands in 1928 when they won equal right to vote at age twenty-one. However, it was not until the late 1960’s when wives successfully challenged not only political oppressions but also social ones, demanding the right to higher education and equal treatment in the workplace. This social revolution is commonly known as the Women’s Liberation Movement. But it was not the liberation of all Women. Prostitutes are illegimate in the eyes of Law and do not have equal rights as other women. Violence against prostitutes frequently go unpunished. A prostitute can be raped, and that rape can be ruled in the courts of justice as mere robbery.2 Prostitutes are harassed and abused, not merely by clients and pimps, but also by police, the very agents of law, who frequently use intimidation to take advantage of their services.3 All over the world, they are trafficked, enslaved, and forced to labor under the most inhumane conditions, yet the international community, which conflates the enslavement of victims forced to work without consent with the majority of women and men who freely choose sex work. This is a denial of the reality of migratory sex labor and prostitution at large. By refusing to recognize the agency of sex workers, the international community silences them, and are misguided in their efforts to help them.
Throughout history sex workers have suffered, and continue to suffer, some of the worst stigma and violence of any social group, yet as the “world’s oldest profesThe AnnaKissed Man-i-Fiesta (2nd Ed, 2010) | p 4
Due to the current illegal and stigmatized status of prostitution in the United States, greater collectivization, mutual aid, and peer support is key for sex worker self-advocacy and harm reduction.
Sex Worker rights are Human Rights sion,” their existence is as natural to society as any commerce or trade. Though their work does not involve intentionally harming anyone, they are marginalized and punished along with the worst of criminals.What is so wrong about prostitution that it merits such severe punishment? There is nothing morally wrong or naturally degrading about sex work. Ideological arguments against prostitution are constructed to enforce Patriarchal control over women’s bodies: their sexuality, reproductive ability, and caring labor, in order to preserve one heterosexual monogamous model of the human family. Chastity and sexual obedience of women are fundamental to the preservation of this material order and means of human production. The whore stigma is used to control the wife and discipline the girl. Therefore, challenging this stigma and the moral and political authority of constraints against prostitution, destabilizes the very foundations of Patriarchal hegemony. The implications for an enlightened ethics of women’s sexual labor extends beyond the question of whether prostitution should be legalized, decriminalized, regulated, or left as is. Rather, the question of “morality” as applied to women’s sexual choices, touches upon the social regulation and control of all sexual, reproductive, and familial relations that uphold Patriarchal order.
Collective Action in the Absence of Political Equality Sex workers need: • Safe spaces for mutual support and empowerment, to protect each other from harm and heal internalized stigma. • Access to health care, legal and financial services, education, housing, childcare, cross-cultural outreach, and alternatives. • Trade unions that promotes independent and collectively-run businesses. Blacklists of unjust, non-transparent, and/or discriminatory businesses. Resources for defining and enabling ethical sex consumerism and safe, dignified involvement. • Political alliances for decriminalization. global solidarity, and building greater human rights consciousness in society. • Platforms for sex worker self-expression through independent publishing, artistic work, and the expansion of the discourse on gender and sexuality via the sex-positive lens. • Referrals to socially just and non-judgmental services that respect the diversity within global sex work between different cultures, races, classes, genders, sexualities, ages, and abilities.
The following document is an exploration of theories on the cultural and ethical conThese spaces can be partially achieved online. ditions required for true sexual liberation and gender justice. The pronoun “she” will Not all sex workers are victims and not all sex work is degrading. sometimes be used generally to represent But coercion and degradation exists in some form within all sex all sex workers, without intention of excludwork. A more nuanced theory of power, ethics, and human dignity. ing male and transgendered sex workers. The AnnaKissed Introduction Man-i-Fiesta / @X+ (2nd Man-i-Fiesta Ed, 2010) | p 5
ittle girls learn quickly in school that the worst thing to be, next to fat (for girls) or faggot (for boys), is a slut. What is a slut exactly? A slut is a delicate line in the dark, which every girl learns from trial and error not to tread over. And so through the existence of the slut, all women are taught how to tiptoe. With bound feet, we learn to manage our weight, the burden of the ever-present gaze upon us, first and foremost, as objects of beauty, virtue, sexuality, desireability, motherhood, or failure thereof. The limelight of sluthood happens when the social benefits of Sexy cross over to the social taboos of Sexual, often discovered through the lens of jealousy by another girl who feels she must compete with the first for the attention of boys. Girl Two doesn’t want anyone else to have an unfair avantage, but doesn’t feel strong enough to act the way Girl One does. So when Girl One touches blindly upon the nerves of Girl Two, who is held on puppetstrings by Boy Zero, Girl Two will let everyone know. And so the social stigma of female sexuality will begin its reign, often beginning from girl to girl. Why are women the ones who so often punish each other for differences in sexual expression? Most feminists today still refuse to acknowledge the rights of sex workers, though sex workers comprise of a large percentage of the world’s women. Most women continue to view sex work as inherently degrading, and continue to look at sexuality through the internalized lens of the male gaze, pushing upon others the weight of patriarchal propriety they have been taught. Sluthood is the negative equivalent of Chastity, the prized quality once used as the sole evaluation of an unmarried girl’s social status. In many parts of the world, the premium of virginity is still a supreme measurement of the “virtue” of women. The social utility of the slut boundary lies precisely in its flexibility and arbitrariness; it is the perfect tool of social oppression. It divides the Madonnas from the Whores, the “valuable” women who are destined to contribute to society through legitimized motherhood (bearing children for a man), the only way women were historically allowed; and the “degraded” women whose contributions are illegitimate and vilified because their sexual labor is not tied to any one man and belongs in part to themselves. Any girl can be accused of being slutty, or Whore-like, regardless of whether or not she engages in commercial sex or promiscuity. Even ungrounded accusations can damage the value, reputation, and social capital of the girl in question. The flexibile yet devastating quality of the Slut label makes it an ideal weapon used to control all women.
• innocent girl (unclaimed by man’s possession) • the good wife • the “innocent” prostitute: a trafficked and involuntary sex slave, victim without agency, the only kind of prostitute deemed deserving of human rights under patriarchal notions of sexual “morality” (a bit of a media-sensationalized mythology)
Everyone knows that Sluthood follows a double standard. Only women can be sluts; mansluts are admired as studs or Casanovas. A slutty-looking girl, who resembles a Whore in some way, even if she does not engage in promiscuous or commercial sex, is sometimes subject to the oppressive treatment of a whore. That is why in many countries even today, appearing slutty in public can be a good enough rationale for rape. What is implied is that if a girl dares to dress “loosely,” to even look like a whore, she loses
The AnnaKissed Man-i-Fiesta (2nd Ed, 2010) | p 6
1. Virgin/Whore: Dividing & Conquering
Women, Even Feminists
her right to protection from sexual harrassment, and even violence, because if she is not a faithful possession of some man, as whores are not, then no man should have the incentive to protect her. What is implied is that a man’s sexual instincts are “natural” and thus need not be curbed; rather it is women who must learn to submissively accomodate men’s sexual urges or guard against their violence. Women’s sexualities are still primarily regarded as men’s possessions. A married woman is still seen as an extension of her husband. A virgin is valued merely because she has not yet been possessed. But a whore is a woman who breaks the rules. She negotiates her own sexual relations with men, and the length of that possession. Because she loans her sexual services to men, she can not be possessed; she is a woman who possesses herself. The whore’s availability is a threat to wives, who perceive her as a threat, and are the greatest advocates against prostitution, believing that their long-term possession by one man is a better model for sexual trade. However, the stigma accorded to whores becomes used by some men as an excuse to degrade all women who tend “too superficially” to their appearances, yet at the same time, to also discriminate against women who do not tend enough to their appearances; for beauty is still used as the primary measurement of women’s worth, and if I wife is not beautiful or sexually pleasing enough, the man always has the option of going to the whore, whereas women do not have equal access to sexual services. Therein lies the paradox of contemporary feminity. Yes, it is true that sexuality has been socially constructed to favor men. Men are the ones who “fuck” and women “are fucked.” Sex begins and ends with the man’s orgasm. Sexual services are mainly catered towards men. The submission of women is eroticized in pornography and encouraged for imitation. And yes, it is true, both the wife and the whore are used in competition with one another, and the image of one is used as an instrument of discipline to control the behavior of the other. Both beauty and sexuality are tyrannical regimes catering to the desires of men, and each woman must tiptoe delicately on the lines of polarized feminity, particularly in the post-women’s liberation age of greater ambiguity in gender rules, in order to maximize the advantages of male-valued traits without prey to the dangers of “whorish excess.” Thus, prostitution and the patriarchally-constructed marriage are both vestiges of male supremacy. And engaging in prostitution is, in an essential way, making a business contract with an essential sexual inequality. But what’s a third option? How can prostitutes and wives take agency of their sexuality in this society? Pt 1 / Sexuality & the Illegitimate Woman | p 7
WHORE = • bad and deviant female (unclaimed by any single man’s possession, but sexually “contaminated” by many) • the illegitmate woman • the pathologized prostitute: a voluntary sex worker, not a victim so she has no excuse for her anti-social behavior under patriarchal notions of sexual “morality,” (thus not considered by many as deserving of any human rights)
he problem with grouping large numbers of individuals into theoretical aggregates, such as wives, whores, and men, is that it denies the space for individual subversion and renegotiation of power structures. If wives and prostitutes are both sexualized objects to a male subjectivity, then only single or lesbian women, characteristic of the radical feminist, can be free from male sexual dominance. However, this is neither a realistic nor attractive choice for all women.
Though the aggregate of men may be sexually dominant over the aggregate of women, can conscious individuals navigate the lines of this inequality to their own benefit, and make the best possible trade-offs within a structure of inequality, by willingly submitting to some parts of the patriarchal structure while defying others? If so, is that individual act of selective subversion one of agency or corroboration with patriarchy? That is the feminist paradox of the modern-day whore. If a sex worker with feminist consciousness decides that she is willing to deal with the patriarchal construction of sex as a paid performance, which does not represent of her own experience of sexuality, but is a act of professional theater; if that performance in fact allows her to witness a greater distance between the prescribed sexuality of patriarchal society and her own private reality, if it empowers her private reality rather than dominates or destroys it; then couldn’t the very act of sex work be an experience and expression of feminism? Or does her willingness to pretend to male fantasy for personal benefit make her subordinate to male power regardless of her internal interpretation? If the latter were true, how could feminist consciousness ever be possible in a male-dominated society without complete separation from all institutions dominated by men? (Some feminists do argue for that, but it seems an unrealistic solution to the problem of gender inequality in one society. Separate but equal was neither separate nor equal. And the planet is all too small.) Historically, independent whores who control their own businesses have been the most powerful of women, such as the heterae of Greece who were the only enfranchised, educated, and property-owning women of Athens; as well as the temple priestesses of India, the respected geishas of Japan, and the celebrity courtesans of post-Renaissance Europe; every civilization had its own version of the woman who used her sexuality to leverage her material security. However, these women, just like all other women, only exercised power indirectly through the patronship of men. Furthermore, these independent, high-class sex workers are a minority among the greater number of women whose sexualities have been appropriated by pimps and madams for profit. Currently, a large percentage of the world’s sex workers work in an industry that is not of their own choosing. However, contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of sex workers in the world do, in fact, choose to engage in prostitution of their own volition, preferring sex work over other forms of labor that pay less, and rationally calculating that the profits are worth the risks. Contrary to faulty but best-publicized statistics by well-intentioned misinformed abolitionists who are influenced by a patriarchal sense of virgin/whore morality, even those who are usually portrayed as “victims,” who have migrated to other countries for better opportunities and have been harmed during the process of migration and resituation - even the majority of these “trafficked” sex workers were aware of the nature of their work before willingly committing to migration, though they were unaware of the horrible working conditions that would be part of the deal.4 The AnnaKissed Man-i-Fiesta (2nd Ed, 2010) | p 8
No one argues that any coercive trafficking and enslavement of women for sexual labor is not wrong. It is obvious that these things are wrong, since they are examples of forced labor without consent. Furthermore, any child prostitution is also wrong because children are below the age of consent. However not all trafficked and coerced workers are prostitutes. Farm workers, coal-miners, and other migrants are also enslaved into involuntary servitude, including among these, some children. All of these heinous acts are violations of basic labor rights. Sex slavery and involuntary migration is wrong insomuch as it is forced sexual labor and forced transport of a human being, regardless of whether or not it is also sex work. Another argument that anti-prostitution advocates give for outlawing prostitution is that sex work can never really be “freely chosen” because global inequality and poverty are forces of coercion that make true “free choice” impossible. However, if poverty renders free choice impossible, then how can any poor person have any agency? How can the choice to be a sex worker considered impossible without making any choice made by any poor person also impossible? But aren’t all choices made under certain constraints? Doesn’t the fact that the sex worker chooses prostitution over some other form of menial labor show that she is rationally comparing the costs and benefits of the opporutnities presented to her, and doesn’t that fit the very definition of free, conscious choice? Then why do so many “feminists” refuse to recognize the agency of sex workers? It seems to be illogical and inconsistent at this point. Ain’t a sex worker a woman? During the 1980’s sex wars, anti-pornography feminists such as Catherine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin, argued that all pornography is inherently degrading and harmful for women because it caters to the directives of male sexual desire. Dworkin later argued that pornography is the model for all heterosexual sex, and all heterosexual sex is coercive and degrading to women; thus all sex with men in this patriarchal society is rape. MacKinnon also framed prostitution as a form of repeated rape because the client’s money operates as an instrument for the extension of male coercion. However, that analysis would mean that all monetary transactions are oppressive in nature; thus, every wage laborer is a slave, as well as every business-owner. Everyone who deals with monetary transactions, which is all people in society, must therefore be “coerced” in some way. But if everyone is under coercion, then noone is under any special coercion; and if every heterosexual sex act is rape, then there’s nothing particular about the “rape” of sex workers; and consequently, sex workers are coerced about as much as any other woman, perhaps less so, because the performatic aspects of their coercion often allows them to disengage from the act consciously and emotionally, recognizing it to be untrue for themselves. Though it may be true that prostitution only exists under a framework of sexual inequality, it’s the same maledominated framework that is true for all people at the moment. Prostitution does not “enable” male dominance any more than any sexual intercourse that plays to male-centric eroticism. Therefore, the interpretation of sex work that most feminists have, as something that is inherently degrading and coercive, is motivated by a virgin/whore conception of sexuality that frames wives and sex workers as competitors for male attention. But it is this virgin/whore dichotomy of womanhood that is the greatest enemy towards true liberation. A truly liberated woman in the 21st Century must live beyond the Virgin/Whore paradigm and define her sexuality for herself. She exercises her freedom by re-appropriating the masculine gaze upon her, reclaiming her subjectivity with respect to the socialized gaze, and renegotiating the borders of her agency through gender consciousness. Thus, she becomes aware of the social construction of womanhood, and decolonizes her body and mind, rejecting male-centric sexuality, and choosing to perform those aspects of femininity and masculinity that are authentic to her and enable her to enjoy the greatest freedom. A sex worker can exercise that kind of feminist consciousness, just like anyone else. And she would get more practice at it. The AnnaKissed Part I Man-i-Fiesta / Sexuality &(2nd the Illegitimate Ed, 2010) |Woman p9 |p9
2. Commoditizing the Female Body: Marriage As Patriarchal Possession
Marriage has long been theorized as a patriarchal form of control over sexual and reproductive access to women’s bodies. According to Engels, marriage in patriarchal society evolved historically as an economic instrument to ensure that a man’s property would be passed on to his genetic heirs, thus the wife’s fidelity must be enforced for the proper regulation of wealth and land distribution from generation to generation. Early human society was matrilineal and matrilocal, thus women had greater power within the family; but with the introduction of the modern institutions of private property, as well as warfare and Patriarchal government to protect this property, patrilineal marriage replaced matrilineal kinship groups, and overwhelmingly favored the physical dominance of men.5 Monogamy evolved with monotheistic religions, as the primary instatement of patriarchal marriage in Western society. Yet modern biology has shown that human beings and most other animals on Earth are not naturally monogamous; rather our primate biology remains with us and dominates our emotions in spite of cognitive cultural restrictions. Our oxytocin-induced feelings of love last for an average of seven years, enough time to raise a Neanderthal child to an age where he or she can take care of himself and join the tribe. The timing of the fading of chemistry concurs with the infamous “seven year itch,” at which time it is said there is a significant drop in oxytocin levels, and partners lose much of their sexual interest for one another.6 In a tribal society where there is no Patriarchal dominance over private property and land ownership, couples often naturally dissolve after chemistry disappears. For thousands of years and continuing into the present day, among matrilineal tribal communities, such as the Na of southwestern China, women and men have unrestricted sex for pleasure with as many partners as they please. Women live with their own families and never “marry” into the husbands’ families, as is the case for the rest of China. The children born to women are considered to be of the women alone, and have no socially-recognized father. The word father is not used, and fatherhood is not practiced; rather, the brothers of the mother often play a fatherly role in the upbringing of the child. The child is brought up in the intergenerational family and the village community, where the love between mother and daughter is ever-lasting. For thousands of years, the Na people have enjoyed this cultural familial arrangement with pride, even to the present day, demonstrating that polyamory is possible and healthy, and can create a vibrant and joyful community. In this Na society, prostitution does not exist7, thereby confirming some radical feminist theories that prostitution can only exist under relations of sexual inequality between women and men. However, in this society, a civilization that is built on organized distribution of property, violent warfare, and systematic reproduction of social classes with unequal access to resources, it is important for sexual and reproductive partnerships between men and women to last a lifetime so as to keep material society orderly. Because this life-long partnership is contrary to our biological inclinations, marriage in modern Western society requires much social coercion to stay in place, as enforced by government, sanctioned by religion, and mystified by fairy tales, and held by popular media as the most sacred ritual of our society. Yet even with all of these systems of control, monogamy is tenuous at best. Steadily increasing divorce rates indicate increasing difficulty in the face of increasing democracy and education for traditional systems of social control to monitor sexual, reproductive, and familial behavior. It is for economic reasons, catering to male property ownership, that women’s sexual liberation is an inherent threat to this patriarchal order. That is why Eve’s temptation is the original sin, yet legend says The AnnaKissed Man-i-Fiesta (2nd Ed, 2010) | p 10
For most of the world throughout history and even today, marriage is an economic institution: usually arranged for property consolidation.
that she is the second wife of Adam, the first of whom, Lilith, left Adam for an angel (who wouldn’t?). Lilith is demonized in folklore as the ultimate evil woman, even worse than Eve, who at least submits to her punishment. Every patriarchal culture has their story of the disobedient wife who defies her husband’s wishes, and the wayward temptress who is blamed for the downfall of mankind. For example, the sailing crew of Odysseus suffers much tragedy under the spell of Sirens, and the crumbling of every Chinese kingdom is attributed to the fox demon, a sexually irresistable woman who corrupts the emperor. Women, who have been kept from direct power in patriarchal society, have long exercised indirect power through sexual control over men. Thus, as women’s only source of power, and a rather inferior one at that, the sexual liberation of women from the male-dominated institution of marriage has always been the most fearful threat to patriarchal order. There are also many arguments that marriage protects women from the “biological” promiscuity and irresponsibility of men, by binding them to the family. This is true in the nuclear-family model of society where every household consists only of a couple and their children isolated from other nuclear families. In a matrilineal society of kin-based residence, a mother can share the care of her children with other family members, including brothers and grandmothers. Societies can and do exist for thousands of years without fathers in the patriarchal sense. But in a monogamous nuclear family, wives are dependent upon men for support. [More on the theory of marriages in Chapter Eight.] Part I / Sexuality & the Illegitimate Woman | p 11
LEGAL FACTS ON PROSTITUTION In the United States, prostitution is in the jurisdiction of the state. Most states classify prostitution as a misdemeanor, some as a public order crime or vagrancy crime. Nevada is the only U.S. state to allow some legal prostitution. Currently eight out of the state’s sixteen counties have active brothels. All of these counties are in rural areas. Prostitution outside the licensed brothels is illegal throughout Nevada. Prostitution is illegal in the major metropolitan areas of Las Vegas, Reno, and Carson City, where most of the population lives; more than 90% of Nevada citizens live in a county where prostitution is illegal. Prostitution in Rhode Island was outlawed in 2009. Between 1980 and 2009, there was no specific statute on prostitution, though street soliciting, running a brothel, and pimping were criminal offenses. A 2004 ABC News poll reported 15 percent of all men have paid for sex and 30 percent of single men over age 30 have paid for sex. 85% of sex workers are “indoor prostitutes” who work in invisible locations, while 85% of arrests for prostitution are of “outdoor prostitution” who work on the street. (Whelehan 2001) The prostitution trade in the United States is estimated to generate $14 Billion a year. (From Havocscope, Online Database of Black Market Activities)
3. Enslavement of Women’s Labor:
Private Sphere of Mothers, Housewives, and Sex Workers
LEGAL FACTS ON PROSTITUTION The Trafficking Victims Protections Act (TVPA) of October 2000 grants a T-visa for temporary residence of trafficked persons. • Up to 5000 victims per year may become permanent residents three years after receiving this temporary visa. • Trafficked persons are eligible for benefits and services to the same extent as refugees once certified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which promised to take a “victimcentered, compassionate approach” to trafficked sex workers. • Human trafficking is a Federal crime with severe penalties. • A “commercial sex act” is defined as “any sex act, on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person” (TVPR 2000) • It’s estimated that between 18,000 and 20,000 victims of human trafficking are brought into the U.S. each year. •Unfortunately, many of those victims will not be recognized as such by law enforcement because they do not fit the stereotype of “innocent sex slave,” but are voluntary migrant prostitutes subject to coercive working conditions, which is offensive to our virgin/whore moral sensibilities.
The unrecognized domestic labor of women within the private sphere of the family has not been fairly distributed, recognized, or compensated for with women’s entrance into the workplace. The realm of “women’s work”: domestic housework, reproduction, sex, and childcare, are essential sources of labor that are fundamental to the successful functioning of society, yet this labor has always been unpaid and unaccounted for in the capitalist national assessments of production in GDP/GNP.
Women are expected to be more family-oriented than men. Men are socially permitted to take on less responsibility than women in looking after their children and household responsibilities. There is something intrinsically degrading about housework, and to this day, many men are stigmatized by other men when they are forced to do “women’s work” in the home. In many societies, it is expected that women must nag men to contribute financially to the family, rather than spend their money on personal expenses. It is also expected that wives must persuade their husbands to stay loyal to them “against their natures” while they themselves would never be allowed the same promiscuities. The myth of the natually brutish, horny, and irresponsible man is used to justify men’s negligence towards marital promises.Women are often give the task of pressuring their husbands to spend quality time with children, and if laws permit, to pay child support when all else fails and the marriage ends in divorce. The burden of family maintenance is placed disproportionately on women, while men have been afforded the social recognition and free sexual enjoyment that their wives have historically been denied.
Women have historically been kept within the home where they are treated like children, dependent upon the care of fathers and husbands, and subservient to the needs of the men in their lives. Women’s domestic labor expectations have not decreased with the liberation of women in professional life. The pressure for modern Western women to be all at once perfect career-women, housekeepers, mothers, and attractive sexual partners creates an oppressive and unequal work load that leads to increasing anxiety and illness among American women.
Political theorist Carole Pateman explained using contract theory that originally in the new systems of government created after the American and French Revolutions, which freed people from monarchic rule, a Brotherhood of equal rights was created, but only men had access to that equality. The equal rights promised to men were located in the public sphere of government and business. The private sphere of the family was relegated to women, who were still not considered to be full or equal citizens. According to Freud, women’s biological natures rendered them incapable of morality or public service; they are deemed too emotional and too willing to abandon ethical principles in favor of caring for people close to them, thus “science” was used to justify women’s exclusion from the public sphere and patriarchal equality.
Traditional patriarchal attitudes towards the “ideal woman” as beautiful and chaste objects of sexual attraction before marriage, and self-sacrificing and loyal wives and mothers after marriage, continues to coerce women into underappreciated and oppressive roles as sex objects and domestic servants. Thus, attitudes towards women’s beauty, chastity, and motherhood, are ways of social control, which bind women to an institution of marriage that is inherently unjust in its labor division, and that perpetuates the oppressive gender binary and heterosexual orthodoxy.
The AnnaKissed Man-i-Fiesta (2nd Ed, 2010) | p 12
The realm of the private sphere was not subject to the same principles of equality that was extended to the public sphere. It was believed that what occurs in the private sphere is “natural”: to bear and care for children, and maintain the household. Since these activities in the private sphere are natural to feminine biology, political equality needs not apply; instead, the father is considered the natural ruler of the household, and until fairly recently, households were publicly accounted for only by the “heads” of households, presumably men. The democratic revolution of the Enlightenment eliminated inequality between Father and Son, but sustained patriarchal inequality between husband and wife. There has not been a second revolution since then, to achieve full elimination of Patriarchal rule, and the democratic political institutions that we have today stem from foundations which exclude women, with only rather recent amendments that allow women entry into the workplace but without methods to ensure true equality there. There is also no equalization of labor in the private sphere, by provisioning mothers with state support, or encouraging fathers to take equal domestic and childcare responsibility. The fact that rape within marriage is rarely acknowledged or punished in the Court of Law goes to show that Patriarchal justice continues to regard women’s sexuality to be wholly possessed by her husband, who should be protected in his right to free, unrestricted access to her dutiful body. Women’s labor is undervalued. The “caring” forms of labor, such as secondary teaching, hospitality, nursing, and secretarial work, which have a disproportionately high number of women, are paid less than male labor. While within the home, women’s services are continually unrecognized as work. Part I / Sexuality & the Illegitimate Woman | p 9
4. Written in the Books:
Biology and Religion as Ideological Cohorts of Patriarchy The commonly prescribed reason for the sexual double standard is biological. Men have an unlimited supply of sperm and can engage in sex with many women simultaneously, impregnating multiple partners without necessarily taking on any responsibility for the children. Women, on the other hand, have to go through nine months of labor, and can only carry the child of one man at a time, so they bear a greater cost when engaging in sex. Even with birth control, there remains a risk of pregnancy, which will more greatly and immediately impact the woman. Therefore by necessity, and not by justice, a woman must more carefully guard her sexuality than a man. Furthermore, since it is always obvious who the mother is when a child is born, but not obvious who the father is, the woman needs to be “faithful” in order to persuade her partner to believe that he is the true progenitor of her child.8 Men do not want to be tricked into taking care of another man’s child, since they often have enough trouble taking responsibility for their own biological spawn, therefore the infidelity of woman is considered to be a graver sin than that of men, as it can perhaps lead to the gravest of consequences: the duping of men into doing something altruistic that they can’t take credit for. Furthermore, biological arguments are often made to justify men’s “greater lust.” Their uncontrollable horniness, which Western science has usually attributed to the natural physical or hormonal composition of men, makes them more “in need” of sexual stimulation. This can not be “their fault,” since it is reasoned that men can’t be held responsible for the way they are biologically wired. However, this would constitute a very faulty argument in the field of ethics. It is known that the majority of what we are and do is determined by neurobiology and circumstance, and free will is more an illusion than a reality. Thus, the idea of “moral responsibility” must somehow accommodate this problem, and take a more nuanced view on biology, free will, and social organization. Though the science behind this argument is spurious, and culture has been proven to have a far greater influence on sexuality than biology, the assertion that men “need” to be more promiscuous, is used to justify their greater use of mistresses and prostitutes. Since science dictates that women are not as “naturally” horny as men are, wives are not allowed the same privileges of marital deviance as their husbands. Female sexuality outside the bond of marriage is held as a terrible sin, and biology is used as a tool in cohort with Patriarchal ideology to hold women responsible for unwanted outcomes of sexual activity, and to discipline, punish, and control her sexuality. Most biologists throughout history have been men influenced by Judeo-Christian values. From physiology to psychology, most scientists throughout history have looked at women’s bodies with condescension and belittlement. They have been very wrongheaded in their research on women, the revision of which is still slowly taking place today, especially in the male-dominated field of psychology. For example, Victorian psychologists believed that women are never naturally horny, that sex is naturally objectionable and uncomfortable for all women, so that is why a wife should only naturally want to have sex her husband, as a conjugal duty. According to these Victorian “scientists,” any woman who feels any sexual desire is deviant and abnormal. This shows how Patriarchal psychology has not only failed to accurately portray women’s desires, but has also been used to prescribe to women what they ought to desire, pathologizing those who deviate from faulty clinical prescriptions. The overwhelming success of their exertions in actually determining women’s sexual behavior and self-conceptions during the Victorian Age further goes to show how sexuality is based more heavily in culture than on biology. Prostitution has sometimes been defended by science as a “necessary evil” for men to “take out their energies” in a less emotionally exhausting way than getting involved in an affair. This argument frames prostitution as beneficial to the institution of marriage because paid sex work is assumed to pose a lesser risk to domestic union The AnnaKissed Man-i-Fiesta (2nd Ed, 2010) | p 14
than an affair of the heart. However, women who are supposed to have no biological desires to stray from their marital vows, are not given the same access to outside sexual services. This is how some biologists explain why there exist far fewer giggolos in the world than female sex workers, but the increasing demographic of female consumers of porn, the fastest-growing niche in the industry, proves otherwise. The invisible assertion in all spheres of society that sex should be available for free to men is founded on the fact that all work which traditionally belonged to women (mothering, housekeeping, and sex) were once considered the unquestionable property of men. If a woman should choose to take control of their own sexuality, to abstain from marriage, and use her sexual labor for her own purposes, she would be immediately castigated into the worst sectors of society, among the tramps, the whores, the witches, the spinsters, and the infertile: the socially marginalized. For she who performs sex outside of Patriarchal institutions of control is a social outcast at best, and an “evil” criminal with powers of “black magic,” punishable by death, at worst. FOOTNOTES 1 MacKinnon, Catherine A. Toward a Feminist Theory of the State. Harvard University Press, 1989. (p 3) 2 “Theft of Services” Dominique Gindraw rape of prostitute case dismissed by Judge Teresa Carr Deni. 3 Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center, 2005. “Behind Closed Doors: An Analysis of Indoor Sex Work in NYC.” (p 12) 4 Doezema, Jo. “Forced to Choose: Beyond the Voluntary v. Forced Prostitution Dichotomy.” Global Sex Workers: Rights, Resistance, and Redefinition. Routledge, 1998. (p 34) 5 Engels, Friedrich. “The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State.” 1884. 6 Barasch, David and Lipton, Judith. The Myth of Monogamy: Fidelity and Infidelity in Animals and People. WH Freeman, 2001. 7 Hua, Cai. A Society without Fathers or Husbands: The Na of China. MIT Press, 2001. 8 Edlund, Lena and Korn, Evelyn. “A Theory of Prostitution.” University of Chicago, 2002.
LEGAL FACTS ON PROSTITUTION In 2003, the Bush administration passed the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a 15 billion dollar fund to help fight AIDS internationally, which required that all groups receiving money for anti-trafficking or HIV programs have a policy opposing prostitution, called the “Anti-Prostitution Pledge.” (swannt.org) • Among the requirements are that 1/3 of all HIV-prevention money go towards promoting sexual “abstinence” and “being faithful” without ever menitoning condoms (called “A+B”). Besides sex workers, other groups targeted include women seeking abortions, drug-users, and LGBTQ people. • PEPFAR hurt AIDS prevention in many countries because abstinence-only is an ineffective way of preventing AIDS. PEPFAR hurt sex workers all over the world because many big NGO’s who didn’t want to lose U.S. funding signed the pledge to close down all projects helping sex workers. • VAMP, a sex workers’ group in India refused to sign the pledge and lost their funding. The government of Brazil refused the pledge and lost 40 million dollars from the U.S. In 2005, 3500 sex workers in India formed a human chain to denounce the Anti-Prostitution pledge. In 2006, at the World Aids Conference in Toronto, 200 sex workers from around the world demonstrated against the Anti-Prostitution Pledge. • In 2008, Obama made some changes to PEPFAR, removing the abstinence and faithfulness requirement but still prioritizing those over condom-use. He removed restrictions on organizations who give information related to abortion, but kept the Anti-Prostitution Pledge.
The AnnaKissed Man-i-Fiesta (2nd Ed, 2010) | p 15 Part I / Sexuality & the Illegitimate Woman | p 15
An Introduction to a Sex-Positive Feminist theoretical framework for Sexual Labor