Friday, August 11, 2006

I Give Up

I'm furious. I've been trying to read a few sex pos blogs to understand their perspective, and hopefully (ha!) open a dialogue. What set me off was a comment left on Bitch Lab's blog. I'm not going to refer to the subject of the post, because I'm taking exception with one comment:

Anthony Kennerson Says:
August 11th, 2006 at 11:48 am

And this crap about “coercion” and how prostitution is innately rape solely because the woman pays for sex that she apparantly doesn’t like: Does the thought that the woman might actually like the acts she does (or the client does on her) even to the point of doing them in private for free ever cross RM’s synapses?? Or, the fact that coercion can vary in degree and form; and to simply reduce all encounters between the prostitute and the client to mere rape simply because the woman “needs the money” is pure lunacy?? Especially given that there are so many NON-sexual professions where women have been forced to do so much worse “for the money”?? (Ever heard of the casting couch in mainstream film, RM???)

Of course, all this bullshit spewed by RM is really all about what I have been saying all along: It has nothing to do with liberating women or even socialism or feminism. It is all about THE SEX…mostly the loathing of other women who enjoy the “wrong” type of sex.

This is going to take a special double dose of SmackDog Whupass ™…first chance I get to the blog, it will be on.

Radfem has officially become the new ex-gay.


Right, let's always argue from the perspective of women who are having fun as sex workers. It's all about the freedom, especially male sexual freedom, and who cares about those women who are being tortured?

It's all about the sex? Yes, thank you, we're all prudes. You've dismissed an entire movement that's fought for women's lives and women's rights with one sentence. Thanks for being so upfront in your hatred.

Equating radical feminism with the ex-gay movement is despicable. He is very concise: in just two sentences, he belittles and others radical feminists. I'm terribly sorry that his sex life might be affected by having to consider the rights of women. This is typical male privilege, and Mr. Kennerson desperately needs to educate himself on both male privilege and misogyny. [Hint: If you're a man who is viciously attacking a group of women who are standing up for women's rights, there's a problem with your behavior!]

What really offended me is that these hateful statements went unchallenged by the women posting on the blog. So much for opening a dialogue.

Please Mr. Kennerson, give me a dose of SmackDog Whupass™. Radical feminists know a bit about male aggression directed at women. We think it's wrong.

40 comments:

v said...

that guy is an idiot and i dont get why they like him at all.

The Goldfish said...

My feminism is "sex-positive" - a term I dislike simply because it suggests that folks who disagree with me are puritanical or prudish. And clearly they're not - you're not.

I have been thinking about posting on some of these issues for a while now, but the trouble is that to do justice to the arguments - yours and mine - would take a little more than the average blog post.

May give it a go sometime in the next week or so.

But I guess it is worth mentioning that not all those who would disagree with your politics think any ill of you. I always enjoy reading your posts about feminism - as well as everything else.

spotted elephant said...

V-thanks, I needed to hear that.

Goldfish-That would be a massive post-or maybe a series?

And you're right-it isn't as if all women involved in radical feminism and sex positive feminism hate each other. We have a lot in common, and we (those of us not spewing hate) need to be working together.

cameo said...

sometimes the best way to beat the enemy is to ignore them.
obviously he's someone who thinks himself right. good for him.
he'll never understand what's it's like being a woman.
good for us!

spotted elephant said...

Cameo-You are much better at seeing the wisdom of ignoring random hatefulness than I am. Getting upset does no good. That temper of mine...

Aishwarya said...

You know, I'm not really sure where I stand on this issue yet. I don't want to take a stand till I know I believe in it wholeheartedly. I dislike the term sex-positive, mostly because sex isn't the real issue at all, and because it implies 'sex-negative', which is even more misleading.

But even if I don't know what I do believe, I know it's not what Anthony Kennerson does. This is just..awful.
*sigh*

Madame DeBarge said...

What a jerk.
Which is the nicest thing I can say about him.

sparkleMatrix said...

A dangerous jerk!!

v said...

i think that anthony k misrepresents the 'sex-pos' point of view, i dont believe he is in any way feminist or pro feminist, he may very well think he's a sex radical of some sort but he seems like a poser to me.

he spends an awful amount of time shutting down discussion between the 'sex-pos' fems and the radfems. i think he is heavily invested in causing damage to any form of discussion or solidarity or even mutual respect between us all.

i really dont get why they like him. from my pov he doesnt seem particularly respectful towards them.

Martha said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
spotted elephant said...

Aishwarya-Exactly! Sex isn't the issue, but it's easy to use it as a distractor.

Madame and Sparkle-Well said.

V-You're right. If I was to equate his behavior with all sex positive feminists, then I'm doing the same thing he is. (shudder)

Z said...

ummm.... what was that?


Anyway.... S.E. I can see why you would feel so utterly frustrated!! Don't worry about getting angry. I do all the time as well. ;-)

I think coming and writing on your blog about what angers/frustrates you is awesome!

That guy... the 'whoop ass' thing (was that it?).... really offensive and I too believe he is dangerous.

I am also interested to read from V about how he likes to shut down dialogue between feminists.

It is my personal oppinion that no man has the right to stir up anger between women. I would not let him anywhere near my blog.

It also does sound to me like this guy is in angry denial about the reality of life for the women he uses and abuses. As a woman, I certainly would not want a man like that within 10 metres of me.

Take good care,

Z

Z said...

p.s. you removed that freaky post. Thank you! :)

Z

spotted elephant said...

Z-I have no idea what that comment was about. :)

It also does sound to me like this guy is in angry denial about the reality of life for the women he uses and abuses.

Exactly.

Renegade Evolution said...

S.E.:

I am not going to speak for Anthony, but I will say here lately a lot of the radical feminists have been uncivil to the "sex pos" side as well...and being one of the more volitile sex pos types myself, I have been very angry and reactionary as well...

but I will say in the FEW interactions I have had with you, you've been nothing but civil and to the point about what it is you are acting for and against, and I can respect that. People are allowed to get angry, people on both sides, especially with issues we all apparently take very seriously.

I guess I am saying, I hope you don't write us all off or stop trying to communicate, because you do have something to say and I do think there are things we can all agree upon and work for if we can check our rage at the door long enough.

spotted elephant said...

RE-No, I'm not giving up. I wrote the title of the post in a fit of anger.

As several commenters here have said, it's not fair to write off an entire group of people due to the comments of one person. I have been extremely offended in the past, and it's always been by remarks made by the same person.

You're right on point, if we can check our rage at the door (like that phrase, btw), there are so many important things that we could work together for.

spotted elephant said...

RE-I forgot to say that I appreciate your treatment of me as well. I have no problems with our (limited) conversation.

witchy-woo said...

Thing is...Anthony Kennerson is a man - and men, by virtue of the fact that they make up the vast majority of johns, tend to see things from the john's perspective.

Plus the fact that AK consistently misunderstands the radfem pov (in spite of repeated tellings) and slings in the now almost compulsory strawfeminist arguments for good measure.

I agree with v: he's an idiot and he has his own agenda that has nothing to do with feminism.

spotted elephant said...

Thanks, witchy-woo. I was letting his statements (I've seen more than this comment) get to me. I appreciate the perspective.

Justjuliefornow said...

I tried to explain this post to my SO and being the fatalist he is, we got into a common disagreement (for us) that thinking, communicating and educating can change things, even if only just a little. He believes that nothing can change the way of the world and I strongly disagree. I think you are changing things here by keeping up a civil discourse and allowing newbies to the radfem movement, like me, to learn in a safe environment. You rock SE!

Not sure if "safe" is the word I really want, but I'm hoping you know what I mean.

spotted elephant said...

Julie-Thank you! If nothing could be changed, I'd have to go to bed and stay there. I have so much to learn, I'd never want to flame somebody else. But then that temper of mine kicks in (with things like the quote in the post), and all good intentions just vanish.

Sage said...

Like Goldfish said, to do justice to the arguements takes more than the average post. I'm in the middle of my series. I think it'll be at least four or five parts long. There's so many other issues twisted into the whole sex trade industry. It's tricky to navigate through it all.

I tend to just ignore many offensive comments, figuring if they get no attention they'll go away. But that only goes so far. I'm glad you're up to giving them hell, SE!

jo22 said...

Julie, that's funny. My partner and I have exactly the same argument. But, although he strongly believes people can't change their attitudes, his have changed quite a bit since I've known him. ;)

And SE...you do indeed, rock.

soopermouse said...

His point is that basically because there "might" be out there some women who enjoy prostitution, we have no right to contest he movement.

well, here is a problem. I have worked with prostitutes for a while. I have lived for 2 years in teh red light district in Stuttgart, and I never met a streetwalker prostitute who liked it.

The data gathered by legitimate research shows the exact same thing. That most of the prostitutes ( most as in over 90%) are not actually "enjoying this".

In other news, Jenna Jameson has divorced her husband/business partner and sold her porn empire to Playboy.

Do you think there is a link?

spotted elephant said...

Sage-Thanks.

Jo-Thank you. I also have that argument with Mr. Elephant. Sigh.

Soopermouse-That's what gets me. Why focus on the few who are happy? Why not focus on all the women who are suffering?

Laura Linger said...

What has always bothered me the most about the sex industry is my own personal near-miss with it.

I was a starving student in college; the daughter of a unambitious father and an alcoholic piss poor excuse for a mother. To say that times were lean would be to say that "George W. Bush is a moron" is an overstatement. There were times when I didn't have enough to eat, or bus fare to get to one of my three jobs (while taking a full class load).

I am well endowed and attractive. It occurred to me that I could become an escort or stripper and make the money that I needed for far less time and effort than a cashiering job at Osco required.

I didn't do it, because I was afraid that news of my new job would get back to my parents. I laugh about that, and bitterly so, when I think about that worry today. Had they not been two of the biggest deadbeats on the planet, their Perfect Widdle Daughter wouldn't have had to consider showing her tits to lecherous men for money.

But I did consider it.

I didn't do it, but I really considered it.

It was the easiest way for me, as a college-age woman, to make the most money possible.

That actually makes me sadder than knowing that I considered becoming an escort because I was sick of eating one package of Ramen noodles per day (all that I could afford).

The Goldfish said...

I posted a bit about this today - just a bit about some of the issues.

To me, it isn't an argument about whether the sex industry is bad (I am in no doubt that most of it is very bad). Nor is it a question of whether I would have fun as a prostitute (I can't think of many things I would rather not do).

However, to me it is do with the principles around which we approach this and how we juggle women's freedom from harm and women's freedom to do as they choose.

Anyway, I made a bit of start.

Bitch | Lab said...

Hi SE,

Anthony may have referring to my post where I was discussing how both sides -- sexpos and radfems -- tend to put sex off in a special place, giving it an allure and mystery that it might not have in a different society.

But, AK and I differ a great deal on this issue. E.g., I recently criticized him (as did KH on punkassblog) for constantly talking only about women who enjoy sex work.

I'm not sure if he was calling people prudes or saying they don't like sex. A lot of sexpos come from a critique of the way the dominant society marginalizes certain types of sexuality as deviant. I think that's the biggest mistake most people make is that they pretty much refuse to read, for instance, Gayle Rubin's work on the topic. Consequently, most people make a knee jerk assumption that it means that anyone who isn't a sexpos is opposed to sex.

i used to think it was worthwhile to find a new name for this branch of thought. alas, I don't think the refusal to consider this aspect of sex positive feminism will be changed by a new name.

Anyway, you're welcome to challenge Anthony and anyone else on the blog. it would be nice to have constructive exchanges on the topic. On my view, neither side will ever change their minds, but we could at least get to know the other's position.

spotted elephant said...

BL-Welcome to the blog.

What cut about his comment was that he said radfems' motivation wasn't about liberating women, that it was about our loathing for women who like certain types of sex.

(rages and spits bile)

I purposely did not leave a comment on that thread. I was furious, and do not communicate well when I'm that angry. So it wouldn't have been a constructive conversation at all. Others may be able to get past the anger and discuss right away, but I have to cool off.

Agreed that these cross-conversations need to be taking place, and will be useful. I just have to join as my temper allows. :)

spotted elephant said...

Also, to be fair-it makes a difference whether you're talking to someone you "know" or to a blogger who is new to you. When someone I know pisses me off, I can manage my response much more effectively. With a stranger-I don't have anything else to go on. The online factor/anonymity kicks in and ups the hostility.

Iamcuriousblue said...

OK, I know I'm not even remotely welcome in these parts (male, pro-porn, on good terms with Anthony K), but I think this point needs to be made in Anthony Kennerson's defense – when he attacked radical feminism, he was attacking an ideology, not attacking women. Last I checked, "woman" and "radical feminist" are not exactly synonyms.

It reminds me more than a little of how baseless charges of anti-moslem racism are leveled at people who have the slightest criticism of Islam. Using charges of racism and sexism to protect religions and ideologies from criticism is profoundly fucked-up, and seems to me to be a massive exercise in bad faith.

Excoriate me all you want, but you might seriously consider that point.

labottomme said...

great post.

just to add my .02:

i'm sure somewhere there are those who are pro child molestation too - oh wait, there is such an org!!

i think that in terms of the sex trade, an eloquent Bush-ism may say it best and can actually be applied here - "if you're not with us, you're against us [the enemy]!" if you're not against women "choosing" to sell their bodies to put food on the table (or else kidnapped into the trade), then you are obviously "for" the kidnapping, exploitation and rape of women - i agree, just cuz money is exchanged doesn't mean it's consensual - money and hence capitalism are silk nooses around our necks, while for others the noose is sisel. either way, the ability to breathe and have available any REAL choice is greatly reduced, if existent at all.

lastly, in response to the title of your post - please don't "give up"!! enjoying your blog (just came across it today).

belledame222 said...

I too am on good (online) terms with AK, but I often don't agree with him either, and even when I do, really wish he would dial it back some notches.

I have also often wished (as I do with many people) and at least once asked directly, I think, that he would maybe talk about all this more specifically wrt his -own- stuff--we've all got ours, and i have glimmers of what his might be.

but yeah, i can def. see why one would get offended. and yeah, I have found his erm style let's say less than helpful sometimes, and have said so on at least a couple of occasions. To his credit, he does accept criticism and back off when confronted directly (by friends, anyway), which is one main reason why people -are- friends with him.

i kind of feel the same way about certain radfem-identified male bloggers ("that guy is an idiot, why doesn't anyone say something??")

so it goes.

belledame222 said...

>When someone I know pisses me off, I can manage my response much more effectively. With a stranger-I don't have anything else to go on. The online factor/anonymity kicks in and ups the hostility.


As you say.

spotted elephant said...

Wow, I need to check my comments on old posts more!

ICB-I wasn't saying Anthony characterized *women* in any certain way, I object(ed) to his characterization of the radical feminist movement. Yes, I prefer when people attack ideas and prinicples instead of people, but it's awful having "my" whole movement slandered (we're uptight about sex and don't really care about women suffering).

I've considered your point, and I agree with it-valid criticism should always be welcome. The problem is that it wasn't a valid criticism, it was an attack and a lie about what radfem stands for.

No excoriation for you ICB! Everyone is welcome here, except for those who engage in personal attacks and spammers (one more ad for phenterimine on this blog and I'm going to lose it.

labottomme-Thank you! I'm not quitting, I just wrote the title in a fit of pissy rage.

Belledame-What did not sink in for me, due to the rage, was that he was objecting to a comment RM made. I no longer read anything by RM because of a truly horrific comment she made in a post that offended me to the core, so there's a lot of shit-stirring going on online. Also, I have first-hand experience of being savaged by *some* radfems, so your point is well-taken. Basically, some people shouldn't get to play with others as they're clearly not capable of public discussion.

belledame222 said...

Yeah, I know which comment you're referring to, and I thought/said it was pretty fucked up at the time also. since it was the first time i'd encountered her, and since it was in the midst of rantage directed against something i -also- found offensive, i adopted a wait-and-see attitude. liked some of her later shit, (also a rant, this time one i approved of) enough to link to it. I'm in her blogroll now. then again, so is BL, and that came after they damn near came to blows. now with the prostitute/femme-baiting and goddam but if the woman is just not making a lick of sense. i am thinking: rage issues.

i suppose it's something if one if an equal-opportunity offender. not sure what that something -is,- but: it's something.

"when all you have is a flamethrower, everything/one looks like kindling."

something.

I'll say this for her: at least she's unsubtle enough that you know what you're dealing with. Unlike some people I could mention and frequently/recently have. And has extended herself in at least one clumsy but I think genuine expression of compassion/goodwill to a former rival when she was having a seriously bad time, that I've seen. (also unlike Some People, but anyway). that counts for something, for me. at least a little.

i totally understand not wanting to go there anymore, though. believe me.

anyway, back to AK: yeah, you know, I think there's more going on there than generally meets the eye. I can't say I don't hold him responsible for not communicating it better, but: I don't think it's actually about rage at women per se. Rage, yes. And some garden-variety sexism is there, yes, same as with -almost- every het male (and many gay/bi men) I know, to one degree or another. I -think- (I am probably overstepping, but i seem to recall him writing to this effect), as with many who end up turning enthusiastically to the sex-positive/radical side, there's a background of severe repression, possibly religious abuse as well. (I include myself in that, except in my case, the repression wasn't so much personal/familial but cultural; the internalized homophobia deal). I think race factors in there as well, although I'm not gonna speak for how.

But yeah: he does often tend to come off like it's all about the porn, porn, porn, I am going to say this. I think that accusations of him frequenting, much less abusing, prostitutes, are unjustified and (in the latter case) just nasty; and clearly I don't find him dangerous. For one thing--I'm sorry, Anthony, if you're reading this, but, I have to say this--he has alienated a lot of people, and generally one has to have a large following to be truly dangerous. At worst I think he's been tone-deaf, and yeah, that sort of thing can be a problem when women...people... are trying to build bridges. But I don't believe he's deliberately trying to come between women for his own sinister purposes. I think he's very angry and often feels under attack. And while I totally understand not wanting to put aside one's own anger and feeling-under-attack in favor to understand the guy's pain, particularly when one has FUCKLOADS of one's own pain which seems to be getting bulldozed over in the defense of porn, I also think in a number of cases he is correct in that assessment.

just my two cents.

belledame222 said...

anyway, while i understand being pissed off at his sweeping attributions of motivations to "radfems," I will note that I have probably been guilty of similar shit myself, when raging (generally because of nasty experience at the hands of -some- people calling themselves radical feminists, who may or may not have had such motivations, may or may not have been speaking out of -their- knee-jerk rage...and so on and so on...); and that in calmer lights I understand that this was 1) unfair and 2) not helpful.

I think these days AK has maybe gone sort of "hardcore" wrt sticking to such statements, which I find unfortunate. And not helpful. I also know that this attitude has been forged from a myriad of really nasty battles. war: 'twas ever thus.

but in general I understand him to be the sort of person who speaks in haste and repents (at least sometimes) at leisure.

fwiw.

spotted elephant said...

Belledame, I've done plenty of raging myself, and not just about sex pos feminism. Was it RE who said that that's the function of ranting-just getting all the anger and frustration out? Sometimes you have to do that, but as you said, when people are trying to build bridges it comes across very differently.

So I'm sure AK has his own issues, as we all do. The comments I posted here are going to be tough for me to get past, but I'm sure I'll survive it. Thanks for the feedback though, it prevents me from keeping him as a one-dimensional character.

And has extended herself in at least one clumsy but I think genuine expression of compassion/goodwill to a former rival when she was having a seriously bad time, that I've seen.

Huh. I had no idea. That behavior counts for quite a bit with me. Bad times are when truly awful people pile on, and lukewarm friends bail, so yeah, that is impressive.

belledame222 said...

She's, you know, erratic, I would say. I mean, I feel leery of baring my throat around her--she's also been remarkably grudging and hostile and lashing-out. Then talks about such things as punching walls out of frustration because of some awful life thing, and I'm reading along going, -nod,- okay, so you're saying you're having a bad week, which I get; but, uh, 1) no one's fault here, which we've sort of yet to really acknowledge in so many words and 2) people talking about punching walls kind of sets me on red alert, or at least yellow alert.

shrug. i dunno. i can't work up that many feelings about her, in a way, because i can only be invested in so many people i'm upset by at once, you know?

at least i kind of respect outright flaming a bit better than, well, some other peoples' approach; if you're gonna be mean and even hit below the belt, I feel, at least have the decency to do it transparently.

Bitch | Lab said...

SE

Yep. Anthony and I have had plenty of go-rounds about his characterizations of rad fems. In fact that thread was a criticism of him to begin with.

I don't always have time to monitor everything, so I prob. just didn't see it.

And, you now, if you're always on someone's case already, it can be ineffective to pounce every single time. Save it for strategic times.

I tend to see the differences between rad fems and other feminists as often about simply not sharing the same fundamental axioms and premises.

From Anthony's perspective, it's not a lie to say what he said. He thinks that abolishing porn and sex work, without adequate concern for the economic circumstances of women without sex work is harmful. He thinks that radfems subvert those other concerns in favor of their interest in abolition prostitution, porn, rape.

He thinks that some arguments reveal that some kinds of sex are just wrong -- e.g., sex for pay.

In his world, sex for pay isn't necessarily wrong. No more wrong than anything else for pay.

You and rad fems, OTOH, simply do not agree. For many radfems, abolishing rape and pornstitution is imperative and the most important step to ending women's oppression. So, in a sense, it is about Sex.

of course, my response to Anthony would be: duh. That's their theory. Any insinuation that it's about their personal psychological attitudes toward sexuality need to be dropped.

funny, was telling BD this just this week: I do think that, in order to work together and at least try to understand one another, we need to watch the rhetoric.

E.g., in all cases, I think that everyone should avoid ever intimating that the problem is that people are prudes.

Yet, a fundamental aspect of sex positive feminism is to speak for the silenced voices of those from marginalized sexual minorities. In which case, for those who do like sex work -- RE for instance -- we feel we need to support them, especially because we know what it's like to be on the receiving end.

In those cases, I do think that there is a negative attitude toward certain types of sexuality. Renegade Evolution and others like her may enjoy the kind of detached sex and exhibitionism that others thing are wrong. Not because they are being moralistic, though.

Anyway, nice to "meet" you here at your blog. I've already blogrolled you and had always meant to since you are active in anti-oppression work around race/racism.