Political and Feminist Allies
In previous posts, I’ve talked about <a href="https://eryncarter.com/should-we-legalize-prostitution/">neoliberal and abolitionist</a> perspectives, and their takes on prostitution. While these are political perspectives, they share common interests with some major feminist stances. In the past, politicians and feminist advocates have teamed up over these shared interests to champion their views on laws and policies.In the neoliberal political team, you’re likely to find liberal feminists. While, on the opposing team, sharing common interests with abolitionists are the radical feminists. <h2>The Feminist Debate</h2> Radical feminism, also known as <a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/023117263X/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=023117263X&linkCode=as2&tag=theuntameds05-20&linkId=28198a050d2f881823884a081b5445d4" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">essentialist feminism</a>, believes that solving gender/sex inequality is done by serving the greater good. In other words, what's good for some women is good for all. But…this is a pretty black vs. white, good vs. evil, simple solution type answer. </p>It doesn’t take much searching to realize that what’s right for some is not right for all. In fact, what’s good for the <a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/023117263X/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=023117263X&linkCode=as2&tag=theuntameds05-20&linkId=28198a050d2f881823884a081b5445d4">majority</a> tends to usually benefit only the majority, e.g., white, middle to upper-class women. This form of feminism has faced backlash a multitude of times. Simply look to <a href="https://www.huffpost.com/entry/taylor-swift-minaj-white-feminism_n_55afa165e4b08f57d5d30d1e">Taylor Swift</a> for examples. <figure> <a href="https://www.huffpost.com/entry/taylor-swift-minaj-white-feminism_n_55afa165e4b08f57d5d30d1e?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly9lcnluY2FydGVyLmNvbS93cC1hZG1pbi9wb3N0LnBocD9wb3N0PTE3NzcmYWN0aW9uPWVsZW1lbnRvcg&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAIG4_71Qj0Vqc59dt34NVT3Y1oErG1yVAFhwUMCm84ahzOGKK6Xkp_nZh7yCvAOQg1QCYCJPgo3u2ExsYVu0yaKhwhspKb18wsrD7UTfx8UlDyNfhSRB1TNwaae6zl4-IsfDKvp0SZYzyyBMkyLziIbqCtRtjWEQUKygcVuBuMcK" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> <img width="1024" height="678" src="https://eryncarter.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Screen-Shot-2019-12-16-at-4.57.12-PM-1024x678.png" alt="" srcset="https://eryncarter.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Screen-Shot-2019-12-16-at-4.57.12-PM-1024x678.png 1024w, https://eryncarter.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Screen-Shot-2019-12-16-at-4.57.12-PM-300x199.png 300w, https://eryncarter.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Screen-Shot-2019-12-16-at-4.57.12-PM-768x509.png 768w, https://eryncarter.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Screen-Shot-2019-12-16-at-4.57.12-PM-1170x775.png 1170w, https://eryncarter.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Screen-Shot-2019-12-16-at-4.57.12-PM-780x516.png 780w, https://eryncarter.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Screen-Shot-2019-12-16-at-4.57.12-PM-585x388.png 585w, https://eryncarter.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Screen-Shot-2019-12-16-at-4.57.12-PM-263x175.png 263w, https://eryncarter.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Screen-Shot-2019-12-16-at-4.57.12-PM.png 1404w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" /> </a> <figcaption>Taylor Swift’s Tweets To Nicki Minaj Are Peak ‘White Feminism’</figcaption> </figure> In terms of sex trafficking, radical feminists assert that<a href="https://nordicmodelnow.org/2018/12/01/why-does-radical-feminism-exclude-sex-workers/"> all sex work is bad</a>, and the commercial sex industry thrives on the exploitation of women. Radical feminists have even gone as far as to state that every woman working in the sex trade industry is a victim of sex trafficking. But what about <a href="https://geekfeminism.wikia.org/wiki/Agency">agency</a>? What about individuals who’ve chosen sex work as their labor? What’s more, where do non-women identifying sex workers fit into this perspective? <a href="https://www.interserver.net/tips/kb/404-error-fix/"> <img width="426" height="312" src="https://eryncarter.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Screen-Shot-2019-12-16-at-4.58.59-PM.png" alt="" srcset="https://eryncarter.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Screen-Shot-2019-12-16-at-4.58.59-PM.png 426w, https://eryncarter.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Screen-Shot-2019-12-16-at-4.58.59-PM-300x220.png 300w" sizes="(max-width: 426px) 100vw, 426px" /> </a> <p>The answer to these questions is simply “no.” Asking these questions will immediately trigger a “<em><strong>404 error</strong></em>” because these questions represent shades of grey that are not compatible with the black and white picture that radical feminists have painted.
Abolitionists represent the conservative side of the political spectrum, and the fact that radical feminists have gotten cozy with conservative politicians and advocates has not gone unnoticed.
In fact, this isn’t the first political debate they’ve found common ground on. See “the debate” about transgender women, for example. I use quotes because there is no debate.
Transgender women are women. Period. End of story.
But, radical feminists and conservatives somehow are confused by this very straightforward, sensical statement.Their confusion has turned into a crusade, as they claim to help the greater good. If it helps the greater good, why not pair up? Sarcasm dripping heavily here
Well, is helping the “greater good” our sole concern? Or helping everyone?
Ugh, what a tough question…So much to consider…Not.
Liberal feminists, on the other hand, take an utterly opposing stance. Under this perspective, everyone should have the right to decide for themselves. It is choice and agency that represents liberation. Where agency and choice are restricted is where oppression lies.Another bonus, under this perspective, sex work is, in fact, distinct from sex trafficking. Liberal feminists believe that women have the right to engage in the commercial sex trade industry and that doing so could even be empowering. While this picture isn’t as horrifying as labeling every sex worker a victim of trafficking, this perspective still presents a dichotomy: agency and empowerment in choosing to be a sex worker vs. being a victim of sex trafficking. When in all reality, the lines aren’t this clear.
So Again, What About the Shades of Grey?
Well, let’s look at intersectional feminism. While radical and liberal feminist perspectives seem to box real life into neat, tidy boxes to create neat and tidy solutions, intersectional feminism recognizes that real life is messy.
It is, of course, tedious and tricky to untangle such a mess, but an intersectional perspective tells us to “suck it up, buttercup.”
Yes, you can choose to leave your headphones in a tangled, knotted mess. But, you’re going to have to listen to your music within a 2-inch radius of your phone. So, is this really a desirable solution?
<figure> <img width="1024" height="768" src="https://eryncarter.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/tangled-headphones-1024x768.jpg" alt="" srcset="https://eryncarter.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/tangled-headphones-1024x768.jpg 1024w, https://eryncarter.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/tangled-headphones-300x225.jpg 300w, https://eryncarter.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/tangled-headphones-768x576.jpg 768w, https://eryncarter.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/tangled-headphones-585x439.jpg 585w, https://eryncarter.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/tangled-headphones.jpg 1136w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" /> <figcaption>A straight mess.</figcaption> </figure> It is through untangling the complexities in every circumstance that we can truly solve the problem. So, while radical and liberal perspectives create black and white dichotomies, intersectional feminism indulges in the complex spaces of grey. <figure> <a href="https://www.ywboston.org/2017/03/what-is-intersectionality-and-what-does-it-have-to-do-with-me/"> <img width="760" height="678" src="https://eryncarter.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Screen-Shot-2019-12-16-at-5.06.58-PM.png" alt="" srcset="https://eryncarter.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Screen-Shot-2019-12-16-at-5.06.58-PM.png 760w, https://eryncarter.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Screen-Shot-2019-12-16-at-5.06.58-PM-300x268.png 300w, https://eryncarter.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Screen-Shot-2019-12-16-at-5.06.58-PM-585x522.png 585w" sizes="(max-width: 760px) 100vw, 760px" /> </a> <figcaption>What is intersectionality, and what does it have to do with me?</figcaption> </figure> An <a href="https://everydayfeminism.com/2018/01/sex-workers-and-me-too/">intersectional perspective</a> recognizes that the facets of our identity work together simultaneously to create our own unique experiences. If we ignore the differences created by various identities, specifically minority identities, in hashing out solutions to eradicate sex trafficking, we only further displace these communities from <a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/023117263X/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=023117263X&linkCode=as2&tag=theuntameds05-20&linkId=28198a050d2f881823884a081b5445d4">liberation</a>. So, there is no one size fits all, “greater good” solution. And, while individuals may willfully choose to be sex workers, we cannot deny that majority of sex workers possess <a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/023117263X/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=023117263X&linkCode=as2&tag=theuntameds05-20&linkId=28198a050d2f881823884a081b5445d4">marginalized identities</a><p>This, my friends, is where the untangling comes in. Why are marginalized communities over-represented in sex worker and victims of sex trafficking demographics?</p> <h4>Ideal Victim vs. Reality</h4> <p>If we were to leave this tricky question untangled, we would have a surface understanding of sex trafficking and who it effects. Such an understanding has been force-fed through propaganda to the public to make sex trafficking a relevant issue in the political sphere.
Without untangling, we’d think that the average trafficking victim is one who’s been abducted, faced brutal violence, and who is probably white.
Do not mistake me, an individual of any gender, race, age, etc. can be trafficked. The above circumstance may be the lived experience of individuals.But, looking at the research that has taken place, the majority of those trafficked do not fit the ideal victim that has been described above.
So, Let’s Begin Untangling
In reality, an individual will most likely not have been kidnapped and forced into prostitution, as a radical feminist might try to convince you. An individual may not have full agency in every situation either, as liberal feminists might lead you to believe. What’s more likely to occur is an individual has been presented with limited opportunities and options, and then freely makes the best choice from the hand they were dealt. Being in this position presents unique risks that make an individual more vulnerable to trafficking.And, we can call such a position, possessing a constrained agency. It is here where the profound grey that is real life exists. The profound grey that both liberal and radical feminists try to ignore.
So, what do you think? Comment below your Shrew take on this feminist debate.