itisiwhowillit

unadulterated ranting, it's cathartic.

Month: November, 2013

YORK FEMINIST NETWORK ROUND TWO.

I’m writing this note in a personal capacity. The views I express here are not representative of Edinburgh University’s Feminist Society, and the committee have nothing to do with this note.

 

If you want to read YFN’s response to Edinburgh Uni Feminist Society, you can do so here:  https://www.facebook.com/notes/rachel-hewson-thornton/response-to-edinburgh-university-feminist-society-york-feminist-network-we-rejec/10151700333121813

 

At the heart of YFN’s response is the power and gender imbalances in sex work. I’m not going to challenge that here. What I do wish to challenge, however, is that this makes sex work different from any other field of work. Most bosses are men, most millionaires are men, most highly-paid workers are men. Most public sector workers who are *hugely* taken advantage of despite their necessary contribution to society, are women. Bosses (read: men) buy our bodies every day- as students and workers we spend our short and valuable lives slaving away for the benefit of men. Precarious, under-valued, low-paid work is women’s work. Yet I don’t see York Feminist Network campaigning for the closure of any other workplace. Why? Whorephobia.

 

You say sex-work defines women in terms of men’s desires. I say you would do well to not define the sexuality expressions of other women.

 

Even if you believe that sex-work is inherently bad (which I think is bullshit, I feel I should clarify), it’s still anti-feminist to endanger those workers and their dependents. Like any other work dispute, we should take the lead from the workers, and fight with them on the terms that they wish to organise on. WE DO NOT CONTROL THEIR STRUGGLE.

 

The closure of a sauna or lap-dancing bar or strip club won’t *stop* these places from existing, you will just drive them underground. You will put the workers in an even riskier position. Feminists acknowledge the validity of this argument  when we’re talking about abortion, so why not sex work?

 

Even an abolitionist should want the safest, healthiest workplace for other women.

 

Feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit. Sex workers are disproportionately LGBTQ (particularly Trans*) because cisheteronormative standards keep them out of conventional workplaces. Sex workers are working class. We fight with them, not against them. Sex workers’ rights are workers’ rights. Workers’ rights are human rights.

 

If you care about women you will ask the workers of Upstairs what they want to happen. You will ask them what could make their job more fulfilling, what would make them happier, and what would make them safer. You would then offer them any support that they needed in agitating toward those goals. You would not make them jobless. You would not put them in danger.

 

Enough fucking said.

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York Feminist Network, we reject your whorephobia.

Last week, the Edinburgh University Feminist Society received the following email from York Feminist Collective:

‘Hello, I hope you don’t mind me sending you this quick message.

I’m a member of the York Feminist Network, and a number of our group are calling on City of York Council to reject the application for renewal of SEV (Sexual Entertainment Venue) licence from lap dancing club ‘Upstairs’ (part of The Mansion), on Micklegate in York. The current licence expires on 30 November 2013.

As Council policy states that we are not able to object on moral grounds, our campaign takes a more community-focused argument, concerned with the impact on local residents, creating ‘no-go’ areas for women and damaging both the character and reputation of York as a welcoming, family-friendly city. This is the link to our petition: [petition redacted]

If you are able and willing to share it amongst your group, that would be much appreciated

Thank you ever so much,

[name redacted] York Feminist Network.’

We would like to say that not only will we refuse to support your campaign- but that we call upon people to actively oppose it.

Sex workers nationwide are facing vicious attacks on their working conditions, and as an intersectional society we must think about the implications of working class women in this assault. This is especially evident in Edinburgh where the merging of Scottish Police forces is leading to a crack down on saunas. Here police asked saunas to ban condoms, and raids are becoming more common. Any safety that saunas offer sex workers is being eroded as police forces exercise their power in violent, dangerous and intrusive ways. Feminists should not encourage or participate in any behaviours that condone or perpetuate this.

We ask you to think about the livelihoods of women whose jobs you will take away. What about the children they have to feed? The roofs they must keep over their heads? The intentional endangering of women is not feminist.

As a feminist society we educate, agitate and organise around the emancipation of women and others directly oppressed by patriarchal standards. We will not have the liberation of women whilst we remain divided; whorephobic standards perpetuate slut-shaming, victim-blaming and rape culture. Sex workers are part of our fight, and we will not turn our backs on them.

We catagorically reject your claim that Adult venues are ‘damaging’ to communities, and in your appeal to families you place sex workers and families in opposition. We do not accept this.We say that sex workers are an integral part of our communities- not something opposition to them.

We will not participate in your whorephobic, anti-sex work, sex-negative feminism. We hope you will reconsider your campaign and we look forward to future dialogue with you.

We offer our solidarity to the dancers of ‘Upstairs’; know that we support your right to bodily autonomy, freedom of association and right to work in safe conditions.

Edinburgh University Feminist Society.