I’ve been in a long, unpleasant ‘discussion’ with sex industry advocates on Laura Agustin’s blog here. In the original post she compares a homeless child (she uses the terms ‘child’ and ‘teenager’ interchangeably, and repeatedly refused to give a lower age limit on how old she thinks it is acceptable for a child to be prostituted) engaging in survival prostitution with a child’s sexuality, and says that anyone who is against child prostitution is a prude who is against the sexuality of children and teenagers (and babies and toddlers as well).
The issue of young people on the street who have a home somewhere they don’t want to live in – runaways – is always charged because of a widespread refusal to accept that everyone has a sexuality – babies, toddlers, children, teenagers, old people.
This comment is particularly odd, as the rest of the post is talking about shelters that help homeless children and teenagers avoid survival prostitution.
Agustin has barely taken part in the comment thread, instead leaving it to some sex industry advocate thugs to argue for her (and if you decide to read through the comments, be aware that one of the men is particularly violent and abusive in his language).
The comments on Agustin’s blog are not moderated, except for hot-links, and when I first left my latest comments, 10 days ago, they appeared on the thread (I saved the page as a pdf for reference, so I am not simply mis-remembering), but now, they are ‘in moderation’ (see below).
I’m not arrogant enough to think that anything I’ve said could have got to Agustin (like all the women who make it their life’s work to keep other women in prostitution, she displays a high level of callousness), so I don’t know why she’s suddenly decided to censor my comments.
This is my comment in full (I left another short comment further up thread, that is now ‘in moderation’ too).
In one of your posts about the Irish Anarchist Bookfair (lauraagustin.com/i-am-not-michael-oleary-and-other-meditations-on-public-performance) your response to a criticism of your attitude to capitalism implied you prefer: “Practical, pragmatic arguments about the here and now.”
Dealing with the here and now means dealing with states, laws and law enforcement. Practically every group that wants to bring about meaningful changes, whether that’s stopping deforestation in the Amazon, banning pesticides that kill off honeybees, or closing tax loop-holes, uses the law, and, inevitably, law enforcement.
But according to you, anyone who tries to use the law to get justice with regards to sexual violence against women and children (and men too for that matter) is ‘crying to daddy’ – everyone else can use the law, but we alone must hobble ourselves by not doing so.
And that’s some really nice trivialisation of sexual violence there; any raped woman who wants justice is a baby crying over a broken toy.
But actually that attitude fits in perfectly with your neo-liberal worldview, where human beings are reduced to economic units, and all human interactions are economic transactions, and economic transactions are always rational, selfish and good. Under such a worldview, a ‘prude’ is anyone who attaches any emotional value to sex, and all sex is good, even the ‘sex’ of a homeless thirteen-year-old engaging in survival prostitution. Under such a worldview, rape can’t be a big deal, it’s just theft, just ‘unrecompensated sex work’.
You try to ‘sex up’ your work, by calling yourself ‘the naked anthropologist’ and aligning yourself with so-called ‘sex positives’, but it’s hard to come across as ‘sexy’ when your worldview allows for no emotional elements at all.
Tell me, what does the sexuality of a baby or a toddler look like to you when you view all human interactions as economic transactions?
“So a sex worker who is raped by a client in Sweden or Scotland will likely be told that what she did was illegal – prostitution – and to shut up and go home, in spite of the law’s supposed orientation to protecting women.”
This is getting kind of sad and desperate on your part; maybe the police in your part of the world are 100% corrupt 100% of the time, and can just make up the law as they go along and no one can do anything about it, but in western Europe, we manage a little bit better than total corruption. I’m not saying it’s perfect by any means, but we manage a little bit better than 100% corruption 100% of the time.
It’s also rather patronising to ‘sex workers’. Maybe a prostituted child or a woman trafficked from abroad wouldn’t know what the law was, but an adult citizen of a country operating the Nordic Model (where the prostitute her or himself is decriminalised) would know what the law was.
“This is what I find to be the most ludicrous point of Ploddies’ position and that of other radfems: they don’t look at what cops actually DO with these laws they want to enact. This is a particularly grevious error for people who claim to understand that the state is a tool of the patriarchy.”
We know very well, that’s why we spend a lot of time, as activists, and as professionals in the legal system, trying to get the police to investigate rape and domestic violence and stalking properly, to treat victims properly, to get the courts to try cases properly, and to counter the cultural myths and biases that can affect juries.
“And feminists? They are essentially destroying the concept of consent when it comes to sex and women’s bodies.”
That line only works if you think acquiescence is the same as consent, and that it’s only coercion if there’s a knife to someone’s throat.
“Radfems, my ass. Liberal, middleclass, white kids with daddy issues is more like it.”
‘Issues’? That’s really funny coming from a guy who thinks only 0.01% of sex is enjoyable, even for men, and that that’s ok and normal!
From Agustin’s blog today:
From my saved pdf of the blog post: