Looks like I may have hit a nerve with Agustin after all!

And it is very funny, that someone who finds me so ‘tedious’ that she has to block me from commenting on her blog, is still spending time reading mine, and blogging about it! (But without any direct links to this blog, which comes across as rather underhanded – does she not want her readers to see what I’ve actually written?)

For the record, with regards to my ‘academic grooming’ post, I was talking about Hugo Schwyzer, using his “Navigating Porn” class to convince young people that using porn is great, as grooming, I merely referred to Agustin within a list of academics I consider to be “distorting, partisan, biased, corrupt and self-serving”.

It looks like Agustin doesn’t like being referred to as a neoliberal:

I also am not a neoliberal proponent of the happiness of making money in a free marketplace.

I can understand why Agustin doesn’t like being labeled a neoliberal, what with its association with Tea Partiers, Thatcher and Reagan, but it is the correct label for her worldview.

I don’t call Agustin a neoliberal because I think that she thinks that making money makes us happy, I call her a neoliberal because she reduces all human beings to economic units, and all human interactions to economic transactions, with the belief that markets will self-regulate because economic units will only ever behave rationally.

She defends prostitution as sexuality, as sex (even when the ‘sex’ is that of a homeless child engaging in survival prostitution), but at the same time strips sex of all emotional and psychological meaning and turns it into nothing more than menial labour.

To Agustin, a homeless child engaging in survival prostitution is merely making a rational economic choice, and there will be no negative psychological consequences for that ‘choice’ because the only thing that could harm that child is not being allowed to fulfill their economic potential by ‘working’ in that way.

What does sexuality look like under a worldview that reduces all sex to menial labour? What can sexuality even mean, except being ‘sexually active’, or, rather, since we are talking about children engaging in survival prostitution, ‘sexually acted upon’?

Agustin reduces sex to menial labour, then calls anyone who is against prostitution, even child prostitution, a ‘prude’. In her defense she states that “everyone has a sexuality – babies, toddlers, children, teenagers, old people” – when I asked her what the sexuality of babies and toddlers looks like under her neoliberal worldview, that was when she started blocking my comments.

There is no emotional or psychological depth to Agustin’s worldview, there is no room for fear, for suffering, for trauma; people are only ever ‘unhappy’ – a weasel word if ever there was one in the context of forced sex – and the biggest thing that makes them unhappy is not being allowed to work.

Agustin dismisses as ‘psychobabble’ the idea that an adult or child trafficked into prostitution may be too afraid to testify against the traffickers. We’ve seen, very clearly, in the Rochdale and Oxford cases, that this does happen, that gangs will use violence and the fear of violence to threaten and control; Girl C’s traffickers threatened to kill her, to kill her baby and her adoptive mother, but the idea that such threats could have kept her under the traffickers’ control is just ‘psychobabble’, according to Agustin.

When it suits Agustin, the police are incompetent, and if we try to get the system to work for us we are babies crying over a broken toy, but at the same time, when it suits Agustin, the fact that trafficked women and children don’t want to testify against their abusers is proof that there is no abuse!

If Agustin doesn’t like being labeled a neoliberal, perhaps she should re-examine her worldview, or just re-read her own writing a bit more carefully, like here, where she claims that “Prostitution as a sexuality is indeed a bizarre idea, and one I didn’t say myself”, when in the original piece she says this:

It may be noted also that a recent study in Massachusetts found a trend towards greater numbers of homeless among lgbtq youth. One sort of marginalised sexuality can contribute to another, unfortunately.

There it is, clear as day: “One sort of marginalised sexuality [homosexuality] can contribute to another [prostitute].”

In her more current post Agustin says this:

What I am is a believer in human agency. I believe that disadvantaged persons with limited options of how to proceed in life have, until they are actually put in chains, some space to move, negotiate, prefer one option to another.

If the only time you see abuse or coercion is when someone is literally in chains or with a gun to their head, you won’t see much abuse or coercion, and this is important because one of Agustin’s main claims is that a lot of what gets labeled as trafficking into prostitution is in fact a ‘free choice’.

This is not the way control works, and it isn’t the way control has ever worked; there has never been a dictatorship in human history where every citizen was kept permanently in chains, or was assigned a soldier to hold a gun to their head 24 hours a day (with another soldier assigned to that soldier to keep him in line, and so on, off into infinity). Control is maintained through the use of just enough violence, enough beatings, enough murders, enough disappearances, to keep everyone afraid; this is how traffickers work, but every time Agustin reads an account of women returning to prostitution, that is, for her, proof that there is nothing going on, those women are making a rational economic decision, they are not afraid of anyone, they are not afraid for their families, they don’t owe massive debts to gangs who could hurt them or their families.

For more evidence of Agustin’s lack of emotional insight:

At another point I referred to my own experience of being oppressed by the work-permit system, where leaving a job one has a permit for means instant expiration of one’s legal status in the country. He has been told about the live-in maids who cannot leave because their passports are stamped for that single specific employment, even if they are being abused. To find out that supposedly ‘highly-skilled’ permits are just the same and that a researcher might feel abused and want to quit the job but stay and find another had never occurred to him.

Yep, that’s right, being an academic who doesn’t like her job is exactly the same as being a maid who is starved, raped, beaten, forced to be ‘on call’ 24 hours a day with no days off, and not paid by her employers!

To Agustin, being unhappy in a skilled, well-paid job is the same as being treated like a slave, and, therefore, being treated like a slave is no worse than being unhappy in a well-paid job.

23 responses

  1. Jacqueline S. Homan wrote on her blog “Feminism – The Other F Word” a response to a recent Rolling Stone article which featured Snoop Lion bragging about trafficking women and girls without a shred of remorse, because in his mind it was “harmless fun”.


    Within the post is a (very important) letter by Jody Williams of Trafficking and Prostitution Services, which lays out how much “fun” it was for the girls involved (not to mention for Jody and her colleagues trying to deal with the sickening fallout, with almost no resources to do so) and how much “agency” the girls had in the situation.

    “No one wanted to make a police report against a trafficking ring that was under the “wing” of protection of the music industry afforded by not just Snoop Dogg – but his “athletes.” What isn’t being understood in this article was that these were huge professional athletes. There were young girls who weighed maybe 110 pounds and not all of them were 18 years old either. Some of them lied about their age to get into these concerts. They were asked backstage to meet celebrities, athletes and musicians. Next thing they know, they’re having a door shut behind them where Snoop is then living out his “fantasy” of “selling” their “pussy” to these huge 200-300 pound athletes who are famous and wealthy who are all standing there in the room together getting high, drunk, and negotiating over their bodies like they were car parts.

    They can’t exactly say “no”.”

    There is a wilful and self serving kind of ignorance common to the mindsets of both Snoop Lion and Laura Agustin. Some kind of ability to see and believe whatever suits, to believe whatever is convenient, and to find ways to dismiss or erase whatever is not. Agustin’s position that she is a “believer in human agency” with abject refusal to acknowledge any human vulnerabilities and power dynamics that diminish agency, is a special kind of academic “psychobabble”, with no grounding at all in lived reality. Her comparison of her own highly privileged situation with that of a live-in maid displays both solipsism and striking narcissism.

  2. * “an enslaved live-in maid” that should be.

  3. All of what Agustin claims is ‘malespeak’ because she is paroting mens’ view of their world. A world wherein men are accorded sexual autonomy and pseudo sex right to any female, any time anywhere. A world where male socio-economic power is invisible because men created specific systems and structures to maintain and justify male domination and male control over all women.

    Neo-liberal is a male created ideology wherein the ideology is all about men and their rights, which is why women’s and girls’ lived experiences of existing in mens’ created Male Supremacist System is constantly dismissed by men as ‘lies.’

    Agustin is a female handmaiden of mens’ Male Supremacist System and she is ‘upset’ because Anti-Pornfeminists are holding her to account for her lies and promotion of male supremacist propaganda.

    If it doesn’t happen to men it doesn’t exist is Agustin’s claim and no she didn’t create this claim she is merely parotting/repeating mens’ claims. I’ve yet to read or hear innumerable men are becoming prostituted males because it is just another economic enterprise for them! If prostitution is so wonderful why aren’t men in their droves becoming ‘prostituted males?’

    And Agustin is parotting mens’ social construction of what supposedly constitutes ‘sex’ – which means male pseudo sex right to women, girls and even female babies is sacrosanct!

    I never realised women had so much socio-economic power that they can instantly reject systemic male control and male domination! Perhaps the young women who bravely gave evidence in the so-called Oxford and Rochdale cases ‘forgot they were accorded socio-economic power over the male sexual predators and instead made the free and informed choice to become these mens’ dehumanised disposable sexual service stations!’

  4. Every time someone uses the term “agency” positively in a sociological context, run.

  5. Oh my Goddess! This person has no understanding at all of basic psychology. I can’t believe that anyone could find that her discourse makes sense (unless you’re ready to belive anything to justify prostitution (usually the cases of men who wish to not feel guilty and those who have a financial interest in propagating these lies) or if you prefer delusion to reality). She completely erases and invalidates the voices of trafficked and exited prostituted women and girls. She claims that everyone has a sexuality but does not expand on why women and children’s sexuality should turn out to be at the service of men and why men’s sexual desires must be paramount to everybody else’s.

  6. Thanks for the comments everyone!

    Agustin clearly does have a serious lack of empathy and imagination; saying: “If one person tells me they experience it as rape and exploitation, I believe them” is just small print when the rest of her blog is dedicated to claiming that exploitation, force and coercion (she doesn’t recognise poverty as a form of coercion) are rare, and when it does happen it’s a one off that says nothing about how the sex industry works as an infrastructure or an institution.

    Her dismissal of psychological control as ‘psychobabble’ is bizarre, and not supported by academics and medical specialists in that field, or by the very obvious real-world evidence of Oxford et al; her stance on this makes her sound like a climate change denier.

    I’m sure Agustin doesn’t have the intellectual finesse to understand irony, but I’m sure that even she can recognise the hypocrisy in accusing me of not wanting people to be exposed to a range of ideas, while at the same time not linking to or naming this blog, and also blocking me from commenting on hers.

  7. And look at this disgusting comment left (without comment or challenge) on Agustin’s ‘academic grooming’ post (click on the image for a larger version):

    Glenn comment

    Laura Agustin, the academic of choice for paedophiles everywhere.

  8. Francois,

    I know what you mean about ‘agency’. Reading what Thaddeus Blanchette has said about it in the comments on Agustin’s ‘naked musings’ post, he’s basically admitting that it’s meaningless, since everyone has it, all the time, unless they’re dead, paralysed, in a coma or locked in a tiny cell – which didn’t stop him from accusing me of trying to ‘take people’s agency away’ by expressing my opinions – who knew radical feminist opinions could literally reshape reality?

    If that’s what ‘agency’ is (and he says it’s not the same as free will, opportunity or choice), then it’s irrelevant, and has no relevance in any argument about anything; one may as well try arguing that the existence of gravity has a bearing on discussions about prostitution.

    He comes out with a load of post-modern guff about “one’s natural defraction of external circumstances”, and how ‘unexpected’ things can happen, because of ‘agency’ – even Agustin isn’t impressed, but then she’s not going to be too rude to her number one lickspittle.

  9. Yes, I think “agency” is used as a way to make people shoulder responsibility for everything, including things they are not responsible for. It’s a double delusion: prostitutes are responsible for being prostitutes, but you can’t criticize the institution because everyone “chose” to be in it. Now you see it, now you don’t.

  10. I can understand why young, mostly privileged women, ie 3rd and 4th wave ‘funfems’ cling to ‘agency’ so fiercely; who wants to admit to potentially being a victim, in a society that hates victims?

    What I can’t understand is why someone like Agustin, who should be smart enough and experienced enough to know better, clings to it, especially when it requires flat-earther levels of denial and double-think to ignore the realities of how oppression works. She denies that psychological control or emotional manipulation exists, and she denies that any systematic abuse occurs in an industry that requires a steady stream of victims.

  11. I haven’t found that intelligence has much to do with it. In fact, it seems intelligent people hold to the concept a lot more.

  12. It must be a complete empathy deficit then.

    Also, there is this phenomenom one sees, in any oppressed group, but with women especially, along the lines of: I had to put up with this (abuse), so why should you get away with not doing so? or, to put it more succinctly, shit rolls down hill.

    Agustin makes a big deal of her own ‘migrant’ status, perhaps she thinks she’s suffered herself, so she gets to decide what constitutes suffering. She has a little bit of power through her academic work, so she’s going to wield it over other women.

  13. I hate people, I really do.

  14. If you really hated everybody, you wouldn’t bother reading this blog in the first place, surely?!

    Humanity is disappointing a lot of the time, I’ll give you that.

  15. Why? I don’t hate YOU. My blogroll is basically composed of the few people on the Internet I can stand.

  16. Haha! But surely a true misanthropist wouldn’t give a shit about politics, and would just be a libertarian fuckwit?

  17. I used to be. Now I’m an antinatalist libsoc.

  18. That’s progress then I suppose, but to even bother reading radical feminist blogs must mean you care in some way?

  19. About radical feminism? Well, I do enjoy mocking and goggling at all the stupid critics of radfem, especially the MRAs. I even got attacked by femonade in one of her entries, which I take is a signal of having arrived in this community. 🙂

  20. […] note the control the traffickers had over these women, they posed as a recruitment agency, they knew who those […]

  21. […] market, that means you want 15-year-old girls to be locket up for being sexually active (I think Laura Agustin must be a fan of Rothbard!). There is, obviously, much room for improvement in the way that society […]

  22. […] The risk of being ‘in league’ with right wingers/religious fundamentalists/etc, is never a concern for sex industry advocates. So even if they did get their way under the Tories, that would never be seen as proof that they were in league with them (despite the neoliberal leanings of some sex industry advocates). […]

  23. […] so I have a copy myself. It’s a useful article, I think, because sex industry apologists cite ‘cultural norms’ and even ‘children’s sexuality’ and ‘children’s agency’ to justify the commercial sexual exploitation of children (‘youth sex workers’). As the article […]

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