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Interview: Meghan Murphy on the sex industry, individualism, online feminism, and the third wave

This interview was done for and posted (in French) on Isabelle Alonso’s website. Isabelle is a French TV personality and ex-president of the “Chiennes de garde”, a well-known feminist group in France. The interview was conducted and translated by Sporenda.     1)  The blog, Feminist Current, that you launched last year, is attracting quite a bit of attention. It won “Best Feminism Blog” in Canada and has quite a few followers. Do you explain this success only by the quality of your writing or by a increased  interest in feminism? M: Well, I can’t say for sure. I get the feeling, based on the climate in feminism these days and from connecting with other feminists online, from around the world, that there is a lot of frustration towards and...
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Postfeminism

This article was originally posted at Manyfesto and has been republished with permission from the author, Emma Quangel.   What is postfeminism? Allegedly it is the space where we can move past feminism, where feminism no longer holds appeal to women and where it can even be harmful to women. As Melissa Gira Grant writes:  The patriarchy’s figured out a way to outsource hatred of prostitution. They’re just going to have women do it for them. Grant, who has two last names and is a former sex worker (to be specific: a prostitute, not a pimp) claims that patriarchy, an amorphous “they” not rooted in material reality, has outsourced the oppression of women to women themselves. This is an argument made by many who claim that women are the...
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Free speech in Pornland

No surprise here. The adult entertainment industry has followed through on their promise to file a suit against Los Angeles County, challenging Measure B, which passed in November, mandating condom-use on porn sets in L.A. The suit, filed Thursday at the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on behalf of Vivid Entertainment and performers Kayden Kross and Logan Pierce, states that porn companies have the right to freedom of expression and speech, which includes the right to film sex acts without a condom. (via Huffington Post) Free speech, in the porn industry, has always had less to do with freedom and more to do with profit, male orgasms, and also profit. It is an industry that cares little about people’s actual lives (unless the life in...
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The Melissa Harris-Perry show talks circles around the porn industry

A few weeks ago, on July 7, 2012, Melissa Harris-Perry hosted a discussion of pornography. The guests she brought on to talk about the American porn industry included: feminist pornographer Tristan Taormino,  Zephyr Teachout, who is an associate professor of law at Fordham University, Jaclyn Friedman, and Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson. Apparently, Gail Dines was initially asked to join the discussion but received an email a few days before the show letting her know that the “segment is changing” and that they would no longer need her. She was pulled from the show. Dines wrote an article for Counterpunch detailing how this all went down, adding: Gone was a critical feminist analysis of the porn industry, and in its place was a “fun” discussion of women’s sexual agency,...
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Liberal feminists realize that feminism is a movement after all. Confusion ensues.

Elizabeth Wurtzel published an article in The Atlantic on June 15th, arguing that women who choose housewifery are ruining feminism for everyone else. She gets close to making some good points about women’s independence from men being largely dependent on their ability to be financially independent as well as the idea that OH GOSH YOU KNOW WHAT? Just because a woman makes a choice to do something, it doesn’t automatically make that choice a feminist one. Jill Filipovic over at Feministe picked up on the piece and added all sorts of things that I agree with, such as the idea that feminism is actually a movement, not just a fun time lady party that’s all about making ourselves feel good as individuals. She says: Feminism is not about choice...
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It's International Women's Day; are our foremothers rolling over in their graves?

It’s hard not to heave a big ol’ feminist sigh on International Women’s Day. But, in many ways, I think that’s just fine. International Women’s Day isn’t intended to be a celebration, from my perspective. Rather, it is a reminder. A reminder that we still need an International Women’s Day. Across the world women are fighting for their rights. They are fighting for equality, for workers’ rights, for reproductive rights, they are protesting poverty and raising awareness about violence against women. Strangely, many Westerners like to imagine that we inhabit an egalitarian society. I’m not sure where they’re looking, but from where I’m standing, we still have a lot of work to do. On Friday, Jarrah Hodge covered the Vancouver and District Labour Council’s annual International Women’s Day Dinner....
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Who gets a say? The sex work lobby & the silencing of feminist voices.

It’s become so predictable that, now, I just sit back and wait. I’ve written several pieces about prostitution and the abolitionist movement, and several more that don’t directly address these issues, but perhaps mention the word “prostitution.” And really, that’s all it takes these days. What I’ve come to realize is, no matter what I write, no matter what argument I make, no matter the points I bring up, the sex work lobby doesn’t care. Because if you aren’t agreeing with them, you must be stopped. Public use of the word “prostitution” is enough to justify skimming right past the contents of any article and heading straight to the silencing. The silencing is the most important work, after all. It is the goal. “If we can bully them into...
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Grasping at Straws: Comparing Slutwalk and Occupy Wall Street

Recently, there have been a slew of articles written about women and Occupy Wall Street. Particularly, the need for a feminist presence in the movement and the recognition that women are often the ones who suffer the most under an inequitable economic system. In an unfortunate, but hardly surprising, male-centric lapse of judgement, some dudes decided that the best way to get folks out to protest was to turn women into sacrificial lambs, with a site and video called “Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street.” I mean, why bother paying any attention to women if they aren’t turning you on? In fact, why bother doing anything at all if you can’t reinforce your male power by objectifying women? Though this kind of attitude towards women in progressive movements is...
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Slutwalk NYC: More of the same

I’ve got to be honest here. I truly believed that Slutwalk NYC was going to be different. Not different enough to lose the ‘slut’, and therefore, not different enough to convince me that this ‘movement’ was one I wanted anything to do with, but perhaps different enough to hold validity beyond personal catharsis. Maybe this Slutwalk would actually say something radical. Maybe this Slutwalk would comment on systematic oppression. Maybe even this Slutwalk would present a challenge to male power. It didn’t. Today, this video was posted, along with a blog which notes, among other things, the frustration felt by many about the way in which the media has focused “on the most elaborately undressed and risque marchers.”     Strangely, this video did just that. Which leads me...
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Radical feminism: Just making it up as we go along.

Today I plan to go where many have gone before. Answering the question: ‘What is radical feminism?’ is as easy as reading an enormous amount of radical feminist theory or as challenging as googling ‘radical feminism’. Regardless of the magnitude of work other radical feminists have done defining and writing and talking and acting and building radical feminism, as well as the convenience of Wikipedia, there continues to be a rather consistent confusion around the fact that a) radical feminism is a real thing and b) it actually means something. Radical feminism is a thing. It’s true. We didn’t just make it up. Or did we? Radical feminism is not extremism, as many believe, nor is it simply ‘employing radical methods of everyday resistance‘, though I certainly support that...
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Of course pornography is a prisoner's right. Because women aren't actually human beings.

Last week, Feministing linked to a news story about a 21 year old prisoner in Michigan who filed a lawsuit against the State of Michigan because, get this, he had been denied access to pornography. Yep. The nerve! I mean, isn’t objectifying women the God given right of every man in America? AND, don’t civil and human rights really only apply to men, seeing as men are the only real humans? The answers to these sarcastic questions can be answered with a less sarcastic and more somber ‘yes’. Men (particularly white men) have long been viewed as the only true human beings who are deserving of rights and freedoms. White men have been the standard to which all other living things must measure up. And, unfortunately for all other...
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The Pornstitution* Debates: Some thoughts on civil debate with Hugo Schwyzer et al.

I wanted to call this post ‘Well, that was a big waste of time’, but am working on presenting a semblance of professionalism and making an effort against cynicism. I’ll keep working at it… While the purpose of these conversations was to, somehow, engage a civil debate between liberal and radical feminist strains of thought, I am having trouble feeling like this was anything other than a pretty big, fat, fail. Regardless of what was argued by myself, or by commenters, the responses from those who advocate for ‘sex work’ sounded eerily similar. These were some of the more common points made in response to my and/or some of the commenters’ arguments around prostitutution / pornography and misogyny: 1)    All men aren’t the same and therefore arguments around what...
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Burlesque: They tell me it’s just for fun…Except I’m not having any.

Two weeks ago we ran our 2-part series on burlesque. Considering the many varied perspectives among women and feminists, we felt it wouldn’t be quite sufficient nor would it present an entirely accurate representation of those varied views if we explored only one side of the argument. The first show featured local burlesque superstar, Crystal Precious and PhD Candidate, Mary Shearman, who we brought on in order to present a look at burlesque that included feminism and female empowerment, rather than a straightforward rejection of it. The conversation could have easily gone on for another hour. Our guests provided us with some super interesting ways of looking at this ‘neo-burlesque movement’, as it’s been coined. We were presented with some ways in which burlesque could, potentially, be subversive. Both...
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