Podcasts

PODCAST: Cherry Smiley on Indigenous feminism, colonial violence and the sex industry

In this episode we hear a talk by Cherry Smiley. The talk is part of a series on Indigenous Feminism, put on by the First Nations Student Association at Simon Fraser University. Cherry is a front line anti-violence worker, an accomplished artist, activist, and public speaker. She is a co-founder of Indigenous Women Against the Sex Industry and was the recipient of a 2013 Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Person’s Case. Cherry is currently completing a Masters of Fine Arts degree, her art practice is one that is deeply passionate and inherently political, grounded in her experiences as an Indigenous woman, radical feminist theory, and in the teachings handed down to her by her Elders. This year, she exhibited Revolution Songs, an installation that focused on the...
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If prostitution isn’t about lonely, undersexed men, what is it about? (Or, Justin Bieber doesn’t need to pay for sex)

Justin Bieber was photographed leaving a Brazilian brothel last weekend. He was covered in bedsheets, which leads us to believe that buying sex still isn’t seen as a completely acceptable pass time (though our friends on team “sex work is work” are doing their very best to change that). It’s not as though the Biebs has a shortage of options in the lady department. In fact, the very next evening, he left the club at 3am with a van load of 30 girls. Whatever. I know you don’t care what Justin Bieber does on weekends. My point is this: Why are we still pretending as though prostitution exists for lonely, socially awkward, undersexed men? The media is in love with the “sex surrogate” story these days. Last year the...
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Ghosts of prostitution debates past

Halloween is my Christmas. Even if I wasn’t born on November 1st and named after a witch, the Samhain season would still be holiday numero uno for me due to the candy, costumes, and supernatural spookies celebrated in the absence of religious, nationalist or familial obligations. Since autumn reaps harvests of nostalgia, I thought it might be festive to brush aromatic leaves off the headstones of pro-prostitution arguments put in the ground years ago. Not the dippy slogan “sex work is work”, not comparisons to Prohibition regularly karate chopped with reminders that women are people and not beverages, I’m talking the doozies that haven’t horrified me with their lazy logic in a long time. Only flyby commenters and paid-by-the-pageview writers pull out the “world’s oldest profession” artifact anymore because...
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Man quits watching porn; survives

My good friend Angus decided to stop watching porn a few months ago. Because I am infinitely frustrated by the “all men watch porn” myth, I decided to interview him. Proof! All men don’t watch porn and, if you do, it’s possible to stop. Here’s our conversation: Angus: HI MEGHAN. Meghan: Ok are you ready? Angus: YOU’RE NOT MY REAL MOM. But otherwise, yeah M: Do you remember how old you were when you first started watching porn? A: As with most men of my generation, my first experiences with porn really were the scraps of Playboy and Hustler found in the forests and parks of boyhood. These things were coveted and stashed and revisited as often as possible, and it was tremendously exhilarating to seek out these forbidden...
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Podcasts

PODCAST: Rachel Moran on her book: ‘Paid for: My Journey Through Prostitution’

In this episode, Meghan Murphy speaks with Rachel Moran, the author of “Paid For: My Journey Through Prostitution.” Rachel worked as a prostitute for 7 years in Ireland, finally managing to get out of the industry at 22. The book describes her experiences as well as breaks down myths and lies perpetuated by pop culture, the media, the sex industry, and even other feminists, about prostitution and is an incredibly powerful and brutally honest read. Podcast: Play in new window | Download...
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The tyranny of consent

Emily Witt’s recent essay, in which she describes traveling to San Fransisco, where she watches a BDSM porn shoot for a Kink.com series called Public Disgrace, which depicts “women bound, stripped, and punished in public,” inspired a number of responses. Despite my, probably obvious, criticisms of both porn and the BDSM genre, in particular, the piece is a very good read (by which I mean, it is engaging and complex and thoughtful); although very, very graphic (by which I mean, don’t read it unless you wish to read very detailed descriptions of sadomachochism). There’s no real way to defend the production of this kind of film, the scene for this particular production is described by Conor Friedersdorf for The Atlantic, as one in which “… a group of San Franciscans...
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Podcasts

PODCAST: Sunsara Taylor on the silencing of feminist critiques of the sex industry

When Sunsara Taylor and her activist group, Stop Patriarchy, attended the annual CLPP (Civil Liberties and Public Policy) conference this past weekend at Hampshire College, they never thought it would result in their being escorted out by police. The 27th annual conference for student and community activists was focused on reproductive freedoms, called: “From Abortion Rights to Social Justice: Building the Movement for Reproductive Freedom.” When some of the conference goers learned about Stop Patriarchy’s position on the sex industry, they confronted the some of the group members, and then complained to conference organizers that their presence at the conference made it an “unsafe space.” Conference organizers responded by calling the police, who escorted group members out of the conference, threatening them with arrest if they did not comply. I...
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Podcasts

PODCAST: Indigenous women & prostitution: An interview with Cherry Smiley

Prostitution is a gendered issue, but it’s also an issue that is very much tied to class and race. Canada’s history of colonialism is not something to be ignored when looking at both causes of and solutions to prostitution. In this episode, I speak with Cherry Smiley, co-founder of Indigenous Women Against the Sex Industry (IWASI), a volunteer group of radical feminists from many nations committed to the abolition of prostitution and pornography. Listen to that interview below: Podcast: Play in new window | Download...
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Can I get a f**k you? Why erections are always right and feminists are always wrong.

Oh y’all, it has been a magical week for the menz. And in case you’re wondering, they are right and we are all very, very wrong. About everything. Especially the sex industry. Because you see, men are ‘normal’. Everything they do is ‘normal’. If they do it, it’s ‘normal’. And who can argue with ‘normal’? Certainly one can’t argue with nature? And, conveniently, anything that happens is somehow ‘natural’ (and therefore, immune to critique) simply because it exists. It’s strange because I don’t see people giving up on war and murder and, like, cancer. But those things happen, right? According to the logic of everything-men-want-and-do-and-think-is-fine-and-good, these are simply natural things that happen to human beings and, therefore, are perfectly fine and everybody just sit down OK? As such, there...
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