Sexual Liberation or Sexual Segregation?

Scrolling through Twitter and Instagram, I constantly see post upon post and tweet upon tweet about being a “hoe” or a “slut”. Even a few years ago, those things would’ve been totally frowned upon and those words would’ve been considered insults. But nowadays, women’s sexual liberation is something that increasingly tends to be generally accepted and often even welcomed and encouraged.

At least, that’s how it appears.

To kick things off, lemme give y’all a little history lesson.

The 1960s saw the rise of the sexual revolution, a social movement in which women (and probably some men too, I guess, but let’s be real—it was mostly women) demanded easier access to/a destigmatisation of various forms of birth control, an increase in acceptance toward non-heteronormative sexual practices (this includes sex before marriage, homosexuality, pornography, female nudity and female sexuality in general, alternative forms of sexuality, and so on), and the legalisation of abortion. This revolution ~officially~ lasted until the 1980s. It’s important to note that some people argue that the 1920s was when the revolution actually started, since women Started Wearing Less And Going Out More. Either way, girls have been fighting the good fight for a long time.

Times have changed a lot since then, obviously. We have super easy access to birth control (in Australia, at any rate), abortion is legal, pornography is free (whether this is a good thing or not is debatable, but there it is nonetheless), homosexuality is (more or less) accepted, and women’s sexuality is discussed openly. Labels like “hoe” and “slut” are comical and usually used in a joking manner or even as a compliment.

But earlier today, my boyfriend sent me a tweet that read, “Where’s the article titled: Everybody wants to be a hoe, but don’t nobody want to be a hoe, which expounds on how our generation loves claiming faux sexual liberation through the guise of hoedom, personal sexual autonomy, while wanting nothing to do with sex worker issues”, along with a short message in which he said, “Your next blog post”.

If that all sounded like gibberish to you, let me translate: basically, a lot of people like to front on social media and act as though they’re all for sexual liberation and sexual autonomy, but at the same time look down on sex workers and don’t fight for the rights, safety, and wellbeing of sex workers. And sadly, that tweet is nothing but facts.

How can you act as though you’re so strongly in favour of a certain ideology while simultaneously degrading others who express that ideology differently to the way you do?

Here are a few facts:

  • Prostitution is the most dangerous profession in America. On average, a sex worker gets physically attacked about once a month. The death rate for sex workers is 204 in every 100,000 workers (the next most dangerous profession, fishing, has a death rate of 129 in every 100,000 workers—that’s almost half the amount of deaths).
  • Underaged girls are the most targeted demographic by pimps. Pimps seek out vulnerable girls under the age of 18 and lure them into the industry by offering them what they seem to be missing in their lives (shelter, money, family, love, etc.).
  • Sex workers who work in brothels are not allowed to refuse clients, even when they deem the client a potential threat.
  • The rates of sexual violence and sexual assault against sex workers is extremely high. Many sex workers report being raped by clients or pimps. What’s worse? Sex workers often aren’t protected by rape shield laws and are often ineligible for rape victim compensation. Plus, many are too scared to report their sexual assault for fear of being arrested.
  • It has been proven that rates of violence (especially sexual violence) against sex workers is drastically lower in areas where sex work is legal.

No matter whether or not you agree with the morality and/or legality of sex work, there’s no denying that no human deserves to face conditions like those. Many sex workers are trapped in the industry or have no other options—and many simply choose to be sex workers; regardless of their reasons for being part of the industry, they deserve to feel safe and protected. Yet these issues go largely ignored, despite the thousands of social media presences that claim to fully support sexual liberation.

So yeah, be a hoe, do whatever you want, but be prepared to either support the whole movement, or none of it.

Want to find out more about the issues surrounding sex work and sex workers?

Here’s a NSW organisation that helps sex workers deal with STI prevention and other issues

And here’s a VIC one

And a WA one

Here’s some info on sex work legal issues

And here is some general information on sex work in Australia

 

Feminism: Where Did We Go Wrong?

If you know me, you’ll know that I’m a huge advocate for women’s rights. I believe in the political, economic, and social equality of men and women—i.e. the traditional definition of feminism.

When I first started becoming aware of the discrepancies between men’s and women’s rights—somewhere around year 9, I think—I loudly and proudly declared myself a feminist. I was always on the defence and was ready to argue with anyone at any time about anything that even remotely differed from my point of view. But slowly I realised how counterintuitive that was to the movement I support.

The first and second waves of feminism were all about moving toward concrete goals—women’s suffrage, property rights, the establishment of safe houses and shelters for domestic abuse/rape victims, and so on—usually politically or economically rooted. Third wave and fourth wave feminism also arguably work toward some concrete goals, but a big part of modern feminism is to make people aware of the smaller, maybe less obvious ways—usually socially—that women are discriminated against.

This includes cat-calling (and just generally being objectified), bodily expectations and beauty standards (for example: instead of just wearing no makeup, we’re expected to wear makeup in a way that makes us look like we’re wearing no makeup—yes, it is exactly as dumb as it sounds), etc. And don’t get me wrong—those are definitely things that need eliminating from societal norms.

But here’s where the trouble lies: whereas things like equal pay and the right to vote are objective and measurable, social inequalities are often a grey area—subjective and different between each person.

I fear that feminism has crossed the line into nitpicking and shaming. Instead of hearing out someone with a differing opinion, and then explaining where we are coming from, many feminists automatically resort to verbally abusing anyone (whether face-to-face or online) who even slightly disagrees with them. Many fall into the trap of taking offence at everything that they perceive to be different from what they believe. Small things that in the long run do not matter are suddenly magnified and blown out of proportion. Bluntly, this behaviour gives feminism a bad name and does not contribute constructively to the feminist narrative whatsoever.

I think it is a dangerous thing to assume that every person who identifies as a part of a certain ideology (in this case, feminism) should have exactly the same beliefs as the person next to him/her.

Feminism for me is first and foremost about choice and agency. Agency over your own body; the choice to work or to stay home with children; the choice to get married or not—and if you choose to be married, who you choose to marry. This should also include agency over your own beliefs. We can work together for equality between males and females without all believing the exact same things, down to the dots over the i’s and the crosses on the t’s.

No big social movement is ever perfect. And yes, I know that not all feminists do this. Obviously I know that. But those that don’t are unfortunately within the silent majority. And the longer we stay silent, the less that I, and many others, feel totally comfortable identifying as a feminist.