Why campaigning for the abolition of sex work is oppressive.
I side-eye anyone who tries to save the marginalised from themselves. This includes from their own choices.
For two reasons:
- It tackles the wrong problem.
- I am not sure it can be done without wrongly inpeding on free will.
This extends to the anti-porn & sex work stance that often appears in radical feminism.
This stance is problematic. Having the opinion that porn is harmful is morally meaningless in and of itself, as are all opinions not expressed. However, once you try to implement this view, you cannot do it without becoming oppressive to the marginalised.
Coercion of the marginalised to change the choices that they make, that they want to make, is a Bad Thing. It fundamentally tackles the wrong problem - it puts the burden on to the marginalised. The onus is not on the marginalised to change in order to stop the marginalisation they face. Discrimination is caused by the oppressive party and their perceptions. It is their perceptions which need to be changed, at the core. Changing what they are perceiving is merely stopping discrimination by minimising differences, the basis of prejudice.
As well as that, it is choice-policing. The idea that the marginalised - here, women - should not make the choice that makes them happiest in order to look good to their oppressors is more abhorrent than the sexism they choose to face. On top, it is a slippery slope to controlling all actions of the marginalised in order to be beneficial to the cause. You turn them into tools of rebellion instead of people with choices. A group of people who have to make certain decisions in order to fight marginalisation is not free and is absolutely not better off than under their already existing oppression. It is oppressive. By coercing the marginalised into making different choices than they wish to for the purpose of avoiding some aspect of their oppression, you are aiding oppression yourself.
The other method is by trying to enforce different laws. I’m not sure whether this is more or less abhorrent - it carries all the problems of coercion, with perhaps more force and arrogant oppressiveness, but at least it doesn’t emotionally manipulate people.
In the end, if your sisters in the sex work industry know they will face sexism and commodification and still want to do it, you do not try to change that. You listen to them, and you campaign against the real problem - the sexism, not the sex work. Campaign to make it safer for sex workers on the street, campaign to lessen sexism in porn, to stop trafficking, campaign in the ways sex workers see fit and wish for you to aid them with.
Choice-policing, by law or coercion, is oppressive.
This has been a sort-of-thesis by F-mod - if anyone currently in the sex work community has any problems with it, feel free to call me up on it, I’ll listen.
This is a good post and you should feel good.
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