Browsing articles tagged with " feminism"
Dec
22

Melania Trump, America’s first sex worker First Lady

published at Feminist Current December 17, 2016

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In late November I was in the Portland State University’s Women’s Resource Center listening to a teacher explain that sex work is feminist work. Where an evidenced explanation for the Nordic Model’s supposed failure should have been, she asked the students to postulate a reason for its failure and one young woman guessed, “Because sex is used transactionally all the time, police can’t know if transactions are professional or not.” The teacher agreed and moved on to how not all prostitutes were raped as children.

In that woman’s mind and to the teacher’s agreement, sex is perceived mainly as a means to acquire things. All women are prostitutes, but some go on to make careers of it and the transition is so seamless that onlookers can’t tell the difference between having sex for stuff as an amateur and having sex for stuff as a pro.

I bring up this recent anecdote because the assembled sex-positive liberals in that class were adamantly anti-Trump and aghast at his election without reflecting on how Trump is the most pro-sex work president the USA has ever had.

The knee-jerk position of the American Left is to oppose anyone who goes through public life with an R in front of their name. However, liberal men are much more supportive of women as public sexual property than conservative men who prefer their women privately owned. So why are liberals who advocate for expanding the public harem deciding, against all his prior actions up to and including marrying a sex worker, that Donald Trump is anti-sex worker?

Jenni Kutner wrote for Mic about porn actress Jessica Drake, one of the dozens of women who have accused Trump of sexual abuse. She concluded:

“Trump has done more than imply how he feels about people in the sex industry. He’s demonstrated that he doesn’t view them as people at all.”

According to Drake, he treated her the same as he has numerous other women, “He grabbed each of us tightly, in a hug and kissed each one of us without asking permission.” That’s an ordinary day for the world’s most notorious pussy-grabber. Donald Trump treats women the same way he treats sex workers because he agrees with the Portland State teacher and student that all women prostitute, some are simply more organized about it than others.

Drake said Trump called her later and offered her $10,000 for sex plus the use of his private jet to get back home the next day.

I haven’t seen any of the people who want to legitimize prostitution as a profession acknowledge Trump’s generosity here. It’s very rare for a sex worker to make $10,000 in one night. A sum of that amount should be cause for sex-positive celebration and an example of a man honoring the work of sex they proclaim it is. The added offer of a private jet ride home afterwards surely makes him a gentleman john if ever there was one.

Robert Brannon of the National Organization for Men Against Sexism collected details of Trump’s financial dealings that support prostitution in his article, “Donald Trump and the Sex Industry.” Among his findings are such pro-sex worker facts as Trump’s Taj Mahal casino being the first casino in Atlantic City to have an in-house strip club and Trump’s numerous collaborations with Playboy:

“Donald Trump, himself, has appeared on the cover of Playboy magazine, and has proudly performed as an ‘actor’ in three different Playboy-produced ‘softcore’ pornography videos in 1999, 2001, and 2004 (Moye, 2016). He was always fully clothed, but in other scenes in these films, many women were naked. In the most recent film, young women are shown naked in sexual positions, dancing naked, rubbing honey on their breasts, taking a bath, and suggestively touching themselves and each other while naked (Moye, 2016).”

And still the mainstream liberal media keeps trying to paint Donald Trump as anti-sex work.

Rolling Stone ran a story on sex workers donating tips to Planned Parenthood in protest of Trump that included this rationale, “Whether their clients are Republicans or Democrats, they all spend the same money.“

AlterNet ran a story wondering if a Trump presidency will be bad for the porn industry.

What more could this avid client of erotic service providers possibly do to show he’s one hundred percent on the side of pimps, pornographers, and sex workers? Would marrying a sex worker, having her bear his son, and making her America’s first sex worker First Lady suffice?

Apparently not.

Even the most apologetic of commentators can’t bring themselves to claim Melania Trump as one of their own and congratulate her on her new position as First Lady. Self styled “dominatrix and sex worker” Margaret Corvid poses the oddly noncommittal question, “Who Cares If Melania Trump Was Maybe A Sex Worker?” as if it doesn’t matter that an alleged former sex worker will be America’s First Lady for the next four years.

Corvid avoids treating Melania Trump as an agent of her own destiny and turns the topic towards herself and the abuse liberal men continue to dish out to prostituted women, “When liberals aim at Melania for alleged sex work, they hit me with their bullets of shame.”

It would be a step forward for Corvid to stop being wishy-washy about Ms. Trump’s rumored past and embrace it. Perhaps then she could show concern for the woman whose naked image is being used by liberals as a cudgel to hit conservatives with instead of twisting it into an attack on herself by proxy.

Jill Filipovic, a former AlterNet editor and Guardian columnist who typifies the politics of third wave feminism, once wrote about begrudgingly allowing abusive men the legal right to purchase sex:

“I do think men who get off not just on sex but on exploitation are irredeemable shitholes, though. And yeah, they should have a legal right to access porn and to pay for sex (with people who are above the age of consent). But I still think they’re shitholes…”

By her own stated ethics, Filipovic should accept that not-convicted not-rapist Donald Trump offered a very agent-full sex worker a respectful sum of $10,000 for one night’s work. Drake considered the offer then refused, an ideal sex work scenario conjured by advocates for legal prostitution.

I disagree that the best people can do about paid-for sexual assault is make an informal complaint, heave a sigh, and walk away feeling superior to “shitholes.”

By third wave feminist standards, Donald Trump is a sexual freedom hero. He offers vast sums of money to sex workers, pioneered strip clubs in Atlantic City casinos, appeared on Playboy’s cover plus performed cameos for Playboy products, and his third wife is said to be a former sex worker he made the mother of his child before making her First Lady.

Today, on International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, I will toast America’s first sex worker First Lady and drink for the liberals who got the punter-in-chief they wanted. Donald Trump is well and truly the president of third wave feminism.

 

Nov
6

Feminism and Occupy Portland

By Sam Berg  //  Sam Berg  //  No Comments

published at Occupy Patriarchy  Nov 6, 2011

 

I arrived at Jamison Park on a rainy Sunday afternoon with concern that interviewable women might be hiding from the weather in their tents, but there were some milling about.

The first woman I spoke with was part of a man and woman team organizing an open mic poetry session. She didn’t know much but expressed disappointment that it was mostly men doing the speaking while men and women were sharing duties on practical matters like food preparation and providing information.

As if to prove the point, then I came across the info desk being staffed by a woman and we talked. Her perspective is that the inter-gender problems she’s seen have involved people bringing their personal problems to camp. “What used to be kept behind walls comes through tents,” she told me before suggesting I inquire at the med tent.

To get to the med tent I had to cross the street, and on the corner waiting with me for the light to change were two policewomen. I asked if they knew anything about the known sexual assault or other gendered violence, and one of them rather unhelpfully told me to go to the city website for information about “assaults against women and MEN.” The other policewoman repeated the suggestion that I ask at the med tent and pointed it out to me, and just in case I missed it the first time around First Cop reminded me that I can get information there about “crimes against women and MEN.”

At the med tent a man with a long and bushy white beard told me the camp is much calmer now than three weeks ago. Portland’s mild weather and abundance of social services has garnered it a larger than average homeless population, and some of the more mentally ill and alcoholic homeless men were being disruptive. Local soup kitchen Sisters of the Road will not serve noticeably drunk patrons so they were going to Occupy Portland’s kitchen and causing a ruckus. He explained that there are still a fair number of homeless people at the camp but the scary, violent ones had since been ejected.

Someone had donated mace and loud horns that the medical tent handed out to women who said they felt unsafe.

Santa Cause also said there was an incident about a week ago with a pregnant homeless woman getting beaten up by the baby’s father. The abuser was seen kicking the woman in the stomach and her face was scratched up. She is still at the camp but he hasn’t been seen for a week, and word had gotten out that he was a known perpetrator and would be ejected if seen again.

There is a tent designated with a sign as the “Sexual Assault Response Team” but when I inquired about it he didn’t have much information.  All he knew was that the one woman whose effort it seemed to be was barely there. On a small dry erase board was the woman’s name and a request for sexual assault volunteers, but there has been no response to my email four days later. I get the sense that a few people are trying to form an organized response but they haven’t had much support.

Next I headed for the Food Not Bombs tent to drop off the sack of apples I’d brought and to speak with the two women running that show. The talkative one said she stumbled across a meeting of women some days ago and thought they might have been having regular meetings, but didn’t know more than that. By day’s end I couldn’t find any postings or announcements about such a group, and I really, really looked. She also expressed disappointment that while other radical media outlets in Portland had an Occupy presence, local women’s bookstore In Other Words was MIA along with the city’s Radical Women socialist group.

My final noteworthy interviews were with two young women hanging out behind the makeshift kitchen. One of them had been there that early day when the rape was reported, and her impression was that the community response was surprisingly quick. “Dealing with that was prioritized at a chaotic time when a lot of construction was going on,” was her take on it. She had just been in Oakland and said that both there and in Portland far more men are taking the public megaphone than women.

Our interview was interrupted by a young woman who had been cleaning the kitchen for the past ten minutes. She came over and calmly said with an air of exhaustion, “There’s a lot of vegetables over there that need to be turned into something.” The less talkative of the pair reacted with a completely unnecessary and haughty, “I don’t react well to being ordered. It’s oppressive, and personally I just don’t respond well to that. If you want to ask me to do something I’ll consider it, but don’t order me around.”

The weary worker asked in a conciliatory tone, “Did you feel that I was ordering you?”

“Yes I did.”

“Well I’m just saying there’s vegetables over there. I mean, I don’t care because I cleaned and now I’m done but anyway…”

Ah, the familiar smell of horizontal hostility. Awkwardness aside, to their credit the two of them de-comforted from their chairs and we said our goodbyes as they headed to the kitchen.

 

Samantha Berg is National Coordinator for the feminist organization Stop
Porn Culture and founder of http://www.Genderberg.com, an anti-prostitution
activist community since 2005. Her newest website is www.Johnstompers.com

Prostitution FAQ

In 2005, I endeavored to write the best prostitution FAQ on the web and it still is.

prostitution faq

Radio Interview

“Interview with Samantha Berg: A Primer on Abolitionist Feminism” with Ernesto Aguilar for Pacifica Radio, originally aired on Houston, Texas channel 90.1 FM KPFT, June 25, 2014

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