Melissa Farley Words v Actions: Ethics or Not?

Melissa Farley has taken a stand opposing Governor Spitzer’s hiring of the escort Kristen. Does she deserve to be congratulated for doing the right thing and criticizing Spitzer’s hypocrisy of spearheading a campaign against prostitution while hiring escorts despite the fact that until his arrest he was advocating similar political strategy as her? Was there any risk in her doing so? Not really. One would have to assume that she like many of her allies in the anti trafficking movement feel betrayed by Spitzer’s. Her other actions contradict her integrity.

There has been a large outcry against the public outing of Kristen by the media. Rightfully so. Her outing was an abysmal example of the lack of integrity of many media outlets. The media’s outing of Kristen is disgusting. Their blatant misuse of the pictures from her myspace page are jaw dropping in their lack of integrity. Especially given many of the media outlets were supposed to be ones that operated at a higher standard. That professed themselves to be above the level of tabloid shit like the National Enquirer.

Those that stand behind Melissa Farley and Nikki Craft need to consider that the actions of these two anti trafficking, abolitionist activists are as an egregious breach of the rights of a sex worker or worse, if the pictures depicted on their websites are as they described, victims of human trafficking and coerced torture as they are presented by Farley and Craft. Both Farley’s Prostitution Research and Education http://www.prostitutionresearch.com “trafficking jamming” blog and Nikki Craft’s ACLU, “Always Causing Legal Unrest” show porn pics of women in bondage. Pictures that it can easily be speculated are without the consent of the women being photographed as neither Farley nor Craft have ever responded to requests to prove consent to use the image or even if the women are of legal age. While lack of response is not inherently guilt, it is hard to fathom a reason why either “anti trafficking activist” would not be outspoken if they had acquired consent of the women depicted. Farley’s is more graphic and after outspoken criticism from sex worker rights activists and from Farley’s statement apparently survivors of rape, she put a disclaimer rather than having any viewer including those under 18 be ambushed by a picture of which any pornography site would be held accountable under law to have warnings about adult content, illegality of underage viewing and full consent of the actresses depicted. Farley’s explanation of placing the disclaimer on what had been a blatant image as soon as one hit the blog page ”

In response to comments by survivors of torture and other sexual abuse, we have placed a warning and additional link to the photograph of kink.com torture. Traffick Jamming visitors can now choose if and when they look at the photographs.

Her disclaimer reads ”

WARNING If you open the red torture photo link directly below this paragraph, you will see two photographs of people being tortured. One is the widely-circulated photograph of a hooded figure with electrical wires of man being tortured at Abu Ghraib. At the same link, you will also see a photograph of a woman being tortured. This photograph of torture is from the website kink.com. The woman’s face is masked and unrecognizable and she has on a thong that covers her genitals. Her breasts are concealed here. She is shackled by the ankles and hung with her arms tied to the wall over her head. The woman is being electrically tortured by someone off-camera with what looks like a cattle prod. All you can see is his arm with the cattle prod. There is also what appears to be an electrical outlet or battery in front of her. Click Here to view photo. I have not enabled the link from here to the pictures. This blog is taking extensive traffic and given these pictures are in very high probability without consent, they are as exploitative as the news media. Showing a naked woman being tortured with captions describing the action without the consent of the woman in the picture…………. Sorry, if you want to find this you can look yourself. My goal is to make a point, not to direct a high traffic load to pictures that I believe are being used in a manner that is a horrendously egregious breach of privacy and law that is being overlooked because it is done by the alleged freedom fighters for trafficking victims as Farley and Craft self portray.

Outspoken self proclaimed radical feminist “Pony” in response to the disclaimer states

Please DO look at the photographs, which are not owned by the people depicted, but by the torturers. As long as the only people who see these and others like them are the torturers and torture and pornography consumers, women haters, abusers and traffickers win, because ordinary people will not see what pornography is really about.

Whether Pony is speaking for herself or on behalf of inside knowledge of Farley apparently not having consent to use the photo of the women being tortured. She advocates that one look at the photos. Pony who in other posts advises that she does not “frequent pro porn blogs” has no problem viewing the kind of porn she condemns if it is on an anti porn site and encourages others to follow despite her opposition to these very types of images. Despite by her belief Farley does not even have consent to use the picture which if this were on a non anti porn website one would very likely see very outspoken criticism from Farley, Craft, Pony.   If the pictures are owned by torturers, not the people depicted, this even by Pony’s admission and her ally Farley is using pics owned by torturers and Pony is advocating one look at these pics.  Hmmmm,  seems like an odd contradiction.  Farley and Pony come from a school of thought which considers giving condoms to working sex workers collaborating with traffickers and pimps.  Thus what does that make a feminist using stolen pictures without the consent of the persons depicted, taken by photographers identified by Farley and Pony as torturers without even a safeguard to protect minors or compliance with 2257 which deems the pictures legally assumed to be without consent and of minors.  That is feminist?  By what standard?

So, back to the hypocrisy issue. Farley jumped on the bandwagon with her betrayed colleagues. Sex worker rights activists have condemned the hypocrisy of a leader in a fight, Spitzer, against sex work by consenting adults with clients hiring escorts while hiring the very people he is persecuting. Sex worker rights activists also oppose human trafficking and coercion. That is not a stance owned by just the “anti trafficking movement”. The suggestion that a sex worker rights movement would be pro trafficking is absurd. The idea behind a movement for the rights of a population is exactly that. Rights. Right to consent among other things.

Including the right to consent to the use of your pictures. Farley in her blog opines about the porn actresses who later wished to have their images removed and had to go to litigation and attempt to force these images to be removed via legal action after various website owners would not grant the wishes of the actresses. As a sex worker rights activist, as Executive Director of SWOP East, I can state firmly that we advocate strongly for the right of consent to the use of images and the right to terminate consent both of which being held by the actress portrayed at all times. If the actress wishes the pictures to be removed they should be removed. An empowered sex worker rights movement would have a much greater chance of having this kind of protection built into contracts with website owners and legal remedy for damages in the event of contractual breach. Farley wants this right except when it applies to websites owned by Farley and Craft. Then she wants what Spitzer wanted. To be above the law.

So my questions are to anti trafficking/radical feminist/abolitionist activists. If you oppose the outing of Kristen and the blatant misuse of her pictures without her consent, one would assume then that you would also want these protections for the actresses in the pictures of websites owned by Farley and Craft. Otherwise, once again we have a hypocrisy issue.

If Farley wants credit for condemning Spitzer perhaps her actions should speak more loudly than her words and the pics should be removed. Not to mention perhaps a mea culpa. If her allies want her condemnation of Spitzer to be more than words perhaps they should consider the step of condemning two of their own engaging in their own ethical transgressions.

5 Responses

  1. […] Melissa Farley Words v Actions: Ethics or Not? « Bound, Not Gagged “If Farley wants credit for condemning Spitzer perhaps her actions should speak more loudly than her words and the pics should be removed. Not to mention perhaps a mea culpa.” (tags: media Spitzer hypocrisy assholes sexwork rights feminism bullshit) […]

  2. It’s important to keep in mind that Spitzer put the prostution prohibitionists in a position where they need to do major damage control, as Tobias also did. Thus, strategically speaking, of course the other prositution prohibitionists need to denounce Spitzer, even if they’re hypocritical themselves.

  3. Yup that is all it was. They were just distancing themselves. Political salvation for themselves. Is there any wonder why many of these various prohibitionists line up behind Bush?

  4. Farley has had her 2257/use of performers photos nonesense thrown in her face before. It’s a pet peeve of mine, big time.

  5. Farley claims she is keeping the picture up for the purposes of consciousness raising about a form or porn she feels particularly opposed to. She doesn’t mind using some unnamed porn actresses pic. One would assume if she were this opposed to exploitation that she would be willing to be photographed in the manner of which she objects and have her picture used to raise consciousness. Or one of her allies that actually consents to the use of their picture. One would assume out of all the radical feminists defending Farley and Craft on use of this type of pic for the purpose of education that one of them would be willing to be photographed in the same scenario for the good of their cause. Or are they above those which they are “rescuing” and thus in this case it is ok to “appropriate” someone’s image without consent?

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