Derogatory Cartoon about Exotic Dancing

As somebody who has danced before, I found this “cartoon” so derogatory.  Here’s a link:

http://www.womensspace.org/phpBB2/2008/07/28/what-exploitation/#comment-17797

People can post comments on that board, but the comments are censored, so I’m not sure if they’d post our comments, but we can at least try.   I’m interested in what people who currently dance or have danced think about this “cartoon.”

7 Responses

  1. Remember that the people who create that and post there consider even consensual penis-in-vagina sex between a married man and woman rape for the most part. Kind of pointless to even try to attempt to reason with that kind of person.

  2. Great point. I always thought that the sex Nazi feminist were racist and just use their sex Gestapo tactics to promote their vision of universal freedom. Historically, it was the white religious women who used their husbands’ class and income privilege to targeted prostitutes for extinction by saying they wanted to save brown immigrant woman from sexual servitude.
    This is still the case today but now you’ve got brown women buying into the dominant cultures’ oppressive tactics. Check this out.

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: INFO@EITCOALITION.ORG

    (May 15 2008) End Internet Trafficking Coalition is officially
    kicking off its public forum on the web. The forum is a space in
    which the internet community may come together to discuss issues of
    how the internet is utilized to facilitate human trafficking, share
    resources, and stay updated on the coalition’s upcoming initiatives.

    The mission of the End Internet Trafficking Coalition is to prevent
    sexual violence and human trafficking via the internet. The EITC
    achieves this by providing a platform for links between nonprofit,
    governmental, law enforcement, faith-based, and student grassroots
    agencies and individuals to advocate an accessible worldwide web
    where children, youth, and adults are better protected from human
    trafficking in all its forms.

    The coalition was inspired by conversations between core members
    Matthew Dorozenski of the Barnaba Institute, Annie Fukushima of
    SAFEHS, Kathy Maskell of Love146, and Andrea Powell of FAIR Fund, who
    desired to do something about the utilization of the internet for
    human rights violations. The coalition broadened to include Alexis
    Taylor Litos of the Barnaba Instititute and Somanjana C. Bhattacharya
    of Love146 who have also participated in the core development of EITC.

    The goal of ending human trafficking and addressing the diversity of
    exploitation through the internet in which distance is
    inconsequential is ambitious. The goal of EITC is not to be
    antagonistic to the internet, but rather to address the reality of
    how the internet may be both a space for social change and community
    organizing and a site for exploitation. Learn more about internet
    trafficking by visiting EITC website at http://www.eitcoalition.org and by
    registering with the community forum.

    Events to look forward to include: online internet trafficking
    training and a public forum in the Bay Area of California during the
    fall of 2008. Check back periodically for more details and for other
    upcoming events.

    This initiative is currently sponsored and endorsed by: Coalition
    Against Trafficking in Women, Melissa Farley with Prostitution
    Research Education, Doctor Donna M. Hughes of University of Rhode
    Island, National Organization of Women-CT, Project Free – New York
    Asian Women’s Center, Salvation Army- PROMISE Initiative, Kate Reid
    from CRTEC, and Marisa Ugarte, Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition.
    If your organization is interested in endorsing this initiative,
    please contact info@eitcoalition.org.

  3. Alexa wrote: “Remember that the people who create that and post there consider even consensual penis-in-vagina sex between a married man and woman rape for the most part. Kind of pointless to even try to attempt to reason with that kind of person.”

    When we post comments online, we’re not just writing to the person who created this horrible “cartoon.” We’re writing to anybody who reads our comments.

  4. Well, it appears as if my comment was censored out of this clearly “radfem” blog. Even though I identified as somebody who has danced when posting my comments about the “cartoon,” my comment was never posted, though the comments of various people who didn’t even identify as sex workers did get posted. This is so typical of the “radfem” elitism and silencing of sex workers. They act like their perspectives are more important than the perspectives of people who have actually worked in the sex industry. The moderator(s) didn’t even bother to write to me to explain why my comment was left out. Here’s a link to the blog: http://www.womensspace.org/phpBB2/2008/07/28/what-exploitation/#comment-17797
    It’s possible that the moderator(s) may have overlooked it, but I seriously think that the reason why they left out my comment is because it undermined the “radfem” framework. Though some of the comments posted addressed how this cartoon was racist, none of the comments addressed how is was derogatory to dancers and many of the comments praised this cartoon. Also, like I said, none of the comments were posted by people identifying as sex workers.

  5. I just posted the below as a response, we’ll see whether it passes muster with the moderators.

    This cartoon sings the same old tune we’ve all been hearing for a long time, and as feminists, isn’t it our job to analyze and critique what passes for “common sense” by the hegemony? This cartoon speaks to one sort of experience of sex work, but as with anything to do with both sex and work, one way isn’t necessarily the right way, the “true” way or the way that respects the multiplicity of people’s experiences. I am a feminist and a sex worker. I used to dance in clubs and now I do other sorts of more intimate, one-on-one work. Being a dancer in a club can be very hard, but many jobs are hard and yes, if you are not the type to feel fed by the exhibitionism and sexual power of commanding desire, than the work can be draining, and damaging to your self-esteem and health.

    Having said that, there are so many arguments as to what’s wrong with this depiction, including:

    1. The idea that women showing and sexualizing their own bodies being inherently exploitative (whether “they” are doing it or she’s doing it to herself) is not only sex negative but anti-feminist in it’s assertion that a women can’t be trusted to explore, consent, weild and be payed for their own sexuality. Just as it is chauvanist and anti-feminist to distill all of a woman’s worth and validity to her sexuality in reference to men, so is it to deny any worth, validity or power in her sexuality in reference to men.

    2. Women should inherently have the right to use their own bodies as they wish, whether that be to run a marathon, have a baby, not have to have a baby, discover a cure for cancer, have vanilla sex, not have sex, have kinky sex, be paid for sex/eroticism (to feed her family, her habit, her art career, her amount of leisure time, her fantasy life), etc.

    3. Some women find the empowerment from sex work to come in bleaker terms along the lines of “well I’m going to be objectified and sexualized regardless, I might as well do it (more or less) on my terms and be paid.” This is not my specific experience, but for many people, especially those with less privilege it accurately reflects the reality of gleaning some power from the sexist culture they feel so trapped in. It is a privilege to be able to spend a lot of time thinking of theory and working for change and posting about feminism on blogs, many people are only able to make the best of what is happening now.

    4. It’s just plain offensive to all of the smart, strong, powerful, savvy, business-minded strippers out there. This snarky depiction is far more disempowering than the real-life women working these jobs making the choices that are right for them. I mean the picture is of a white, thin, articulate, able-bodied, beautiful woman who therefore presumably has many choices about careers and life paths, and we want to tell her she’s making bad choices? Why do we feel the need to put her down, to tell her she knows not what she does nor what she thinks? How about we support all women in their choices and believe that they know what is best for them, instead of patronizing them?

    5. The key of this cartoon, the part that makes it “funny” is the shared assumption that we all agree that sex work (and in this case stripping) is inherently exploitative and anyone who says otherwise is fooling themselves, in denial, etc. In my experience I was just as exploited at my telemarketing job as I ever was as a dancer: inappropriately sexualized (although without the consensual sexual context it felt much worse), underpaid, dehumanized, treated not as a piece of meat but as a cog (which I personally like less), and forced to manipulate and exploit others, as well as undergo constant emotional stress from rude, irate, jerky assholes bent on taking out their frustrations on me on the phone. I think that the reason that occupations like sex work are such targets for this kind of exploitation argument are threefold:
    1. Most people have not worked in the sex industry (much) and due to great stigma, most middle-class people do not think that they know anyone who has worked in the sex industry. These people have a very hard time imagining what it would be like to be in a sexualized environment and providing eroticism for money except in ways that make them extremely uncomfortable or feel vulnerable. Therefore they assume that this is everyone’s “true” feeling or experience of such work. To me, working in an office or cubicle for 40 hours a week would feel deadly and exploitative, but I also understand that some people enjoy/don’t mind/accept/hate it but do it anyway to survive because we’re all different and that’s how it is to be a worker these days.
    2. Media just *loves* to sensationalize and exploit sex work scandal such as the awful and true but much over-blown phenomenon of human trafficking. Most sex workers in America are not trafficked. Neither are most of them as privileged as I am, with the ability to make and take many choices and options in my life. Most sex workers are working class people who work a job to pay the rent, and while there are many more workers who do not necessarily enjoy the work than there are who feel it to be a calling and a career (such as myself), that can be said for most jobs earning below upper-class salaries. There are many reasons that this is true for sex work, and I for one do not want anyone in the business who feels it to be degrading or unhealthy for them, but I also respect people’s choices and survival capabilities and feel that it does a disservice to the lives of the people who do enjoy, cherish, or just don’t mind the work to have the sole focus of society’s idea of the profession be degradation.
    3. We still live in a basically sex-negative culture. Despite our human needs for touch and affection and our basic processes of arousal and desire, we still believe there is something deeply wrong with us and each other for experiencing, expressing and seeking out sexual desire, or for some the type and context of that desire. We as a culture are rather sick, sexually, somewhat schizoid in fact, simultaneously shaming masturbation and binging on porn, freaking out over sexual predators and producing Britney as a role model for little girls, publicly endorsing only straight, vanilla monogamy but obsessing and sensationalizing all things queer, kinky and giving much more validity to adultery than polyamory. Sex negativity is a very old and very effective form of control, restricting something so basic and so pleasurable to only a small fenced in plot ensures that we will feel bad and disempowered about ourselves and suspicious and judgemental of others so that we all keep jumping though the necessary hoops to get into the fenced in plot or live in shame or both. The sooner men stop feeling shamed about their sexual desires, the sooner they’ll stop acting like such jerks about them. The sooner women start feeling empowered to want whatever they want sexually, to talk about it and get it for themselves (whether it be a dominant man/woman, masturbating in high heels, or soft and slow compassionate love making with a friend) the sooner we can stop telling each other that whatever we do or want or fantasize about is fucked up and get on with equalizing power structures.

    Sex work is not going away, its one of the few industries where currently women consistently earn more than men, and its been a refuge and an out for people entrenched in poverty and revolutionaries entrenched in an oppressive social structure for centuries (see the book ‘Whores in History’ by Nickie Roberts for examples). Let’s face the reality of what sex work is: pervasive, complicated, sometimes problematic, sometimes healing, sometimes just work, and leave the tired old script where men are mindless dogs and women are their pitiful oppressed sexual servants behind. It doesn’t do justice to any of us.

  6. Sadie, you rock.

    Your comment was far too intellectually challenging to appear on that blog, where all they wish to do is commiserate about how awful men are.

    You’re a goddess. That was a brilliant post.

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