Your argument defends an ideology; mine defends the truth. – Mason Cooley
Furry Girl has been in the news lately; her project to fund the first-ever sex worker rights billboard in the United States has succeeded, and it will be going up in Los Angeles in the next two weeks. That has received a small amount of attention in local mainstream media, but as usual something negative has received a lot more, and more widespread, attention. It started when “feminist” porn starlet Madison Young gave birth a few weeks ago, and decided to create an exhibition entitled “Becoming MILF” around the event (for those unfamiliar with the acronym, it means “Mother I’d Like to Fuck”). As Tracy Clark-Flory’s August 16th Salon article puts it:
…The idea was that she would explore how she now embodies a contradiction, the dichotomy to end all dichotomies — that of the Madonna and the whore. At the show’s opening, she served up self-made breast milkshakes and displayed a baby quilt made of burp cloths and “porn star panties.” Surely it goes without saying that this sort of art doesn’t appeal to everyone, or most, but it’s brought about criticism from the unlikeliest of sources: a fellow pornographer.
Furry Girl strongly criticized Young’s behavior on Twitter, calling her a “revolting person” and pointing out that her display would appeal to “baby fetishists” and “pedos”. But most importantly she wrote, “It’s funny to see how many feminist kinksters don’t think consent matters when it comes to creating erotic art w/ a baby.” Apparently Young and her supporters (whom Furry Girl calls “the sexy mommy mob”) angrily “tweeted” back and, well, the fur started to fly. Bloggers blogged, Twitterers tweeted and pundits issued forth punditry; Flory wrote her article and Jezebel commented on it…and as usual everyone missed the point.
Furry Girl and I are usually on the same page. That’s not to say we agree about everything; she’s a vegan and I’m an omnivore, some of the things she finds sexy are definite turn-offs for me, and while she revels in her “furriness” I obsessively pluck or epilate every single hair that dares to appear anyplace other than my scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes or mons veneris. But when it comes to issues of sex work, liberty, feminism and common sense, we rarely disagree: One especially important point in which we both believe is that sex work activists need to stop trying to look weird and wild and kinky and instead reach out to the mainstream Americans who support criminalization precisely because they believe we’re weird and wild and kinky. IMHO we need to stress the ways in which whores are like other women, not the ways in which we’re different; as FG puts it, “I want sex work issues to stop being marketed as though they are of interest only to kinky hipsters, leftists, and sex radicals.” So when a friend called my attention to this Tuesday night, I decided to see what Furry Girl herself had to say about it. I didn’t have long to wait, as she commented on the affair Wednesday morning:
I am utterly baffled that I have to explain these things, but the sexy mommy mob is still hysterical after my comments on Twitter last week that feminist darling Madison Young is creepy-as-fuck for how she uses her baby as a non-consenting prop for her sexual politics and porn marketing…since people are asking me for a “statement,” and the sexy mommy mob is intent on growing this “story” into some kind of national outrage, I might as well clearly explain my position in one place…
The big take-home point that some people are missing: It’s all about context. I am against breast feeding in places where people go to masturbate…It’s hard to plead “there is absolutely nothing sexual about these photos/videos” when they are posted in sexualized spaces and/or crafted to look sexy…if she would never want to encourage people to jerk off to photos of her baby, she should stop posting them in a place where she typically posts porn…This issue is also about consent. The baby is not consenting to being used as a marketing gimmick for her mother’s porn persona…I am against people using their children as props to serve an agenda…
I never said that no woman should be allowed to breast feed. I am not against breast feeding in public or private, I am against doing it in sexualized contexts. I would feel the same way if someone whipped out a baby at a swinger’s club, so it’s not just about the internet or porn. I never said that sex workers…should not be allowed to have children, or that mothers can’t be sexy. I have a number of kinky and sex working friends who are parents, and I know some sexy moms. They, however, possess good sense and boundaries and don’t force their offspring to be a part of their exhibitionism and work…I never said that no one should be allowed to photograph their kids or photograph breast feeding. I didn’t comb through the Flickr pages of strangers until I found a random mother to criticize. I’m specifically talking about a porn star who is using her baby as an attention-getting prop in sexualized contexts…
I hate what stuff like this does to the credibility of sex workers and pornographers as a whole. People like me try to tell regular folk that porn and sex work is about consenting adults, not weird stuff with kids and/or the non-consenting. To the sexy mommy mob, Madison is the greatest hero of her generation, but what about the other 99.999999% of America, the majority we need to get on our side in order to make any advancements for sex workers? If you seal yourself in the safe bubble of San Francisco, surrounded by adoring fans, then of course you’re not going to care how you might be damaging the movement for acceptance of sex workers and porn. I’m surprised that people like Gail Dines and Melissa Farley haven’t seized upon Madison’s baby fetish as yet another way to attack all of us. This is exactly the sort of thing they live to hold up as a non-representative example of how we’re all horrible people…Donna Hughes threw a fit a year ago when a small sexuality conference apparently allowed in a high school senior…If letting a consenting 17-year-old hear about sexuality is enough for the antis to launch a campaign that says kink bloggers are basically child molesters, I wonder what they would think of a porn star sexualizing the breast feeding of a baby? But of course, if the antis get wind of the controversy that Madison and her fans are so desperately trying to publicize, she will not be the one addressing the hard questions. She has her feminist porn “revolution” to worry about, and the rest of us – especially her baby girl – can go eat cake.
I don’t follow Twitter and therefore didn’t see the original comments, but from what I’ve read they’re a bit stronger than the sort of things I would’ve said. That’s not at all unusual, however; as I pointed out in my column of June 4th, “I’m the Princess of Paranoia and 99.9% of the human race words its essays with far less caution than I employ in the composition of my grocery list.” That having been said, Furry Girl’s explanatory essay is very clear and eminently sensible. And as usual, I find myself in complete agreement with her.
One Year Ago Today
“Presents” is a column about the thoughtful extras clients often give in addition to the fee.