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Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

I’ve written before on many occasions about how people love to create caricatures in their minds, apply a label to that caricature and then pretend it has something to do with reality.  The primary example is of course sex work; prohibitionists define sex workers as victims and then claim everyone who identifies as a sex worker is a victim whether she agrees with that assessment or not, and those (such as me) who are clearly not any kind of victim must not really be sex workers.  The same is true of anti-authoritarians; collectivists apply labels such as “greedy” or “racist” or whatever to people they call “libertarians” (whether those people would define themselves with that word or not) and then argue that anyone who doesn’t trust sociopaths who enforce their whims at gunpoint must be exactly like their carefully-constructed straw man.  Because I despise socialism, find the idea of “wealth inequality” vacuous and mock the idea that self-appointed “experts” are more qualified to decide what to do with my hard-earned money than I am, some people make the (largely intentional) mistake of thinking that I’m against efforts to make things economically better for the working classes.  Of course, those who think that are fools who haven’t actually read my writing; what I actually believe is that the fascist establishment will turn whatever naive attempt at Utopianism you can come up with into a way to oppress the poor even more.  For example, all the white middle-class “woke” who support gun control while ignoring that the vast majority of people thrown into cages for gun-law violations are poor & black.  In short, it is not possible to “fix” the current system by voting or whatever, because it isn’t broken; it’s doing exactly what it was designed to do, namely empower the ruling classes while crushing the working classes and herding the middle classes like fattened livestock.

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I would have done the same if I had found a kilo of crack cocaine.

Last week Scott Greenfield made a reference to this song, which reminded me of how much I like it, so I decided to share it with you.  The links above it were provided by Mike Siegel, Amy Alkon, Furrygirl, Mistress Matisse, Emma Evans, and Jillian Keenan, in that order.

From the Archives

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Readers who follow me on Twitter may have noticed that I had very little to say about the news that Notre Dame de Paris was heavily damaged by fire this week.  I equally ignored those lamenting the loss of an architectural masterpiece, those using the tragedy as an excuse to pontificate about the many sins of the Catholic Church, those failing to comprehend why there was no anguish when recent and unsophisticated buildings used as churches burned down, and those complaining that the destruction of other medieval architectural gems not located in the exact center of one of the greatest cities of the West was not publicized by Western media.  In fact, the only comment I made on it was to tweet that this article in The Onion was the only one I had seen that approximated my feelings on the matter.  Though I agree that the building is gorgeous and understand the sense of loss, and I find rejoicing in the destruction of an artwork to be an act of incredibly bad taste, I also understand what many others are choosing to ignore: that no matter what is done to restore the cathedral, it will eventually burn down again or succumb to some other disaster.  And the same is true of the Eiffel Tower, the Tower of London, the Empire State Building, the Sydney Opera House, the Taj Mahal, St. Basil’s and every other building in the world.  Of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, only one is still standing and it, too, will eventually crumble, as will every building in every city on Earth.  In Oklahoma, my ranch was situated on the top of what was a mountain a hundred million years ago, and the very shape of the continents has changed dramatically in that time.  Similarly, people wring their hands and moan lugubriously about the extinction of animal species, despite the fact that a species is nothing more than a temporary configuration of genes; it is as permanent as a sand dune, albeit on a much longer time scale, and we can no more “save” a species than we could freeze the column of smoke from a burning cathedral into some interesting or beautiful shape.  As I remind my readers every November 1st, all things must pass, and although we may lament those which happen to pass in the flickering moment we exist upon the Earth, they are no more or less mortal than those which have already passed before we were here to see them, or those which will pass in the uncountable eons after we ourselves are gone.

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I’ve noticed an annoying trend of late:  people including my screen name on Twitter so as to summon me into an argument they’re having with prohibitionist wackos.  Please don’t do that.

No, that isn’t nearly strong enough: Don’t Fucking Do That.

There are a number of reasons why this is a colossally bad idea, but I’m just going to list a few of them.  First, I don’t debate prohibitionists because it lends them credibility and gives them a platform from which to regale people with their nasty “sex trafficking” wanking fantasies, yet accomplishes absolutely nothing positive because the head of a prohibitionist is “so stuffed with the reality-denying rubbish of his belief system that there is no room for facts“.  Next, I’ve already been over all this territory hundreds of times, and it’s an obscene waste for me to even be asked to “restate the content of my entire professional oeuvre in convenient 140-character sound bites” when it’s all right here on my blog.  I’m not a fucking monkey to dance for the amusement of internet randos with absolutely no power to change bad laws, nor am I an attack dog to be whistled up to dispatch annoyances you could easily just mute as I do.  It isn’t just that these people aren’t offering to compensate me for my valuable time, though obviously that’s bad enough; it’s also that (and this may be the most important point) I don’t fucking accept being told what to do by anybody, and the best way to get me not to do something is to demand, order, threaten, or attempt to trick, shame or intimidate me into doing it (and don’t even think of using reverse psychology on me, either).  I’ve always been this way; it’s one of the reasons my mother and I never got along, and why I so often ended up in the principal’s office despite being a straight-A student and a basically well-behaved kid, why no square job other than librarian ever lasted more than six months, and why every husband, boyfriend & male friend I’ve ever had has yelled at me at least once for flying up in a cop’s face.  I do not acknowledge that anyone has “legitimate” authority over me, so the second anyone acts as though they’re entitled to my time, energy, resources or (especially) obedience, any chance of their getting what they want goes down the toilet.  You want something from me?  Ask nicely, in private, and offer to compensate me.  But if the request is “please come beat up these idiots for me”, I’ll most likely just point out that it’s impossible to reason someone ought of a position he didn’t reason himself into, and suggest you mute them rather than letting them steal your time and energy.

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Why do you advise activists not to debate prohibitionists?  Haven’t you argued in the past that the goal isn’t to convince your opposition but to convince the undecided/uninformed spectators? I would think a debate would help with that.

The main problem with “debating” fanatics of any stripe is that the human mind is more easily convinced by stories (however false) than facts (however solid).  The only way to counter the scary tales of prohibitionists is by long, thorough exposure to boring, mundane true stories of real sex workers.  Scare stories are intense & quickly told, but have shallow intellectual roots.  True stories are mild & boring and have no quick, exciting climax, but have deeper intellectual roots.  That’s why everyone used to believe in fanciful tales of witches, but almost nobody does now.  When gay rights started to become A Thing, prohibitionists vomited out their ugly “child molester” BS, but very few believe that any more; that change didn’t come from “debating” the fanatics, but from enough gay men being “out” that only the craziest couldn’t see the truth.  Similarly, note that the public’s opinion on sex worker rights is slowly shifting, as demonstrated by the fact that decriminalization is now a safe position for politicians in some places.  The prohibitionists are still vomiting out their wanking fantasies, but “out” sex workers are slowly washing away those ugly paint-bombs with the clean water of truth.  We are winning, and there is absolutely nothing prohibitionists can do about it in the long run; to lend them credibility by dignifying their nasty masturbatory fantasies with “debate” would only prolong the demise of their narrative.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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If you aren’t already familiar with “Ode to Billie Joe”, the song I featured in yesterday’s column, do yourself a favor and listen to it before continuing to read this one.  For over fifty years, listeners have speculated just what it was that the narrator and Billie Joe threw off of the Tallahatchie Bridge, and Bobbie Gentry – a woman almost as enigmatic as the song that made her famous, who abruptly stopped performing at the height of her fame forty years ago and has barely been heard of since – has steadfastly refused to explain it, or even to comment on the disappointing “solution” used by screenwriter Herman Raucher in the 1976 movie inspired by the song.  Given that she is approaching 80 and is more reclusive than ever, it seems likely she will take the secret to her grave, just as her character in the song apparently did; rather than share her grief with others, the narrator “spen[t] a lot of time pickin’ flowers up on Choctaw Ridge/And drop them into the muddy water off the Tallahatchie Bridge.”  As a young teen, the general consensus among the girls in my circle was that the object thrown into the water was a self-aborted fetus which had resulted from the narrator’s relationship with Billie Joe, and that the overly-sensitive boy had killed himself in a fit of inappropriate guilt, possibly due to being seen by the “nice young preacher, Brother Taylor”.  And while a number of other possibilities have been proposed, and good arguments could be made for some of them, it’s the one from my adolescence that inspired this essay upon my re-listening to the song last week.

Not everyone wants to “shout her abortion” as the activists urge; some prefer not to talk about it, and some may feel shame, sorrow or some more complex mix of emotions and prefer not to discuss the subject at all.  Similarly, while sex workers like me are almost belligerently open about it and others are only out with close friends, still others prefer not to admit their history of sex work to anyone.  Some LGBT people are “out and proud”, some more quietly queer, and some still deeply closeted.  The same range of coping strategies (if that’s even the right phrase) can be seen in relation to kinks or fetishes; mental health issues; a history of rape or sexual abuse; drug use; a criminal record; family issues; and nearly anything else for which guilt or shame, appropriate or not, can be heaped upon an individual by society, family members, or even one’s own psyche.  And while it’s certainly true that repressed shame can lead to all sorts of harmful outcomes (like jumping off of bridges or letting one’s life be consumed by bottled-up grief or anger), and that talking about taboo subjects certainly helps to normalize them, not everyone has the psychological mechanisms or social tools required to “shout” her abortion, discuss her whoredom on television, march in pride parades or display family skeletons in the front yard.  Some people have the psychic anatomy necessary to be honest about subjects that were or still are considered shameful, and some don’t; some may feel comfortable displaying some skeletons and not others (for example, being open about queerness but not about sex work).  And the only person who is qualified to make decisions about which laundry to air and which to pack away in the cedar chest is its owner.  While I would like it if more sex workers were “out”, I have no right to pass judgment on anyone who isn’t; their lives are theirs to live, not mine, and they are the ones who will reap the benefits or suffer the consequences of their decisions.  And the exact same thing is true of every other such secret.  To drag someone’s secrets into the open against their will is an act of psychic violence which could potentially trigger physical violence in some circumstances, which is why outing, “doxxing”, and tattling are condemned by all ethical adults.  Minding one’s own business is a virtue, locked closets should be respected, and sometimes silence really is golden.

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Hey, “sex trafficking” fetishists, can we talk for a minute?  I’m really sympathetic to having weird sexual fantasies that make you uncomfortable and are stigmatized by others; I’ve suffered from that issue since early childhood, so I get it.  However, the way to deal with such fantasies is to pay a professional to explore them with you safely; or to write porn about them; or even to seek out a consenting amateur partner whom you can negotiate a kinky scene with.  You cannot exorcise these thoughts which haunt you by repeating them endlessly in public as though they were real, demanding that others join you in these fantasies against their consent, and providing the police state with new excuses to oppress people based on your sexual fantasies.  These approaches, besides being terribly wrong and destructive to the fabric of society, will do nothing to help you cope with and accept your kinky sexual fantasies; it will just make them worse.  Nick Kristof, Cindy McCain, Donald Trump and many others provide instructive examples of how ugly things can get when you fight against your kinks by forcing them on others in a gigantic attempt at psychodrama; Swanee Hunt is probably the apotheosis of this, as she has spent millions paying off cops & DAs to enact her fantasies on non-consenting participants, destroying thousands of lives for her sick sexual gratification.  And she has also made herself sicker in the process as her hate continues to build due to her obsession with others’ sex lives.  If nothing else works, at least see a qualified sex therapist, and leave other (non-consenting) people out of your kinky shit.

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