What is The ‘Feminist’ Problem With Sex Work?

Some of the biggest enemies of the sex industry are feminists. If ever you read an article attacking sex work, or you turn on to SKY News during one of their debates, you will find militant feminists right at the forefront of the assault. But what is the feminist problem with sex workers?

Girl feminist shouts in loudspeaker

The Different Types of Feminism

Well, firstly, it needs to be said, that not all feminists are the same. The two main categories are ‘collective feminists’ and ‘individualist feminists’. Their attitudes to sex work will likely differ for various reasons.

It is usually the collective feminists that have the biggest problem with the industry. They believe in something called the ‘patriarchy’. This is the theory that society is run by men, and women are excluded from power. I am not going to go into whether that is true or not as it would be a total diversion from the article. I am sure you will have all your own opinion anyway. What matters is that they believe it.

With this sense of moral certainty that causes them to look down on other women who may not have their view. You see it when debates happen; they feel the other women with a differing view ‘just doesn’t get it’. It isn’t just in sex work, but when page 3, or banning F1 ‘Grid Girls’ are having their merits discussed. You will always have a collective feminist sat there looking like she has put on scruffy clothes off the floor, talking down to a more attractive woman who feels that women should be allowed to show off their good looks if they want. It is quite painful viewing. It comes across very much like a hierarchy of women telling others what they should and shouldn’t be doing.

When it comes to their views on sex work, they believe it is the ultimate sign of male power when he pays money to enter a woman. This is why they hate it so much

Too Much Influence

Now, freedom of thought is no problem. I would hate to live in a society where we have to think the same. Still, it is when people with that deep-rooted ideological hatred of something start dictating policy that we have the issue.

The Nordic Model was pushed and supported by these feminists in its infancy and they continue to do so. They though, and continue to think that the industry needs eradicated, so looked for ways that could be done. That resulted in the idea that if you criminalise the purchase of sex, men stop wanting to buy it.

Well, the problem with that is that it is nonsense. Instead, the industry gets pushed underground making it even more unsafe for those who work in it. This lack of awareness is something that my colleague and friend Zoe Jaspers called out quite famously when she countered a Julie Bindel article in the Guardian a few years ago.

Now I can understand sites like ours having their views dismissed, but people like Amnesty International agreed with us. As the feminists came from an ideological viewpoint, they disregarded the views of the likes of AA, and sex workers themselves. You would think the heads of Amnesty International were walking around in a Snoop Dogg style pimp suit the way it was argued only those with a vested interest would argue against the Nordic Model.

The reality in Ireland is that there has been a 92% increase in reported violent crime against sex workers since the Nordic Model came in. Still, that doesn’t seem to affect those feminists who campaigned so hard for the law. This is all about making a point that sex work isn’t welcome. This is when ideology trumps pragmatism, and also common decency to our fellow humans.

Feminist Supporters of Sex Work

Now, I don’t want this to come across as an anti-feminism rant. There are many feminists who support the right of sex workers to determine their own future, and these are the aforementioned individualist feminists.

They believe that every woman has the right to plot their own future, and if that includes sex work, so be it. Some may even think it is empowering.

They are also less driven by ideology, and more by a need to protect women who are in vulnerable situations. Some of these feminists are the most ardent campaigners against the Nordic Model. It is certainly only a certain type of feminist that are damaging to those in the sex industry.

I believe the news channels have a lot to answer for on this. In an effort to get ratings, it is always the feminist who thinks looking good is demeaning as it is ‘being done just to get male approval’ who is wheeled out as they will take an extremist view. Their views are therefore given extra weight as people believe ‘this is what feminists think’, when in fact they are not a homogenous group. It is only when the news accurately gives us the full breadth of opinion, rather than extremist viewpoints that we can start making the changes that help society, and not just those that satisfy narrow-minded ideologues.

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Martin Ward

Martin Ward is a well respected editor and writer with over five years experience in the adult industry. After stints in the Escort Advertising call centre and on the escort forum, he moved into the site editor position around three years ago.

Since then, he has specialised in articles on the battle for equal rights for sex workers, sexual health, as well as bringing the readers fun news from around the world. He also has a major interest in LGBT rights, and is an active campaigner in this field.

When he isn't fighting the good fight, he enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, and young daughter. He also enjoys reading and taking long walks.
Martin Ward
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