Not for Sale: Feminists Resisting Prostitution and Pornography

By Rebecca Whisnant; Christine Stark | Go to book overview

Christine Stark


Girls to boyz: Sex radical women
promoting pornography and
prostitution

It might be kinda like playing with bugs … [t]orturing a girl, yeah, that could
be fun.

—'A Night Out With The Boyz'


The sex radical perspective

In the last twenty years, a great deal has been heard in feminist circles from queer and heterosexual women who define themselves as sex radicals. Sex radicals promote pornography and prostitution (as well as sadomasochism and other supposedly deviant sexual practices) as a lifestyle, a sexual identity, and an expression of feminism. Portraying themselves as rebelling against a traditional and repressive culture, they embrace pornography and prostitution as sites of freedom, adventure, and rebellion. To sex radicals, any political critique of pornography and prostitution as violence against women and children is deemed anti-sex, anti-male, censoring, prudish and judgmental.1

In the sex radical analysis, there are good girls and bad girls. The good girls are those—whether heterosexual, lesbian, or bisexual—who engage in 'vanilla' (that is, non-commercial and non-sadomasochistic) sex. The bad girls are whores, women who use pornography, women who sexualize children, and women who buy prostituted women: 'Whores, sluts, and dykes are bad girls, bad because we're sexually deviant' (Queen 1997a). Sex radicals define prostitution as a sexuality and then link that to homosexuality, the sexual use of children by adults, and sadomasochism, calling them all 'sexual outlaws'. They claim to be censored and discriminated against, not by pimps, tricks, wife beaters, racists, corporations, and daddy rapists, but by feminists fighting sexual violence, racism, and poverty. The sex radicals' 'good girl/bad girl'

1 The sex radical claim that feminism is judgmental toward prostituted women is
especially specious. Much of feminist theory and activism against pornography and
prostitution has been and continues to be developed by formerly prostituted women,
who are not judging or otherwise maligning prostituted people, but rather exposing
pimps and tricks as rapists, and the sex industry as an institution of male violence and
racial and economic privilege.

-278-

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