Note: This class does not actually exist. I made the syllabus as a sample for a job application (for a job I am not at all qualified for and am unlikely to actually get), and now I’m just showing it off, in “here’s what I would teach” fashion. I cut the boring stuff about assignments and class policies and why you can’t hand your essays in late, so it’s mostly just a reading list. The imaginary class is a third year university labour studies class.
Where the readings are available for free online, I’ve posted links to them. A great many of them are available online, for folks who like to read. I have now found and linked either the original or a very similar replacement for every reading except “The Lone Streetwalker” by Shawna Ferris, which stinks because that’s actually one of my favourite things I’ve read about sex work ever, and “Is Sex Work Queer?” by Corinna McKay. I’ve briefly summarized those two articles.
Of course I am quite open to hearing from other sex workers on what I’ve decided should go into a class like this. One thing I regret — and which I want to think more about how to include — is that there is nothing really practical for sex workers in here. E.g., nothing on how people get into the sex industry, operate various sex businesses, or move on to other jobs.
The textbook for the imaginary class, in which about half of the readings can be found, is Selling Sex: Experience, Advocacy and Research on Sex Work in Canada. Continue reading
A couple of weeks ago, an
absolutely vile methodologically questionable study was released exclusively toNewsweek on the lives and habits of clients of prostitutes in the Boston area. You may be saying to yourself: “released exclusively to a commercial media outlet? But doesn’t that alone make questionable both the motivation for the study and its credibility? Would no scholarly journals publish it?” But you are missing a key piece of information: the study was authored by celebrity feminist and prostitution researcher Melissa Farley, the same psychologist who was smacked down by Justice Susan Himel for bringing incredible and biased testimony to the Superior Court case that ultimately struck down anti-prostitution laws in Ontario and who helped to author this gem, which mocks sex workers who have been sexual assaulted at work or as children. So.. you know, grain of salt for studies authored by total assholes. (But check out the comments for incisive critiques from prostitutes.)
While reading this BS, the following paragraph struck me as.. well, weird:
Farley’s findings suggest that the use of prostitution and pornography may cause men to become more aggressive. Sex buyers in the study used significantly more pornography than nonbuyers, and three quarters of them said they received their sex education from pornography, compared with slightly more than half of the nonbuyers. “Over time, as a result of their prostitution and pornography use, sex buyers reported that their sexual preferences changed and they sought more sadomasochistic and anal sex,” the study reported.
Now, with a sample size of 200 and no information telling readers how quotations from the men interviewed were turned into quantitative data about how aggressive they are, we can write the argument off. But what’s the deal with the anal?
It’s not just this one study: anal sex is cited in anti-porn and anti-prostitution rhetoric all the freakin time as evidence that men’s sexual desires are somehow escalating, or getting worse, or becoming more extreme, or are somehow more harmful than they were.. uh.. pre-porn? There is, to the best of my knowledge, no pre-porn era of media. But at some point before All The Men started watching All The Porn on the internet, anyway. (Of course, women have no sexual desire for anal sex. Ever.)
You can’t swing a lubey strap-on in the imaginary room of anti-porn rhetoric without hitting some bum sex. (You’ll have to ctrl-f “anal” yourself — gets kinda zen after the first few, though some are more readable than others) But it’s not just them.
This sex-positive Slate article cites a Kinsey study from last year, announcing that “the big story is the increase in anal sex reported by women” and a correlative increase in female orgasms–but don’t worry; women’s don’t actually like anal. It’s just easier for dudes to get them to do it, if they’re bought with many orgasms. No amount of WTF in the world can cover that.
And this catchy, and also sex-positive (I actually like the idea of porn literacy for young people), site called“Make Love Not Porn,” which has made a few rounds on my Facebook has this to offer:
Guys, ask yourselves how you would feel about someone sticking their cock up your butt. That will pretty much reflect broad female attitudes.
I’m all for “do unto others,” but on a site aimed at heterosexual-identified young men, that smacks of homophobia. Um, and surprise! Plenty of straight men, just like plenty of gay and other queer men, absolutely love the sensation of anal penetration. By and large, they all have the same prostate. Similarly, lots of women, gay, straight and other, like anal: most women don’t have prostates, but we do, by and large, have the same bundle of hyper-sensitive nerve endings. It’s not hard to establish that plenty of people like anal sex, and (when done right) it causes no real harm.
So what’s the big deal? Is it just homophobia? Or that elephant in the now-lube-spattered imaginary room full of anti-porn advocates with embarassingly-shaped bruises (like cats, lubey strap-ons need to be swung firmly — best to stay out of the way): someone, at some point, might see miniscule amounts of someone else’s poop? Or is it just an easily-exploited rhetorical tool: something titillating and a bit risky, that many (but not as many as you’d think, if The Kinsey Institute is right) folks know very little about?
I don’t get it.
This is a reproduction of a post from July 29th 2011 (my mother’s birthday!) on my blog at https://landing.athabascau.ca/profile/sarahma108