No Little Girl and other lies.
Not so long ago I wrote an article for the Eros Journal about the # PornHarmKids campaign that was centred around the idea that porn is dangerous for children and therefore should be banned. (You can find a copy of the magazine here: http://eros.org.au/NEJ/issue5/mobile/index.html
Look for issue no. 5 and flick to page 16)
On the surface this movement seemed fairly logical (of course no-one wants their kids accidentally stumbling across, or even deliberately seeking out, hardcore pornography) but when looked at a little deeper it was evident that it had far less to do with protecting children, and far more to do with sexual negativity, stopping conversations and sex education, as well as silencing performers and producers and those invested in the adult industry. To the sex-negative radical feminists that lead these movements anyone involved in the sex industry is either a rapist or a victim and anyone who deems to speak out positively about it is a brainwashed idiot who doesn’t care about women or children.
It’s definitely a clever tactic. I mean, there are few things that tug the heart-strings and create emotive responses more than the idea of children being hurt. In the plight to stop world hunger or extreme poverty the images we see on our TVs are of starved, dying children. When we talk car safety, germ cleaning, internet danger, food health, anything really we know that using children, or the phrase “As a mother...” is a clear and effective way to get people thinking with their emotions and are therefore far easier to sway to their way of thinking.
What’s wrong with that? I hear you ask… Of COURSE we don’t want children dying or hurt or damaged. Why is it so bad to protect the most vulnerable among us? We’re adults, that’s our job!
Well yes, of course, you’re right in many ways… But unfortunately for every good thing that comes from the idea of “protecting children” come those who would use our emotions against us, to spread misinformation and downright lies, all in the name of “Saving The Children”.
This is evident when it comes to groups like anti-vaxxers or pro-lifers. They also use photographs of distressed children to get their messages across. They use highly emotive language as well as clever tricks with language to “prove” their sides and dismiss anything spoken against it as conspiracy or “paid shills”, and are quick to delete, block or, in some extreme cases, antagonise and rally against people in the most horrid of ways (look at the anti Light for Riley people or Sandyhook “truthers” if you need evidence of this).
So yes. It’s clever. Really clever. We, as society as a whole, protect our young. We don’t want to see them hurt or upset, and so using them to highlight an issue or danger gives us that instinctual protector vibe and we feel obligated to help.
Probably one of the most distressing things we can think of when it comes to bad things that can happen to our kids is sexual abuse. The idea of their innocence being ripped away, their futures shattered. It’s horrible to think about and even more horrible to know it actually happens. A lot. To children all over the world from the richest suburbs to the most poverty stricken slums. No-one wants to think that this sort of thing might happen to their kids and so campaigns like #PornHarmsKids effectively draws on that as well as the age-old idea that sex itself - not rape or molestation, just sex- is bad and wrong and dirty for women to do unless, of course, they are married, and therefore any woman involved in anything to do with the sex industry must have been forced and is in need of rescue.
It is with these dirty tactics and sex-negative attitudes that the latest hashtag has spawned: #NoLittleGirl.
In the wake of the FOSTA/SESTA debacle (An American bill that claims to fight sex trafficking but that actually just puts sex workers in a lot of danger. For more info, and I absolutely encourage everyone to look into this and why it’s so dangerous, please read here: https://www.vox.com/culture/2018/4/13/17172762/fosta-sesta-backpage-230-internet-freedom ) radical feminists are using the sudden focus on sex trafficking versus sex work (newsflash, there is NO connection between the two) to once again demonise sex work and sex workers by stating that because no little girl would ever possibly dream of growing up to be a sex worker it is somehow proof that the sex industry is gross and dangerous and should be shut down.
Now, by using this logic can we also assume no little girl ever dreamed of cleaning up vomit and shit so therefore we should ban nursing or cleaning? Also I don’t know how many little girls grew up dreaming of working 40 hours a week behind a checkout, so sorry retail industry, you’ve got to go. In fact I could name a hundred jobs that no-one, girl or boy, would ever dream of doing when they grow up because they’re either gross or hard or boring or just terrible. I mean, when you think about it, that’s practically every job! The only difference being that sex work contains sex and sex is icky and bad.
But, regardless of that, the claim that No Little Girl ever dreams of growing up to be a sex worker is in itself false.
How do I know this? Because I was one of them. From the earliest age I can remember, before I knew what sex was, what orgasms were, what lust or love or desire was… Before any of that I knew I liked it. I knew about the sensations and the way it made me feel. I knew I wanted to explore it. As I grew up and learnt words to put to those feelings I got even more curious, and at whatever age it was that I finally found out some people have sex as a job it was something I wanted to do. I have since met hundreds of women who have said the same, and even more who have said they were fascinated by sex and sexual feelings as a kid even if they didn’t necessarily want to do it for work, hell even Dolly Parton claims she looks the way she looks because she modelled herself on the town hooker she once spotted as a child and was fascinated by.
It’s also important to note, because you will NEVER see anti sex work protestors speak of it as it ruins their narrative, that not all sex workers are women, and not all sex work clients are men. This is actually one of the most important omissions in their arguments because it shows the truth. That women using sex as work makes them uncomfortable because sex itself makes them uncomfortable. It’s got NOTHING to do with “protecting’ women and everything to do with “controlling” women’s sexuality and sexual independence, ironically just like what they say they are trying to fight. It’s a bizarre and twisted point of view that has stemmed from the backwards and dangerous way we speak and learn and teach about sex.
We drill sex negativity into children in so many ways, whether it’s referring to certain parts of their body as “rude” or punishing them for exploring themselves “Don’t touch there it’s dirty!” or expecting girls to be “pure” and policing the length of their skirts or bare shoulders. It’s not only ridiculous (there is nothing wrong with bodies) it’s also incredibly dangerous to their growth and development into a healthy adult. The thing is children DO think about sex or the good-feeling sensations they get in their tummies and, while sex itself is certainly not an act for children, the education around it must be positive and void of shame so that they can feel free and safe to explore and learn and have a solid base of facts and family and love to fall back on when things get tricky or confusing. And you know what? If any of those children do decide when they’re older that they want to work in the sex industry, it is up to us as the generation before to provide safe and healthy environments for them to do so. Pushing for a ban on the industry in the name of stopping trafficking is as useless as shutting down the local pharmacy because someone has a meth lab on the street.
Sex work IS work. It is a valid and necessary job that provides comfort and intimacy and fun as well as financial security and independence for the people who do it. Regardless of if the provider is working from the penthouse suite of a fancy hotel or on the street, each of them, and every level in between, deserves respect and security and protection and the only way that this can be done is with decriminalisation. It doesn’t actually matter if YOU personally would never do that job or find it distasteful, it’s not about you. It’s about the fact that sex work is not ever going to go away and it shouldn’t have to. That sex trafficking is NOT the same and there are already laws and legislations in place for combatting it. And that as humans living on the same planet we have an obligation to make sure everyone doing a job is kept safe and has the same rights and protections as anyone else doing a job.
If you need any more proof that I am not alone and that sex workers and women around the world actually DID think about sex and pleasure when they were kids, go and search out the hashtag. In true internet activist style it has been taken over by sex positivity and stories from all over the world and all over the gender spectrum showing how false this claim really is and what a ridiculous logic leap they’ve taken.
In my activism and my feminism I truly believe that the only thing little girls should ever grow up not wanting to do is silence other women and stifle their choices (some of whom are the most vulnerable and marginalised in the world) and put them in unsafe and dangerous positions just because what they’ve chosen to do makes her feel icky. Listen to sex workers, provide them with rights not rescue, and join the fight for decriminalisation… And please, stop using children to clutch at your pearls. Their hands are only small and they’d rather be playing with Lego.