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Melissa Farely

(202 Posts)
MsAnnTeak Tue 11-Oct-11 13:15:15

Has been a leading light for radical feminists The American clinical psychologist, researcher and feminist anti-pornography and anti-prostitution activistis best known for her studies of the effects of prostitution, trafficking, and sexual violence. Much of her reasearch has been quoted on the above issues and has been highly influential in forming policies across the globe.
Recently there has been a formal complaint lodged against her and there are moves to have the APA rescind her membership.
Canadian courts have found Dr Farley to be a less than reliable witness,
finding her evidence ?to be problematic?, believing her work is
unethical, unbecoming of a psychologist, and is in breach of at least sections 5.01 and 8.10of the APA?s Code of Ethics, perhaps more. The document is 115 Pages long.

If it's upheld and her membership is rescinded will we all have to have a rethink ?

Beachcomber Thu 13-Oct-11 16:48:39

The voice of a woman who has exited prostitution on 'harm reduction' AKA as decriminalisation.

Could be triggering

LeBOF Thu 13-Oct-11 16:55:51

Thanks for those links, Beachcomber. A more interesting discussion than the one the rather bossy and entitled OP is insisting on. "Awaiting Venn diagram"- pmsl.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Thu 13-Oct-11 17:02:16

I always wonder why it is in these debates, that anecdotes from women who were prostituted and hated every second of it, are given so much more credence than anecdotes from "happy hookers" like Dr M.

Last time I mentioned Teela Sanders, I was told she'd been discredited. (She hasn't.) She actually spoke to women working as prostitutes, and she's actually spoken to punters. Her conclusions are not as clear cut as some.

GrumpyInRepose Thu 13-Oct-11 17:08:52

prob because the happy hookers are rare. complaining that the unhappy hookers are given more 'credence' sounds like you think they shouldn't be believed at all. they matter and aren't given much credance at all in the wider world. belle du jour, otoh, is a lady who got loads of approval and credence.

sorry bad typing bfing

GrumpyInRepose Thu 13-Oct-11 17:10:07

that wasn't meant to say that you actually DONT think they should be believed btw, sorry expressing myself v bdly and typing worse

OldLadyKnowsNothing Thu 13-Oct-11 17:16:54

Oh, I do believe the horror stories, and agree that no one should suffer like that. But I also believe that prostitution isn't going to go away, and that the current fad for trying to criminalise punters won't help. (I've read the "happy hooker" stories from the Scandinavian countries that have tried it, and they're not happy any more, claiming it simply moves the issue off the streets and into the darker underground, which does not help the women any.)

I also believe that it is possible to work willingly as a prostitute without suffering the PTSD that supposedly accompanies it. (That's another claim that is often made spuriously, based on a survey of street workers in a country where their work was illegal, and with no control for previous childhood abuse...)

I think a lot of the damage done to sex workers, physical and emotional, is due to their lack of control, and forcing the scene underground just doesn't help.

Sorry, have to go out now, back in the morning to see how this progresses.

MsAnnTeak Thu 13-Oct-11 17:18:01

Some horror stories here . Is it time to put a stop to the hiring of migrant domestic workers as cheap labour to scrub homes and look after our children ?

AlysWorld Thu 13-Oct-11 17:23:35

Erm, yes

skrumle Thu 13-Oct-11 17:25:34


oh no, i think the exploitation of other human beings is absolutely fine if it's my toilet they are cleaning smile

Beachcomber Thu 13-Oct-11 17:32:16

Another interesting blog.

For the Sexyfun Feminist Who Earnestly Believes That Sex Work is Empowering and Awesome for Women (And Anybody Dumb Enough To Believe Her)

AlysWorld Thu 13-Oct-11 17:34:05

Now I've bitten, the whole 'academics disagree shocker!' does always make give me a little smile. Academics disagree. They come from different perspectives. This is not news. For me, anyone who comes to things like this from a non-feminist perspective is missing out an essential part of the analysis. It doesn't mean they are somehow 'neutral' or 'objective'. Ideas of being somehow distant from your work were disregarded as making any sense with regard to social issues a good few decades ago. So 'discrediting' an academic is meaningless (except for proving they plagiarised their work or something).

So yes I think Teela Saunders is wrong because she fails to apply feminist analysis. I also think Brooke Maganti is unethical wrong, because she is stepping outside of the field in which she is an academic as well as failing to apply feminist analysis.

AyeScream Thu 13-Oct-11 17:34:12

Happy Hooker

OldLadyKnowsNothing Thu 13-Oct-11 18:01:09

Sorry, I have to go really soon, but why does anyone have to apply a "feminist analysis" to research into prostitution? Surely reliable academic information shouldn't be twisted at the start?

I realise this is the feminist board, but even if this discussion were taking place on "In the News" someone would pop up to demand the feminist perspective. Is there a Labour, Communist or Conservative perspective, and if so, wouldn't they be equally in/valid?

Uppity Thu 13-Oct-11 18:18:04

Oh well now tht you've bitten alys...

If you think that women are not disadvantaged for being women, then you have not been paying attention and you are not a feminist, even if you say you are. I am not going to spend time on the feminism board, explaining why women are still suffering disadvantage just because of their sex, if you don't believe that then I don't mind recommending The Equality Illusion by Kat Banyard as a starting point, but I'm not going to waste any more time debating it because life is short.

Uppity Thu 13-Oct-11 18:43:03

Yes they would Oldlady, on a labour/ tory/ communist board.

This is the feminist board. I don't think it's extraordinarily bizarre to point out, if someone or something is not coming from a feminist angle. That may not be a particularly noteworthy or important thing in some instances, but it's worth pointing it out if someone is trying to pretend that it is a feminist stance when it's not. Pretending that housework or maternity leave isn't a feminist issue, is not feminist and I don't think it's particularly controversial to point that out.

Beachcomber Thu 13-Oct-11 18:44:07

What an odd thing to say OLNK confused.

Feminist analysis doesn't 'twist' anything - feminist analysis examines information, observations, society, behaviour, culture, paradigms, etc from a feminist perspective and not a patriarchal one. That's all.

There are many different ways of analysing prostitution.

Capitalist perspective might be to decriminalise in order to allow advertising and the collection of tax revenues.

A liberal perspective might be that it is acceptable to buy and sell sex regardless of individual harm as long as those individuals are exercising free choice.

A patriarchal perspective might be that prostitution is inevitable and part of the natural order.

A human rights perspective might be that all humans have the right to bodily integrity and autonomy.

A feminist perspective might be that prostitution is violence against women and children.

And so on.

Uppity Thu 13-Oct-11 18:45:10

That too grin

Beachcomber Thu 13-Oct-11 18:53:26

Another feminist perspective is the idea that those who think the institution of prostitution should be tolerated by society, sell their bodies for a while, and then come back and tell us if they think that is a humane perspective.

Oddly there rarely seems to be much enthusiasm, for this though hmm

solidgoldbrass Thu 13-Oct-11 19:02:09

A feminist perspective might also be that women are entitled to choose to exchange sexual activity for money in the same way that people are entitled to choose to sell their time, physical strength and emotional energy if they so desire, in any profession, and that constantly insisting that any woman who does so must be a victim, a fuck-up or a liar doesn't help anyone.

Beachcomber Thu 13-Oct-11 19:33:59

I don't know if that can truly be a feminist perspective SGB - I think it is too individualistic. Feminism is political - it analyses cultures, institutions, systematic oppression, group behavioural patterns and the effects and consequences of these for women as a group.

The global institution of prostitution causes harm and distress to women and children as a group. That there may be some individuals who are able to transcend the harms of prostitution does not negate the harm done to women and children as a group.

Unfortunately the entitlement of some individual women to choose to exchange sex for money, cannot be separated from the intrinsically violent, exploitative and predatory nature of prostitution on the wider scale on which it exits as a gendered, racial and class issue.

What if sex work were somehow redesigned to exclude the most exploitative jobs in the industry?
I don't think that these jobs can be somehow excised from the sex industry as a whole. They are in fact an integral part of the sex industry which must exist as the bargain lower-end piece of any industry in a capitalist society.

What I mean by this is that every object we buy, from plumbing equipment to tube tops, has an expensive, "nicer" version that people tend to prefer and pay more money for, as well as a cheaper one. This is just how consumption goes. The problem is that if you turn people, like sex workers, into consumable objects, you are necessarily going to have the cheaper, less desired, minority, no-protection-required, "ugly" version for the cheapskate hobbyist as well as the supermodel regularly-tested escort who services CEOs and politicians.

If union-busting and ineffective unions exist in other industries, they would exist in the sex industry too. If human rights violations can still take place in the treatment of legal unionized factory workers, they would still take place in the treatment of sex workers. This is not an acceptable risk for either factory workers or sex workers.

If you can pay someone who looks just like a celebrity two thousand dollars for a night in a fancy hotel which includes a nice dinner and a bubble bath, you will necessarily also be able to pay someone else twenty dollars for unprotected anal sex, punch them in the face, and run away before they realize you only gave them fifteen.

Uppity Thu 13-Oct-11 19:54:54

But it is not a feminist perspective to argue that most women doing it, are exercising free choice SGB.

I also think a feminist perspective acknowledges that we don't have a level playing field and questions the idea that women would want to sell sex any more than men would want to. The right to sell sex seems very much to me like the Victorian libertarian argument against state help for people who were in need - that it would deprive the poor of the liberty to starve in the street if they want to. I just think that in our current society, anyone who fights hard for the right of women to sell sex, is actually fighting for the right of men to see women as objects and to fuck women who don't want to fuck them. In some far off future world where men and women are equal and women are not the sex class, then yeah, the right of women to sell sex if that's what they want, is fine; but in the society we've got, where 1 in 4 of us are sexually assaulted or raped and we are the sex class and a massive percentage of men feel entitled to fuck us when we don't want to fuck them, lining up with the right of women to sell sex, is unavoidably lining up with the right of men to treat women as less than human IMO, whether you want to or not.

Beachcomber Thu 13-Oct-11 20:00:46

What uppity said.

Devlin11 Thu 13-Oct-11 20:34:30

Regardless of the arguments, there are still issues of ethics and standards of proof violations as concerns the professional sphere. If they find guilty of this then the research she has done in the past will be thought of as tainted.

Others, however, may carry the torch......let's hope they aren't doing the same things she is accused of.

StewieGriffinsMom Thu 13-Oct-11 20:41:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Tchootnika Thu 13-Oct-11 20:42:39

Of course a feminist perspective acknowledges that we don't have a level playing field. And of course feminism is political.

But is there not also something to be said for a pragmatic approach to prostitution?

It's simplistic to argue that anyone who does not equate all forms of prostitution with abuse and 'buying a woman' are apologists for exploitation of women.
It's also worth noting, I think, that the idea of 'buying a woman' stems from the notion of one man 'buying' time with a (powerless) woman from a pimp - which is what happens when women are not able to work as prostitutes from a safe environment, where what would be bought would be a service in a situation where a prostitute's physical safety and bargaining power would keep her safe from physical and economic abuse. This is the argument put forward by many English prostitutes.

Is there not room within your ideas of feminist arguments for some pragmatism, so that you can actually take into consideration the safety, wellbeing and requests of real, living (individual!) women, rather than reducing them to factoids to fit the agenda of a hypothetical landscape?

I don't think this approach is an apology for a sex industry.
It is a pragmatic approach which tries to cater for the needs of real people, rather than polarising attitudes to prostitution.

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