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Belated Quote of the Week

From beginning to end, it is a classic narrative of colonialism. It is the story of Victorian ladies who saw Native Americans going “naked” and found themselves filled with pity; it is the voice of Sally Struthers pleading on late-night TV for the starving children in Africa. Her language others not only the sex workers she describes, but all the inner-city residents whose conditions so move her. She resorts to metaphors that evoke an urban war zone like “the frontlines” and “in the trenches,” — a much-beloved motif of suburban whites who see cities as hostile and uncivilized.

While [Sarah Elizabeth] Pahman says in her very first graf that the group isn’t there to “save” anybody, her story is nothing but a white savior boldly venturing into the land of the savages. Not a single word of her post is actually about the people in the city; it is entirely about how seeing them makes her feel. The people themselves are exotic others, with as much substance as if they had been green-screened into the background.

Literate Perversions on Sarah Elizabeth Pahman’s disgustingly whorephobic Feministe guest post, which has since been taken down with no comment or apology from the Feministe staff.


    • Thank YOU—your take down was astute, and most importantly, it highlighted and credited sex workers’ responses. I’m really seething about the lack of accountability from Feministe regarding this post–thinking if they just delete it, the problem will disappear. You haven’t heard any more news regarding this, have you?

      • I have not. I got an email from my blog at about noon on Friday (PST), telling me that the links had gone dead, so it’s been at least that long since they decided to take it down. (I have a plugin that monitors the site for broken links.) So, they’ve had at least 72 hours to craft some kind of response or apology. I have seen none, either on their blog or on their Twitter feed, and at this point, I’m not holding my breath. I’m writing a piece on that now, because if anything, I think that the deletion was even worse than the original decision. Notice that by deleting the article, they also deleted several hundred comments, many of which were strongly critical of it from multiple aspects. I feel that the greatest loss was Kitty Stryker’s excellent comment talking about why and how she made her decision to become a sex worker. The deletion functions as another way of silencing sex workers and ignoring their criticisms.

        I also think that it’s important not to get over-focused on this post, because it’s not the real problem; the problem is a long-established pattern at Feministe of centering non-sex worker voices, and then ignoring sex workers when they’re criticized. This was just a particularly glaring chapter in a long pattern, and we don’t want to ignore that this is a systemic thing, not a momentary fuckup.

        If you haven’t seen it, I also recommend Jadehawk’s critique, Feministe is Apparently Never Going to Learn This Lesson.

  1. I think it’s reprehensible that Feministe pulled that piece without commentary. Either the editorial staff stands by Pahman’s article, or they DON’T stand by it but leave it up (perhaps updated with their thoughts on why they no longer support it), or they pull it and apologize/explain/at least ACKNOWLEDGE that they pulled it. What they did is 1) thought control, and 2) admitting that they fucked up, but not apologizing for it.

    It’s not even a plea bargain. It’s Feministe shooting the internet the double bird.

    Fuck them. Cowards.


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