Freedom of Speech and My Life As a Pornographer

So on the heels of my earlier piece, wherein I indicate that I feel rather strongly that the contributors to Charlie Hebdo consciously consented to creating controversy, including violent controversy, I have been asked why I hate freedom of speech, particularly as a pornographer.

Never mind that I fiercely support freedom of speech - and demonstrate that by critiquing Charlie Hebdo's work, including by investigating the hate speech laws in France - but never mind.

Here's the thing. I know very well that being a porn performer is a balancing act when it comes to freedom of speech (and I actually know that freedom of speech isn't a black or white issue). Obscenity is not protected, after all, and with a long list of what's obscene including fisting, squirting, spitting mouth to mouth, no male/male penetration, no trans people, etc, the sex I like to have is pretty obscene. And I like to have enjoyable sex on film, so I know freedom of speech is not going to save me if I'm hauled into court on obscenity charges. While I've been writing this I found out the porn I've been working on, showing acts banned in Britain by their censors, is also censored by our distributors here in the US. So we'll print it ourselves.

Being a sex worker is the hill I have chosen to die on. By that I mean, I made a strategic choice that I care enough about sex worker rights and other sex workers to be willing to ride out the consequences of my actions. As a white, cis, middle class woman, too, I felt that for me it was a hill I could defend better than others with less privilege. It's not a safe hill, by any means. I made the choice to be a sex worker and to be upfront about it knowing that the consequences could include being threatened, raped, arrested, deported, made homeless, made unemployable, alone and undefended. And it has led to a good number of those things - I have dealt with some serious and horrible threats to my life. Yet I dig my feet in and keep fighting, because for me, this is the stand I want to take, consequences be damned.

I know that it might harm me some day. I do what I can to minimize the impact on my family, on my lovers, on my friends. I also inform them when there's a threat, and I take them very seriously. But thankfully, they, too, support me in this battle, and fight with me. It's a choice we make consciously and together.

I support freedom of speech, but I do not feel that hate speech should be protected. I don't feel that doxxing should be protected. Since the "freedom of speech" hill often seems to feel that you either have all freedoms or none, it's not a hill I'm willing to die on. I don't feel humans can be trusted with that level of responsibility when that "freedom of speech" has been used to defend racist incitements to violence, abuse of trans women, threatening the safety of women. I refuse to defend the freedom of speech of a magazine that felt making fun of raped children of colour was fair game, and yes, I will judge you for thinking that's defendable.

Standing against rape culture, xenophobia, violence against women, and racism? THAT is a hill I will happily die on. So screw me.


The implication I've now seen more than once that a bunch of privileged white men who courted controversy gleefully being shot for that (and putting other, NONconsenting people in fatal danger) is *the same as a woman walking in public getting raped* disgusts and horrifies me. I think it is possible to say that being abusive to someone and utilizing your power and privilege to do so is an action that is likely to have reactionary consequences. I think to then imply that a woman walking in public deserves to get raped, or that the comparison is at all logical one, is completely absurd and suggests an alarming misunderstanding of how rape culture works.

To say that the contributors to Charlie Hebdo knew full well that they were putting their dick in a wasp's nest is not the same as a woman walking down the street apparently knowing she's going to get raped, unless you believe walking down the street is an action that incites violence, which I do not. I don't think that the contributors at Charlie Hebdo "had it coming", but I do feel that they were very aware that their actions caused violence in the past and might again and, as people with privilege, they had agency in their decision. To compare that to women being raped is offensive, illogical, and disgusting, and yes, I'm sideeying you for that.

I feel sorry especially for the Muslim police officer who died, and the bystanders who were injured.  I feel very sorry for other Muslims, who are now likely to have their homes and businesses and places of worship smashed up, their lives threatened, their ability to travel limited.

I do not feel sorry for people who put themselves *and others* at risk by being intentionally and consistently inflammatory and cruel. Because that's the thing- sometimes your actions impact OTHER PEOPLE. Your freedom of speech affects and impacts other people. And the contributors to Charlie Hebdo apparently and selfishly didn't give a fuck about that, or take any responsibility or accountability for that. So my empathy for them is rather limited. "But they insulted people equally!" I hear cried. You cannot offend people equally when there's systematic imbalances of power and access.

I'll just quote the White House when this issue came up in the past:

“We don’t question the right of something like this to be published,” Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, told reporters. “We just question the judgment behind the decision to publish it.”

Categories: activism, angry, best of, don't tell me how to live, media, politics, racism, rape culture, sexism

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