If you’re mentally ill, you can’t make decisions of your own free will.

(Content Note: abuse, assault, suicide

This week, Mia Freedman clarified her position on sex workers:

“Let me lay out my position very clearly.

If you are an adult woman who is not suffering from a mental illness, addiction or sexual, physical or emotional abuse, who has not been trafficked or exploited or co-erced into sexual slavery and who is CHOOSING of her own free will to sell sex?

I respect that. I’m cool with that.”

– from MIA: No, I won’t apologies for my sex worker comments, @ mamamia.com.au

Hear that? Mia Freedman seems to believe that if you are living with a mental illness, an addiction, or have been abused, you are incapable of making your own choices.

As anyone who has, or who knows someone with a mental illness would know, mental ill-health does not automatically remove from a person the ability to consider options and consequences and then make a decision based on those considerations. Similarly, neither does addiction or a history of physical, sexual or emotional abuse.

Certainly, there are some cases where a person who has a mental illness might become temporarily unable to advocate for themselves, such as if a person is in the midst of an extreme psychotic episode or suffering from active suicidal ideation, but generally speaking, a diagnosis of depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD or any other DSM-listed mental illness or disorder does NOT carry with it a caveat that the person can no longer make their own decisions.

Similarly people with a history of abuse. There are PLENTY of people who have been physically, sexually or emotionally abused in their lifetimes who remain capable of making their own choices. Additionally, there are plenty of people out there right now being bullied or sexually harassed in their workplace who remain capable of making their own choices, and who – for reasons they may or may not choose to disclose – remain employed in their jobs despite the fact their boss shouts abuse at them or a coworker touches them inappropriately. Sex work is not unique in this regard. Yes, some sex workers have been sexually assaulted by their clients, or bullied by their coworkers or their managers. But so too have some checkout operators, some secretaries, some nurses, some teachers, some accountants, some engineers. Are these people suddenly incapable of choosing their profession because they have been assaulted?

And as for people with addictions, what would you have them do, Mia? Break into your home and steal things you worked hard to earn the money to buy in order to sell for cash to support their habit, or engage in legitimate work to earn money to support their habit?

A friend of mine pointed out in a discussion on this subject that sex work provides addicts with an honest way to support their habit. She also points out that the flexibility of sex work is important for the mentally ill as well. (This friend guards her privacy so I haven’t directly quoted her in order to respect her right to her privacy – if she wishes to be directly quoted I am happy to do so.)

This is an important point. If Mia understood anything about the nature of mental illness, she would understand that keeping a regular schedule can be harder some days than others. To borrow from the Spoon Theory, some days it can take more spoons for a person with depression (for instance) to make it out of bed and to work for a 9am start than it can on other days. Some days are easy, and some are hard. Some days you wake up and you feel good, and going to work doesn’t feel like an insurmountable challenge. Some days you’ve been awake all night, stricken with anxiety, or thinking about what would actually happen if you killed yourself, or trying to ignore the voices, and then have to get up, put clothes on, and jockey a cash register or a telephone or a computer for 8 hours.

A critical element of sex work is its flexibility. Sex work allows a person to set their own schedule, to work as much or as little as they need to or want to. It allows a person to work at whichever time of the day is convenient for them. It allows a person to set their earnings based on their own requirements.

It allows a person suffering with a mental illness to continue to pay for their housing, their food and clothing, their appointments with a mental health professional, and their medication, WITHOUT having to put themselves at risk of further mental ill-health by forcing themselves to go to a 9-5 job on days when they are simply not well enough for it.

But according to Mia Freedman, mentally ill people are not able to make their own decisions. Which is HARDLY a feminist statement.

Normally I wouldn’t spend this much effort worrying about Mia Freedman’s opinion. But Freedman is a popular writer and her website receives thousands of visitors – her opinion has the power to misinform people, and to become public opinion. Public opinion sets public policy, and mentally ill people are already demonised enough without being considered incapable of making their own choices.

Mia Freedman may call herself a feminist, but her comments this week about mentally ill women, abused women, women with addictions and sex workers do not reflect any feminism I recognise.

[TRIGGER WARNING: Rape] Fat women are treated as utterly undesirable in our culture [and] are often turned into a ‘bizarre’ fetish object. The result is that fat women are told to be grateful for any sexual attention they receive from anyone, whether they themselves find that person sexually appealing or not. In other words, even more than your average women, fat women are only allowed to be occasional objects of desire and are regularly denied their right to have and pursue sexual desires of their own.

 

That way of thinking becomes very dangerous when sexual violence is mixed in. When fat women are raped, they’re often told they should be grateful that anyone wanted them, or, alternatively, disbelieved because it doesn’t seem plausible that anyone would want them ‘enough to rape them.’ These arguments not only rely on the dangerous myth that rape is about uncontrollable sexual desire (it’s not), but also propagate the message that fat women’s bodies aren’t valuable enough to the culture for their violation to be taken seriously.

 

Jaclyn Friedman, What You Really Really Want: The Smart Girl’s Shame-Free Guide to Sex and Safety (via khaleesi)

Word, sister.

(Source: hezzytayte)

Quote

I was born into a world where fat girls are outlaws, living on the outskirts of society: a band of lawless revolutionaries, fighting against myopic standards of beauty and archaic forms of femininity. A world where we are like Thelma and Louise meets Che Guevara, the stuff of fantasies and legend. We populate the masturbatory thoughts of millions. We are corporeal anarchists. We are the sensualists, the plus size queens. We are the flag-bearers in a turgidly anti-pleasure society.

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Henry Rollins: 
A lot of men want a woman to mother them. They get with a woman and all they do is regress to the point where you might think he might not be capable to take care of himself at all. I don’t want another mother. I want a woman. I want to rise to the occasion. I want to learn and bask in your glow. I want to protect you and do whatever I can to give you strength. There is no twist to this. I am not about to blow my brains out. You have not cut me up like others have. It’s just this. I want to love you with everything in me. I need your help because I don’t know anything about it. I am suspicious and ready to leave and hit the cold road for the frozen dawn. I am just going to trust you with everything in me. I see now that it’s the only reason to be here. After kissing you, I cannot remember what it was like to kiss any other woman. At this point I am not sure if I ever have.

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The Scavenger: You are involved in productions that steer away from ‘vanilla sex.’ Why is it important to you, to show things like urination, menstrual blood, body hair, fisting, BDSM and ejaculation in your work?

Jiz Lee: Because these things are a part of sex! These things (and other taboo subjects) are a part of the sex we have, and are valid desires and physical sexual responses. When something like female ejaculation is censored, the statement made is that it is shameful, obscene – or worse: that it doesn’t even exist… The more that female ejaculation, fisting, menstrual blood, hair, and other natural things happen in porn, the more people who love these things can feel secure in their pleasure or appearance. I especially value kink being portrayed in pornography where it promotes communication and consent. Pornography can be dark, titillating, challenging, and educating. As a powerful medium, porn can be a very empowering tool.

Genderqueer feminist porn star Jiz Lee interviewed by The Scavenger (viasexisnottheenemy)

Read & learn.

From: http://sex-and-sensuality.tumblr.com/

Slutwalk 2011

 

A photo of me, fat and fair skinned, with black hair. I am wearing a faux-leopard print coat, fishnet stockings and black patent leather Mary Jane stilettos and  walking along the street holding a sign which reads CONSENT IS SEXY! in black and pink writing. Photo from SlutWalk Melbourne, taken by my partner.

“Fat girls are easy”

“I bet she’d give a good blow job, fat girls have to work harder”

“Try picking her up mate, she’d just be grateful for the attention”

“Fat girls are better in bed because they have to compensate for being fat”

“Fat girls are easy”

Myths about fat girls and sex abound. We’re bombarded by messages that fat girls don’t like sex, that they only do it because they’re grateful for the attention, that they’re better at blow jobs because they’re always hungry, that they’re up for anything because they don’t have the looks or self-esteem to keep a partner interested and have to work harder at the physical.

I think the myth I find most baffling is the fat girl = better blow jobs myth. Fat girls and slim girls are equally as likely to be skilled or not skilled at various sexual activities. And the reasons given for this myth are just as odd: “she has to work harder”, “she’s always hungry”. This sort of leads into the “low self-esteem” myth – that we have to compensate for our disgusting fatness by being really good at blow jobs. Please. I am good at giving head because I work at it and I enjoy pleasuring my partner – I do it because I like it, not because I want him to like me.

Then there’s that whole bit about how fat girls are just glad for the attention. Really? So you actually think you’ve got a better chance of picking a fat girl because you think she hates herself enough to go home with you? What does that say about your self-image? This myth does NOBODY any favours at all.

Also, while that may be true for SOME of the population, it’s not limited just to fat girls. There are plenty of skinny girls out there with terrible self-esteem who are just glad of the attention too. In fact, in my experience I know more fat girls who think they are awesome and worthy of more than a grope from some drunk bro in a bar than fat girls who hate themselves and will give it away to the first person who offers.

All these myths play into the ultimate myth that all fat girls hate themselves because they’re fat. That all fat girls hate being fat, and would do anything to change it. Guess what? Many fat girls like being fat. We like the way we look and the way we feel. We like it when our partners tell us they like how soft and squishy we are, and we like it when our partners comment on how confident and sexy we are.

Sexy and fat aren’t mutually exclusive, and myths about fat girls and sex do as much a disservice to the fat girls they refer to as they do to the guys perpetuating the myths. Are you really that insecure in yourself that you feel the need to “take pity” on a fat girl?

I don’t need or want your pity. I’d much rather have a partner who is totally into fucking me because he likes the way I look, the way I feel and how smart and confident I am. And I’d bet my overdrawn bank account that I am not the only fat girl who feels this way, and who has lots of fun, sharing, consensual, enjoyable sex because of it.