Today's topic is a tough one. It centers on two subjects that I'm conflicted about: pornography and sex work. Ultimately, I feel sex is a human need, and there's not a damned thing wrong with it. I feel legalizing prostitution is the way to go. (As long as healthcare is also provided to the worker in order to prevent the spread of STDs.) However, there is a great deal of toxicity steeped in sex work. The industry too often exploits women, and I don't think that legalizing sex work will make that negativity and abuse vanish. Frankly, nothing about the subject is simple. Still, women should be able to own their sexuality without shame. Period.
What started me thinking about all this? Hugh Hefner died. They buried him according to his wishes in what can only be rightly described as the ultimate act of creep. Throughout his life, Hefner made money off the bodies of women. At the start of his career, he paid Marilyn Monroe $50 in modeling fees for nude photos. She'd been desperate at the time. He held onto the images until Marilyn made it big. Those pictures threatened her acting career. They also made Hefner famous. (The fact that he latched onto her even after death is chilling.) Let's be honest. Hefner wasn't a Feminist. He wasn't even an ally. He was selfish and amoral and used certain aspects of Feminism--specifically women's right to their sexuality--for personal gain. Marilyn wasn't the only one. There's also Dorothy Stratten. Hefner didn't protect her. He was too busy taking advantage of her himself.
Women who dare to claim their sexuality have always had to contend with sleazy assholes. I can't help but think about The Runaways.
I've been fascinated by punk since punk arrived in the US. However, punk has never been a welcoming space for women in any capacity but decoration. Yes, women clawed their way through the mess--Nina Hagen, Siouxsie Sioux, Joan Jett, Chrissie Hynde, Wendy O. Williams, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Lydia Lunch, Cortney Love...they're all my heroes. But as a fan, women weren't welcome. (And that's why I went with goth, bats and ghouls.) Nonetheless, I'm going to bring up some fun facts. The Runaways? They were 15 and 16 year old girls. All of them.
I've always wondered why it was okay for males that age to indulge in rock full throttle, but not females. The Runaways were only doing what the males of the 70s did--combine sexual power with rock music. And yet...it was instantly viewed more dangerous--and being underage didn't help them--if the film is even remotely true to life. Like so many times for women, the sexual power they wielded for themselves was ripped from their hands and turned on them.
I have a great deal of respect for Joan Jett. She managed to forge a career for herself in spite of all the damage done by systemic misogyny. I feel the same about Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart, Patti Smith, Tina Turner, Chrissie Hynde, and the other women who fought so hard and rarely gained respect as technically accomplished musicians rather than 'girl bands.' All in all, I've found that the creative fields are harsher on women and minorities.
To wrap it all around to the start, these are the reasons why it kills me that anyone would be okay with Hefner's last action--let alone attempt to claim that he was a Feminist. He was a creep just like all the other creeps who take advantage of women for their own financial gain.
 I totally relate to what Ann Wilson says about feeling that you have to prove yourself by performing twice as well as men because there's this sense that, as a woman, you will always be the weaker player/writer and so on. It's definitely something that drives me.
is a Science Fiction and Fantasy author living in Texas.