Why the lies about radical feminists and “sex work”?

The fanatical opponents of radical feminism are always trying to coin new words to further attack, marginalize and slander radical feminism. First there was TERF (trans exclusionary radical feminists) and now there’s SWERF (sex work exclusionary radical feminists).

Now the term TERF is easy enough to understand. Radical feminists are trying to make female-only spaces, which are, as history proves, the main means of female liberation. Anti-feminists must therefore attack these spaces with urgency, and they do so by accusing radical feminists of “excluding trans people.”

I do want to point out that, although the term is used as a slur, the accusation is partially correct. Female-only spaces must exclude trans women, even though they call themselves women, because they were socialized as men and therefore still think and act like men. The aggressiveness with which they threaten and attempt to silence women is a testimony to that fact. They cannot cooperate with radical feminists because they were born with male privilege and have no understanding of it.

It’s also important to point out that regardless of it’s origins, “terf” is used to demonize women who prioritize women. End of story. Women deserve spaces free of males, and apparently we deserve to die for saying that?

The incorrect part lies in the assumption that there are some radical feminists who are “trans exclusionary,” which seems to posit a distinction between those and the radical feminists that aren’t (“trans inclusive,” one assumes). To my knowledge, apart from a rare unicorn (as unlikely as it seems, there are trans people who claim to be radical feminists), the latter simply do not exist, which makes the attempt to divide-and-conquer all the more puzzling. Who are these “trans inclusive” radfems who must be differentiated from all the others?

The use of the term “exclusionary” is very matter of fact. It is therefore puzzling to me why it was chosen as a slur. Any movement must exclude people, otherwise it wouldn’t be a movement. The radical feminist movement must exclude people who were raised as men, if it is to be a feminist movement at all.

Unlike anti-feminists, I do not feel particularly vexed by this fact: in fact, I’d be rather worried if radical feminism was not “exclusionary,” because no movement can survive by incorporating its enemies. Liberal feminism accepts with open arms rapists, pedophiles, pimps, porn directors who spread HIV and other STDs to women, and other women-haters, therefore it cannot fight for female liberation.

So now we have a new term, SWERF, which stands for sex work exclusionary radical feminists. This is a much more muddled term than TERF, for many reasons. First, there is no such thing as “sex work.” Prostitution and pornography are not “work,” insofar as “work” does not involve exploiting people’s bodily integrity (and any job that does is just as evil). Therefore using the term “sex work” assumes as its premise the validity of the exploitation of women’s bodily integrity.

But most importantly, no radfem wants to exclude female prostitutes or porn actresses from female-only spaces, from feminism, or from anything else, by virtue of being prostitutes or porn actresses. So the slur, in this case, is simply false; there is no such thing as a “sex work” exclusionary radical feminist.

The term SWERF, I think, comes from the following rhetorical attack used by anti-feminists: radical feminists claim that “sex work” is the exploitation of women’s bodily integrity; this is a personal slight against “sex workers”; therefore radical feminists are against “sex workers.”

If you don’t see the problem with this attack, then compare this with the following “reasoning”: libsocs claim that wage labor is unjustifiable and exploitative; this is a personal slight against employees; therefore libsocs are against employees.

The “reasoning” is preposterous because it equates an attack on an unjust system with an attack on the innocent people who are trapped in it. In fact, the opposite is true: attacking an unjust system is an act of solidarity with those people who are trapped in it. It’s incredible that such a large number of people have been indoctrinated so thoroughly that they believe fighting a system of oppression means fighting its victims. Here we’re going beyond the province of lying and into the state of delusion.

Radfems support the Swedish model against prostitution and sex trafficking, which consists of decriminalizing prostitutes, helping them integrate society, and criminalizing pimps and john. Since 90% of prostitutes want to leave their situation, they should be helped in doing so: anything else is a direct silencing of their voice, and supporting the system that keeps them trapped is violence against women.

This makes it even more ironic when anti-feminists claim that radfems don’t listen to prostitutes’ voices. What they really mean is: radfem don’t listen to pimp organizations when those organizations preach the legalization and the moving indoors (out of prying eyes) of rape and abuse. But radfem do listen to the voices of the ex-prostitutes who speak up against the rape and abuse inherent in prostitution. To pimps and their anti-feminist supporters, those voices must be silenced at all cost.

The terms TERF and SWERF are used by the most hateful anti-feminists, the vast majority being male, out there. Do not mistake these people for innocent bystanders. Their objective is clear: to silence women, prevent the continuation of female-only spaces, and by doing so destroy feminist awareness.

It has been a historical constant that every time women come close to understanding the nature of their oppression, they must be isolated, gaslighted, invalidated, told to practice thought-stopping, and so on. Women’s issues must be compared to other issues and declared trivial, a waste of time, made-up, or even the proof of “female privilege.”

And yes, I include trans advocates in the anti-feminist category. As fanatical genderists, trans advocates are guilty of participating in gendered oppression.

10 thoughts on “Why the lies about radical feminists and “sex work”?

  1. Miep September 13, 2014 at 21:54

    That’s about right. A couple of other points: another reason for excluding male transgenders from women’s groups is that they tend to become upset about discussions of female reproductive system issues because they do not have female reproductive systems, claiming such discussions unfairly exclude them.

    And regarding prostitution, women who are still being prostituted often underplay just how horrible it is, because of the dissociation required to emotionally deal with being prostituted in the first place. That gets overlooked a lot.

  2. Independent Radical September 14, 2014 at 01:20

    I think SWERF stands for sex worker exclusionary radical feminist (not sex work exclusionary). In any case the term is ridiculous because what is really being excluded is the pro-sex industry ideology and it is perfectly legitimate to exclude people from a movement if they disagree with its core ideology.

    But nowadays you don’t even have to be a terf or a swerf to be added to liberal feminism’s hate list. I got added for opposing cultural relativism and opposition to cultural relativism is a pretty standard position within radical leftist and the atheist movements. Liberal feminists are demanding more and more conformity out of radical political movements and too many non-liberals are going along with it. Why can’t revolutionary leftists think like revolutionary leftists instead of thinking like liberals who happen to support revolution? At this rate it won’t be long before the liberals homogenise us out of existance.

    • Francois Tremblay September 14, 2014 at 01:21

      I haven’t been added to any hate lists yet… this is misandry I tell ya, misandry!!!!

      • Heretic September 14, 2014 at 11:55


  3. M.K. Hajdin September 14, 2014 at 05:54

    Searching in vain for the like button….

  4. ellahawthorne100 September 14, 2014 at 06:51

    A little note about terminology here. You’re calling women in the sex trade “prostitutes” and that’s not the best way to speak of them. Compare this situation to the word “slave.” If you call someone a “slave” it sounds as if that’s all they are, but if you call someone an “enslaved person” then you’re recognizing their humanity and that someone else has enslaved them. Similarly you should say “prostituted women” instead of “prostitutes.” I try to say “women in the sex trade” as often as possible because I hope this can include both women who are enslaved and women who are merely being disrespected. Women in the sex trade are not a homogenous group; there are Aboriginal women and children being sold at parties,and there are white middle-class college students choosing to work in massage parlors to pay their tuition. These people have vastly different experiences and one term doesn’t really describe both of them. You’ll definitely find plenty of radfems who reject the term “sex worker” and only use “prostituted women” but you don’t find any who insist upon using “prostitute.”

    • Francois Tremblay September 14, 2014 at 13:32

      Yea that’s fair enough. I’ll try to remember that.

  5. ellahawthorne100 September 14, 2014 at 07:00

    The whole “radfems don’t listen to sex workers” thing is definitely an interest of mine. I’m an abolitionist when it comes to the sex industry, but I actually do listen to the so-called “sex workers.” I listen to even those who claim that “sex work is legitimate work” and “it’s just a job.” I listen to them because I want to know what they’re saying and why. I find some of their claims ridiculous and misogynist, but they are expressing what they believe and I think we need to listen and understand their beliefs. (The women’s beliefs, not the pimps’ beliefs.) Because many women believe that transactional sex is acceptable, we need to talk about why transactional sex is actually disrespectful to women. Consciousness-raising, you know?As well, women who identify as sex workers and don’t want to abolish prostitution have some really good points to make about our economic system. The reason some of them don’t want to leave the sex trade is because the minimum wage, part-time, boring jobs our economy offers are so terrible that some women will take repeated sexual abuse instead, because at least it pays better. If there are people who prefer sexual abuse over the shitty jobs that they could otherwise get, that tells us radicals that our work should focus on changing our workplaces and our economic system. We should be lobbying for a regulated market that holds corporations accountable to people for the way they treat us and the environment. There’s no way ANY women would lobby in favour of the sex trade if they had other options.

    • Francois Tremblay September 14, 2014 at 13:34

      “Because many women believe that transactional sex is acceptable, we need to talk about why transactional sex is actually disrespectful to women.”


  6. druidwinter September 20, 2014 at 18:44

    The reason some of them don’t want to leave the sex trade is because the gender wage gap and starving children that are doomed to be brought up on welfare and repeat the life you are trying to escape’

    There fixed it for you.

    *part-time, boring jobs our economy offers are so terrible that some women will take repeated sexual abuse instead,*

    um- no . Starving children with a dad that [makes a man’s wage] could care less about their children’s-future drives women to sacrifice themselves. It makes it worse that pimps and selfish johns sabotage exit plans for fun and something to do as well.

    I do admit, some are kept there by drug addictions supplied by men supplying the drugs, that end up with most the money made by the woman.

    ellahawthorne100 : some advice: listen to survivors, not drug addicts or ‘top-bitch-pimp handmaidens that want to expand into pimping..

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