Writer, teacher, and porn star Conner Habib has a long essay today in Seattle alt-paper The Stranger on "how anti-sex activists use the tactics of homophobes and racists to marginalize, criminalize, and oppress" sex workers. But as Habib's piece goes on to suggest, they're also glomming onto the tactics of modern progressives, who increasingly believe the best way to counter opposing ideas is to silence them. On several occasions, Habib—a former college writing professor who still gives lectures to schools and nonprofits around the country—has been dis-invited from scheduled school talks and had his student supporters bullied by "liberal" professors and administrators once they learned of his sex-work positive views.
The whole piece is worth a read; Habib blasts police law enforcement tactics toward sex workers, advocates who deny that any sex work can be consensual, and police policies aiming to "end demand" for prostitution by targeting clients:
The effect of "end demand" policies has been to abruptly destroy sex workers' abilities to be selective about clients. It has led to impoverishment for sex workers unable to keep things extra-secret, extra-clandestine.
And as far as johns go, in the eyes of anti-sex bigots, they might as well be bodies to be confiscated by the state until they are programmed properly.
To brainwash johns into thinking like anti-sex bigots, some cities boast "john schools." Seattle is one of them. The anti-sex facilitator of Seattle's court-mandated program for arrested johns says, "Prostitution is not a victimless crime… there's a lot of harm that's involved in the commercial sex industry" … [and links sex work] to statistics like "one in four women will be raped in her lifetime."
Habib also details his experiences dealing with intolerant university staff and students:
Outside Boston, there's a private university that wanted me to give a lecture about porn, and then didn't want me to give a lecture about porn. At that point, I'd been a university instructor for three years; I'd been in porn for years as well as in sex-worker-advocacy work. I knew hundreds of porn performers. I'd also published many articles on sex and culture. But according to a health education staffer blocking my appearance, I was missing a key component:
"Read Linda Lovelace's book Ordeal… about the sexual enslavement and 'pimping' of women in the porn industry. Until that is understood and addressed by this multi- billion dollar industry, it is difficult to give it any voice."
Until I read Linda Lovelace's book, I guess, I couldn't, like, know know about porn. I assured my contact at the school that I did of course know Linda Lovelace's deal, or, excuse me, ordeal, and that I'd be happy to address that in my talk.
The invitation was withdrawn in a fever of I'm-sorry-buts.
On another occasion Habib, who is gay, was asked to speak at New York's Corning Community College by EQUAL, a campus group devoted to issues surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity. "The contract was signed, the talk was confirmed… and then the administration canceled my talk in a flurry of anti-sex activism," writes Habib.
Students protested and told me members of the administration began to intimidate them. Keep in mind these are LGBTQI students in a small town. They said members of the administration instructed them not to approach any media outlets with the story. "I hope you are grasping that this issue is bigger than you," an administration member reportedly said to the student organizer. The student told me it was "an absolutely intimidating conversation."
I went anyway and spoke at an off-campus location. After I left, flyers condemning EQUAL started to show up around campus. The message on the flyers wasn't written by students opposing my talk, but by a professor. Once an adviser to EQUAL, she'd been asked by student members of the group to resign after she'd sided with the administration's anti-sex views and their decision to cancel my talk.
[…] That my talk was canceled by the administration wasn't enough. Nor was the alleged intimidation of the students. Now LGBTQI students were being told that it was unfair to not work with a professor whose interests directly contradicted their own. This was a person in a position of power, a college professor, with considerable influence over her students, insulting them publicly.
By way of an explanation, Habib said, Corning College president Katherine Douglas said she didn't want gay activism to be linked to pornography.