Saturday, November 29, 2014

Is Porn Better Than Tech?

Here is a ringing endorsement of a profession:
While it's true that paying my tuition at Duke was my initial motivation for entering the porn industry, I've grown to appreciate the empowerment opportunities that sex work has provided me. In porn, I can speak openly about my experiences without fear of punishment, work in a safe and professional environment and play a vital role in the creative process.

It is one of many articles written by "Belle Knox". Belle Knox is the stage name of a woman famous for being outed as a porn star by other students at Duke University. Of course, outing porn stars or sex workers is not an ethical thing to do - no question about that.

Knox deserves credit for rather eloquently explaining her opinion and backing it up with facts. It is true there are no fixes to be found in the "Swedish model"/"Nordic model". There is much evidence that points to legalization and regulation as being the most rational way forward. This is especially true as a true ban is unworkable.

Knox's choice of work during her college years also provokes healthy debate about student debt and the coercive nature of meeting financial armageddon without being certain of lucrative full time employment in the near future.

Most interestingly, commentary about Knox is the best example of why people today find feminism so confusing. The juxtaposition of Knox's statements and other self-identified feminists on the subject of pornography is already the basis of heated disagreement. When we add what feminism has to say about women at the workplace in general, the situation becomes rather incomprehensible.

The inarguable truth is that feminism is not a monolith that controls use of the f-word. Applying the "feminist" label does not tell one anything about any specific view of pornography's role in society. And to be certain, pornography is not a one-film-fits-all scenario. Many people would find a lot of Knox's work quite troubling. Put quite lightly, Knox may feel empowered but the character she plays does not always communicate a sense of control and enthusiasm.

That work is deemed empowering is not sufficient to protect the role for this purpose. It may be empowering to run a drug cartel, operate a casino or to lead a decent sized cult. More adequate arguments in favor of pornography and sex work is the positive effects of what the effort generates.

Sex workers will continue to describe their work as fulfilling as any other - as they must deal with an onslaught of social conservative criticism. The critics of sex work tirelessly promote the assumption that everyone in the industry is psychologically broken and being exploited in ways unique to sex work. One side imagines a world where sex work is no worse than a number of other professions, the other believes it is forever doomed to be victimizing the vulnerable.

With this backdrop, we have the mystery of why women are not a larger part of the tech industry - engineering and computer science standing out as the most unbalanced.

While tech is excluding, porn is empowering. Tech is toxic, porn is crushing Victorian taboos. Tech is patriarchy, porn is a creative process. Conferences are triggering, cabarets are sex positive.

Everything from sex work to burqas is said by some to be a form of expression. Women will wrestle sex work from pimps and seize the one true progressive Islam from conservative clerics - all the population at large need to do is stop the phobias and listen to women. At the same time, certain simple b-words are creating massive barriers that are keeping womenfolk from the business world.

It's definitely not the same groups tackling all these subjects at once. Each form of self-branded feminism is being especially vocal about the women's issue they care about. Sex work will not stop being undeservedly lauded and tech will not stop being unfairly smeared until certain related goals are met.

Is porn better than tech? Given that a lot of things that may be deemed pornographic drives a lot of adoption in "tech" services and startups, internet companies find themselves "broken" due to butts, and the influence porn already has on devices and formats, it is probably the wrong question.

Perhaps the tech industry is already the pornography business.

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