Reading recommendations after my Freeda interview

Following some quite enraging comments on my Freeda interview (embedded below), I wanted to debunk a few assumption some people made via a non-exhaustive list of reading recommendations. Those who made those comments won’t see them, but since lots of my readers and followers often ask me for reading recommendations, I thought I’d share these to give them some comebacks to people’s assumptions, prejudice and beliefs. 

Reading recommendations – a non-exhaustive list

Reading recommendations from my own research

Now let’s debunk five assumptions from my Freeda EN interview through some reading (aka books and research papers) written by people who have covered these issues in a way more impactful way than I have.

This is of course a non-exhaustive list of recommendations and a very summarised, basic introduction to these topics. For more thorough and in-depth content you’ll have to read my papers 🙂

Assumption #1: “Sex work is harmful to women and should be criminalised.”

Often, when one of my interviews hits the mainstream and I mention the unfair moderation sex workers receive from social media platforms, I get a lot of people trying to separate pole dance from sex work and arguing that the latter is harmful. “Banning sex work on social media is not a problem,” they say, “because sex work is harmful to women, who only do it because of limited options.” The same people argue that sex work should be hidden from social media and criminalised.

Aside from the not-so-hidden whorephobia in comments like these, this simply isn’t true. As Molly Smith and Juno Mac argue in Revolting Prostitutes (a MUST READ for any feminist and sex posi / sex work adjacent folks), people get into sex work for all sorts of reasons: migration and borders, survival, but also – as Coombes et al. wrote – because it’s a flexible job for people with disabilities or time constraints. OR because it’s their choice.

Conflating sex work with harm or trafficking, and criminalising sex workers and/or clients actually makes it *harder* for survival sex workers and even trafficked victims to earn a living, come forward and seek help when they need it, also depriving people who choose sex work as a last resort of that last resort. In short: this discriminates against sex workers and contributes to harming them. 

Assumption #2: “Being on social media isn’t a right.”

WRONG. The activism and research field of platform governance has proven time and time again that a handful of private social media companies control the flow of information and social interactions for large parts of society. Because of this, as Klonick, DeNardis & Hackl, and Schwarz have written, denial of service – aka de-platforming – is one of the greatest threats to democracy, especially when users have no recourse for decisions and there’s no transparency about decision-making. 

Assumption 3: “Expressing oneself sexually isn’t a right and platforms banning sex and bodies isn’t a problem.”

WRONG. Various court cases have ruled that even porn is a form of free speech. Plus, as Victoria Bateman has argued in The Sex Factor, women (and I’d add people in general) aren’t really free until they have control of their bodies and their reproductive system. Platforms telling us our bodies are dangerous and that they deserve to be hidden are removing that control from us. This is an issue of democratic freedom. 

Assumption #4: “Why show your body if you have a career?”

As Bateman wrote, there seems to be a split between people who work with their mind and people who work with their bodies, painting the latter as somehow less smart and/or noble. This is discriminating not just against women, but against manual labourers in general. Plus, a brain and good ass (on display) shouldn’t be mutually exclusive – if as a woman you believe they should be, you are actually limiting *your own* options, saying you deserve work and respect only if you hide your body and sexuality. 

Assumption #5: “Sex workers / sex positive people should have a separate platform.”

Not as easy as it sounds. Platforms like OnlyFans don’t have in-built promotion tools so they’re useless without a mainstream audience. Plus, confining even mere mentions to sex, bodies and sex work to one corner of the internet further stigmatises them.

As Stardust et al. argue, this only reduces which aspects of life are speakable – without even mentioning the fact that sex workers build mainstream platforms’ audiences only to be booted out when these start making money, a deeply unfair and exploitative system that sees sex workers continuously migrating to new apps that inevitably de-platform them. 

TL; DR: It’s complicated

There’s a reason why no one has solved content moderation overnight. Before making sweeping statements, it’s worth doing your research. Hope you found this post helpful!

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