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Anarcho Agony Aunts - Rowan & Marijam

The struggle against fascism begins with the struggle against toxic masculinity

Have you ever wondered how to talk dirty without reinforcing the patriarchy? Or what all the fuss is about polyamory? These are just two of the many topics tackled by the Anarcho Agony Aunts (AAA), an anarcha-feminist duo offering anonymous sex and relationship advice via their YouTube channel. The pair see what they’re doing as having a dual-pronged strategy: helping to tackle issues with dating on the left while also reaching out to young men who are preyed on by men’s rights activists and the alt-right.

“There's two different strands we want to address in AAA”, co-host Rowan tells me as we sit in the back room of the semi-detached east London house the duo share. “There is a tendency among left-wing men who have a desire to be a 'good feminist' but also to be sexy and date. That's caused a lot of left-wing men a lot of anxiety, understandably, because the feminist scene can be quite a hostile scene. Because of things such as rape and assault and men generally being scum. There's not that much sympathy with men on the feminist scene. A lot of men have kind of withdrawn and not been forward in dating.”

The other host, Marijam adds: “It seems like a lot of the weight on the dating scene has been very much held on women in the past couple of years. We just want to give a bit of encouragement to men that there is a correct way of doing flirting which doesn't imply misogyny.” She continues: “It came down to us having pub chats where we realised we have a lot of friends that are single men and they're awesome. A lot of them told us that they don't feel comfortable to be dating because they're worried they're going to be perceived as creeps or something.”

The other aspect of the project is attempting to pull people away from the far-right. When Gamergate happened it brought together a number of different groups, including pick up artists, men’s rights activists and incels (involuntary celibates), all motivated by a vile misogyny to harass young women working in or writing about the video games industry. It was this misogynist coalition mixing with white nationalists and neo-Nazis which spawned the alt-right and rampant misogyny has underpinned the alt-right ever since.

“We want to look at incels, the alt-right and people who are drawn towards those politics because of a different model of masculinity based around the nuclear family and long term girlfriends, 'all wives only' as the Proud Boys website says. Also incels who have sworn off women altogether as thots and sluts and not worthy of their time, and we want to look into why that came to be. What the process was where you come from someone who maybe feels sad and rejected and unable to get a date, to full on misogyny?”

One of the reasons the alt-right exists is because of a sense of masculinity in crisis; after existing for centuries the patriarchal system is now being robustly challenged. Growing up as a young man can be difficult today, as they begin to balance an increasing awareness of gender oppression and inequality with a continued socialisation into oppressive gender roles which were always impossible to fulfil.

Predominantly, this crisis is being driven by the decline in living standards in the Western world as neo-liberalism completely guts the post-war settlements, well paying manufacturing jobs are taken by robots or moved overseas and benefits systems are dismantled. This crisis in masculinity comes at the same time as movements against forms of oppression based on gender, race and sexuality are making substantial progress.

The alt-right has been fairly successful in framing this crisis as being caused by struggles against oppression. From Jordan Peterson to the Daily Stormer, they claim the ‘social justice warrior’ is to blame for the ills young men face. Peterson aims to sell glorified self-help books, while the more extreme sections of the alt-right want to turn their followers into killers. This makes what AAA is doing is an integral part of the anti-fascist struggle. Something which they’re worried isn’t being recognised enough by anti-fascists.

When I ask if any other agony aunts have inspired their approach, the pair laugh. Marijam tells me she hadn’t even heard of the term before Rowan had said it to her. Rowan says that the only agony aunt she’d read before was Dear Mariella, The Observer’s agony aunt, and that she certainly hadn’t been an inspiration. “I would say in terms of our approach, ContraPoints, because she approaches the alt-right with a curious and empathetic gaze which I think is really legit and awesome”, Rowan explains. ContraPoints has built an audience of hundreds of thousands by engaging with and dismantling alt-right ideas.


Initially the project was a live streamed from a camera phone and called ‘NHS 4 lefties’. It was described as a “3-week project designed to help YOU lefty men (and women) in need of advice on love, lust, masculinity etc.” but after a surprising level of interest has continued for much more than three weeks and morphed into AAA. Marijam tells me: “We got 1,000 views in our first 24 hours and a bunch of questions and we were like ‘fuck we've really hit a fucking nerve here’”. Since that initial stream, the pair haven’t looked back.

The project was born from pub chats between Marijam, 28, from Lithuania and Rowan, 25, from London. The pair first met on a holiday in Croatia and then ended up living together for six months, before Rowan left to spend a couple of years in Europe, where she ended up becoming part of a queer feminist stand up comedy duo. Marijam has built up small but established social media following through her show ‘Left Left Up’, where she discusses the latest news in tech and gaming, helping video games workers to unionise and writing about gaming and politics for some well known outlets (which has also repeatedly bought her to the attention of the KotakuInAction sub-reddit which spawned Gamergate).

One anti-fascist to endorse what AAA is doing is legendary Scottish anarchist Stuart Christie. A couple of months ago Christie shared an AAA video on his Facebook profile, much to AAA’s delight, telling them “it’s a pity the pair of you weren't around when I was growing up”. When I discussed this with them they didn't know what his gender politics were like when he was younger, but they couldn’t see how someone who had tried to blow up General Franco would ever have struggled to get laid.

Want some sex and dating advice? Ask AAA an anonymous question via their Curious Cat account. Watch Anarcho Agony Aunts being filmed LIVE with hosts Rowan and Marijam at the London Action Resource Centre on Friday 31st May, 6pm-9:30pm as part of the Anarchist Festival.

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Jim
May 30 2019 10:19

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  • There is a correct way of doing flirting which doesn't imply misogyny

    Marijam

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LeninistGirl
May 30 2019 11:17

I am not going to lie I found the video "Advice To Clients Of Sex Workers, Anarcho Style" seriously disgusting. It is really just a johns' rights video that no honest socialist should stand behind. Does anyone actually think johns should be allowed into socialist spaces at all?

rosasoros
May 30 2019 12:01

Um, did you actually watch the video? They literally open (in response to the john's question, and after a disclaimer about talking to sex workers and much research) with the statement "it's really not about you" and go on to talk about clients who want to support sex workers simply respecting sex workers, paying on time, and so on. I'm a socialist-feminist, and post revolution, as long as sex work exists, then yes - johns would invariably be in socialist spaces. In a post capitalist, communist society, rampant misogyny, racism, and so on, would be stamped out because gendered divisions of labour won't exist in the way they do today under capitalism. It strikes me odd that someone can stretch their minds to believe in a post-capaitalist, socialist utopia, but can't imagine a socialist utopia where people sell and pay for sex in an ethical manner because sex work won't exist in a capitalist system.

In any case, I think AAA are doing really important, valuable work. Fully support this. Well done comrades!

Konsequent
May 30 2019 13:33

I think it's great that this channel exists and I do support the idea but got to agree that the client one is a little strange. It's a bit like making a video for bosses who are supportive of workers rights and want to know how to be better bosses. Like of course workers will have an opinion on what are worse and what are better bosses, but the implication is still that it's fine to take advantage of people's dispossession. You ask any sex worker (or at least the vast majority) what their perfect bookings are like and it's close as possible to "he paid the money and then left". They don't want to have sex with you, they don't want to spend time with you, so there's no good way of spending time with them and having sex with them. You want to be the perfect client just paypal sex workers money with no expectation of anything in return (ie don't be a client).

I think it shows quite a lack of imagination to think people would still be able to buy sex post capitalism. If the sex workers can't survive without trading sex then what kind of socialism is that?

As I say, I do think this channel is a good idea but tbh I didn't think that much to the video linked here in the article either. If I'd asked that question how to flirt without being creepy then I'd be none the wiser after seeing that. "Only flirt if they're in to you" is no good if the way you were hoping to establish whether they're into you is if they flirt back. It seemed like the advice was "Be attractive, and then no one will find you creepy" which sounds more like the advice you get on incel forums, and is just not true. Better would be coming at it from the opposite angle: imagine someone who you have no interest in whatsoever tries to flirt with you/ask you out/come on to you how would you prefer them to go about it so it's not an imposition, then do that when you're trying to flirt with other people. Just come on to people in the safest way possible, don't corner them, don't make them feel obliged, don't get too personal or sexual too quickly, make sure there are clearly marked exits out of the conversation, make sure there could be no interpretation that turning you down is going to cause them problems, and so on. Like there's a lot they could have talked about regarding strategies around no pressure come ons, so I feel like that was a bit of a wasted opportunity.

Konsequent
May 30 2019 13:31

Also there's no way sex workers want clients in their spaces. I was at a sex worker event last weekend and even on the day that wasn't sex worker only it was made clear to me that if a client of mine turned up I could ask the organisers to kick him out. I guess if it's not an event that centres sex workers then maybe that won't happen but you can be sure that is what sex workers would prefer. Sex workers don't want to be around clients full stop, and certainly not without payment.

Noah Fence
May 30 2019 16:43

I’ve haven’t watched this particular video but I watched a bunch of others a while ago. Whilst I liked the concept I have to say that my overriding memory of the whole thing was ‘cringey as fuck’.

Edit: I just watched the flirting vid which I had seen before. This confirms my comment above. Seriously, this is so bad. It’s such a shame, I really wanted to like this as I think the concept is really great.

LeninistGirl
May 30 2019 17:26
Quote:
Um, did you actually watch the video? They literally open (in response to the john's question, and after a disclaimer about talking to sex workers and much research) with the statement "it's really not about you"

So what? The video is still directed to how johns to teach them how they should go about buying sex from women.

Quote:
I'm a socialist-feminist, and post revolution, as long as sex work exists, then yes - johns would invariably be in socialist spaces

Why should they be allowed though? These are men who think sexual consent can be bought for money.

Iktomi
Jun 4 2019 02:23

What exactly is the difference between a construction worker who sells their body and a sex worker? Are they not both consenting? At least as far as it is possible to consent in a capitalist society?

LeninistGirl
Jun 4 2019 13:43

deleted

Ed
Jun 4 2019 06:38

TW: discussion of rape, sexual assault below

LeninistGirl wrote:
Are you asking what the difference is between building a house as part of wage-labor to survive and having non-consensual sex for money to survive? I think it should be very clear that the buyer of sex is a rapist.

Strange argument this which when you boil it down actually ends up just being a 'feminist' argument in support of rape culture. The first problem obviously being that it doesn't tally with what most sex workers or sex worker organisations themselves think of their work; see for example the many sex worker organisations campaigning for decriminalisation, which I doubt they would do if they experienced their work as rape.

However, for me, the more explicit link between this argument and rape culture is this: if all clients are rapists and all sex work is rape, then what happens when a sex worker says they've been raped? If all sex work is rape because it's alienated wage labour in which the service being sold is sex, what do we do when clients actually force sex workers to do things which hadn't been agreed upon beforehand? How can sex workers come forward to report rape if we define their entire work as rape in the first place?

"That's the job; what did they expect?"

Ultimately, this argument only works if you don't listen to sex workers either a) in their experience of alienated labour, or b) in their experience of rape and sexual assault. Doesn't seem like good practice to me, whether Marxist or feminist.

Konsequent
Jun 4 2019 16:48
Alexander Berkman wrote:
When the highwayman holds his gun to your head, you turn your valuables over to him. You 'consent' alright, but you do so because you cannot help yourself, because you are compelled by his gun. Are you not compelled to work for an employer? Your need compels you, just as the highwayman's gun.

This is pretty accurate, though I think the phrase "just as" would probably bother someone who'd just been robbed at gun point. So there are similarities but it's worth being aware of the differences. Most people would rather be compelled to have sex by the need for money than at gun point. Understandably there's an aversion to saying some rapes are worse than others because of the risk of some sort of trauma competition or telling some people what they've been traumatised by isn't that bad, but a lot of people make decisions while being raped on how to lessen the damage so in practice the various ways it can play out are obviously quite important.

Konsequent
Jun 4 2019 17:04
Ed wrote:
TW: discussion of rape, sexual assault below

LeninistGirl wrote:
Are you asking what the difference is between building a house as part of wage-labor to survive and having non-consensual sex for money to survive? I think it should be very clear that the buyer of sex is a rapist.

Strange argument this which when you boil it down actually ends up just being a 'feminist' argument in support of rape culture. The first problem obviously being that it doesn't tally with what most sex workers or sex worker organisations themselves think of their work; see for example the many sex worker organisations campaigning for decriminalisation, which I doubt they would do if they experienced their work as rape.

Speaking for myself and other sex workers I've talked to the reason for campaigning for decriminalisation is not because no sex worker experiences their work as rape (many sex workers do and are still in favour of decrim) but because the consequences of criminalisation are so much worse.

Which is the reason why the distinction you're talking about here is so important:

Ed wrote:
However, for me, the more explicit link between this argument and rape culture is this: if all clients are rapists and all sex work is rape, then what happens when a sex worker says they've been raped? If all sex work is rape because it's alienated wage labour in which the service being sold is sex, what do we do when clients actually force sex workers to do things which hadn't been agreed upon beforehand? How can sex workers come forward to report rape if we define their entire work as rape in the first place?

The reason why sex workers rarely refer to sex work in itself as rape, at least in public, is because it's a word reserved for something that we're constantly trying to avoid at work (and which every form of criminalisation, including the criminalisation of clients, makes more likely). I think it would be fair enough to call it that if there weren't people who were going to use it to justify a more violent situation.

I perceive sex work as the most control I've had over my own sexual abuse. I think it's important to remember that people living in poverty (particularly women and lgbt people) often tolerate unwanted sex as a survival strategy (staying in an abusive relationship, or going home with someone for somewhere to sleep) and that this sex is on a spectrum of awfulness, mostly depending on how much control they have over the situation. Criminalising sex work pushes people towards the worse end of that spectrum, because it criminalises the safest form of something that is an inevitability under capitalism. Being able to define exactly what you're getting in return for exactly which sex acts and being able to report rape when your lines are crossed is just safer and less traumatic. I would also just much rather be compelled to do things by the carrot than the stick tbh, because then at least I get a carrot.

Doesn't particularly change what I think of clients though. Most of my colleagues agree they would never buy sex on principle. I don't know if you want to call it a Marxist, or feminist, or ethical principle. I even prefer sex work to a lot of other work and I still think about all my clients "Why would you do this? What on earth is wrong with you that you'd have sex with someone who doesn't want to."

(Not particularly disagreeing with what you've said Ed, more just saying I kind of agree with LeninistGirl too, though I see she's deleted her comment)

Noah Fence
Jun 4 2019 16:56

Konsequent

That’s a fascinating post, it’s good to get a least a little understanding of the particular forms of exploitation that other workers are subject to. Thanks for helping me with that.

Iktomi
Jun 4 2019 22:22
Konsequent wrote:
I think it would be fair enough to call it that)

Is it fair though?

Can we equate someone getting their jollies off by being whipped or beaten by a woman in black leather to forceful, non-consensual sex acts? What about pornographers? Or cam girls/boys/people? There’s more to sex work than penetration.

Edited for grammar.

Ed
Jun 5 2019 07:26

Yeah, just to echo Noah: that was a really interesting perspective, Konsequent. Much appreciated.

Konsequent
Jun 5 2019 12:14

Thank you Ed and Noah!

Iktomi wrote:
Konsequent wrote:
I think it would be fair enough to call it that)

Is it fair though?

Can we equate someone who gets their jollies off by being whipped or beaten by a woman in black leather to forceful, non-consensual sex acts? What about pornographers? Or cam girls/boys/people? There’s more to sex work than penetration.

We could list endless scenarios and discuss their similarities and differences if you like. Some examples:

If someone who doesn’t feel like whipping and beating someone else while wearing black leather does so for the money, then that is not them enthusiastically consenting to beat and whip the person, that is them consenting to it under financial coercion.

If someone beats and whips someone while wearing black leather and they’re excited about it to and no money changes hands, then that is unmistakably consensual activity.

If someone physically forces someone to engage in a sex act, then that is not a consensual sex act. It’s also not the only kind of non-consensual sex act.

If someone’s boss threatens to fire them if they don’t have sex with him then that would also not be consensual sex, even if it doesn’t involve physical force.

I did think we were talking specifically about acts of physical sex (based on the video itself and on other people’s comments), but ok what about cam girls? If someone takes their clothes off on camera for a person in exchange for money then it’s not because they feel like doing it but because they’re getting paid. You could say it’s not even a sex act. But it’s still not fully consensual, it’s work.

If someone’s boss threatens to fire them if they don’t take their clothes off on skype for him then that person is not getting undressed on skype consensually, they’re doing it to keep their job.

If two people having sex on camera are both doing so just for the money then they’re both having financially coerced sex.

Etc

If you don’t want to call it rape when you have unwanted sex out of financial desperation, go ahead. I’m not massively attached to one or another definition of rape. I’ve observed enough people defend shitty behaviour by defining it as not rape to view the subject as a distraction from the project of improving our practice of consent.

Things I’m more sure about:
If someone says their consent was undermined I trust them to be able to tell that this was the case.
If they want to call it rape I’m not going to argue.
I think we can all assess how bad violations of our consent are when they happen to us and could do to spend less time judging other people’s perceptions of their own.
People are obviously welcome to their own opinions about how bad it was that they undermined someone else’s consent in this or that way, but I’m not going to reassure them that it’s definitely totally fine.
People who are both attached to a definition of rape that’s quite narrow, and to setting the bar for what constitutes good consent at “not rape”, are invariably absolute pieces of shit.
I don’t think it’s ok to have sex with people who don’t want to for our enjoyment, and I think we have a responsibility to do what we can to avoid doing so.

darren p
Jun 5 2019 14:23
rosasoros wrote:
It strikes me odd that someone can stretch their minds to believe in a post-capaitalist, socialist utopia, but can't imagine a socialist utopia where people sell and pay for sex in an ethical manner because sex work won't exist in a capitalist system.

Very odd comment. In a socialist society, there won't and can't be buying and selling because wage labour won't be a thing. If there's wage labour and people are dependent on market relations for their survival it's not socialism, period.

jef costello
Jun 5 2019 21:31

Sorry in advance, this is a very confused post, I am trying to get my head round something and failing.

I don't get it. I watched the flirting video and I couldn't see who was supposed to be the audience and what they were supposed to be getting out of it.

I couldn't tell if they were pretending to be drunk, but waving around empty beer cans just seemed a bit pointless and the posh accent on one of the hosts made me roll my eyes.

It made me think of being younger and not really knowing how to approach people and to be honest I think what they said is pretty much what any bog standard magazine would tell you and equally useless. It's not so much about having the confidence to throw out a chat up line or "flant" (hate made up words, hate 'banter') it's about realising that if you go out and meet people then some of them will fancy you, you will fancy some of them and then things might happen.

Thanks for your posts Konsequent. It brought up the real difficulty of consent. I sympathise with the view that sex work is non-consensual, but then again there is non-consensual sex that is forced on sex workers in other ways, physical force, police etc. I keep thinking that maybe there is some kind of spectrum, because most of us have had sex when we didn't actually want to, but without entering into some kind of hierarchy as in the typical 'good' and 'bad' rapist. I was thinking about maybe exploitation non consensual and opposed to non consensual, but then would that exclude situations where it wasnt financial, but we agree to do it anyway.

I suppose maybe we could talk about giving consent and suspending consent? Giving consent being actually wanting to do it and suspending consent when we agree but for an external reason. But then what do we do when the reason is external to the act, but isn't external to the person, for example sleeping with someone because you're feeling unattractive or something.

And maybe consent isn't the word we should be using, it always seems to me like it is when you let someone do something to you. Like consenting to a search.

And we will definitely not be paying for sex in communism. It is possible sex work might exist, sexual surrogates for example, but then in communism maybe we wouldn't be in a situation where we would need that kind of help.

Auld-bod
Jun 6 2019 15:55

There has been some very good post on this thread.

I’d like to add that paying for something does not have to involve money.
There is also the issue of paying with sex. While in London I was informed by a workmate that his ex-wife had come round as her car was playing up. In return for fixing it they went upstairs for an afternoon bonking session. Always wondered why he told a number of fellows of this encounter.

Konsequent
Jun 6 2019 23:10

I think you’re right, Jef, that there should be more terms for sex without enthusiastic consent. We still couldn’t cover the breadth of situations, but we could have better ways of talking about it. As it is we have some people say “sex work is rape” and some people say “sex work is fully consensual”, and it’s difficult to talk about levels of coercion.

I’m thinking about Auld-bod’s example. If a woman turned up at the car mechanics and assumed she had enough money to pay to fix her car, and after fixing the car realised it cost a lot more than she had, and the then mechanic says she can pay for it with sex, I would think that was a really shitty thing for him to do. If she suggests it, it seems less shitty of him. If he plans it from the beginning and purposely charges her more than he knows she owns so she has little choice but to accept his suggestion, it seems more shitty of him. But in all these cases, as well as the one Bod described, the actual exchange is the same, but the experience of coercion by the person being coerced varies, and the degree to which the person doing the coercing is actively being coercive also varies, and those two things don’t always correlate perfectly either (the answer to which is to take more responsibility as the person who wants to have sex imo).

In the comments in this article there’s a guy who stopped buying sex when he realised the workers needed the money, and a bunch of sex workers basically calling him an idiot.
I recommend the whole article too as a useful contribution to the discussion
http://titsandsass.com/getting-away-with-hating-it-consent-in-the-contex...
I’m very much in agreement with the author that clients who want enthusiastic consent are demanding too much! My preferred message for the AAA video to have shared with clients would have been “Get your head round what it means that this is work, and don’t try to make it anything else”. It is the main thing that the nature of the dynamic between worker and client often makes difficult to clarify, because you’re being paid to act like you’re not at work.

A lesson to be learnt from this about consent outside of sex work is that the key to enthusiastic consent is genuinely being fine with sex not happening at all. The thing with the sex work is, the sex is already pretty much guaranteed by the money, and then some clients expect you to magic the genuine enthusiasm out of thin air too.

I think a lot of people think it’s important to them to have enthusiastic consent, but really they want to have sex, and they also want the other person to be enthusiastic, rather than preferring to have no sex if it isn’t enthusiastic. If a client says they’re not going to book again because they didn’t believe you were enthusiastic, then it just creates a situation where you’re more stressed out about looking enthusiastic at work. Better they just assume that enthusiastic consent is incompatible with the situation. I’ve had this same problem with lovers though “Well of course I want you to enjoy it!” but somehow don’t want to restrict themselves to times and activities where your interest overlaps, just want you to enjoy the things they want to do when they want to do them.

A number of my friends have told me they’ve considered paying for sex and have asked me what I thought as a sex worker. I’ve never said “don’t do it”, but after quizzing them on what their jobs had in common, and talking together about what work feels like in general, and clarifying that these commonalities also apply to sex work, every one of them has decided against it.

Konsequent
Jun 7 2019 14:55
jef costello wrote:
And we will definitely not be paying for sex in communism. It is possible sex work might exist, sexual surrogates for example, but then in communism maybe we wouldn't be in a situation where we would need that kind of help.

I don’t think it would depend on a need. Sex work of any kind doesn’t exist because sex is a need but because money is a need. I think in communism people would “work” because they felt like it and when it inevitably turns out that relying on just that doesn’t cover everything that we need, then we would make arrangements for how to make sure other necessary but unpleasant work gets done (rotas to clean the sewer etc). I don’t know how a community would decide “These people’s unfulfilling sex lives is a big problem, we need some people to take on the odious work of having sex with them, but in, like, a therapy way, to fix them. Even if it means pressuring people into it, this is a need, so swap this activity for a few sewer cleaning hours to make sure it’s covered”. I don’t see it. I feel like if someone has a “need” for sexual activity and no one else feels like meeting it then that’s just tough really. I don’t think as a society we should be trying to make sure that it happens.

I assume any people who would be combining their interest in psychology with their interest in having sex with strangers would be as able to back out of their arranged hook ups as anyone else. They might still feel obliged to give people the therapy they’d offered even if they weren’t in the mood, but I’d think it was a problem if those people are under more pressure to have sex when they don’t feel like it than others are.

Red Marriott
Jun 8 2019 19:36
Konsequent wrote:
I don’t know how a community would decide “These people’s unfulfilling sex lives is a big problem, we need some people to take on the odious work of having sex with them, but in, like, a therapy way, to fix them. Even if it means pressuring people into it, this is a need, so swap this activity for a few sewer cleaning hours to make sure it’s covered”. I don’t see it. I feel like if someone has a “need” for sexual activity and no one else feels like meeting it then that’s just tough really. I don’t think as a society we should be trying to make sure that it happens.

Around 200 years ago Fourier had some ideas about that;

Quote:
Charles Fourier was an early utopian socialist who influenced many later theorists including Marx & Engels and the Situationists. His imaginative - and often amusing - visions of future communities are discussed here; including arrangements of collective working, education and sexual relations. “What Fourier proposed was a new amorous order, in which marriage would be abolished, child care and housework collectivized, and a “sexual minimum” the right of all.” The author speculates that modern computer technology would make implementation of his visions much easier today. https://libcom.org/library/fourier-computer-dating-joan-roelofs

Konsequent
Jun 9 2019 17:06
Red Marriott wrote:
Around 200 years ago Fourier had some ideas about that;

Quote:
Charles Fourier was an early utopian socialist who influenced many later theorists including Marx & Engels and the Situationists. His imaginative - and often amusing - visions of future communities are discussed here; including arrangements of collective working, education and sexual relations. “What Fourier proposed was a new amorous order, in which marriage would be abolished, child care and housework collectivized, and a “sexual minimum” the right of all.” The author speculates that modern computer technology would make implementation of his visions much easier today. https://libcom.org/library/fourier-computer-dating-joan-roelofs

Thank you for this! It’s interesting, though I have a lot of criticisms. I am generally suspicious of people who talk about people’s value on the “dating market”, I feel like they’re projecting their own superficiality on to other people. I expect there’s a lot about class society that reinforces particular beauty standards and standardises the value we attribute to each other, and without that I expect people would be able to explore their individual predilections more freely. Also the prospect of encouraging pity fucks from certain people concerns me.

I didn’t want to make it sound like I thought no one would be putting time and effort into creating opportunities for people to hook up, to be clear. I honestly get the impression that, for example, the founders of okcupid are largely motivated by a desire to efficiently bring compatible people together, and a love of maths.

This is part of a response I wrote 6 years ago to Rob Ray’s call out for a series called “Your job after the revolution”. I stand by it:

- What do you think might need to stay in the new utopia, and what would have to go?

My job wouldn't exist. I basically see it as financially coerced sex. There would be sex but no work so there would be no sex work. People would still have sex, as they do now, but without the financial compensation for having sex you don't want to have, there would be no prostitution.

Having said this I should think there would be changes to the ways in which people express their sexuality in general, and hopefully some of the technology currently wasted on the sex industry could be better spent on facilitating this, or helping people find other people who want to join in with the things they're doing.

For example, there would presumably still be exhibitionists and maybe rather than posting pixelated videos from their phones onto user generated content sites, they might get together with people who are good at filming and lighting and make good quality, consensual porn. This is my hope, at least.

I'm often aware of how many of my clients could be matched up to each other. For every person who wants to do something to someone there's another person who wants that doing to them. People often call asking to top in a sexual act that the week before someone else wanted to bottom in. If they didn't have the belief that they're entitled to sexual activity which revolves entirely around themselves, on demand, provided by the exact body type they are currently in the mood for, then they could easily satisfy each other.

There would still be people who take a particular interest in studying sexuality who become sex columnists, sex therapists etc, but they would be no more obliged to have sex with the people who came to them for advice than anyone else would be. Not that I'm convinced by the claim that the sex industry is providing an educational service. If you're paying someone to fake enthusiasm and to make you feel good, and who hopes you'll pay for it again, then asking them whether they had a good time is not the best way of encouraging constructive criticism. From what I can tell clients are just reinforcing bad habits. So with the abolition of money I can see a lot more opportunity for the kind of honesty necessary for people to learn about sex.

The new utopia would presumably be post-patriarchy and as such also post-gender. So I'm guessing cottaging/cruising would no longer be the domain of men who sleep with men but would be practiced by people of all variations of sexual orientation. By which I don't mean to imply that there is a “need” currently satisfied by callgirls which would then be covered by post-patriarchal free love, or something, as the existence of the commercial section of cruising sites already indicates that these are very different things. What I mean is that without economic pressures to engage in sexual relationships, and without a system which panders to men's sense of entitlement to access women sexually, and without the game of cat and mouse that is the traditional heterosexual mating ritual, there would be more room for people to honestly explore what they want, in conjunction with what the people they're interested in want.

- How would this reshaped industry be structured and how would it relate to the twin pillars of local community and wider society (eg. the postal worker above talks about how workers would need to balance the demands of local groups with the needs of everyone else)?

If you consider the industry to be just people offering sexual services of any kind for the benefit of others then there wouldn't be one. If we consider it to also to include sex toys, sex clubs, and so on, then as a luxury it would be something that people contributed towards when they felt inspired to.

I think a lot of the this would still exist on the internet, not only with people having webcam sex or uploading videos but also with people finding each other to meet IRL, or to form groups of common interest.

However, I imagine that with the breakdown of sexual taboos that would come with an end to patriarchy and the commodification of sex, more interaction would move from the internet into our local communities. So for example, currently a munch (ie a meeting of BDSM enthusiasts for a non-sexual social in a cafe) in most cities might just about get double figures attending, whereas there are thousands of people contributing to internet forums on BDSM in any city. Presumably a lot of this has to do with the anonymity of the internet to discuss sexual practices. So I think a lot more people would meet in local venues to form groups of common interest or to get to know each other. Also I think there would be more sex clubs as I mentioned cottaging above but a lot of the reasons for meeting in a park are to do with anonymity due to sexual taboos and to do with the fact that you have to pay to get into sex clubs or to use hotel rooms. I think a lot of people would prefer to cruise in a club (or somewhere indoors) and would be happy to put in the effort to make that happen.

Rob Ray
Jun 9 2019 19:24
Quote:
This is part of a response I wrote 6 years ago to Rob Ray’s call out for a series called “Your job after the revolution”.

I still have a plan to get a few more of those covering some of the usual questions (though God knows where I'm gonna find an anarchist ex-cop) and collate it into a book of some kind one of these days.

jef costello
Jul 1 2019 06:31
Rob Ray wrote:
Quote:
This is part of a response I wrote 6 years ago to Rob Ray’s call out for a series called “Your job after the revolution”.

I still have a plan to get a few more of those covering some of the usual questions (though God knows where I'm gonna find an anarchist ex-cop) and collate it into a book of some kind one of these days.

I remember a thread on that, seemd like almost everyone worked in education or healthcare.