in arguments between radfems and sex workers, sooner or later this line comes up:
“when radical feminists talk about lack of choice in the sex industry they are saying that sex workers are all victims who don’t have agency”
but agency is defined as “the ability to act in the world.” is there some magical realm where victims do not have agency? if that’s the case, then no victims of anything have “agency.”
this (false) accusation speaks to me of a hatred of victims. because not only are sex workers not immune to victimization, but they probably face even more lack of choice (considering it’s sex, that last barrier to complete domination). feminists do not victimize or criminalize sex workers; all they do is point out the existing victimization.
radical feminists also have a problem with the liberal take on “agency” and all the choice politics surrounding it because it turns into victim-blaming by none other than the men supporting the industry: rape victims choose to be raped, sex workers who don’t like what they’re doing can just leave and choose another job, and so on. it also ignores trafficking, considered to be such a very small occurrence or even non-existent that it could never overlap with sex work or make its way into legalized aspects of the sex industry.
but sex industry advocates don’t want anyone to know this, because it’s bad for public relations. all women in the sex industry have choice, or so the story goes. they even go so far as to steal feminist arguments such as “choice is relative” or “choice is a spectrum, not a binary” and pretend they’re their own. then the rare privileged ones can identify as and pretend to speak for those they’re not (the most marginalized women in the sex industry) and play both sides. it’s so insidious how they hate actual victims of any kind.
“To expose the victimization of women by men is to be blamed for creating it and for making women into passive victims. The liberals fail to recognize that women’s victimization can be acknowledged without labeling women passive. Passive and victim do not necessarily go together. It is the liberals who equate victimization with passivity. It is they who devise this equation…. It seems obvious that one can recognize women as victims of surrogacy, pornography, and prostitution without stripping them of agency and without depriving them of some ability to act under oppressive conditions.”
— Janice G. Raymond. “Sexual and Reproductive Liberalism.” The Sexual Liberals and the Attack on Feminism. Ed. Dorchen Leidholdt and Janice G. Raymond. Teachers College Press, 1990. 103-111.