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Meagan Tyler @DrMeaganTyler
, 19 tweets, 7 min read Read on Twitter
A thread on what it’s like to be a female academic conducting critical research into the sex industry - or a journey through my last month at work. #MVAW #VAW #EndVAWG #EndDemand #highered #academia
Invited to speak at a UN consultation relating to gender, business and human rights. Despite discussions of the Modern Slavery Act and trafficking, no-one really wanted to talk about trafficking for sexual exploitation. #humantrafficking #modernslavery
But we do, as a wonderful colleague has worked hard to have panel specifically on aspects of this. At the last minute, the line-up is changed to include someone speaking on behalf of a sex industry lobby group.
Ok, that happens a lot. But other members of related lobby groups would rather an academic critical of the sex industry was not speaking at all. Cue a flurry of emails to no platform me, and an attempt to cancel the whole panel.
It goes ahead. I say it would be best practice to have a survivor of the sex trade speak too, if the event is going to include advocacy for the industry, but this is deemed too likely to upset the industry lobby group.
Following week, two conferences: Conference 1, where individuals supportive of the sex industry come to hear our paper on men who have chosen not to consume pornography - they are (apparently) outraged.
Claiming that even repeating the concerns of these men - for example, that some women are abused in the production of pornography - ‘stigmatises sex workers’. So we should therefore not even speak of the participants responses.
Fortunately, a number of colleagues present recognise this as ‘real life trolling’ (as one so aptly put it). Super grateful, but this recognition is a *first* for me - was it because we were speaking about men and not women? I have to wonder.
One of the same individuals attends a PhD student presentation on illegal brothels and tries to intimidate her by filming her and her responses to questions without her permission. Leaves abruptly when found out.
Conference 2 - no critical discussion of the sex industry. Harms are sidelined or overlooked. Collaboration with industry groups is seen as radical praxis, but there are no survivor voices invited. See also:…
Have a fellow academic tweet me laughing and eye rolling emojis about issues of violence against women in the sex industry. Blocks me after being challenged on this (including by survivors).
Speak at a community event on respectful relationships and porn - my work is mostly on #MVAW in this space, so this is what I speak about. Another academic not happy about this focus because they’ve not seen much #VAW in porn, so it must be fine.
So we don’t get to discuss the real issues of moving forward, or potentially thinking about new visions of sexual equality, b/c it’s dragged back to having to point out that #MVAW is a real thing that women have every right to be concerned about. #Metoo anyone?
None of this is new. It has been a similar pattern - although perhaps intensified - for the decade and a bit that I’ve been speaking on this kind of research publicly.
I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. There are definitely debates to be had. But the academy has a long way to go when it thinks that being progressive is putting issues of #VAW last on the agenda.
I’m sorry (not sorry) if this harshes your buzz, but we don’t generally accept that #MVAW is ok, or should be sidelined as an issue in academia, or in progressive circles generally. So we shouldn’t just ignore it b/c someone, somewhere likes to orgasm to it.
There is increasing acceptance that gender inequality, and representations of gender inequality (inc. in pop culture and advertising), feed into issues of rape culture and violence against women. This is useful.
But you can’t turn a blind eye to the role that the sex industry plays in an overall culture of women’s sexual objectification and subordinate status. If advertising is a problem, so is porn. If the beauty industry is a problem, so is the sex trade.
Just follow your own logic. And think about the levels of harassment that, as academics, you're willing to tolerate when colleagues speak out about men’s violence against women - including sexual violence and sexual violence perpetrated in commercial contexts. #highered #academia
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