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Members of the National Women's Liberation Party hold protest signs in front of Convention Hall where the Miss America Pageant will be held tonight in Atlantic City, N.J. on Sept. 7, 1968. The picketers, also seen behind, are protesting the annual pageant as degrading to women. (AP Photo)

Interchange – Unmanning Sex: Meghan Murphy on Radical Feminism


Have feminists always been pro-prostitution? Since when has supporting pornography been considered a pro-sex feminist position? And why has feminism seemingly become a catch-all for any and all gender equality issues?

Meghan Murphy, the founder and editor of the online feminist media outlet Feminist Current, leads us through the re-radicalizing of feminism: starting with a tour through the individualized, all-inclusive, pro-capitalism, 3rd wave (or “liberal”) feminism that came up in the 90s (along with neoliberalism’s rise in the Left), and the fights against patriarchy that this feminism won’t take on, including pornography and prostitution.

Murphy supports 2nd wave, or radical feminism which she prefers to simply call Feminism, because it’s about supporting women’s rights and their struggle against the specific forces that disempower, abuse, and marginalize females.

We look at the uniquely coercive and violent nature of that particular transaction, and the difference between decriminalizing prostitutes as a feminist position; and legalization of the practice in general, the capitalist position. We’ll close the segment with an example from our own backyard of the particularly un-just still-criminalized system we have in the U.S.

Pornography: ubiquitous in our modern internet-dominated world, and thus normalized. Murphy talks us through how anti-pornography feminists have been tarred with supposedly being “anti-sex,” as their critics unaccountably conflate pornography with masturbation and argue for its health benefits. Murphy charges that the individualized, faux-progressive feel-good politics of liberal 3rd wave feminists essentially gives a fundamentally misogynist industry a pass.

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist, and is the founder and editor of Feminist Current. She completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012. Murphy has been blogging about feminism since 2010. She is known for going against the grain and was the first to publish a critique of Slutwalk, back in 2011, and was one of the few popular feminist writers to publicly articulate both a radical feminist and socialist position against the sex industry, early on.

“Sex Kills” by Joni Mitchell
“#1 Must Have” by Sleater-Kinney
“She Used to Wanna Be a Ballerina” by Buffy Sainte-Marie
“Don’t Put Her Down (You Helped Put Her There) by Hazel Dickens

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