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In reality, Americans are less likely to move upward from their class of origin than are Germans, Canadians, Finns, French people, Swedes, Norwegians, or Danes. But the myth, fortified with bracing doses of positive thinking, persists. As two researchers at the Brookings Institution observed, a little wryly, in 2006:

“[The] strong belief in opportunity and upward mobility is the explanation that is often given for Americans’ high tolerance for inequality. The majority of Americans surveyed believe that they will be above mean income in the future (even though that is a mathematical impossibility).”
Barbara Ehrenreich, Bright-Sided:  How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America (via x09)

(via earthmoonlotus)

Jon Stewart and Matt Taibbi discuss the different treatment afforded to ‘street’ based drug users and white-collar criminals profiting from the drug trade.

(via earthmoonlotus)

Piketty shows that capitalism’s attractive moral claims — that it can make everyone better off while respecting their freedom — deserve much less respect under our increasingly “pure” markets than in the mixed economies that dominated the North Atlantic countries in the mid-20th century. It took a strong and mobilized left to build those societies. It may be that capitalism can remain tolerable only under constant political and moral pressure from the left, when the alternative of democratic socialism is genuinely on the table. Piketty reminds us that the reasons for the socialist alternative have not disappeared, or even weakened. We are still seeking an economy that is both vibrant and humane, where mutual advantage is real and mutual aid possible. The one we have isn’t it.


There are Whites who believe that they “mean well” (and we know in terms of justice that “intent” is not where the power lies; it is in effect) and feel that endless consumption of womanist/Black feminist content and Black culture is “proof” of their anti-racism work. However, vapid consumption without action is entertainment at best, voyeurism at worst; neither are justice. I discussed this a few times, but especially so in How To Appropriately Engage With Blogs That Have Anti-Oppression Related Content, in Hypervisibility and Marginalization: Existing Online As A Black Woman and Writer as well as in On Feminist “Branding” and Consumption where in the latter I stated: 

The consumable good (me, a person) is still never fully human to them, even if the type of consumption itself is deemed “positive.” Embracing everyone’s wholeness and full humanity is not solely an intellectual activity. So they can choose to memorize everything I write and say and even use it with or without permission in their own work, but that’s not really the point. This isn’t solely intellectual exercise. Without any actual compassion and recognition, then they’re just consuming me…

While this is not on the most severe side as when it is cultural appropriation, it is still a form of reductionism and dehumanization where White consumption is viewed as anti-racism work and action. When Whites are silent in the face of injustice but think their IP address showing up in my Stat Counter everyday is anti-racism work, they’re wrong. Because ultimately it is not on them to “learn” (this word is starting to repel me now coming from Whites; I think I file it under them calling me “strong" or "articulate”) every nuance of pain in my life (for which it has been proven that they do not equally empathize with even if they consume it to be entertained by “the other” or salve White Guilt) but to dismantle (and no, I’m not going to post “tips” on how to get their foot off my neck; it’s their foot) these institutions of oppression. Black people are the ones who need to be able to express our pain and mentally deconstruct this internally more than anything. 

While “love” alone (and no, you cannot friend or fuck your way into dismantling oppression) is not going to dismantle oppression either, I tire of consumption being mistaken for compassion. It is not. Because no matter how much Whites consume, I face racism alone, period.

And then when they run around the web and the world patting themselves on the back for being willing to “learn” and say "oooo ahhh wow I leeeaaarrrrnnn sooo much from you" over and over, I want to ask "so now what are you doing with that knowledge?" 

The worst part is since their White Guilt is such a fucking nuisance, I will now get emails asking "so should I not read your blog?" Because that’s the point here? I did not say that at all. I am talking about the sheer act of consumption from a place of privilege being deemed that’s all required to dismantle oppression. It’s not enough. Simply being “not racist” (if that’s even the real case) is not enough. 

The irony? A racist White person will say “go out and do something” in response to my discussions of racism online, when they have NO CLUE what I have done in 16 years of adulthood and as if it is on us and not them to end racism, but “ally" Whites will consume my words and NOT "go out and do something" or a few go out to speak over and for Black people, while remaining privileged and racist. That’s rich. 


Plagiarism itself is common of course, and anyone can engage in it. But when it comes to feminist/progressive writing by women of colour, a very specific type of plagiarism is common. It is top down. It is often done by people with privilege if not privilege and power via the support of institutions such as the mainstream media or the academe. And even when they do not have the support of such institutions, White privilege alone is enough for them to be belligerent and feel entitled to the content while demanding “niceness” from those they’ve taken from. Many Whites engage in tone policing while they are being abusive.

Black women especially experience this type of plagiarism (as I mentioned in Exploitation of Black Women’s Labor…In The Name of Feminism or Justice? Please.) as much of what shapes feminist politics has a Black woman’s work as origin. (I am plagiarized multiple times per week without fail and have mentioned this before in I Could Not Be Any More Tired Of Academia And I Am Not Even A Part Of It.) Black women’s epistemology and Black culture in general are always treated as a picking place for vultures who simultaneously want to use our every expression while not only refusing to cite us but also discrediting us and straight up insulting us. The entitlement to consumption and exploitation of Black culture has a long history where Black cultural production and Black bodies themselves are viewed as products open for a White market at will. Even non-Black people of colour do this to Black people by using this knowledge while being anti-Black, yet many times cannot describe their experiences without this knowledge. Non-Black people of colour can be perpetrators of the exploitation of the cultural production of Black people and not feel accountability is necessary for the same reasons that Whites do. But Whites also engage in this exploitation against other people of colour. Many women of colour, Black and otherwise, have to deal with White plagiarists and the stages of plagiarism. 

By the stages, I mean the common pattern of behavior when Whites are confronted about their plagiarism of women of colour:

  1. They deny that the plagiarism has occurred, even when it is obvious and blatant and other people notice it as well.
  2. They claim that the woman of colour that they plagiarized should be flattered to even be thought “worthy” enough to “deserve” to be plagiarized by someone White. They suggest that plagiarism is “appreciation” yet to actually appreciate someone is to mention them, and this logic is purposely skirted by Whites.
  3. They demand “niceness” and “humility” from the woman of colour that they plagiarized. It’s unacceptable for that woman of colour to be upset despite being exploited. They suggest that her caring about plagiarism is a “mental health” issue about “needing recognition” versus a matter of their own White privilege and actually a matter of the law; plagiarism is actually not legal. I know it’s common. It is still illegal. And Whites who especially are consumed by “legality” when a person of colour is in question sure do not give shit when their own behavior is in question.
  4. They insult. Racial slurs (i.e. anytime I speak of plagiarism, people bring in the “Angry Black Woman” stereotype), coded language only used against women of colour online (i.e “bully,” “toxic,” etc.) and sometimes ableism (the woman of colour who made the content magically becomes “stupid”) comes into play.
  5. They discredit the work itself. Ironically, their plagiarism is based on work that they think…is “stupid?” The mental gymnastics involved in taking work and thinking it is valuable, but thinking its creator is “stupid,” but then if the creator finds out and doesn’t applaud the plagiarism, they’re also “stupid” makes me think of the elaborate social illusions that accompany White supremacy, ones that James Baldwin wrote about so well. 
  6. They turn into the victim. When the White person is a woman, White supremacist, patriarchal constructions of womanhood are evoked where they’re the victim of the “mean ol’” woman of colour who could not politely allow plagiarism to occur. “Delicate damsel” performance occurs. Worse, some will even claim it is “racist” to point out this form of top down plagiarism of feminist/progressive writing happens and plays out this way because of White privilege. They easily move from tyrant to toddler in these situations, trying to maintain control the entire time. At this point, other Whites may join in to gaslight and abuse the woman of colour or make excuses. Sometimes other people of colour join in the abuse as well and make the unequivocally false and nonsensical claim that the woman of colour in question wants “White approval?” Or is “greedy” and a “capitalist” for not wanting to be exploited? Nonsense.

Last night a mutual follow, a woman of colour and queer Muslim feminist @jaythenerdkid (Aaminah Khan) noticed that her tweet and viral quote about men giving women insincere compliments rooted in misogyny was haphazardly plagiarized by various White women. Again, this is very common when it comes to feminist/progressive writing even in the smallest microblogging form, as she uses Twitter for and as many women of colour do. She herself recently wrote about being plagiarized before in her essay If My Words Are Worth Nothing, Why Are You Stealing Them?. These White women will perch in the Twitter streams and blogs of women of colour looking for something as small as a tweet to steal in hopes of increasing their attention on Twitter or something as large as exploiting major conversations among Black and other women of colour and turning them into profit for their own mainstream media platforms or blatant content trolling and plagiarizing for their articles on feminism. Again, common and old activity here. 

Once @jaythenerdkid confronted those White women, they followed the stages listed above to perfection. I supported her and spoke to some of these White women and advised them that they could share the content that they think is great without plagiarizing. It’s actually easier to use the retweet button or reblog button than to make a new tweet or a new post and take the content and pretend that they created it. It actually takes less time to do the former. They of course acted dominating and entitled at first and then switched to “delicate damsel” phase. This reminded me that @bad_dominicana alluded to how White women use their perceived “softness” as a weapon because of how White supremacy works in their favor. This is the pre-cursor to full-fledged White Tears™. Women of colour have no such luxury and Black women especially do not as we are not assumed to even be human enough to have nuanced emotions or feel pain

There is no excuse to be made for this unless the person making the excuse is ready to defend White supremacy. And suggesting "well as long as the knowledge gets out there" does not address the question of why must the thoughts, ideas and cultural productions of women of colour be taken and are only acceptable from a White woman? No one can answer that without defending White supremacy. No one can explain why can’t the "knowledge get out there" attached to its creator and still matter? Why is it only good when when the woman of colour involved is erased? White supremacy and the notion that knowledge is not even knowledge unless it comes from someone White is why; period. 

I tire of this cycle. I tire of the entitlement and petulant tantrums by Whites who feel entitled to the work of women of colour. It doesn’t matter if it is a single tweet (i.e. in @jaythenerdkid's case) or if it is a full essay (as it has happened many times to me and to so many other women of colour) or if it is an entire framework (i.e. how White women try to erase "intersectionality" from Kimberlé Crenshaw). It’s unacceptable. The entitlement to the labor of women of colour—and especially Black women since we are regularly viewed as objects of labor and not even as people—needs to stop. It is sickening and especially so coming from people who claim to be about justice, as many of the Whites who do this claim feminism or some other progressive politics. How can you truly desire to dismantle oppressive systems when you perpetuate them by manipulating and silencing the voices and knowledge of women of colour?

Related Essay Compilation: 2013: A Year Of White Supremacy and Racism In Mainstream Feminism

Related Post: How EVERYONE Works Together To Silence Women of Colour’s Critiques of Mainstream Feminism


US marshals shoot unarmed man in Albuquerque, seize cell phone cameras from witnesses 
April 2, 2014

As Albuquerque residents take to the streets to protest against the ongoing slayings of citizens by their local police department, federal agents got into the act by opening fire on an unarmed man Tuesday morning, then seizing cameras from witnesses.

But more citizens with cameras arrived on the scene as a group of U.S. Marshals stood around the victim, Gilberto Angelo Serrano, proving unafraid to voice their displeasure at the trigger-happy culture that apparently has seeped into all levels of law enforcement in Albuquerque.

Realizing they were outnumbered by cameras, the U.S. Marshals could only ask people to stand back, not bothering to try and stop them from recording as they tried to wrap a bandage around the head of the man they had just shot, who was laying on the sidewalk bleeding.

But a witness named Gabriel Valdez said the Marshals confiscated his cell phone camera as well as his mother’s camera as “evidence,” when he did not even start recording until after the shooting.

The incident took place around 10 a.m. when a group of Marshals were trying to apprehend a fugitive who was driving his truck.

According to KRQE:

“Get out of the car! Get out of the vehicle! And then boom! She shot like right away. She just shot right away,” Gabriel Valdez said.

That’s how one witness describes the gunfire that rang out in the South Valley Tuesday morning.

“He never pulled out a gun, nothing,” one witness told KRQE News 13. “His hands were on the steering wheel.”

“This is enough! This is ridiculous!” another witness said.

KRQE News 13 talked to one witness who says he had his cell phone taken away from him.

“I have evidence on there they said because I have video on there, not video of the actual shooting, but of everything else,” Valdez said.

In an interview with a New Mexico live streamer, Valdez said that the Marshals first asked to see what he had recorded, so he handed them the phone.

Then once they had the phone in their hands, they refused to return it to him, not even to allow him to write down telephone numbers he had on the phone. That segment of the interview begins at 5:16 in this video.

Full article

Yet, when we talk about debt, mostly we talk about it as a thing – as the kind of thing that hangs from the body like a ball and chain or from our necks like an albatross. We talk a lot about how debt makes us feel: atomized, isolated, alone. But, we don’t often talk about how the neoliberal construct of perpetual indebtedness to non-human financial entities has created a populous so focused on debts “owed” to Wall Street that we have no collective memory of any other kinds of debts. But, once we open Pandora’s box to take a look at the intersections of debt and race, we are forced to ask ourselves how it is that we have forgotten so much. Could it be that the alongside the rise of the neoliberal social order characterized by the isolation of the invisible chains of debt, a parallel practice of “colorblindness” arose that produces the invisibility of race? And if Malcolm X was correct that we “cannot have capitalism without racism,” we have to ask ourselves whether racism has really declined with colorblindness, or whether colorblindness might be neoliberalism’s corollary. It has been under a gray monotone cloud that a predatory debt system has been advanced, one that striped African-Americans of all economic gains subsequent to Civil Rights, and that spread throughout the rest of the economy, impacting generations to come.


The problem with Beyhive bottom bitch feminism.

"Is a feminism sponsored by the corporate music industrial complex as big as we can dream? Is the end game a feminism in which the glass ceiling for black women’s representation only reaches as high as our booties? Can’t we just love Bey as an amazing corporate artist without selling out the hard won accomplishments of our black feminist and womanist foremothers?  Can we not love her for the gorgeous and fierce mega pop star she is without appropriating her for some liberal, power feminist agenda?"

Continue reading at Real Colored Girls.

Posted by Sociological Images.

Consider one of thousand such instances. A few years ago the Los Angeles Times carried a special report on the rain forests of Borneo in the South Pacific. By their own testimony, the people there lived contented lives. They hunted, fished, and raised food in their jungle orchards and groves. But their entire way of life was ruthlessly wiped out by a few giant companies that destroyed the rain forest in order to harvest the hardwood for quick profits. Their lands were turned into ecological disaster areas and they themselves were transformed into disfranchised shantytown dwellers, forced to work for subsistence wages – when fortunate enough to find employment.

North American and European corporations have acquired control of more than three-fourths of the known mineral resources of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. But the pursuit of natural resources is not the only reason for capitalist overseas expansion. There is the additional need to cut production costs and maximize profits by investing in countries with plentiful supply of cheap labor. U.S. corporate foreign investment grew 84 percent from 1985 to 1990, with the most dramatic increase in cheap-labor countries like South Korea, Taiwan, Spain, and Singapore.

Because of low wages, low taxes, nonexistent work benefits, weak labor unions, and nonexistent occupational and environmental protections, U.S. corporate profit rates in the Third World are 50 percent greater than in developed countries. Citibank, one of the largest U.S. firms, earns about 75 percent of its profits from overseas operations. While profit margins at home sometimes have had a sluggish growth, earnings abroad have continued to rise dramatically, fostering the development of what has become known as the multinational or transnational corporation. Today some four hundred transnational companies control about 80 percent of the capital assets of the global free market and are extending their grasp into the ex-communist countries of Eastern Europe.

Transnationals have developed a global production line. General Motors has factories that produce cars, trucks, and a wide range of auto components in Canada, Brazil, Venezuela, Spain, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Nigeria, Singapore, Philipines, South Africa, South Korea, and a dozen other countries. Such ”multiple sourcing” enables GM to ride out strikes in one country by stepping up production in another, playing workers of various nations against one other in order to discourage wage and benefit demands and undermine labor union strategies.

Michael Parenti, Against Empire (via iggymogo)

(via khito-archive)


December 19, 2013

A 50-year-old California man  described by relatives as a “loving father and a doting grandfather,” White had been living on the streets of Hayward for years. He wanted to work and was able to find odd jobs here and there, but it was never much or consistent enough to afford a place to live. Hayward has no emergency shelter with beds for single men, so White slept outside.

But things were looking up. Last Saturday, White was  second on a long list to get permanent supportive housing in Hayward. He had been waiting in line for months and it seemed as though he might finally catch a break.

White died on Sunday.

Temperatures in the Bay Area plummeted to near-freezing on December 10, an uncommon occurrence in a region generally known for its lack of inclement weather. White’s body was found in the old Hayward City Hall courtyard. He’d been beaten up and robbed by multiple men, who took the new winter coat White’s sister had  given him on Friday. He was wearing just a hoodie and shorts. His cause of death is still being determined, but police  speculated that his death was weather-related.

White is now the seventh homeless person in the Bay Area to die in the cold since November 28. The others were Daniel Brillhart, 52; Enrique Rubio, 56; Andrew Greenleaf, 48; Daniel Moore, 53; and two men in the East Bay and Peninsula whose names have not been released.

According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, approximately 700 homeless people die from hypothermia every year. Those deaths tend to occur in the East Coast and Midwest, not California. But temperatures in the Bay have repeatedly dipped below freezing in the past few weeks, leaving thousands of homeless people in danger.

The Bay Area has one of the highest homeless populations in part because of the explosion of recent wealth that has led to increasing inequality and a lack of affordable housing for those without high-paying tech jobs. The San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose metropolitan area is the wealthiest in the country, even outpacing New York-Connecticut and Washington DC-Maryland-Northern Virginia. This influx of money has  brought higher housing prices and more evictions in the past few years.

And for those viscerally impacted by rising inequality, life is especially difficult when the temperatures drop. Many communities in the Bay Area lack emergency shelters, in part because freezes aren’t very common. But what happens to many of the thousands of people living without shelter in the Bay Area, waiting for their name to be called for the few affordable housing units that exist? “What happens is they die on the street,” Betty DeForest, director emeritus of South Hayward Parish,  wrote in an email to the City Council last week following White’s death.

In other words, we live in a society that leaves many people too poor to survive but are surprised to see them die.



I’ve been highlighting some pretty shitty responses to my “Prologue to Consent Is Not Enough” post (because, hello, my name is maymay and I’m awesome at pointing out shitty things, and less good at pointing out awesome things), but this professional dominatrix’s reflections are pretty interesting. I find myself agreeing with a lot of what they write, save a couple notable exceptions, which I’ll share after you check this out:


   This is something I think about, more as a professional practitioner than as a lone player (because I really don’t get involved in the kink “scene” anymore, and my personal taste in play has gotten more physical and technical and less psychological/power driven in the last couple of years, which may or may not be a phase) —  what are my best-practice obligations to my clients?   (I say best practice to address the fact that not all clients meet me in a place of equity, and I’m not too concerned with the personal development of people who actively attempt to abuse or assault me.)

    One of the reasons that I love my job, and consider myself to be a long term or “career” worker is that I believe really seriously in the idea that what I do makes people happy.  It may make them “better” or more at peace with themselves, or more able to be good partners or good people, it may give them understandings of their desires that lead them to live more fulfilledly, but that’s icing on the cake. That’s an awesome day, not a good enough day.  A good enough day is simpler than that for me — I want my client to be happier than they were before they saw me.  I probably can’t fix the big, overarching problems in their lives (remind me to tell y’all about my days as a baby domme, where I thought I was going to get all of my clients to come out to their spouses and everyone would all go to big kinky orgies together. Just call me Mistress Save-A-Bitch, I guess.)  but I can make at least an hour of one of their days better than the hours that came before it.  And so far, that’s been enough for me (although one time, I did diagnose a dude’s clubbing and convinced him to see a doctor, which led to him getting life saving double bypass surgery, so that was pretty fucking cool. For the record, dude never tipped.) 

      So MayMay’s words make me think — should that be enough?  I have clients who I have been seeing for as long as three years, and I have clients who I see on a weekly basis, like clockwork.  Should I be crafting a long term goal for these people to eventually “graduate” from my care? Certainly, it would be unethical to enhance situations that keep my clients dependent on me (case in point: a terribly problematic regular of mine has many times asked me for help crafting his okcupid profile, and while I’ve always given him honest advice, I’d be a complete liar if the thought hadn’t occurred to me to give him booby trapped recommendations that would keep him single.  Fortunately, despite my best efforts, dude remains an irredeemable assface, so my income from him is reasonably secure.), but does it go beyond that in any way?

      For me, at least, the answer has got to be on a case by case basis, and there are some big factors that make it a very different relationship from the ones MayMay talks about in his essay.  First and foremost, professional dominatrix is a service industry job, so the way in which I might have power over “my submissives” is at best, extremely nuanced, and more frequently, ime, nonexistent.  If I whip a client, I might enjoy it, sexually and/or intellectually, but I’m not facilitating my kink in any way (I know some dominatrixes operate this way, or claim to operate this way, but that’s a discussion for another day) — my pleasure, rather than my professional satisfaction and payment, is a bonus.  If I make the focus on facilitating my personal kinks, then in many ways, I’m doing an irresponsible thing (not to mention, probably not a very lucrative one).  So I guess in that sense, dominatrixes start from the position that MayMay thinks that scene dominants should aim towards — the focus is already on facilitating the submissive’s desire to submit, and inherently removed from the “True Submission Means Doing What I Say, Even If You Hate It” trope.   

   Certainly, I have had clients who I have seen for a limited period of time, who have had specific goals around their kinks — to experience and explore certain things, and ultimately to move on to seek out new things with me or with different people.  Or to use kink to process particular feelings or traumas, rather than as an ongoing part of their sexual orientation.  And those clients have unfailingly been some of the most pleasant, easy to work with, and rewarding clients I’ve had.  The baby domme that remains lodged in my brain absolutely appreciates the opportunity to achieve something “big” that way.  But if you universally apply the “obsoletism” goal to a sex work relationship,  you run smack in to the assumption that sex work clients seek out providers because they can’t source unpaid relationships, and that the paid relationships they build are by nature lesser or less real and satisfying for them.  And in my experience, that is not the way it works.  When I do have clients who are seeing me because they’d rather have an “amateur,” those are inevitably experiences that are pretty shit for all parties concerned.  These people are more likely to push my boundaries, more likely to take the “No’s” I give them with bad grace, and rather than graduate, they are usually expelled after a period of time.  My best clients are the ones who specifically have a place in their life that I fit — for whom the professional and strictly boundaried relationship is as much of plus as my technical skill or (admittedly fabulous) ass. And with clients like these, I don’t feel that I’m serving their interests well by making the goal to move them along a pathway where they don’t need my services anymore.  BDSM as a source of personal growth is a beautiful and electrifying thing.  It has been, at some points, a wonderful experience of just that for me.  But a comfortable plateau is not necessarily a negative thing either — for people who have come to a point where they are happy with the place that submission has in their lives, I think that looking “ever upward” can be every bit as damaging as your typical Gor-ean scenester. 

So, thanks for sharing that, and it’s a pretty cool perspective. It just has this glaring problem:

But if you universally apply the “obsoletism” goal to a sex work relationship, you run smack in to the assumption that sex work clients seek out providers because they can’t source unpaid relationships, and that the paid relationships they build are by nature lesser or less real and satisfying for them.

This is wrong. Or rather, it’s implicitly assuming that “universally applying the ‘obsoletism’ goal to a sex work relationship” also causally implies an assumption that the only reason clients seek sexual labor service providers is because “they can’t source unpaid relationships” of a sexual kind. This is just not true.

As I’m sure you know, there are many, different, legitimate reasons why a client might hire a sex worker than only their lack of access to partnered sex, just as there are many, different, legitimate reasons why someone might want to have partnered sex in the first place. If (and maybe only if) one assumes that the only reason to hire sex workers is lack of access, then it makes sense one would also naturally consider sex with someone who didn’t want financial compensation to be “better” and “more satisfying.” But this makes as much sense as saying people eat at restaurants because they can’t cook at home.

From listening to what the sex workers in my life have told me, and from reading what others have written, I know that’s not how it works.

The reason I bring this up is because I reject the idea that the “goal of obsoletism” is not applicable to “a sex work relationship.” It very much is, just as it is for every other job-relationship. I can flag my political activist cred with the best of ‘em (“sex work is work,” and all that), but the crux of this issue is that it is immoral for a society to require anyone to work in order to have access to basic needs such as food and shelter, and that means working for money is, at its core, complicity with the abuses of capitalism. Sex is irrelevant.

Does that mean you should not do sex work (or any other job)? No, of course not. You’re being threatened with starvation unless you do your job, and this is certainly a threat you should take seriously. But it does mean that if you can replace money in as many ways as possible in your life, then you should do that. Do that not only because it is more ethical, but because it is safer; every time you work to take down a system of oppression, you take down a threat against yourself.

The point of working to “obsolete” yourself in a job is therefore two fold. First it is the only ethical way to accomplish “a good job.” And second, it is the only ethical way to exist in capitalism while working to end your complicity with capitalism.

With respect to power, there are two relationships worth considering independently:

  1. employer-employee and,
  2. employee-client.

Employers obviously have more power than their employees but the scales are not so clearly weighted in the case of employees and clients. That’s why, in my Prologue, I only spoke of employers. And although I agree with you when you say “professional dominatrix is a service industry job, so the way in which I might have power over ‘my submissives’ is at best, extremely nuanced,” I find it impossible to believe that it is ever “nonexistent.”

For one thing, consider the situation where some clients seek your services because it is their only available opportunity for some experience. Capitalist jobs—including sex work—are premised on the scarcity of a thing. The thing that’s scarce for your particular clients might be “access to partnered sex,” or something else, but regardless of what it is, if the thing they lack is a thing they want that you have, you have a power over them.

For another thing, you’re a professional dominatrix—that means in sessions with your clients, dominant, right? So you do have a power over your clients. The influences of domism do not vanish in a puff of smoke just because you were paid after the scene.

Systemic powers are not like sound waves or differently signed numbers; structural influences don’t cancel each other out. A systemic power of one kind (like dominance, or whiteness) does not void power of different kinds (like maleness, or financial wealth).

Caring about ethics means having to account for each structural influence; all of them, all the time, all at once. It’s not a zero-sum game. And if you’re evaluating “who has more power” by assigning weightiness to influences themselves instead of in the context in which they exert force, you’re doing it wrong.

So, is having some specific power creating a situation in which you ethically should and can safely work to “facilitate [your client’s] growth so as to make yourself obsolete”I don’t know. That depends on the powers at play, on you, your client, the circumstances of your lives, and how all those things interact together at a certain place, in a certain time.

But don’t model yourself after throngs of others who are so quick to dismiss the importance of actually assessing this in the situations they find themselves just because those situations involve sex work. That’s not ethical. That’s lazy.