Examples of SWERF
Examples of SWERF
Where does SWERF come from?
SWERF is as a sister term to TERF, or Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist, a term coined by Viv Smythe in 2008 for feminists who exclude transgender women from their interpretation of feminism out of belief that they aren’t women, or that they reinforce sexist, binary roles.
SWERF emerges online by 2013, notably used on a site, Everyday Whorephobia, which addresses challenges sex workers face. It stands for Sex Worker-Exclusionary Radical Feminist. A SWERF is said to support the empowering aims of radical feminism, but they don’t extend their support to sex workers, believing sex work, including pornography and prostitution, inevitably objectifies and oppresses women.
— elfeministo (@elfeministo) February 13, 2014
The term spiked in 2018 with the passage of US House and Senate bills, known as FOSTA-SESTA, or Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act–Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act. The laws were intended to cut down on sex and human trafficking online, but many consensual sex workers have said it has hurt their ability to earn income, and safely, on sites like Craigslist.
Women who supported FOSTA-SESTA were sometimes labeled SWERFs, and their critics maintain that doing consensual sex work is a choice women have a right to make.
SWERF opponents also argue that making sex work illegal puts women more at risk of trafficking and violence. Gloria Steinem, a feminist pioneer, is sometimes called a SWERF.
A massive slow clap for the state of feminism in America – the shutting down of an out reach service for marginalised sex workers in the name of middle-class #SWERF s feeling all warm and feminist inside #SESTA #FOSTA #MiddleClassFeminists This smells like a class war 🤔 https://t.co/FwrpkFZhN6
— The Photographic Theorist … (@PhDPhotographer) March 31, 2018
Who uses SWERF?
SWERF is used in third-wave feminist discourse, and it often appears alongside its sister term, TERF.
Many TERFs are also sex worker exclusionary as well (SWERF). Trans people and sex workers have common enemies in the bid to try and fight for our rights. We represent trans sex workers and will also stand by trans people. https://t.co/rAOqlHvefN
— SWAI Ireland (@SWAIIreland) February 6, 2019
People generally use the term as a pejorative against feminists who oppose sex work, denouncing them as hypocritical and counterproductive to the larger project of women’s empowerment.
Nina Vallins is also a swerf; her words to that effect appear in a monthly article if you search her name. So trash, basically
— Tab J Thomas (@CharlesBotkin) February 4, 2019
There’s also lots of crossover between those who might be considered SWERFs and those considered TERFs.
TERF and SWERF confirmedhttps://t.co/jrrKUyxUKr
— Cache Monet ✊🥚 (@LaborWavedashin) March 21, 2019
They may call themselves sex worker/prostitution abolitionists, believing the practices will ultimately lead to the abuse, violence, and subjugation of women by men.