Fundamentalist feminists ordinarily avoid sharing a platform with people like me, but it does happen occasionally. These photos were taken in 2004 at UC Berkeley in a debate on Measure Q (Prostitution Enforcement in Alameda County). On the blackboard are two lists: on the left Robyn Few, Laura Agustín and Veronica Monet (on the right Norma Hotaling, Melissa Farley and Davida, whose surname I cannot make out.
Farley’s team were accompanied by people dressed in skeleton costumes. Skeletons adorned one of her polemical books – I guess to suggest that prostitution is death. The groupies sat quietly enough at first; the debate was timed with a stopwatch so each person had only a minute or two to speak. But when a well-known Bay Area activist in the audience started crying and went over her time, the whole Farley team were up in arms, claiming the debate was biased. It was quite embarrassing. She also flung out her arm at one point and called us pimps. Robyn, Veronica and I were polite about it; after all, who looks bad in that situation?
But there was a very funny incident involving me and Melissa. I was staying in San Francisco with an old friend who, by coincidence, was in a reading group with Farley. Nothing to do with prostitution or violence; my friend knew nothing about her. After the debate, my friend went to say hello to Farley, who assumed she was there to support her and was asking for confirmation about how terrible we were. At that moment, my pal caught my eye and waved me over, and smiling charmingly (and mischievously) said, Melissa, I want you to meet my friend Laura. I put out my hand, and Farley, looking appalled, shook it – a pimp’s hand! I got a huge kick out of it.
–Laura Agustín, the Naked Anthropologist