Hi Elle — a grand slam piece if I ever read one. Can we get every self-described feminist to read it? (I’ve wanted to write something similar myself, but I’m afraid of what would happen if I, a man, wrote this.)
Two points to be made here:
If as you say, women are participants in patriarchy then, perhaps it’s time to find a different term. Patriarchy as a word represents the reality that men have most of the power in society, but as a pejorative it also argues that this system is solely the result of male actions and male choices. As you are suggesting, the problem may be more one of hierarchy than of male power per se. Women participate in and contribute to patriarchy. Therefore what looks like a problem created and generated solely by men, is in fact a collective problem. Hence, the need for a change of term.
Second, while I am in full and enthusiastic support for turning slut from a pejorative into a term of respect and admiration, the issue of how we approach sex work and its relation to the patriarchy is complicated. But I’d say this — whenever sex is tied to money in pretty much any shape or form — those participants are reinforcing the patriarchy/hierarchy. While sex is good and important, and we can never have too much of it, tying it to money is a quick way to objectify both the sex worker and the “johns.”