Rather ironic that on the same day that all the brain sex! articles came out, in the morning on BBC Radio 4, the Today news programme ran a feature on the women who, during WWII, worked as secret agents for the British government, over 80 of whom were dropped behind enemy lines in Europe. One of the interviewees described how the women went through the same physical paramilitary training as the men, what was, at the time, described as “the art of ungentlemanly warfare.”
The programme is still available for four more days, the feature starts around the 1h 19min mark.
On a related note, and also in the news a lot at the moment, the preparations for the 100th anniversary of WWI in 2014, including the arrival in London of “sacred soil” from 70 battlefields in Belgium, helps put paid to the MRA myth that wars prove that men are seen as ‘disposable’. Soldiers, at least when the wars are safely in the past, are lauded and valorised, nobody pays this much attention to dead women in the mainstream, or goes to these lengths to memorialise them.
There is, of course, a kernel of truth to this claim, but it is not true that men as a whole are seen as disposable; certain classes of men are, wars are much better understood as old powerful men sending young, comparatively powerless men off to die on a battlefield. As I have pointed out before, MRAs take what is a class issue and distort it to claim that all men are oppressed. As Robert Jensen puts it so well, lots of men are powerless, but no men are oppressed as men.
There’s a study in all the papers today claiming to show fundamental differences between male and female brains, and that these differences prove that gender stereotypes are hard-wired.
It’s funny how the putative differences between male and female brains are always used in defence of the status quo. Early studies suggested that male brains had more connections between the left and right hemispheres of the brain, and this was used as proof of men’s intellectual superiority. When later studies suggested that female brains were the most connected, this was not used as proof of female intellectual superiority.
Male single-mindedness is never used to prove that men are better suited to dull, repetitive work, such as cleaning; and women’s ability to multitask, empathise and communicate is never used as proof that women are suited to exciting challenging work like running the country.
Instead ‘brain sex’ is always used to prove that women are hard-wired for domestic drudgery, and don’t want careers, or reproductive rights, or the vote; while men are hard-wired for dominance, control and violence, and rape is inevitable, and pornography and prostitution are necessary – or else.
The simple fact is that we know very little about how the brain works, and even less about how the brain relates to the mind or the self. This study used a technique called “diffusion tensor imaging” to create a ‘road map’ of male and female brains. The problem with this is that a ‘road map’ is only part of the story, it tells us nothing about the density or flow of the ‘traffic’.
We know that brains are plastic, we know this because people with brain injuries are still able to do things that a lack of brain plasticity would preclude them from being able to do; eg a person with an injury to the part of the brain thought to be associated with language, may still be able to speak, because the brain is plastic and re-routes itself (to put it over-simply).
What I would like to look at though, is something in the news reports that seems so far to have been completely over-looked in the mainstream press: There is no brain sex before 14:
Male and female brains showed few differences in connectivity up to the age of 13, but became more differentiated in 14- to 17-year-olds.
Let me repeat that: there is no brain sex before 14. By the standards accepted by the proponents of ‘brain sex’ theory, there is no brain sex before 14.
This is actually rather important, if there are no significant differences between male and female brains before 14, how then do we explain gendered behaviour in under-14 year olds?
Under-14s are not amorphous, genderless [EDIT: I should say gendered-behaviour-less], personality-less blobs until they hit puberty. Lots of adults continue with interests that they developed as children, there is no flip-of-the-switch changeover between childhood and adulthood.
Children, in fact, are largely the most gender conforming – some people even believe that babies are born with gender roles hard-wired into their brains, and that newborn babies display gendered behaviour.
Cordelia Fine, author of Delusions of Gender, explains that small children’s adherence to gender roles is due to the fact that children are trying to understand the world around them, and that they can only understand it in simple, black and white terms, therefore they become ‘believers’ in, and reinforcers of, gender roles. But of course, they don’t get the original ideas of gender roles out of thin air, they get them from the adults around them.
(at this point I wanted to add a video I watched fairly recently, that related to experiments done in the 1970s(?) that showed that adults treated the same baby very very differently when it was dressed in blue and when it was dressed in pink, but ugh, I can’t find it again.)
EDIT 05/Dec/13: I still can’t find the video I’ve seen, but I did find this abstract from a very similar set of experiments:
The present study investigated adult behavior while interacting with a three-month-old infant under conditions in which the child was introduced as a boy, as a girl, or with no gender information given. Gender labels did not elicit simple effects, but rather interacted significantly with the sex of the subject on both toy usage and physical contact measures. There was a stronger tendency for both male and female adults to utilize sex-stereotyped toys when the child was introduced as a girl. Most of the findings, however, reflected a differential response of men and women to the absence of gender information. In this condition, male subjects employed a neutral toy most frequently and handled the child least; in contrast, females used more stereotyped toys and handled the child more. All subjects attempted to guess the gender of the child (with “boy” guesses more frequent, although the child was actually female) and all justified their guess on the basis of stereotyped behavioral or physical cues like strength or softness.
If gender rolls occur before ‘brain sex’ appears, then we have to entertain the idea that gender roles have nothing to do with brain structure, but are then, in fact, culturally dictated. How can we say they are ‘hard-wired’, when the ‘hard-wiring’ isn’t there yet?
Whatever these brain differences mean, if they actually mean anything at all, they do not mean that gender roles are hard-wired.
As an afterthought, I also want to examine this rather bizarre comment from one of the researchers:
I was surprised that it matched a lot of the stereotypes that we think we have in our heads. If I wanted to go to a chef or a hairstylist, they are mainly men.
Since when were cooking and cutting hair considered ‘masculine’ activities? The vast majority of the people in the world preparing food are female, but once it becomes well paid and prestigious, once a cook becomes a chef, it becomes a male activity. The same with ‘hair stylist’, the vast majority of people going to beauty school are female, and hairdressing is low-paid work, the hand-full of people at the top, with their own shampoo brands or whatever are all men.
This reflects something else Fine covers, how what are considered ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ characteristics can change with the circumstances, so that whatever is considered a ‘good’ quality in a particular situation, becomes a ‘masculine’ quality; when cooking, or cutting hair become important, they become ‘masculine’ activities.
On Berlin’s Kurfürstenstrasse, they are out in force: women in their late teens to late forties, some of them perhaps older but dressed to look younger. On a November night, many are wearing puffer jackets and tight-fitting jeans under their miniskirts.
A shiny grey BMW stops and silently winds down its window. One of the women steps up on the passenger side. There’s a brief exchange of words – five or six syllables, not more – then the car drives off again. A few minutes later the same woman can be seen walking towards the LSD (“Love, Sex & Dreams”) adult entertainment store on the corner with Potsdamer Strasse, a client in tow. A girl on her way home from school is skipping down the road in the other direction.
A scene like this can probably be witnessed in most large cities around the world. What is unusual about the situation in Germany is that prostitution here has been legal since the Social Democrat (SPD)-Green coalition government changed the law in 2002.
The aim of that change was, as the SPD politician Anni Brandt-Elsweiler put it at the time, “to improve the situation of prostitutes by giving more power back into their own hands, by strengthening their self-confidence and their legal position when dealing with clients and pimps”.
In Berlin, political support for the pioneering law change is still strong. Earlier this year SPD and Green city councillors compiled a little booklet that they distributed among Kurfürstenstrasse residents, pleading for more tolerance and understanding towards the sex trade in their midst. “City life and prostitution have gone hand in hand for more than 100 years,” it said. “Prostitution is not illegal.”
But across the border in France politicians are contemplating a ban on paying for sex, and the tide seems to be turning when it comes to German public opinion as well. Last month the veteran feminist Alice Schwarzer published a book entitled Prostitution: A German Scandal. Emma, the feminist magazine started by Schwarzer in 1977, has also published a petition against the current law, signed by 90 celebrities from both the right and the left of the political spectrum.
They argue that Germany’s experiment with liberalising prostitution has failed spectacularly, turning the country into “the bordello of Europe”, with more and more brothels popping up near the border. The 2002 law was trying to make sex work a job like any other. But currently only 44 sex workers in Germany are registered with the national insurance scheme. Social workers say that most prostitutes cannot afford the luxury of putting aside money for a health insurance policy.
Schwarzer and her supporters have championed the legal situation in Sweden, where it is illegal to buy sexual services but not to sell them. She likens current attitudes to prostitution in Germany to those towards paedophilia in the 1970s: a wilful blindness towards an apparent injustice. “Prostitution, like paedophilia, is characterised not by equality, but drastic power imbalances,” she recently wrote in Die Zeit.
Schwarzer is not without her critics. At the launch of her book last week, she was harangued by a group of pro-prostitution campaigners.
Alexa Müller, 38, is one of the sex workers who passionately defend Germany’s unique path on prostitution law. “Women can run brothels responsibly here and not be prosecuted, that’s an incredible achievement. And sex workers are autonomous legal agents. They can take a client to court if he refuses to pay up,” she said.
Women run (legal) flat-rate brothels in Germany, women are just as capable of being abusers and exploiters as men are. Within the sex industry, some abusers are only a few rungs up the ladder from the women they are abusing (ie trafficked women who cut a deal with their traffickers to go back home and recruit new ‘girls’ to replace them), some are exploiters plain and simple.
Women may have the legal right to sue when a john doesn’t pay, but according tho the Spiegel article, “Hardly a single court had heard a case involving a prostitute suing for her wages.” This means the law doesn’t work in practice.
She accused Schwarzer of spreading ignorance and churning out misleading figures. Criminalising the clients of sex workers, as it is done in Sweden, she says, would only cement their victim status. “We are not victims, we are adventurous sex goddesses!” she said.
What a load of shit, “adventurous sex goddesses”? tell that to the women servicing 30 men a night in the completely legal flat-rate brothels. This woman is either a liar, a sadist, delusional, or a combination of the above.
If only 44 sex workers are registered for the public health scheme, she claimed, it is because 10 years of the new law haven’t been enough to remove social stigma. Most sex workers lead a double life where they do more than one job, and even if they work full-time, they are more likely to register as a “performance artist”.
“Do you really think I would call up my dentist and say: ‘By the way, I now earn my living mainly as a whore’?” she asked.
And we’re back to this nebulous ‘stigma’ again. Why would anyone need to tell their dentist how they were earning a living? Why, when registration brings the benefits of being part of a public health scheme, would women not want to register? Could the reason be that the prostitution itself (rather than the nebulous ‘stigma’ hanging around it) leaves them too poor and marginalised to register?
Müller originally started having sex for money in order to fund her degree in design, and went full-time seven years ago. “To be frank with you, I found it more creative, fun and fulfilling work than being a graphic designer. And I can say no to a client when you don’t want to work for him.” Her family knows about her work and supports her.
So, this is an already-privileged woman, who has always had options, and gets to pass down the ‘bad johns’ to women in the sex industry less privileged than herself; and who, despite being an “adventurous sex goddesses” doesn’t want her dentist to know what she is doing (she is also privileged enough for her status as ‘whore’ to not be obvious).
Müller volunteers for the sex workers’ support charity Hydra, and claimed she regularly meets and talks to Romanian and Bulgarian prostitutes who are in more desperate circumstances than she is. But the criticism remains that those defending the current law tend to be those who can afford to pick better jobs and reject the more debasing work.
“The biggest problem with the debate around prostitution is that we don’t have any reliable figures – mine are as much a stab in the dark as Alice Schwarzer’s. If there really is a problem and we want to fix it, a serious effort to get an idea of the scale of prostitution would be a start,” she said.
Over the past three days the number of visitors to this blog has shot up, and most of the extra visitors seem to be coming from Turkey, and they seem to be arriving here using search engine terms rather than links.
According to this 2011 BBC news report, the Turkish government blocks porn (but does it badly, eg including gay social sites as ‘porn’), and political dissent (definitely a bad thing – blocking it I mean!).
It looks like Turkish searches for porn are coming here – it’s actually rather funny, I can imagine some civil servant deciding this blog is acceptable (so some political dissent is allowed!), and therefore making it the only result that appears, so the poor horndogs have to make do with my writing instead of the porn they were hoping for!
Here are today’s search engine terms I assume are looking for porn:
porno blogspot (x2)
pornhup (x1, as are the rest below)
I don’t know if the amalgamation of ‘porn’ with another word is an attempt to get round a search engine filter, or just the way the Turkish language works; it isn’t just one determined individual either, WordPress stats differentiate between visitors and page views.
So, anyway, hello! to all my Turkish visitors, please do stick around and educate yourselves.
There is a long article published in Spiegel Online’s International (English Language) section on the status of prostitution in Germany today. It’s worth reading in full, especially for the details it goes into regarding how prostitution laws were liberalised in 2001/2002, effectively decriminalising the industry, and how the laws are being debated in Germany today. Below are some extracts, specifically to high-light conditions in the German sex industry.
Through a friend’s new boyfriend, [Alina] heard about the possibilities available in Germany. She learned that a prostitute could easily earn €900 ($1,170) a month there.
Alina began thinking about the idea. Anything seemed better than Sânandrei [Romania]. “I thought I’d have my own room, a bathroom and not too many customers,” she says. In the summer of 2009, she and her friend got into the boyfriend’s car and drove through Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic until they reached the German capital — not the trendy Mitte neighborhood in the heart of the city, but near Schönefeld airport, where the name of the establishment alone said something about the owner: Airport Muschis (“Airport Pussies”). The brothel specialized in flat-rate sex. For €100 ($129), a customer could have sex for as long and as often as he wanted.
It all went very quickly, says Alina. There were other Romanians there who knew the man who had brought them there. She was told to hand over her clothes and was given revealing lingerie to wear instead. Only a few hours after her arrival, she was expected to greet her first customers. She says that when she wasn’t nice enough to the clients, the Romanians reduced her wages.
The Berlin customers paid their fee at the entrance. Many took drugs to improve sexual performance and could last all night. A line often formed outside Alina’s room. She says that she eventually stopped counting how many men got into her bed. “I blocked it out,” she says. “There were so many, every day.”
Alina says that she and the other women were required to pay the pimps €800 a week. She shared a bed in a sleeping room with three other women. There was no other furniture. All she saw of Germany was the Esso gas station around the corner, where she was allowed to go to buy cigarettes and snacks, but only in the company of a guard. The rest of the time, says Alina, she was kept locked up in the club.
Prosecutors learned that the women in the club had to offer vaginal, oral and anal sex, and serve several men at the same time in so-called gangbang sessions. The men didn’t always use condoms. “I was not allowed to say no to anything,” says Alina. During menstruation, she would insert sponges into her vagina so that the customers wouldn’t notice.
She says that she was hardly ever beaten, nor were the other women. “They said that they knew enough people in Romania who knew where our families lived. That was enough,” says Alina. When she occasionally called her mother on her mobile phone, she would lie and tell her how nice it was in Germany. A pimp once paid Alina €600, and she managed to send the money to her family.
Alina’s story is not unusual in Germany. Aid organizations and experts estimate that there are up to 200,000 working prostitutes in the country. According to various studies, including one by the European Network for HIV/STI Prevention and Health Promotion among Migrant Sex Workers (TAMPEP), 65 to 80 percent of the girls and women come from abroad. Most are from Romania and Bulgaria.
The police can do little for women like Alina. The pimps were prepared for raids, says Alina, and they used to boast that they knew police officers. “They knew when a raid was about to happen,” says Alina, which is why she never dared to confide in a police officer.
The pimps told the girls exactly what to tell the police. They should say that they were surfing the web back home in Bulgaria or Romania and discovered that it was possible to make good money by working in a German brothel. Then, they had simply bought themselves a bus ticket and turned up at the club one day, entirely on their own.
It seems likely that every law enforcement officer who works in a red-light environment hears this same web of lies over and over again. The purpose of the fiction is to cover up all indications of human trafficking, in which women are brought to Germany and exploited there. It becomes a statement that transforms women like Alina into autonomous prostitutes, businesswomen who have chosen their profession freely and to whom Germany now wishes to offer good working conditions in the sex sector of the service industry.
That’s the ‘respectable whore’ image politicians seem in thrall of: free to do as they like, covered under the social insurance system, doing work they enjoy and holding an account at the local savings bank. Social scientists have a name for them: “migrant sex workers,” ambitious service providers who are taking advantage of opportunities they now enjoy in an increasingly unified Europe.
In 2001, German parliament, the Bundestag, with the votes of the Social Democratic Party/Green Party governing coalition in power at the time, passed a prostitution law intended to improve working conditions for prostitutes. Under the new law, women could sue for their wages and contribute to health, unemployment and pension insurance programs. The goal of the legislation was to make prostitution a profession like that of a bank teller or dental assistant, accepted instead of ostracized.
Today many police officers, women’s organizations and politicians familiar with prostitution are convinced that the well-meaning law is in fact little more than a subsidy program for pimps and makes the market more attractive to human traffickers.
When the prostitution law was enacted, the German civil code was also amended. The phrase “promotion of prostitution,” a criminal offence, was replaced with “exploitation of prostitutes.” Procurement is a punishable offence when it is “exploitative” or “dirigiste.” Police and public prosecutors are frustrated, because these elements of an offence are very difficult to prove. A pimp can be considered exploitative, for example, if he collects more than half of a prostitute’s earnings, which is rarely possible to prove. In 2000, 151 people were convicted of procurement, while in 2011 it was only 32.
The aim of the law’s initiators was in fact to strengthen the rights of the women, and not those of the pimps. They had hoped that brothel operators would finally take advantage of the opportunity to “provide good working conditions without being subject to prosecution,” as an appraisal of the law for the Federal Ministry for Families reads.
Before the new law, prostitution itself was not punished, but it was considered immoral. The authorities tolerated brothels, euphemistically referring to them as “commercial room rental.” Today, just over 11 years after prostitution was upgraded under the 2001 law, there are between 3,000 and 3,500 red-light establishments, according to estimates by the industry association Erotik Gewerbe Deutschland (UEGD). The Ver.di public services union estimates that prostitution accounts for about €14.5 billion in annual revenues.
There are an estimated 500 brothels in Berlin, 70 in the smaller northwestern city of Osnabrück and 270 in the small southwestern state of Saarland, on the French border. Many Frenchmen frequent brothels in Saarland. Berlin’s Sauna Club Artemis, located near the airport, attracts many customers from Great Britain and Italy.
Travel agencies offer tours to German brothels lasting up to eight days. The outings are “legal” and “safe,” writes one provider on its homepage. Prospective customers are promised up to 100 “totally nude women” wearing nothing but heels. Customers are also picked up at the airport and taken to the clubs in a BMW 5 Series.
In addition to so-called nudist or sauna clubs, where the male customers wear a towel while the women are naked, large brothels have also become established. They advertise their services at all-inclusive rates. When the Pussy Club opened near Stuttgart in 2009, the management advertised the club as follows: “Sex with all women as long as you want, as often as you want and the way you want. Sex. Anal sex. Oral sex without a condom. Three-ways. Group sex. Gang bangs.” The price: €70 during the day and €100 in the evening.
According to the police, about 1,700 customers took advantage of the offer on the opening weekend. Buses arrived from far away and local newspapers reported that up to 700 men stood in line outside the brothel. Afterwards, customers wrote in Internet chat rooms about the supposedly unsatisfactory service, complaining that the women were no longer as fit for use after a few hours.
The business has become tougher, says Nuremberg social worker Andrea Weppert, who has worked with prostitutes for more than 20 years, during which the total number of prostitutes has tripled. According to Weppert, more than half of the women have no permanent residence, but instead travel from place to place, so that they can earn more money by being new to a particular city.
Today “a high percentage of prostitutes don’t go home after work, but rather remain at their place of work around the clock,” a former prostitute using the pseudonym Doris Winter wrote in a contribution to the academic series “The Prostitution Law.” “The women usually live in the rooms where they work,” she added.
In Nuremberg, such rooms cost between €50 and €80 a day, says social worker Weppert, and the price can go up to €160 in brothels with a lot of customers. Working conditions for prostitutes have “worsened in recent years,” says Weppert. In Germany on the whole, she adds, “significantly more services are provided under riskier conditions and for less money than 10 years ago.”
Despite the worsening conditions, women are flocking to Germany, the largest prostitution market in the European Union — a fact that even brothel owners confirm. Holger Rettig of the UEGD says that the influx of women from Romania and Bulgaria has increased dramatically since the two countries joined the EU. “This has led to a drop in prices,” says Rettig, who notes that the prostitution business is characterized by “a radical market economy rather than a social market economy.”
Munich Police Chief Wilhelm Schmidbauer deplores the “explosive increase in human trafficking from Romania and Bulgaria,” but adds that he lacks access to the necessary tools to investigate. He is often prohibited from using telephone surveillance. The result, says Schmidbauer, “is that we have practically no cases involving human trafficking. We can’t prove anything.”
Has Germany’s prostitution law improved the situation of women like Sina? Five years after it was introduced, the Family Ministry evaluated what the new legislation had achieved. The report states that the objectives were “only partially achieved,” and that deregulation had “not brought about any measurable actual improvement in the social coverage of prostitutes.” Neither working conditions nor the ability to exit the profession had improved. Finally, there was “no solid proof to date” that the law had reduced crime.
Hardly a single court had heard a case involving a prostitute suing for her wages. Only 1 percent of the women surveyed said that they had signed an employment contract as a prostitute. The fact that the Ver.di union had developed a “sample employment contract in the field of sexual services” didn’t change matters. In a poll conducted by Ver.di, a brothel operator said that she valued the prostitution law because it reduced the likelihood of raids. In fact, she said, the law was more advantageous for brothel operators than prostitutes.
To operate a mobile snack bar in Germany, one has to be in compliance with the DIN 10500/1 standard for “Vending Vehicles for Perishable Food,” which states, for example, that soap dispensers and disposable towels are required. A brothel operator is not subject to any such restrictions. All he or she has to do is report to authorities when the brothel is opened.
Prostitutes still avoid registering with authorities. In Hamburg, with its famous Reeperbahn red-light district, only 153 women are in compliance with regulations and have registered with the city’s tax office. The government wants prostitutes to pay taxes. Does it have to establish rules for the profession in return?
The odd role the government assumes in the sex trade is in evidence among street hookers in Bonn. Every evening, prostitutes have to buy a tax ticket from a machine, valid until 6 a.m. the next day. The ticket costs €6.
In the northern part of Cologne, where drug-addicted prostitutes work along Geestemünder Strasse not far from the Ford plant, no taxes are levied. As part of a social project, so-called “working stalls” — essentially walled off parking spots for car sex — are built into a space under a shed roof. Although there are no signs plainly indicating that the facility is for prostitution, a speed limit of 10 kilometers per hour is posted for the fenced area, and drivers are required to move in a counter-clockwise direction.
German law enforcement officers working in red-light districts complain that they are hardly able to gain access to brothels anymore. Germany has become a “center for the sexual exploitation of young women from Eastern Europe, as well as a sphere of activity for organized crime groups from around the world,” says Manfred Paulus, a retired chief detective from the southern city of Ulm. He used to work as a vice detective and now warns women in Bulgaria and Belarus against being lured to Germany.
Statistically speaking, Germany has almost no problem with prostitution and human trafficking. According to the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), there were 636 reported cases of “human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation” in 2011, or almost a third less than 10 years earlier. Thirteen of the victims were under 14, and another 77 were under 18.
There are many women from EU countries “whose situation suggests they are the victims of human trafficking, but it is difficult to provide proof that would hold up in court,” reads the BKA report. Everything depends on the women’s testimony, the authors write, but there is “little willingness to cooperate with the police and assistance agencies, especially in the case of presumed victims from Romania and Bulgaria.” And when women do dare to say something, their statements are “often withdrawn.”
A study by the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law concluded that official figures on human trafficking say “little about the actual scope of the offence.”
But what if the German prostitution law actually helps human traffickers? Has the law in fact fostered prostitution and, along with it, human trafficking?
Axel Dreher, a professor of international and development politics at the University of Heidelberg, has attempted to answer these questions, using data from 150 countries. The numbers were imprecise, as are all statistics relating to trafficking and prostitution, but he was able to identify a trend: Where prostitution is legal, there is more human trafficking than elsewhere.
Most women who come to Germany to become prostitutes are not kidnapped on the street — and most do not seriously believe that they’ll be working in a German bakery. More commonly, they are women like Sina, who fall in love with a man and follow him to Germany, or like Alina, who know that they are going to become prostitutes. But they often don’t know how bad it can get — and they are unaware that they will hardly be able to keep any of the money they earn.
[P]oliticians in Berlin feel no significant pressure to do anything. This is partly because, in the debate over prostitution, an ideologically correct position carries more weight than the deplorable realities. For example, when the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences held a conference on prostitution in Germany a year ago, an attendee said that prostitution, “as a recognized sex trade, is undergoing a process of emancipation and professionalization.”
Such statements are shocking to Rahel Gugel, a law professor. “That’s absurd. It has nothing to do with reality,” she says. A professor of law in social work at the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University, Gugel wrote her dissertation on prostitution law and has worked for an aid organization.
Proponents of legalization argue that everyone has the right to engage in whatever profession he or she chooses. Some feminists even praise prostitutes for their emancipation, because, they say, women should be able to do what they want with their bodies. In practice, however, it becomes clear how blurred the boundaries are between voluntary and forced prostitution. Did women like Alina and Cora become prostitutes voluntarily, and did they make autonomous decisions? “It is politically correct in Germany to respect the decisions of individual women,” says lawyer Gugel. “But if you want to protect women, this isn’t the way to do it.”
According to Gugel, many women are in emotional or economic predicaments. There is evidence that a higher-than-average number of prostitutes were abused or neglected as children. Surveys have shown that many can be considered traumatized. Prostitutes suffer from depression, anxiety disorders and addiction at a much higher rate than the general population. Most prostitutes have been raped, many of them repeatedly. In surveys, most women say that they would get out of prostitution immediately if they could.
Of course, there are also those women who decide that they would rather sell their bodies than stock supermarket shelves. But there is every indication that they are a minority, albeit one that is vocally represented by a few female brothel owners and prostitution lobbyists like Felicitas Schirow.
The Airport Muschis brothel in Schönefeld no longer exists. It’s been replaced by Club Erotica, which does not offer flat-rates. But johns still have plenty of choice in the area. A few kilometers away in Schöneberg, the King George has switched to flat-rate pricing. Its management uses the slogan “Geiz macht Geil,” which loosely translates as “being cheap makes you horny.” For €99, clients can enjoy sex and drinks until the establishment closes. Anal sex, unprotected oral sex and kissing-with-tongue are extra. The King George offers a “gang-bang party” on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
It’s completely legal.
Based on two years of research using hidden cameras, the film [Sex - Made in Germany] by Sonia Kennebeck and Tina Soliman exposes the “flat-rate” brothels where men pay €49 (£42) for as much sex as they want, as well as a rise in sex tourism, with men from Asia, the Middle East and North America coming to Germany for sex.
Germany’s law governing the sex trade is considered one of the most liberal in the world. It was passed by the former coalition government, made up of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Greens, in a bid to strengthen the rights of sex workers and give them access to health insurance and benefits.
Since then, red light districts have become even more prominent in many major German cities including Berlin, Frankfurt and Hamburg, where the Reeperbahn is, notoriously, the focus for the sex trade. During the 2006 World Cup in Germany, brothels appeared close to football stadiums across the country to cater for fans before and after games.
Meanwhile, Monika Lazar, spokeswoman on women’s issues for the Alliance 90/Greens party, has defended the law, saying that making prostitution illegal again is not the way to improve working conditions. “Prostitution is still socially stigmatised, and that has not changed in the few years in which the law has been in effect,” she says. “But the law is helping to strengthen the position of prostitutes and ensuring women, and men, are much better protected.”
The law has been ‘liberalised’ for over 10 years, calling that “a few years” is completely dishonest (just think how much attitudes to smoking in public have changed in England since the ban came into effect in 2007).
And again, it’s this nebulous concept ‘stigma’ which is apparently harming women in prostitution, rather than, say, having to service 30 men a night, not being able to refuse ‘clients’, not getting paid, being a drug addict etc. etc., but no, apparently it’s this ‘stigma’ that’s the problem, not prostitution itself.
dalje.com reports on an advert taken out in two German papers defending a flat-rate brothels. The article claims the ads were paid for by 77 prostitutes, but then goes on to quote a female flat-rate brothel owner, and the leader of a sex industry advocate group, rather than any woman working in such a brothel, so I can’t help but be cynical about whether this ad actually represents women working in such places. It demonstrates also, that the main loyalty of sex industry advocates is always to the sex industry itself.
The brothel owner’s claims that flat-rate isn’t exploitative because “If they looked more closely at the offer they’d see a man can get all the sexual services he wants but not from one woman” and that “most customers leave after at most two sessions” are entirely dishonest, especially given reports that men “[take] drugs to improve sexual performance and [can] last all night”, and there are large numbers of men using the service; if even the johns can see that the women in flat-rate brothels are “no longer as fit for use after a few hours”, then it really must be bad.
“Get off our backs — no ban on brothels with or without ‘flat rates’,” read the headline in the quarter-page adverts.
Prostitutes in Germany are fighting back against attempts by conservative politicians and some irate residents to stop popular “flat-rate” brothels.
Officials in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg launched moves to stop one brothel with a “flat-rate” fee system because they viewed it as inhumane for women to provide unlimited sexual services all day for a one-off 70 euros ($100) fee.
But a group of 77 prostitutes bought advertising space in two national dailies to argue that this was simply a ruse to get brothels banned altogether.
“Get off our backs — no ban on brothels with or without ‘flat rates’,” read the headline in the quarter-page adverts. Under the guise of ‘humane working conditions’, they are in reality plotting to ban brothels and threaten our livelihood.”
For a 70 euros charge customers are entitled to all the sex, food and drink they want between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The evening flat rate rises to 100 euros.
Pussy club operator Patricia Floreiu has said most customers leave after at most two sessions.
There are at least four such “flat rate” brothels across Germany, a country where prostitution is legal.
Heribert Rech, Baden-Wuerttemberg’s Christian Democrat interior minister, has led a campaign against the “Pussy Club” establishment in the town of Fellbach, saying the “favourable price suggests women there are being exploited”.
But Juanita Henning, the leader of Dona Carmen in Frankfurt, told Reuters that critics want to reverse a 2002 law that gives prostitutes extensive legal rights and protection.
“This is nothing more than a moral campaign,” Henning said. “If they looked more closely at the offer they’d see a man can get all the sexual services he wants but not from one woman. It’s pure ignorance and prejudice against the industry.”
‘Date My Porn Star’ was a bit of a disappointment; it’s a reality TV show, rather than a piece of hard-hitting investigative documentary filmmaking. It comes across more like one of those ‘semi scripted’ reality TV show that are so cheap and easy for TV companies to make, since it follows such a predictable and formulaic story arc for the three porn using protagonists.
Since it wasn’t investigative journalism, we only got to see the porn sets that the pornographers were happy for us to see, and most of it was pretty anodyne (or maybe I’m just jaded). The focus of the programme is on the three male porn users and their ‘journey’, rather than on any of the porn performers. Towards the end of the programme there was a live-streamed ‘gang bang’ that did show a female performer becoming distressed and exhausted.
Documentaries like Hard Core, or the ‘Dark Side of Porn’ series that Channel 4 broadcast around 2005 did a much better job of revealing the reality of the LA based porn industry (one thing I particularly remember – pity I wasn’t taking notes back then – a woman who worked in gonzo porn, frequently doing double-anals saying: one day, I’m going to get hurt real bad and my ass is going to fall out). Or there is this footage (TRIGGER WARNING, the content is very disturbing), if you want to see what it’s like when there isn’t a Channel 4 film crew there as well.
‘Date My Porn Star’ will still be available to watch on 4OD for just over a week now, and below are the notes I took while I was watching (tidied up a bit, but otherwise recorded in the order things occurred in the programme).
The protagonists: Kevin, straight, 20 years old, a very heavy porn user, has had sex with 60+ women, but could only ejaculate with 20 of them. Jessica James (JJ) his chosen LA ‘date’.
Jonathan, 40, wheelchair user since a car accident at 20, straight, porn a massive part of his life, Tanya Tate (TT) his ‘date’.
Danny, 23, gay, ‘Justine Dean’(?) in porn (has done 6 shoots), Cody Cummings (CC) his ‘date’.
They visit a porn set in London before going to LA (straight and gay shoots – gay performers had their faces blurred out for some reason).
CC: straight, uses straight porn before shooting. All his films are soft core, no actual sex – ‘fake’ to Danny.
JJ: 700 scenes over 10 years, started her own company in 2008. During a shoot most scenes acted out first for stills shots – every position etc held motionless with faked expressions, followed by filming of the actual scenes. “Plenty of artificial lubricant” used. Have to cut in middle of scene because of traffic noise from outside.
Next visit ‘Immorallive.com’ / ‘Immoral.com’, ‘Porno Dan’ looking for new ‘girls’. During conveyor belt auditions the women have to strip, do a lap dance; one a mother of three, getting a PhD in quantum physics. Youngest, Pricilla, 19, ‘only’ had sex with 3 men in her ‘real life’. Porno Dan didn’t like the in depth questions to Priscilla from the two younger men.
Jonathon didn’t like the younger men questioning the women, and discussing the women’s motivations with each other, called it judgmental, and said the women were there to present themselves as objects to be sold.
TT (“never done double anal”) shooting a mother/daughter incest scene in a mansion in the LA hills. Jonathon really loved what he saw.
Back to Porno Dan (PD) for ‘Fuck a Fan’ live show – not half way through at 2 hours.
PD: not that much demand for performers, less than 1000 [didn't catch exactly how many 100s, and 4OD player doesn't let me pause or rewind] women working, need to dance, escort to survive economically, majority escort.
Performer ‘Nicky Sex’ exhausted, looks distressed, starts crying and temporarily walks off set. Goes on for hours into the night, all live-streamed so no editing.
CC has a daughter who no longer talks to him after he told her about his porn career.
JJ “Not really a promiscuous person” “monogamous”. Both female performers quiz their ‘dates’ on their sex and relationship difficulties, and theorise that porn was having a deleterious effect.
Then all three men meet ex performer Vanessa Belmond, left industry a few months ago. Started stripping at 18, started in porn at 19 as ‘Alexa Cruise’ [spelling?]. Caught Chlamydia from her first scene, and has had 3 or 4 more Chlamydia infections, testing inadequate. Had to take painkillers for first anal scene, had vaginal and anal tears many times. Physically hard on the throat (“throat fucking”), had throat bleed, had scenes with 8 to 10 men. Left after 7 years.
~One month later~ Kevin now, in his words “less of a misogynist”. Danny had a couple of offers from porn companies, turned them down and decided to go to university instead. Jonathon not enjoying porn any more, considers the trip to LA a “wake up call”.
Yep, it’s official; according to 343 male ‘intellectuals’ in France, men’s erections matter more than women’s lives.
We’ve always know this is what men really think, but it isn’t usually spelt out so clearly for us. If men have the right to be sexually serviced, and this is what they are saying with this petition, then that means that a woman or child (or man) will, sooner rather than later, lose their right to be free from unwanted sex.
This is what patriarchy is, this is what the sex industry is, it is about the right men believe they have to be sexually serviced, to have access to the bodies of women and children (and men).
On a slightly positive note though, if the French government can instigate the Nordic Model (the decriminalisation of the prostitute her (or him) self, plus the criminalisation of the john), then any western country can.
A group of French intellectuals have come under fire from feminists over a magazine petition in which several high-profile male journalists, commentators and actors demanded the right to visit sex-workers.
The petition – deliberately styled along the lines of a famous 1971 feminist appeal to legalise abortion led by Simone de Beauvoir – was aimed at countering the government’s proposals to criminalise anyone who pays for sex in France. The French parliament will soon debate Socialist proposals to make it illegal to pay for sex, meaning anyone who buys sex from any kind of sex-worker would face heavy fines.
The men’s petition in the November issue of the magazine Causeur was signed by figures including the novelist and editor Frederic Beigbeder, several journalists and columnists, comedians, actors and the lawyer Richard Malka, who has defended clients including the former IMF leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The petition stated “some of us have gone, go, or will go to prostitutes – and we are not even ashamed”. They added “everyone should be free to sell their charms, and even to love doing it.”
But feminists and the government expressed outrage at what they saw as the hijacking of the feminist writer de Beauvoir’s 1971 abortion manifesto in which 343 famous women, including Catherine Deneuve and Jeanne Moreau, admitted having had an abortion, something which left them liable for arrest. That petition, which the media later dubbed the manifesto of the “343 salopes” – sluts or bitches – helped lead to the legalisation of abortion in France.
That the men’s petition on prostitution was deliberately titled “the manifesto of the 343 bastards” sparked fury from some women’s groups and MPs.
Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, government spokeswoman and minister for women’s rights, said: “The 343 salopes were asking to be able to freely use their body. The 343 bastards are demanding the right to use others’ bodies.”
There is a big trend in ‘sex positive’ ‘choice feminism’ and among some sex industry advocates to blame the women who are abused in the sex industry for their own abuse.
This is a pathologization of victimhood, the system isn’t to blame, the victim herself and her own ‘bad choices’ are to blame, there is something wrong with her, not the system. The upshot of this is that we are encouraged not to look at the sex industry with any kind of structural or class analysis, we are asked to only look at the comparatively privileged women who are doing well as individuals within the status quo.
Next Years Girl has recently been having an exchange with tumblr user Baby Baby Sugar that illustrates this clearly, with a stark degree of contempt for victims on Baby Baby Sugar’s part that is more blatant than one usually sees.
Sex work is just like any other job. Ask 99% of high end escorts and they’ll tell you that they actually love what they do. Those studies are, in fact biased. I’d like to see a secure sex worker conduct the same study – the results would be a lot more accurate considering she would interview the right people and NOT street walkers who, most of the time, do this out of desperation.
If “high end escorts” are “the right people”, then on-street workers are ‘the wrong people’, they are unclean and we shouldn’t look at them or think about them, and we definitely shouldn’t think about them when considering laws and policies, because they just don’t count.
YES THERE ARE WOMEN THAT ARE FORCED INTO IT, but for those that are struggling to make ends meet you don’t HAVE to resort to sex work. Yes you’ll probably struggle financially but still resorting to sex work is entirely an OPTION. If you’re not emotionally and physically stable enough to enter the industry then you shouldn’t be in it. If you decide to enter regardless, you know what you’re in for.
The level of callousness and contempt here is breathtaking. Prominent sex industry advocates love to set up straw-abolitionists to bash, saying it’s our opinions that are creating ‘stigma’ (a nebulous term, especially in sex industry advocate hands), that is hurting ‘sex workers’, and even saying that our words are literally ‘killing’ ‘sex workers’, but this is the way those at the top of the pyramid view those at the bottom they are standing on (I have said, many times, that the sex industry is a pyramid with a very broad base).
As Next Years Girl puts it so well:
“If you’re not emotionally and physically stable enough to enter the industry then you shouldn’t be in it. If you decide to enter regardless, you know what you’re in for.”
I mean, has any phrase ever so perfectly demonstrated the complete meaninglessness of the fun feminist concept of “choice” without actually being parody?
For some context Baby Baby Sugar is a ‘sugar baby’, and her level of ‘sex work’ doesn’t even have to involve sexual contact with her ‘sugar daddy’, and she’s in the privileged position of not having to do it at all.
LET ME SET A FEW THINGS STRAIGHT. I have been blessed enough to have a high paying job and parents with money. I do NOT and will NEVER need to rely on a man for money. Sugaring is simply a bonus – yes it’s a nice big bonus, but I can still afford to pay my rent and even the occasional Louis Vuitton bag ON MY OWN. Don’t you even dare try and tell me that I’m getting nowhere just because I don’t currently have a stable SD because I sure as hell could quit sugaring at any time and still live a perfectly great life.
I have nothing against escorts, in fact I greatly respect escorts and what they do. That being said, being a SB, 90% of the messages I get are guy looking for an escort but aren’t willing to admit it. JUST NOW I had a guy offer me a measly $1500 a month so that he could come over several times a week to MY place and have sex. Then he added ‘oh I can take you for occasional outings if you’d like.’ FIRST OFF the cheapest escorts in Vancouver would laugh right in your face because you’re practically offering $125 per meet (who the fuck do you think you are.) Secondly, you keep arguing with me saying ‘I’m familiar with escorts, escorts are a business deal while sugaring is chemistry with a business deal.’ Um NO. Obviously you have no fucking idea what you’re talking about. You’re asking for sex with the ‘maybe’ of occasional outings- THAT IS NOT WHAT A SUGAR RELATIONSHIP IS. GET IT THROUGH YOUR FUCKING HEAD. The fact that this mother fucker brings up sex as well as how often he wants it and where he wants it in his FIRST message is fucking pathetic. Take your net worth of $200,000 and your pocket change elsewhere because no sugar baby nor escort is going to want your cheap, stupid ass. Rant over.
I read somewhere, ages ago, that the best test of a libertarian, if they are willing to follow through with their selfish-individualist and noeliberal thinking, is whether or not they are happy with the idea of there being a free market in human babies.
I ran across this at the Bewilderness the other day:
Unfortunately, a brief search couldn’t find the source of that specific quote, but I did find the original book ‘The Ethics of Liberty’ by Murry Rothbard (I have read chapter 14):
Applying our theory to parents and children, this means that a parent does not have the right to aggress against his children, but also that the parent should not have a legal obligation to feed, clothe, or educate his children, since such obligations would entail positive acts coerced upon the parent and depriving the parent of his rights. The parent therefore may not murder or mutilate his child, and the law properly outlaws a parent from doing so. But the parent should have the legal right not to feed the child, i.e., to allow it to die. The law, therefore, may not properly compel the parent to feed a child or to keep it alive. (Again, whether or not a parent has a moral rather than a legally enforceable obligation to keep his child alive is a completely separate question.) This rule allows us to solve such vexing questions as: should a parent have the right to allow a deformed baby to die (e.g., by not feeding it)? The answer is of course yes, following a fortiori from the larger right to allow any baby, whether deformed or not, to die. (Though, as we shall see below, in a libertarian society the existence of a free baby market will bring such “neglect” down to a minimum.)
But when are we to say that this parental trustee jurisdiction over children shall come to an end? Surely any particular age (21,18, or whatever) can only be completely arbitrary. The clue to the solution of this thorny question lies in the parental property rights in their home. For the child has his full rights of self-ownership when he demonstrates that he has them in nature — in short, when he leaves or “runs away” from home. Regardless of his age, we must grant to every child the absolute right to runaway and to find new foster parents who will voluntarily adopt him, or to try to exist on his own. Parents may try to persuade the runaway child to return, but it is totally impermissible enslavement and an aggression upon his right of self-ownership for them to use force to compel him to return. The absolute right to run away is the child’s ultimate expression of his right of self-ownership, regardless of age.
Now if a parent may own his child (within the framework of non-aggression and runaway-freedom), then he may also transfer that ownership to someone else. He may give the child out for adoption, or he may sell the rights to the child in a voluntary contract. In short, we must face the fact that the purely free society will have a flourishing free market in children. Superficially, this sounds monstrous and inhuman. But closer thought will reveal the superior humanism of such a market. For we must realize that there is a market for children now, but that since the government prohibits sale of children at a price, the parents may now only give their children away to a licensed adoption agency free of charge. This means that we now indeed have a child-market, but that the government enforces a maximum price control of zero, and restricts the market to a few privileged and therefore monopolistic agencies. The result has been a typical market where the price of the commodity is held by government far below the free-market price: an enormous “shortage” of the good. The demand for babies and children is usually far greater than the supply, and hence we see daily tragedies of adults denied the joys of adopting children by prying and tyrannical adoption agencies. In fact, we find a large unsatisfied demand by adults and couples for children, along with a large number of surplus and unwanted babies neglected or maltreated by their parents. Allowing a free market in children would eliminate this imbalance, and would allow for an allocation of babies and children away from parents who dislike or do not care for their children, and toward foster parents who deeply desire such children. Everyone involved: the natural parents, the children, and the foster parents purchasing the children, would be better off in this sort of society.
Some of this may sound good, superficially, but, it ignores why a child might run-away; a child escaping intolerable abuse has not proven themselves capable of ‘existing on their own’, they are acting out of desperation, and, in the real world, are most likely to be exposing themselves to more abuse. The scenario Rothbard describes above bears no resemblance to the real world, as if any 12-year-old can simply leave home and move in the same day with a nice new foster family who will definitely want them; or perhaps the 12-year-old can go to a hotel to tide themselves over until they can find a flat to rent? Rothbard, surprise surprise, is in favour of child labour, so presumably our putative 12-year-old can find a well paying job, just like that, and they won’t have to resort to survival prostitution, sorry ~juvenile sex work~ to survive economically (Rothbard is also against compulsory education, so this 12-year-old could have ‘chosen’ to be illiterate).
Rothbard’s ideas ignore that there is only a demand (in the west) for healthy white babies, very few potential adoptive parents actively want an older child, especially not one with psychological problems caused by abuse or neglect (presumably, under Rothbard’s system, all disabled babies will be left to die after birth, so how to place disabled children with a new family won’t be a problem). It also ignores that abusive parents may not actually want to give up their children, they may want to keep them to carry on abusing them. A father who is raping his 12-year-old girl or boy, isn’t going to let her/him run away to a nice new foster family – and this assumes that these potential foster parents are all benign themselves, and not just looking for a child to abuse. Rothbard does say that forcing a child to stay is a crime against that child, but he also reinforces the privacy of the family against state interference, and says nothing practical about how such abuse might be detected.
Rothbard also ignores cases of neglect that are not due to the sadism of the parent, but due to poverty or the ill health of the parent. Rothbard’s system would not remove the child from a parent who couldn’t afford to feed them, but it would leave a loving parent with only the options of watching their child starve, or selling them to better-off adults (there is, obviously, no social safety net in this system to help keep poor families together).
Rothbard states that the parental ownership of the child does not extend to the right to torture or mutilate that child, but we know, out here in the real world, that such abuse is carried out in secret, in the privacy and isolation of the family, privacy and isolation that Rothbard reinforces with his libertarian emphasis on property.
He does criticise the fact that children were not (at the time of his writing) fully protected from adult violence:
until recent years, the parents were rendered immune by court decisions from ordinary tort liability in physically aggressing against their children—fortunately, this is now being remedied
But with no acknowledgement of the real-world difficulties small children have in standing up to there parents in any way; cases occurring this year in the UK demonstrate the powerlessness and helplessness of children in the face of adult aggression, and Rothbard also ignores the fact that when children do speak out, they are often disbelieved.
Rothbard then goes on to say:
On the other hand, the two other grounds for seizing children from their parents, both coming under the broad rubric of “child neglect,” clearly violate parental rights. These are: failure to provide children with the “proper” food, shelter, medical care, or education; and failure to provide children with a “fit environment.” It should be clear that both categories, and especially the latter, are vague enough to provide an excuse for the State to seize almost any children, since it is up to the State to define what is “proper” and “fit.” Equally vague are other, corollary, standards allowing the State to seize children whose “optimal development” is not being promoted by the parents, or where the “best interests” of the child (again, all defined by the State) are promoted thereby.
Followed by some cherry-picked examples of children being taken away from their parents for reasons Rothbard finds spurious. The reasons may well have been spurious, and an infringement of the parents rights, but the point is that Rothbard does not think the state should interfere at all in how a parent raises their child, unless they are actively assaulting them – remember, Rothbard doesn’t think that parents are under any legal obligation to feed their children, and in one of the examples he cites, a child was being used to hand out religious literature, strongly implying that Rothbard has no problem with parents using their children as unpaid labourers.
An abused three-year-old does not necessarily have the capacity to call the police, or a lawyer, when they are being abused. If their parent, the person they are entirely reliant upon, and who sets the baseline standards for ‘normality’, is telling them that they are bad and they deserve to be hurt, that three year will likely believe them. If a father is sexually abusing his three-year-old, and tells them that this is what daddies do to show how much they love their child, the child may believe them. Rothbard seems to have no understanding at all of the sheer vulnerability of very small children.
Rothbard is in favour of child labour, and sees education as oppressive. There is, of course, vast room for improvement in the education systems of the western world, and he does make some good points about how children who cannot fit into the mainstream system are criminalised, but it still ignores the vulnerabilities of children. Employers like child labourers because they are easier to control and exploit, and can be paid less (Rothbard, is, naturally, against a ‘living wage’ as being coercive to employers).
The rights of children, even more than those of parents, have been systematically invaded by the state. Compulsory school attendance laws, endemic in the United States since the turn of this century, force children either into public schools or into private schools officially approved by the state. Supposedly “humanitarian” child labor laws have systematically forcibly prevented children from entering the labor force, thereby privileging their adult competitors. Forcibly prevented from working and earning a living, and forced into schools which they often dislike or are not suited for, children often become “truants,” a charge used by the state to corral them into penal institutions in the name of “reform” schools, where children are in effect imprisoned for actions or non-actions that would never be considered “crimes” if committed by adults.
It has, indeed, been estimated that from one-quarter to one-half of “juvenile delinquents” currently incarcerated by the state did not commit acts that would be considered crimes if committed by adults (i.e., aggression against person and property). The “crimes” of these children were in exercising their freedom in ways disliked by the minions of the state: truancy “incorrigibility,” running away. Between the sexes, it is particularly girl children who are jailed in this way for “immoral” rather than truly criminal actions. The percentage of girls jailed for immorality (“waywardness,” sexual relations) rather than for genuine crimes ranges from 50 to over 80 percent.
Again, Rothbard makes some very good criticisms of the juvenile criminal justice system, as it existed, for real, in the USA up until the 1980s when the book was published, but that doesn’t automatically make his libertarian solutions the right ones.
There is something dishonest about referring to any intervention in the life of a child as ‘imprisonment’ – babies and toddlers are simply incapable of taking care of their basic needs, and young children are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse from malign adults when they are ‘freed’ to fend for themselves on the street. It is also dishonest to treat this as a polarised, all-or-nothing issue: if you’re not in favor of child workers competing with adults in a neoliberal anarcha-capitalist free market, that means you want 15-year-old girls to be locket up for being sexually active (I think Laura Agustin must be a fan of Rothbard!). There is, obviously, much room for improvement in the way that society treats children, but giving parents the freedom to starve them until they run away to a nice new foster home (that absolutely won’t be exploitative either, because the world is so cleanly cut into adults who ‘have’ children, but don’t want them, and those who would be absolutely wonderful parents, but just can’t have children – ever considered that such adults might not have turned out well if they’d been able to have their own children in the first place?) is not the solution.
Trustees for a village hall have cancelled planned bondage classes, saying their premises were hired under false pretences.
Trumpington village hall, on the outskirts of Cambridge, usually hosts Women’s Institute meetings, indoor bowls and the local Brownies troop. But next month it had been due to host a series of workshops including spanking and impact play, kink on a budget and flogging, in an event organised by the group Peer Rope Cambridge (PRC).
Now the hall’s trustees have issued a statement saying: “It has been brought to their attention that the premises have been hired under false pretences by PRC Cambridge. When the bookings were made, the activity was described as a relationship support group meeting.
“This description did not fully state the activities being undertaken. The trustees have therefore cancelled all future bookings and have no further comment to make.”
The online programme for the 12 October event, which was due to cost £10, ended with the note: “We’d very much appreciate it if you could help us to pack up – stack chairs, collapse tables. Our maid for the day, Sarah, serves tea, coffee and biscuits.”
Sheila Stuart, who represents Trumpington on Cambridge city council, told the Cambridge News: “I think this is becoming much more common and less hidden with the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey, and has brought it much more out in the open. Cambridge has a very diverse community, so I am not surprised.”
Nobody from PRC has commented on the event but the Twitter account Cambridge Kink tweeted: “Workshops day has been cancelled.”
I don’t think I’ve heard the term “impact play” before, I imagine it’s a euphemism for beating someone up – all ‘safe, sane and consensual’[sic] of course.
Oh look (or rather don’t, since it’s gross, and includes a NSFW image), Wikipedia says I’m right: “Less common forms of impact play include punching”.