QotD: “It would be so awesome if people would actually debate the Nordic Model as it is instead of lying about it”
It would be so awesome if people would actually debate the Nordic Model as it is instead of lying about it. The Nordic Model is predicated on having a very robust social safety net that provides free housing, income, medical services and real opportunities for transitioning to other kinds of work. That’s why it is called the Nordic Model! Because it originated in places that already have that, and then they actually provided EVEN MORE support so that women would have a truly viable way out of the life, something over 90% of prostitutes say they want when surveyed.
Like, if our abolitionist positions are so bad, why do you have to constantly lie about them?
The Feministahood has a great post up called What Amnesty Did Wrong. I’m going to quote from it more than once, since they pull the info together so well.
Amnesty’s research was flawed
Amnesty conducted research in 4 countries (Papua New Guinea, Norway, Argentina and Hong Kong) that have a variety of legislative approaches to prostitution, including one country (Norway) that has implemented the Nordic Model. Amnesty did not make the full reports publicly available but the leaked final draft policy includes a summary of the “overarching” research findings. This states that they interviewed “80 sex workers” – i.e. an average of 20 in each of the four countries, which is too small a sample to draw conclusive results. Also, as we saw earlier, the “sex worker” term may include pimps and others with vested interests in the decriminalised approach that Amnesty recommends.
The research purports to show “the human rights impact of criminalisation of sex work.” However, they did not conduct research in a country (like Holland or Germany) that has implemented a fully decriminalised approach. To show that full decriminalisation is the solution to the problems that they observed, they would need to show that these problems are not present in countries that have implemented that solution.
Under the heading “Criminalisation of sex work compounds stigma and discrimination against sex workers”, the research summary includes four quotations from migrant women in street prostitution in Norway describing racist slurs they had received from passing white Norwegian women. Clearly what these women describe is appalling but it does not prove that it is caused by the prostitution legislation or that it would be solved by decriminalisation.
Under the heading “Sex workers are criminalised and negatively affected by a range of sex work laws – not just those on the direct sale of sex,” there are several quotations from women in prostitution in Norway who complain that the ban on sex buying results in them having to visit clients in their homes and the dangers this involves. For example:
“When you go to a customer’s house there could be five of them there.”
“If he hurts you there is no-one there to rescue you.”
Rather than proving that decriminalisation is the solution, this shows that punters are inherently dangerous to women in prostitution and that the prostitution relationship is inherently unequal. That Amnesty wants to legitimise this inherently dangerous and unequal relationship through full decriminalisation of the entire industry seems to prove only that it has lost touch with its original aims of protecting the least powerful.
Under the heading “Criminalisation gives police impunity to abuse sex workers and acts as a major barrier to police protection for sex workers,” the summary says that Amnesty “did not find substantive evidence of police violence towards sex workers in Norway.” Unfortunately they did not conclude from this that Norway’s Nordic Model legislation has produced some good results for prostituted women in Norway. The report goes into some detail about how a law against promoting prostitution in Norway is used by the police to evict prostituted women from their accommodation. However, again this does not prove that the full decriminalisation that Amnesty is advocating is the only solution or even a solution. You do not have to be a genius to think of other solutions.
Under the heading “The most marginalised sex workers often report the highest levels, and worst experiences, of criminalisation,” the summary reports migrant on-street prostituted women in Norway complaining of racism from the police and the public. However, there is no evidence that this is related to the Nordic Model law per se or that full decriminalisation of the sex industry would magically cure the racism in this Scandinavian society.
The summary also reports the head of a Brazilian transgender rights NGO saying that the police demand money to protect the prostituted transgendered people from human trafficking networks and thieves. Again this does not prove that full decriminalisation of the sex industry would solve this problem. However, it does hint at the extreme dangers that prostituted people experience from those who profit from the sex trade.
There is no doubt that marginalised people are treated appallingly in the sex trade. The argument is about what is the best way to deal with this. There is a significant body of research that shows that prostitution tends to entrench the disadvantages that marginalised people face. This is an argument for the Nordic Model rather than for full decriminalisation of the entire industry.
It is clear that Amnesty’s research was poorly designed and implemented and it is not possible to honestly extrapolate from the research that full decriminalisation of the industry would be a solution to any of the problems that they document. This suggests that the research was not conducted in good faith and a spirit of openness but with the aim of proving what had already been decided.
A more honest approach would be to compare a country that has implemented a fully decriminalised approach (such as Holland) with a country that has implemented the Nordic Model. Sweden would make the best choice as an example of a country that has implemented the Nordic Model, as it has the longest experience with that approach and has had time and, importantly, the political will to iron out some of the teething problems.
Amnesty international does not take a position on whether sex work should be formally recognized as work for the purposes of regulation. States can impose legitimate restrictions on the sale of sexual services, provided that such restrictions comply with international human rights law, in particular in that they must be for a legitimate purpose, provided by law, necessary for and proportionate to the legitimate aim sought to be achieved, and not discriminatory.
Now, it could be that Amnesty means controls and restrictions can be placed on the way brothels operate, to avoid abusive ‘working’ conditions like the entirely legal flat rate brothels in Germany, but since Amnesty hasn’t acknowledged that such abusive conditions exist, who knows?
It’s obvious which ‘sex workers’ are most likely to be targeted for regulation; it will be the most vulnerable and marginalised on-street prostitutes, who are seen as a public nuisance who put off the tourists when they operate in city centres.
And if it’s not ‘work’ that’s being regulated, what is it? Abuse? So a state can pass laws about how exactly someone can be raped for money?! (Is this the ‘harm reduction’ Amnesty is dedicated to in point 4?)
The Decision also says this (point 12):
The policy will be fully consistent with Amnesty International’s positions with respect to consent to sexual activity, including in contexts that involve abuse of power or positions of authority.
How is this actually possible? How does any act of ‘sex work’ (except for a tiny minority of already privileged individuals in the shallow end of the sex industry) not involve an inequality of power? Under any other circumstances, coercing someone into sex is rape, but, somehow, economic coercion and inequality doesn’t count – Amnesty is committed to the cleansing power of money.
Point 5 is actually ridiculous:
States have the obligation to prevent and combat trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation and to protect the human rights of victims of trafficking.
As long as states don’t recognise the link between supply and demand, the link between blanket decriminalisation and the massive increase in demand, right?
Calling prostitution ‘sex work’ turns any problem with prostitution into a ‘labour issue’, rather than a sexual abuse issue.
Calling prostitution ‘sex work’ turns any problem with prostitution into a ‘labour issue’, rather than a sexual abuse issue.
Then rape, which is what forced prostitution should be recognizable as, even to someone who is pro-sex industry, becomes nothing more than a ‘labour issue’.
how about gendering animals? Fish are aquagender and have a fetish for water, dogs are caninegender, cats are felinegender, guinea pigs are cucumbergender or carrotgender….
Or food. If you like hot dogs you are sausagender and have more genders depending on the things you like on your hot dog. Same with pizza. For example you can be pizzagender and if you like more than one kind of pizza you are pizzafluid.
Or what about jobs? If you are a doctor you are doctorgender and if you get another job you are jobfluid. Or you can be a (oppressive) monojobber with only one job you entire life.
Or books/video games/. Are you a fantasygender, scifigender or a genrefluid? Are you straight but love gay movies? Congrats you are a hetero gaymovieromantic.
And every new gender comes with new exiting pronouns. :D
Yay more genders, more flags, more queer things, more labels!
The price is high. It must be paid, but I think [Mick Hume, author of Trigger Warning: Is the Fear of Being Offensive Killing Free Speech?] underestimates it. He reproduces a famous sentence from Evelyn Hall’s book The Friends of Voltaire that is often mistakenly attributed to Voltaire – “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” – and calls his enemies “the reverse-Voltaires, whose slogan is, ‘I know I will detest what you say, and I will defend to the end of free speech my right to stop you saying it’.” I’m not a reverse-Voltaire, but I’m something just as bad, in Hume’s typology: a “but-head”, someone who says, “I believe in freedom of speech, but … ” Anyone who says “but” must deny that the right to free speech is “indivisible”. Hume thinks that’s a fatal mistake: if you allow any exceptions, the dividing line between permitted and forbidden is no longer perfectly sharp, and you’re on a slippery slope, risking more and more restrictions. I disagree: the line is no longer sharp, but it’s not true that we’re on a slippery slope. The first amendment of the US constitution states categorically that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press” (Hume calls it “the global gold standard” of free speech). The court’s defence of the first amendment over the years shows how the line can be held even after exceptions are allowed, for it does place limits on free speech – for example, on “fighting words”, deliberately intended and likely to incite “imminent lawless action”; on explicit threats against specific targets; and on false shouts of “Fire!” in a crowded theatre.
Hume admits these exceptions to unrestricted free speech, and then makes a rationalisation that he condemns elsewhere: he says they’re “not cases of free speech”, “not about free speech at all”. Yet each states quite plainly and correctly that you can’t say what you like, where you like, when you like: they place a limit on speech.
So Hume is himself a “but-head”, rightly so. And his admiration for the first amendment requires him to address an issue he omits: the fact that it was used to justify Citizens United, the 2010 US supreme court ruling that opened the way for corporations to contribute unlimited funds to political causes, and, in effect, buy the leaders they want, most notably by funding political “attacks ads” on television. Here free speech is free speech for the rich and, by the same token, the silencing of the poor. For while the poor can say and publish what they want, they will not be heard by the mass of the electorate. Hume criticises the UK Communications Act 2003 on free-speech grounds, but in this case it does more for the cause of free speech than the first amendment, by prohibiting political advertising on television or radio and ensuring equality of air time (mercifully brief) for the major parties’ party political broadcasts.
“Love how you treat them like slaves too bro love your work” pipes up one young Australian dad on Facebook. He is messaging Tim “Sharky” Ward, a notorious Australian pimp who lives in Pattaya, Thailand.
Pattaya’s lucrative sex trade boomed off the back of the United States Army who frequented the town for a bit of “rest and relaxation.” The trade continues to this day, bolstered by favourable economic policy and cohorts of sex tourists.
Pattaya’s demand for young women is particularly well served by the continued exclusion of minority and ethnic groups in the region.
Sharky, Pattaya’s resident pimp, boasts several hundred thousand online fans that flock to view his explicit images of young women. He also shares stories of how he demands respect and uses violence if “girls” don’t pay up – for instance, he put one woman in a “sleeper hold” in order to snatch her money. Sharky’s fans applaud.
We might expect pimps like Sharky to be embraced by the deadbeats of the world. Surprisingly though, Sharky may find his greatest promoters are actually those who consider themselves progressives. From within their stronghold of so-called feminist and left-leaning supporters, they are calling for pimps like Sharky to be recognized as legitimate managers and professionals.
Such is the case in a new policy adopted by one of the world’s most renowned progressive organisations, Amnesty International.
In recent days, the debate has heated up over Amnesty’s call for full decriminalisation of the activities of pimps, sex-buyers and those profiting off exploitation in the sex trade. Australia’s feminist media has been quick to respond with declarations of support for Amnesty and their pimp comrades.
Mamamia was among the first to lay out a business case for why Amnesty’s policy merits support. Destroy the Joint followed suit. Yet both ignored the many organisations whose research and experience stands in opposition to Amnesty’s policy – including the EU Parliament, the European Women’s Lobby and Council of Europe, not to mention hundreds of grassroots organisations that support people within or getting out of the sex trade.
Daily Life published a piece by Eurydice Aroney claiming that Amnesty’s opponents want to “criminalise sex work.” This charge was echoed by Rebecca Hiscock in The Conversation. Both articles’ claims are demonstrably wrong, given that petitions against Amnesty’s policy clearly state they do not support criminalising anyone who sells sex. Hiscock frames opposition to Amnesty as a kind of over-simplified “tragedy porn” that ignores voices of those involved in sex work and that therefore misses important nuances. On the contrary, a blanket approach to decriminalising all aspects of pimping is a culpably oversimplified response that is neither contextually attuned, nor attentive to the voices of those most exploited by pimps.
Aroney in Daily Life regurgitates invalidated claims about how decriminalising pimping and brothel keeping is necessary for the safety of sex workers, and then pronounces that anyone who doesn’t concur must be too “privileged, wealthy and white” to understand. Although I suspect it is the privileged, wealthy, white pimps like Sharky and his ilk that understand it best.
The necessity of ongoing revenue is the apparent logic behind promoting the sex trade. Yet this logic is not applied to any other industry on earth. There are calls to shut down coal and shut down global supply chains – “smashing the state” was even a topic explored at the recent All About Women feminist conference. Little concern is expressed for the workers in any of these industries. Undoubtedly anti-free trade, and yet bizarrely pro-sex trade, the feminist left seeks to undermine capitalist industries, except the one industry responsible for some of the most heinous human rights violations on earth, all the while proudly declaring its impeccable moral bona fides.
The standard defence for this hypocritical position relies on the notion that “any exploitation is bad, sexual exploitation is no different.” This is echoed by the more explicitly socialist version, “all work is exploitative under capitalism, so work involving sex is no different.” Amnesty International draws on this to explain that all labour exploitation is equally bad. Yet it doesn’t take a trauma therapist or criminal lawyer to know that sexual crimes are treated differently from non-sexual offences for good reason. There is a world of difference between being forced to wash dishes against one’s will, and a person being forced to have sex against their will, usually for years or decades.
Amnesty and their supporters in the Australian feminist media argue that there are sufficient laws to deal with sexual exploitation and trafficking, including child sex abuse. They argue that not all prostitution involves sex trafficking.
On the contrary, all sex trafficking results in prostitution and any increase in the industry influences rates of trafficking. Research out of various European states, including the London School of Economics, has shown that any legalization of the sex trade significantly increases the flows of sex trafficking. An international study of male sex-buyers found that fully one quarter preferred women under the age of 18, with a universal preference for young women. This is reflected in Thai estimates that the sex industry involves around 40% children. Research shows over half of the women in Sydney’s sex trade are from overseas and many lack English comprehension.
The Australian feminist media not only evades many of these issues, but effectively represses these women’s stories by focusing solely on Australians who engage in sex work of their own volition.
While the causes and solutions to sexual exploitation are complex and varied, the Australian feminist left leaves little room for any perspective other than their own – that is, the privileged, naive position that they so despise, yet doggedly espouse in equal measure. After all, the author who claims to have drafted Amnesty’s pro-pimp policy is Douglas Fox, a man with vested interest in UK brothels. The endorsement of sexual exploiters is now the purview of Australia’s feminist progressives. You find friends in the strangest places, right Sharky?
I am a licensed psychotherapist. I’m writing this post on my last day at a teen health clinic, where I’ve seen patients and their families for nearly a decade.
In the past year especially, it’s become increasingly clear to me that I cannot uphold the primary value of my profession, to do no harm, without also seriously jeopardizing my standing in the professional community. It’s a terrible and unfortunate conflict of interest. I’ve lost much sleep over the fact that, for a significant portion of my clients and their parents, I am unable to provide what they profess to come to me seeking: sound clinical judgment. Increasingly, providing such judgment puts me at risk of violating the emergent trans narrative which–seemingly overnight and without any explanation or push-back of which I am aware–has usurped the traditional mental health narrative.
When I am suddenly and without warning discouraged from exploring the underlying causes and conditions of certain of my patients’ distress (as I was trained to do), and instead forced to put my professional stamp of approval upon a prefab, one-size-fits-all narrative intended to explain the complexity of my patient’s troubles, I feel confused. It’s as if I am being held hostage. No longer encouraged or permitted to question, consider or discuss the full spectrum of my patient’s mental health concerns, it has occurred to me that I am being used, my meager professional authority commandeered to legitimize a new narrative I may or may not wish to corroborate.
It’s been perilous to simply admit to not fully understanding it all–let alone disagree with the trans narrative. There was no training or teaching. I was just suddenly told that some of my patients thought they were trapped in the wrong body and that was that.
After much soul searching, I felt I had no choice but to remove myself from this crippling work setting. Being told to exercise my clinical judgment with some clients, while ignoring it with others, made me feel like a fraud.
Throughout my career, I have come to my work with these thoughts in mind: that life is complex, that people are complex. But in one way or another, most people tend to balk at that kind of ambiguity. I try to assist people in flexing a little, try to help them find ways to manage life’s gray areas, and the occasional distress that comes from simply being conscious. But at the end of the day, I couldn’t deny it was a little weird for me to go on believing I could effectively teach others to be less rigid, more free people facing their lives head on, when I myself, their humble guide, was being exploited, tongue-tied by a new party line.
There are so many complex forces, from many different realms, coming into play with this trans wave. Most people are completely unaware of these intersecting interests.
Unfortunately the culture war has done a number on the concept of critical thinking. I have considered myself liberal my entire adult life, and I still am. But for a long time I couldn’t find anyone questioning this trans explosion who wasn’t on the far right. It made me feel like only conservatives were allowed to think, to consider this issue, but ultimately their thoughts were rendered meaningless due to their branding by the culture war. It’s essential that left-leaning people model critical thinking for the masses in this regard.
It’s important to link people like us together, who have been silenced, so we can resume contact with our critical thinking skills and reduce our growing sense of self doubt. Divide and conquer is best accomplished through silencing, through calling into question those who speak out. There is so much of this attached to the trans movement. Even just wondering about a profound concept such as transgender is labeled transphobic. What I think has happened is that people are now phobic about their own gut responses to life. We are being systematically separated from our own intuition. This is fatal for a civilization, I think. Not that our intuition always tells the truth with a capital T, but it is a critical piece of who we are. Without it, we remain profoundly directionless, and more susceptible to coercion of all types.
Both Lucas and Morgan identify sexting and online pornography as a cause of significant problems in schools. Nonetheless, while they have little difficulty in identifying most victims of harassment as female, perpetrators are described in gender-neutral terms. At no point does anyone use the words “male sexual entitlement.”
I will use those words, however. I am a mother of sons and the thought of them growing up within a culture of rampant male sexual entitlement terrifies me. Right now they are six and seven – still innocent, still able to see their female peers as fellow humans – but as adolescence approaches, I fear that a deluge of misogyny will engulf them as they encounter the adult world and so-called “normal” attitudes to sex.
I am very much in favour of them being granted access to as much accurate, open-minded sex education as possible. Nonetheless, I doubt such teaching will ever be effective as long as we are in denial about the real problem: the widespread, culturally sanctioned dehumanisation of women as the price for male sexual gratification.
There is no point in explaining consent to boys, as though it is some peculiarly complex social exchange. It isn’t. What confuses them is the fact that our pornified, misogynist culture treats female bodies as soulless objects. They witness this everywhere: on TV, in the news, online, on the streets, in the words of their peers and elders.
They can sit in a classroom and be informed about the rights and wrongs of it. They can be encouraged to think, in abstract terms, about the Woman as Person. But that is not how they encounter her in the media, nor in the minds of fellow men. Deep down, they know that their “right” to access hardcore pornography and purchase female flesh is inviolable. The Woman as Person narrative is subordinate to the one telling them that the ultimate human right is a “real” man’s right to fuck.
Among many self-styled progressives there is an assumption that the same moral principles that justify compulsory sex education also justify a non-critical attitude towards porn and the sex trade. The “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” fallacy convinces them that anything which annoys some mythical US-style religious Right has to be a good thing.
Hence student unions and fem socs across the land will organise consent classes for male students while condemning all criticism of the sex industry as “whorephobic.” The inconsistency escapes them. They haven’t noticed that, as Dworkin pointed out thirty years ago, male-dominated right-wing moralists are no more bothered by the exploitation of women’s bodies than left-wing sexual libertarians. They’d much rather put their energy into policing women’s access to abortion than men’s access to torture porn, just as left-wing warriors for sexual justice would rather spend their time attacking anti-porn feminists instead of asking how, and why, men across the world learn to treat women as objects into which you insert other objects, again and again, perhaps until they die.
This week a court heard how Majella Lynch died after a severe sexual assault left a full 400ml shampoo bottle in her stomach cavity. The man accused of the attack is described by the prosecutor as having “an interest in violent sexual activity” and having viewed “extreme violent porn.” Meanwhile in Ireland Magnus Meyer Hustveit received a suspended sentence for repeatedly raping his ex-girlfriend while she was unconscious. In a pleading letter to his ex, he explained that “I didn’t want to hurt you, I just wanted to come. I used the fact that I wasn’t allowed to watch porn or masturbate as an excuse.”
The judge’s decision not to imprison Hustveit, plus reader comments from Irish news sites, suggest that literally using a woman as an inanimate hole in which to ejaculate is considered an easy mistake to make. Earlier this year the killer of Cindy Gladue, an aboriginal sex worker in Canada, was acquitted after convincing a jury that Gladue consented to sex so rough she bled to death with an 11-centimetre wound in her vagina. Evidence from Bradley Barton’s laptop, showing that he visited pornography sites featuring extreme penetration and torture, had been ruled inadmissible at the trial. Unfortunately, Gladue was no longer around to say what happened; the only part of her that appeared in court was her pelvis, to allow jurors to examine the gaping wound.
Where do these men come from? Why do we define what they do as one-offs rather than the hate crimes they are? Why do we defend the media that reflects their image of women back to them? Why do we expose our sons to it then think we can mop up all the damage with the odd PSHE session on a sleepy Friday afternoon?
It is easy to start teaching your sons about physical boundaries and consent. Even when they are very young you will find instances where it is appropriate to tell them to stop if another child is not responding to their desired form of play (“no, you can’t do that now, not even if he was happy for you to do it five minutes ago!”).
But then they get older and learn that, for some magic, inexplicable reason, male-initiated sexual contact with women is the exception to this rule. You can’t attack that, otherwise it’s “shaming”. For some reason, whatever arouses heterosexual men exists on another moral plane. It’s not enough to tell them that their hidden desires do not make them bad people. Such desires must be endorsed, enacted and filmed for redistribution.
Fantasies of kicking puppies to death? Bad. Fantasies of ramming butcher knives into vaginas? Well, whatever turns him on. You don’t want your son to grow up feeling ashamed of his personal preferences.
What will my sons learn from a few hours taken out of a whole lifetime of being told that women are, if and when you want them to be, no more than holes for fucking? I have a hard enough time telling them they’re allowed to like pink.