In the 1980s and 1990s the sex industry was able to expand in an economic and social climate of laissez-faire, free market individualism. The political liberalism associated with this particular economic ideology privileged men’s ‘free speech’ right to pornography over the rights of women to physical integrity.
The Industrial Vagina
Chapter 3: The International Political Economy of Pornography
Norma Hotaling, founder and Executive Director of the SAGE Project in San Francisco died on December 16, 2008 following a short illness.
Norma Hotaling transformed her own experiences in prostitution into a mission of social justice for her sisters and brothers who had also been trafficked and exploited in prostitution. As a direct result of Ms. Hotaling’s life work, many now have a profound understanding of the harm of prostitution and the responsibility of buyers for that harm. Through Ms. Hotaling the voices of survivors of commercial sexual exploitation reached the forefront of the global movement against human trafficking. Her life and her work dissolved myths about prostitution, proving it to be the world’s oldest oppression rather than a victimless crime. She was a beacon of courage and an extraordinarily effective champion of victimized and marginalized women,children, men and transgendered people.
Continue reading here
Another obituary here
A 1997 Mother Jones profile
In an interview recently, a leading British porn star admitted that if he had sex with his wife in the way he did with his co-stars she would certainly divorce him and probably press assault charges.
Imagine you were watching, over and over, not a DVD of people having sex which even its actors admit is violent, but instead a commercial for trainers. Then imagine that every time you watched that ad for trainers, you had an orgasm. Do you think you might, maybe, start to develop a positive association with buying trainers?
“Pornography users loudly proclaim the harmlessness of their hobby while simultaneously reporting sexual dysfunction, disgust, shame, and addict-like behavior. Women report feeling uncomfortable with their partner’s use of pornography but not wanting to seem like a “prude”. Boys are learning that women are hypersexual beings for whom no never means no, and girls are learning that that’s what boys expect them to be. And all the while porn is screwing up people’s relationships and sex drives and self images, we are being told that porn is sexy! Porn is edgy! Porn is cool! Porn is rebelious! Porn is none of those things. Pornographers like to act like they are on the edge, that they are anti-establishment, but they are some of the most pro-establishment people you can conceive of. There is nothing edgy or cool or rebelious about an industry that exploits the weakest people in our society, that thrives on sexist and racist stereotypes, that makes more profit than virtually any other industry and insults its customer base by pandering to their basest and most disgusting desires.”
The whole post is brilliant, so go read it!
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Welfare for all
The welfare state is one of the UK’s greatest achievements and supports us all especially vulnerable and unemployed people and their families.
In July the government published the green paper ‘No one written off: reforming welfare to reward responsibility’ announcing plans to change the current provision of support.
Many of the plans were unacceptable when they were first published and the worsening economic situation should lead to a fundamental rethink. However the government is pressing ahead despite the current global economic downturn which is leading to increasing levels of unemployment. As a result we have come together.
The government’s proposals remove entitlements and fail to value the important work of parents and carers. Parents with young children, carers, sick, disabled, people with mental health problems and other vulnerable groups face tougher tests to qualify for benefits. If they fail they could be cut off with no support.
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to criminalise the purchase of sexual services so as to curb demand for prostitution and reduce sex trafficking; to decriminalise the sale of sex, and to fund services to help women exit prostitution and secure alternative employment.
Many women first become involved in prostitution as young teenagers, and the use of violence is common in recruiting women and girls into prostitution. Trafficking in women for sexual exploitation is now one of the most profitable forms of organised crime.
Because of the profits to be made from controlling prostitution, it will continue as long as there is a demand for it. The only effective way to prevent the abuses involved in prostitution is therefore to target demand. Swedish legislation criminalising the purchase of sexual services, and providing for support services for those wishing to exit prostitution, has led to an estimated 30-50% reduction in the numbers of women in prostitution in Sweden since its introduction in 1999, and to a significant decrease in trafficking of women into Sweden.
The Swedish legislation was accompanied by public education campaigns about the nature of prostitution. Polls indicate that over 80% of the Swedish population now support this legislation.