When the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Australia (CATWA) announced the release of our new report on the Nordic Model, supporters of the sex industry began targeting our Facebook page.
When I followed up with an opinion piece for The Conversation on the success of the Nordic Model, a handful of men, and one prominent Australian feminist , spent hours trading inaccuracies about the Nordic approach to prostitution policy and disparaging anyone stupid enough to think that a booming industry which trades in women’s bodies is anything but inevitable.
These falsities and fabrications will be familiar to anyone who has written or said anything that publicly criticizes the sex industry. The same claims, usually without reference to relevant evidence, are repeated so frequently in certain spheres that they have practically become mantras. If you say it often enough, it becomes true, right?
In the interests of being able to offer more than 140 character responses to these predictable criticisms, here’s a list of responses to the most common myths I’ve had thrown at me.
1. I’m a sex worker, I choose sex work and I love it
This is one of the most popular retorts de jour and is treated by many who use it as a sort of checkmate argument, as though any one person stating that they enjoy sex work makes all of the other evidence about violence, post-traumatic stress disorder and trafficking in prostitution, magically disappear.
Maud Olivier, the Socialist MP who recently introduced the Bill to prohibit the purchase of sexual services in France, slammed the “hypocrisy” of such criticisms: “So is it enough for one prostitute to say she is free for the enslavement of others to be respectable and acceptable?” she asked her fellow parliamentarians.
But the “I love sex work” refrain is put forward as a powerful argument because it is seen to counter a supposedly all-encompassing claim by radical feminists and others that systems of prostitution are harmful to women.
This relies on misunderstandings of radical politics, the concept of structural oppression and tired old debates about false consciousness. Just because you like something doesn’t mean that it can’t be harmful (just as liking something doesn’t automatically make it feminist). Radical feminists criticize beauty practices as harmful too, and saying you choose to wear high-heels doesn’t make that critique wrong. Nor does it mean these feminists hate you for wearing high heels (I’ve heard that one wheeled out in many an undergraduate tutorial) or being in prostitution.
Similarly, when anyone practicing radical politics points out that free choice is a fairytale, and that all our actions are constrained within certain material conditions, this does not equate to saying we’re all infantilized, little drones unable to make decisions for ourselves. It just means we’re not all floating around in a cultural vacuum making decisions completely unaffected by structural issues like systemic economic inequality, racism and sexism.
Bald eagles are like libertarians: private, enjoy hunting/fishing, beneficiaries of numerous gov’t programs that they will never acknowledge.
QotD: “Pornography is like all industries, predatory and out to make a profit by any means possible”
All my adult life I have been fighting corporate power and I have had a community of people on the left. But once I turned my attention to the porn industry, the left became as hostile as the right. In my book I ask why is that people on the left – people who understand corporate power – suddenly forget that the pornographers are capitalists and see them instead as guardians of our sexual freedom? Since when did capitalists ever care about our freedoms? Pornography is like all industries, predatory and out to make a profit by any means possible. They commodify real human needs and wants as a way to sell products, and until we resist, the pornographers will continue to hijack our sexuality.
Children trafficked into Britain are to be given personal advocates in a bid to stop gangs hauling them back into prostitution and crime after they have been taken into care, the home secretary, Theresa May, will announce this week.
Hundreds of trafficked children go missing from children’s homes each year, with traffickers easily picking up their victims and forcing them into sex work, cannabis cultivation and domestic servitude. The Guardian exposed one children’s home by Heathrow where 77 Chinese children disappeared in a three-year period; only four were ever found again, two in a West Midlands brothel. A parliamentary report two years ago estimated that six out of 10 child trafficking victims disappear from local authority care.
The Home Office scheme will be tested in two six-month trials and will see advocates assess victims’ needs, help with language barriers, and represent them at meetings with care and immigration officials, the department confirmed.
But the proposal stops short of the system of legal “guardianship” called for by children’s charities, which would grant guardians powers equivalent to a parent. This would enable the guardian to take police forces, immigration centres and councils to court if they fail to keep children safe from traffickers and so would provide a bigger incentive for the state to protect trafficked children, campaigners said.
At least 549 children were trafficked in the UK in 2012, one in four of all victims of trafficking, a government attempt to assess the extent of the problem last year revealed. Of these, 70 children were aged nine or under, and Vietnam and Nigeria were the most prevalent source countries. Sexual exploitation was the fate of more than a quarter of victims; a similar amout were forced into crime – largely cannabis farming and benefit fraud – while 35 became domestic servants. One child was a victim of organ harvesting.
It is not possible to be truly balanced in one’s views of an abuser and an abused woman. As Dr. Judith Herman explains eloquently in her masterwork Trauma and Recovery, “neutrality” actually serves the interests of the perpetrator much more than those of the victim and so is not neutral. Although an abuser prefers to have you wholeheartedly on his side, he will settle contentedly for your decision to take a middle stance. To him, that means you see the couple’s problems as partly her fault and partly his fault, which means it isn’t abuse.
Why Does He Do That: Inside The Mind of Angry and Controlling Men, Lundy Bancroft
Listen. I know as radical/otherwise aligned feminists we are a diverse group with diverse opinions and often have trouble agreeing upon cohesive and uniform courses of action to common situations, but. Can we all agree as a group to only respond with that free hugs for sluts asshole picture from now on whenever someone asks why men can’t be feminists?
Shut up you fucking dorrito-huffing neckbeards and let little girls enjoy their show.
Also this (found via the Bewilderness):
i feel like mlp shares a lot in common w/ boobs in that their intended audience is young children but men have sexualised them and get angry when they cater to their intended audience instead of them.
PS: I haven’t checked out all the tumblr blogs I’ve linked to here, and accept no responsibility for anything else they post.
I have seen a sixteen-year-old boy weeping in distress after getting a girl’s pube stuck in his teeth, I hear he was unshaven. I have seen boys showing each other porn on their iPhones on the train home from school, in bars and whilst strolling along the Champs-Elyséés. I have had a boy ask me to text him screenshots of porn films because he was on a wifi-free family holiday. One boy turned to kiss his date in the cinema but not before romantically whispering ‘don’t struggle’. One friend drunkenly walked off into a park in the early hours of the morning and when a male friend brought her back without ‘trying anything’, he was heralded as being ‘soo nice!’ rather than ‘soo normal!’. I have friends whose boyfriends have posted naked pictures of them all over the Internet. I have heard consent described as ‘de-romanticizing’. I have had a shockingly sober boy say to me ‘Why can’t I just slap my dick on your arse? Doesn’t cost you anything!’. This just scratches the surface of my store of depressing anecdotes; the most violent of which I won’t go into out of respect for the girls involved.
2014 is not a good year to be a teenage girl. The last of the 90’s kids are growing up and we are starting to see the effects of being raised with the Internet. For generations before us, hormonal teenage boys looking for sexy images of women had limited options; they could brave the embarrassment of going to the counter and buying Playboy, they could look through their sister’s Cosmo or they could use their imagination. Porn today has rid itself of the embarrassment-factor by embracing the anonymity of the World Wide Web; Playboy isn’t really considered to be porn anymore, the real stuff lives in your phone, on your laptop, your tablet; it is available anywhere, anytime at the touch of a button.
(Clara is a 17-year-old student at South Hampstead High School where she is the co-organiser of FemSoc. She is currently involved in anti-porn work with the Stop Porn Culture campaign.)
Recorded sex crimes against children under 11 in England and Wales went up by 16% last year, research suggests.
There were 5,547 incidents, against the previous year’s 4,772, according to data from 41 police forces obtained by children’s charity, the NSPCC.
This means that 24% of all recorded sexual offences against children involved the youngest age group, with some victims as young as one.
The NSPCC said nearly half (46%) of parents had not tackled the issue.
The charity said the number of recorded crimes could have increased because more people were now coming forward in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.