What boundaries, you say? Indeed. It’s all much of a muchness, isn’t it? When you think about it, men who dehumanise, rape and beat sex workers – drawing on that history of patriarchal regulation of female sexuality that we don’t talk about – are exactly the same as women who think it’s a bad idea to support an industry in which the dehumanisation and abuse of sex workers is considered an occupational hazard. It can all be filed away under the heading STIGMA, rendering women who campaign against violence essentially the same as men who perpetrate it. They’re all, like, funny about sex and stuff. Say things like “Sex workers are frequently judged to have transgressed social norms of sexuality and gender and can subsequently be portrayed as deserving of punishment, blame and/or social exclusion. […] Conversely, sex workers can also encounter stigmatisation from those who purport to help them. The frequent stereotyping of all sex workers as victimised and/or psychologically damaged individuals is harmful and disempowering to sex workers, and unsupported by evidence” (remember, sex workers are “by definition” not disempowered, so any such view of sex workers would indeed, “by definition,” be unsupported by evidence.) If you shove all this in one paragraph, it makes it sound like those who hate sex workers – people like, say, Peter Sutcliffe – are fuelled by the same misconceptions as those who hate Peter Sutcliffe. Whorephobes and agency-deniers, one and all.
Such an approach is especially useful if you don’t really have a fucking clue what to do about male violence other than treat it as one of those things that is sent to try us all. Don’t worry; you don’t have to address this at any point. Just make vague pronouncements like “violence is a manifestation of the stigma and discrimination directed towards sex workers” (hint, hint: it’s all the fault of Andrea Dworkin).
Do not under any circumstances entertain the idea that there could be a link between male violence against women and the belief that penetrating and ejaculating in a woman, any woman, is a man’s “human right.” Since we have already established that patriarchy and men’s subjugation of women doesn’t have any place in this discussion, ignoring the fundamental misogyny which drives both male violence and male sexual entitlement ought to be a piece of piss.
The law was passed twice in Minneapolis in 1983 and 1984 by two different city councils; it was vetoed each time by the same mayor, a man active in Amnesty International, opposing torture outside of Minneapolis. The law was passed in 1984 in Indianapolis with a redrafted definition that targeted violent pornography—the kind “everyone” opposes. The city was sued for passing it; the courts found it unconstitutional. The appeals judge said that pornography did all the harm we claimed—it promoted insult and injury, rape and assault, even caused women to have lower wages—and that these effects proved its power as speech; therefore, it had to be protected.
(previously blogged back in 2012 – I think it’s useful to show that current events are not the first time Amnesty men have been revealed as misogynist garbage.)