As 4thWaveNow says, what the hell is going on? This is all rather ironic given that liberal feminists are currently defending Cosmopolitan as ’empowering’, after it was moved from tills (but not from sale) at Walmart. As Meghan Murphy at Feminist Current reports:
It’s unfortunate that, for American liberals, the only possible way to maintain “freedom” is, apparently, to embrace any and all portrayals of sex, sexuality, and women’s bodies. The false binary perpetuated by liberal feminism that demands opposition to the right by embracing everything it opposes, whether or not those things are in fact useful things to embrace, oversimplifies too many issues and has made a mess of feminist analysis.
While I don’t necessarily trust the motives of an organization with connections the religious right, I also believe feminists should respond on their own terms, rather in knee-jerk defenses that mark every challenge to porn culture as “prudish,” while claiming everything that could possibly be construed as sex or related to the sexualized female body as “empowering.”
Part of the problem here is a modern desperation to play “cool girl,” thanks in large part to a youth-centric third wave that failed to challenge (and indeed supports) accusations of prudishness and “sex-negativity” launched at any woman who dares challenge male-centered sex and objectification. There is also the fact that Christianity dominates in the United States, and many of the young women who embraced liberal feminism came from homes that said any and all sex outside of heterosexual marriage is “bad,” so these women are still stuck in a kind of teenage rebellion wherein they think “sex” is inherently liberatory. But another factor is that, as a culture, we really don’t understand the difference between “attraction” or “desire” and objectification. We have conflated these ideas to such an extent that it is near impossible for many people to understand that porn does not equal sex, and that challenging men’s objectification of women (or women’s internalized self-objectification, for that matter) does not mean that men’s attraction to women is inherently bad or off-limits.
Two recent studies found that sexual objectification increases men’s aggression towards women. One study showed that when a woman was sexualized, it increased men’s sense of entitlement towards her body, and that, as a result of this sense of entitlement, men responded with aggression when rejected. The other explains that “sexual objectification is the perception of an individual solely as an object useful for fulfilling sexual desires, rather than as a person in their own right, with moral rights and a complex mind.” In essence, when we view a person as only body parts, rather than as a full, complex human being (this idea can be applied toward non-human animals, as well) it allows us to consider that person with less care and empathy — indeed, it becomes easier to harm or abuse that person. “Sexually objectified women are viewed as lacking human nature, as cold, incompetent, and immoral, and as possessing relatively impoverished mental lives,” the researchers explain.
Beyond drilling in the message that women must spend countless hours and dollars turning ourselves into fuckable objects, we are also taught to master the art of pleasing men. Of late, this has meant using the sex industry as a guide. Cosmo suggests literally making ourselves objects of the voyeuristic gaze because it’s “hot” to watch a man watch you — in other words, what is sexy is to turn yourself into live pornography. In recent years, the magazine has begun publishing sex tips written by women working in porn and prostitution, simultaneously promoting the industries as empowering, harmless options for women, and presenting “sex” as something women do for men, rather than for their own pleasure.
Guide leaders are rebelling against a policy that lets boys claiming to be female share showers and tents with girls on camping trips. The organisation forbids leaders telling parents.
Helen Watts, 33, is one of at least 20 rebel unit leaders to write to Girlguiding’s national headquarters in protest at the rules, published in January last year, which apply to all girl guides aged 5 to 25.
They say Girlguiding has dismissed their concerns. Now they want girls and parents to be asked their views. Watts, who leads a west London Rainbows unit for girls aged 5 to 7, said: “I don’t think a transgender person necessarily presents a danger to anyone else, nor would I want to exclude them . . . but the emphasis is being placed on their needs and not on the needs or views of the other girls.”
Some rebels have been attacked online as “bigoted Terfs [trans-exclusionary radical feminists]”.
Lindsay and Richard, who live in the north of England, have a daughter about to go away on her first camp. “You are putting the onus on a young girl to say whether or not she is uncomfortable sharing with a boy,” they said. “It could lead to her being labelled transphobic if she says she is unhappy.”
Girlguiding said: “We offer bespoke guidance for any leader who is looking to run an activity, like a camp, involving a trans child.”
More than 5,000 potential victims of trafficking and modern slavery were reported to UK authorities last year, the highest number on record.
For the first time, British citizens made up the highest number of potential victims, a shift driven by an increase in the use of child drug mules by criminal gangs. Overall, the number of possible child victims grew by two-thirds compared with 2016.
Will Kerr, the director of the National Crime Agency, said the figures were likely to underestimate the scale of the problem, and that the government was facing an evolving threat.
“The criminals involved in these types of exploitation are going into online spaces, particularly adult services websites, to enable their criminality,” said Kerr.
The rise in the number of young people being exploited for sexual purposes or drug trafficking was a concern, he said.
Almost half of the 5,145 cases reported – 41% – involved the possible exploitation of a child aged under 18. The figures show the number of reports made to the national referral mechanism, the system for identifying victims of trafficking.
Last year, 819 potential British victims were referred to the NRM, up from 326 in 2016, according to the National Crime Agency. The increase is due to a rise in city-based gangs using children to transport drugs to rural areas, allowing them to expand their operations.
Albania was the second largest national group recorded, followed by Vietnam, China, Nigeria and Romania. Albanian and Nigerian cases most commonly involved sexual exploitation, while the majority of Vietnamese cases involved labour exploitation.
The referrals included possible victims from 116 countries. A total of 2,352 cases, almost half of those reported, involved potential forced labour. A third of cases, 1,744, involved suspected sexual exploitation. The NRM was also alerted to three possible cases of organ harvesting.
Paris councillors have rejected a motion targeting a business where clients are charged €89 ($109; £78) to spend an hour with a silicone sex doll.
Communist councillors and feminist groups had called on the Council of Paris – the body responsible for governing the city – to study the possibilities of closing Xdolls.
They argued it was demeaning to women – and effectively a brothel.
Owning or operating a brothel is illegal in France.
But police visited the establishment before the council meeting and declared no laws were being broken.
In a joint statement, Communist councillors Nicolas Bonnet Oulaldj and Hervé Bégué said they deeply regretted the council’s decision.
“This establishment, with hyper-realistic humanoid dolls, is the latest invention to bring brothels back into the landscape,” they said.
They went on to describe Xdolls as “the pinnacle of the dehumanisation of the relationship between women and men” and accused it of trivialising the exploitation of women by prostitution networks, and the related crime of human trafficking.
Xdolls is located in an anonymous-looking flat in the French capital and opened earlier this year, describing itself as a “games centre”.
Clients are mainly men, though some couples also visit, owner Joachim Lousquy, who formerly managed e-cigarette shops, told Le Parisien newspaper.
It has three rooms, each containing a silicone sex doll measuring about 1m 45cm (4ft 7in) and worth several thousand euros.
Customers make their booking and payment online, and the exact address is kept secret. Not even the neighbours are aware of the nature of the business, Mr Lousquy says.
Mr Lousquy says the dolls are sex toys and that he does not see them as degrading to women.
Spanish police have rescued 39 women and girls smuggled in from Nigeria and trafficked into sex work by a notorious Nigerian gang.
Europol says the victims were kept in “squalid conditions in caves” and intimidated with voodoo threats.
Gang members forced the women into sex work in order to pay off a 30,000 euro ($37,000; £26,000) debt.
Eighty-nine people, including a famous but as yet unnamed Nigerian DJ, have been arrested.
The DJ is said to have helped move victims to Spain and organise sexual exploitation across the country.
He was caught flying back into Spain after recording a music video.
Investigations began when an underage victim filed a complaint with the police, saying she had been pressured into trafficking by voodoo threats made in Nigeria.
Along with other victims, the girl was transferred from Nigeria to Spain via Libya and Italy.
The operation, which was carried out with police from the UK and Nigeria, is one of the biggest trafficking busts in Europe, says Europol.
The BBC has used the term ‘sex work’ again when referring to trafficked women and commercially sexually exploited girls. My previous complaint received an insultingly lazy reply (essentially: we used the term ‘sex work’ because the article was about ‘sex work’), so I made a follow-up complaint.
The BBC is publically funded, I am a UK tax payer and I pay the TV licence which helps fund the BBC, they are obliged to read and reply to all complaints so it is worth complaining, repeatedly.
Here is the email I sent, please feel free to copy or adapt:
I am writing to complain about the use of the term ‘sex work’ in an article about sex trafficking, sex slavery, and the commercial sexual exploitation of children (‘Spanish police break up Nigerian sex trafficking gang’ published online 23 March 2018).
‘Sex work’ is a partisan term, it is not a neutral descriptor; under any other circumstances, coerced sex is called rape, but when the rapist hands money over to a third party controlling the rape victim, some people try to call this ‘work’. The term ‘sex work’ takes a sexual abuse and sexual exploitation issue, and reduces it to a mere labour issue.
The article in question clearly says that one of the victims of sex trafficking was an under-age girl, which means she was incapable of consenting to sex, and it is therefore entirely inappropriate to describe her rape as ‘work’.
Language matters, the meaning of words matters, the BBC is supposed to be impartial and trust-worthy; by using a contested term like ‘sex work’ in this context (the Europol report uses the terms ‘prostitution’ and ‘sexual exploitation’ only), the BBC is failing to be either of these things.
The web page to complain to the BBC is here:
The Europol report is here:
QotD: “Feminists join men-only swim in protest of proposed law to enable people to self-identify as male or female”
Female activists took a group of male swimmers by surprise on Friday evening when they attended a men-only swim session wearing just trunks and pink swimming caps.
Amy Desir, 30, was one of the two women to gain access to the south London pool session, as part of a protest against proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act, which would enable men and women to choose their own gender.
Both women explained their attendance to staff at Dulwich Leisure Centre by saying they “identified as male” and subsequently had the right to be there.
Amy Desir: ‘Misogynistic and homophobic pro-self-ID policies are allowing men to appropriate women’s spaces, services and positions’ (Amy Desir)
They also used the male changing rooms before going into the session and were later asked by an elderly man if they realised it was a male-only session.
Their actions form part of a nationwide campaign formed on Mumsnet called #ManFriday which encourages women to “self-identify” as men every Friday in protest of the proposed amendments to gender laws, which would enable people to self-identify as men or women.
“The aim of the group is to raise awareness among men of the misogynistic and homophobic pro-self-ID policies that are allowing men to appropriate women’s spaces, services and positions,” Desir told The Independent.
“Most men either aren’t aware of the issue or don’t think it has anything to do with them.”
There are currently 91 women taking part in #ManFriday, revealed the mother-of-two, all of whom self-ID as men every Friday to access men-only spaces.
“We don’t change anything about our appearance, or pretend to be in the process of transitioning, just state that we are men.”
Desir and her fellow campaigners are concerned that the proposed legislation would enable predatory men to abuse women in single-sex spaces by self-identifying as female.
“We want to challenge the idea that sex and gender are interchangeable and for organisations to use the lawful exemptions in the Equality Act to protect the rights, safety, dignity and privacy of women,” Desir added.
“We also want women’s organisations to be consulted on proposed changes to the law.”
Let’s start with this statement: I am not going to justify women having their own spaces. Thousands of women, some I know, most I don’t, fought the fight for women’s spaces before I was born so that I, and other women in the UK today, don’t have to. Thanks to them, women’s rights, protections, spaces, and services exist to facilitate women’s participation in social life by upholding and protecting our safety, privacy and dignity. Programs and offices reserved for women seek to redress systemic discrimination against women that puts us at a disadvantage compared to our male peers.
If you are a UK citizen, you can sign the government petition here (because it is set up via the UK government, they, in theory, have to take notice; it currently has over 8000 of the 10,000 signatures needed).
The government proposes to amend the law to allow people to self-identify as men or women, and to stop allowing organisations in sensitive situations to exclude people of the opposite birth sex. We call for women to be consulted on how to protect women and girls’ rights, safety, privacy and dignity.
We call for:
– Respectful and evidence-based discussion about the impact of proposed changes and for women’s voices to be heard.
– The government to consult with women’s organisations on how self-declaration would impact on women-only services and spaces, data-gathering, and monitoring of sex-based discrimination.
– The principle of single-sex spaces to be upheld – and where necessary extended.
The Daily Mail has reported on this as well, and this quote towards the end of the article is effectively admitting that this is about letting any man into women’s spaces:
Bernard Reed, a trustee of the Gender Identity Research and Education Society, said: ‘This case demonstrates that women may enter men’s spaces, just as men may enter women’s spaces.
‘Simplifying the current unduly onerous and degrading process of obtaining a gender recognition certificate will just make life easier for trans people.’
In a bizarre (not) case of reversal, tans activists are calling these women sex offenders:
While the response from the Mermaids organisation was unsurprisingly daft:
I also found via tumblr, screen grabs that suggest Swim England’s policy was/is that female bodied persons who identify as male can only swim in binders (which they claim is safe, which I can’t believe) or some other covering – women are not allowed to complain about penises in the women’s changing rooms, but breasts in public are obscene! I can’t currently find this on Swim England’s website, but the colour scheme matches, and I did see a tweet saying Swim England was examining its policy.
To finish, here’s another ManFriday tweet:
The New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective (NZPC) has begun seeking to have Section 19 removed from the Prostitution Reform Act (PRA). Section 19 relates the PRA to the Immigration Act, and essentially prohibits anyone who is not a New Zealand citizen from pimping or entering prostitution. It is the section of the PRA that criminalises the most profitable form of pimping: sex trafficking. Currently, journalists like Lincoln Tan at the New Zealand Herald report on sex trafficking on the basis of breaches of this law. Needless to say: removing the law would remove the imperative to investigate any breach. NZPC is arguing that somehow, this would be in trafficked women’s interests.
It has been published in Scoop before that Section 19 has been breached ever since the PRA was passed in 2003. The Trafficking in Persons Report has named New Zealand a source and destination country for sex trafficking consistently, and these reports, alongside work by Tan and Christina Stringer show that women are being trafficked to New Zealand from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, Korea, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Trafficking here is reported to involve bribery; coercion, including into unprotected sex acts (for which women are liable, under the PRA); threats of deportation, debt bondage, passport confiscation, overcrowding, and 16-hour shifts. Even in the context of #metoo and #metoonz, there is no public outrage.
The best way to understand trafficking, then, is simply to understand that it is nothing more than prostitution at its most lucrative for pimps. We know that in any capitalist industry, profiteers are motivated to reduce costs by exploiting vulnerable people, particularly migrants and refugees, through overwork, underpay and minimal investment in working conditions. In prostitution, the profit maximisation imperative means pimps are motivated to use trafficking routes to seek out women in vulnerable positions, remove them from their support networks and from where they can speak the local language, and to transport these women to wherever the laws are well suited to pimping. Debt bondage, passport confiscation and threats of deportation can then be used to keep women trapped. Pimps can also cater to punters’ racialised sexist demands for “exotic” women through trafficking routes.
Another thing to understand – something also previously explained in Scoop – is that NZPC is the New Zealand branch of the Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP). The NSWP is an international lobby that promotes legislation favoured by those who profit from prostitution. So NZPC operates from the foregone conclusion that prostitution should be a legitimate industry, and this involves plenty of doublethink. It means, for instance, being government funded for the purposes of “harm reduction” while at the same time denying the degree and extent of harm actually taking place in New Zealand’s sex trade. In the case of sex trafficking, NZPC has long been involved in the Orwellian project of whitewashing sex trafficking into “migrant sex work” (or “working holidays” to use Reed’s phrase), something that can be “empowering” for women. At the same time, they deny that sex trafficking ever happens in New Zealand (as they did in the most recent issue of the Women’s Studies Journal) and are currently leveraging the urgency of trafficking (“illegal migrant prostitutes are too ‘terrified’ to report exploitation”) to promote the rapid removal of Section 19.
Sex trafficking happens in New Zealand because prostitution is legal here. Prostitution is no longer even understood as a form of exploitation – instead, it is understood as “sex work”, a legitimate occupation like any other. So, what is there to investigate? Sexual harrassment? How does one go about investigating and reporting sexual harrassment in a trade that thrives on men paying for sexual access to women by the hour – hour upon hour upon hour? Prostitution involves the very expectation, glamorisation and legitimisation of sexual harrassment and abuse. The removal of legislation to deter trafficking, and the concept of “migrant sex work”, simply absorbs trafficking into an already whitewashed concept of so-called “sex work”.
If NZPC acted in the interests of women, their calls to change Section 19 would not involve them denying the occurrence of trafficking, and relabelling it “migrant sex work” whilst simultaneously drawing attention to the fear and terror in which trafficked women exist in order to blackmail critics out of questioning NZPC’s proposed solutions. If NZPC acted in the interests of women, their current proposals would involve any kind of silencing, but would have been preceeded by a build up of reports on trafficking that they had uncovered, intiated, investigated and challenged publicly – and their proposals would be clearly supported and spearheaded by the voices of trafficked women to which NZPC was providing a platform.
We need a critical discussion on prostitution, and certainly one that priortises its worst manifestations. NZPC’s proposal to remove Section 19 though, is shrouded in secrecy and doublespeak – and the importance of fighting this proposal cannot be emphasised. If New Zealand allows for the invisibilising of the exploitation that is sex trafficking, any trafficked women’s testimony will tell you what kind of downward spiral we have embarked on.
YouTube has banned videos that show people how to manufacture or modify guns and their accessories.
It had already banned videos linked to the sale of guns and accessories.
Many firearms enthusiasts noticed that some of their videos had been removed from the video-sharing website and some had their channels suspended.
Prominent gun video-bloggers said the move was an erosion of US citizens’ rights, and some said they would move their content to PornHub instead.
YouTube’s policies now prohibit videos that:
- show how to make a firearm, ammunition, high-capacity magazine or homemade silencers
- are designed to sell guns or specific accessories including high-capacity magazines and tools that convert a firearm to automatic fire
- show how to convert a firearm to automatic or simulated-automatic fire
- show how to install such accessories or modifications
The change was met with anger from some videomakers who modify guns and show off their creations as a hobby.
Karl Kasarda and Ian McCollum, who run the gun review site InRangeTV, said they had started posting their videos on Facebook and pornography site PornHub.
“We will not be seeking any monetisation from PornHub… we are merely looking for a safe harbour for our content and for our viewers,” the pair said in a statement.
Firearms manufacturer Spike’s Tactical said the change reflected attempts to “slowly chip away at our freedoms and erode our rights”.
Videomaker Joerg Sprave said he appreciated YouTube was “now defining their guidelines” more clearly.
But he said the change had been introduced without a transitional period.
“Many gun channels must now be afraid,” he told news site Motherboard.
“They should at least get some time to clean up their videos so the new rules are kept.”