Playboy given an ‘LGBT’ award
This appears to be entirely real (the website hasn’t been updated with the winners yet, but Playboy is listed in the nominations):
Look at those corporate sponsors and try to tell me trans women are more marginalised than lesbians and radical feminists!
QotD: “Which UK political party cares more about women?”
Which UK political party cares more about women: Labour or the Conservatives? If I’d been told five years ago that I would even be thinking of asking that question, I’d have thought it was a joke.
As a lifelong Labour voter and supporter, who has found herself disillusioned and dismayed with the party since Jeremy Corbyn became leader, I have been hopeful that socialist men will finally recognise the dire need to tackle sexual and domestic violence towards women and girls as a major priority. I have been bitterly disappointed.
I will never vote Conservative, because as a feminist campaigner I believe that for all women to be liberated it is necessary to understand and work to dismantle the endemic inequality that exists within every facet of society. The Tories have a terrible track record in terms of funding services for women escaping violent relationships and giving a damn about women at the bottom of the pile, preferring to focus on the “glass ceiling”, which affects about 5 per cent of the most privileged women.
Despite having failed to elect a female leader in 118 years, probably most would still say Labour is the party that cares most about women, and understandably. It is not for nothing that Labour feels like a more comfortable place if you are female.
Under Tony Blair, some female-friendly (as opposed to hard-hitting feminist) policies were introduced, such as national minimum wage, tax credits, childcare strategy, increased child benefit, increased public sector spending, same sex adoption rights, and Sure Start children’s centres.
The criminal justice system also was given a shakedown during this period: for example, the provocation defence for domestic homicide was scrapped, which had previously allowed some men who killed female partners to claim they had been “provoked” into killing as a result of her alleged infidelity, or “nagging”.
These are hard-won changes. So it is with a heavy heart that I have watched Labour concede whole swathes of feminist ground to the Tories over the last few years. If anyone at Labour HQ has noticed, no one seems to care. Some of it undoubtedly has more than a hint of virtue signalling. But something much more profound is going on.
Under Blair, women-only shortlists were introduced in order to address some of the massive imbalances in the House of Commons, but Corbyn has decided that the only criteria for being included on such shortlists is self-identification. In my view, this renders the initiative null and void.
Labour is supposed to be the party of socialism, and to recognise structural inequality. What better example of desperation, poverty, and indignity is there than the sex trade? And yet in 2016, Jeremy Corbyn said, during a talk at Goldsmiths University, that he is in favour of blanket decriminalisation of the sex trade. “Let’s do things a bit differently and in a more civilised way,” he said.
While I would hope that anyone with any sense would support the decriminalisation of the women (and men) selling sex, socialists, both male and female, should recognise that the global sex trade is a dumping ground for care leavers, childhood sexual abuse victims, girls and women of colour and from indigenous communities, and women subjected to domestic violence.
The last thing we should be doing is removing all criminal penalties from brothel owners, pimps and punters, as Corbyn and many other men on the left are in favour of doing.
In 2015, John McDonnell sponsored a laughably ideological report from a group that would like to see prostitution completely decriminalised. Decriminalisation is another way of saying: open season on women’s bodies. Like the Netherlands, where women suffer the indignity of standing in window brothels so men can select which ones they consider worthy to buy. Only a small number of courageous Labour Party women speak out against this crazy position, such as Thangam Debbonaire and Naz Shah.
On the other hand, the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission is currently carrying out an inquiry into prostitution and the law. This is a fairly mainstream Tory group with MPs from all wings of the party. As part of this inquiry, I today spoke in a debate in parliament on the motion: “Should men have the right to buy sex?”, moderated by Baroness Fiona Hodgson.
This inquiry is streets ahead of anything else that has happened in parliament for ages.
The Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry last year effectively collapsed after its chair was found to be paying for sex himself. Other previous efforts have all got stuck trying to sift the contradictory evidence from other jurisdictions.
My opponent, Dr Belinda Brooks Gordon, argued that “disabled men, and returning war heroes, should be allowed to buy sex”, the implication being that these men, “can’t get a real date”. I argued that there is no such thing as a “right” to sex, and that it is a classic neoliberal argument.
This inquiry is asking crucial questions. In a previous hearing, sex trade survivors were asked: “What does it mean to freely enter prostitution?”, and “When does prostitution become exploitative?” Yes, yes, yes.
When women’s bodies are being rented for orgasm, when women are routinely abused, even killed. When women in poor countries are being told to sell themselves out of poverty, we need to ask ourselves if the decision to advertise their flesh as consumable is a just one.
QotD: “Governments are complicit in the prostitution of women when prostitution is defined as work”
The New Zealand Ministry of Health accepted information about prostitution almost exclusively from the NZPC rather than from less biased sources. The lobbying success of the NZPC in promoting prostitution as work has resulted in passage of a law and also production of a Report (Prostitution Law Review Committee, 2008) intended tosupportthe law. The NZPC offers no programmatic support such as job training or housing advocacy for the large majority of those in prostitution want to escape it. The Report white washes or suppresses evidence that prostitution remains harmful to those in it even after its decriminalization (see the following paragraphs for details regarding the bias of the Report).
Governments are complicit in the prostitution of women when prostitution is defined as work and especially when government revenue is generated by prostitution. For example, the Philippines’ government grants visas to women who are known to be bound to prostitution but who are named “Overseas Performing Artists.” It’s likely that the government assumes that money otherwise not available would be sent home. Extremely poor women who might otherwise demand local jobs that would compete with men were trafficked overseas for prostitution in what Roces (p 14⁎) in this issue accurately describes as the government’s sacrifice of its women for economic gain.
Organized crime is another material reality that is always associated with trafficking for prostitution, yet rarely mentioned in theory. In 2006 Auckland lawyer David Garrett declared decriminalization a “disaster” that had resulted in an “explosion” of children trafficked for prostitution in Auckland and Christchurch as well as three murders of people in prostitution. The trafficking of children in NZ has increased since decriminalization, especially the trafficking of ethnic minority Maori children. A legal pimp who recruited children was arrested and charged in Auckland (Woulfe, 2009). Gangs have waged turf wars over control of prostitution in certain areas in Auckland (Tapaleao, 2009).
Most theories about trafficking fail to address the reality of prostitution’s impact on communities. Since decriminalization, street prostitution has spiraled out of control, especially in New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland. A 200-400% increase in street prostitution has been reported since prostitution was decriminalized in 2003. Yet the Prostitution Law Review Committee, dominated by the viewpoint that prostitution is a reasonable job for poor women, opined “For people whoseemployment options may be limited, sex work, and particularly street-based sex work, can offer a quick means of achieving financial gains…” (PLRC, 2008:121).
After decriminalization, New Zealand citizens found it difficult to challenge brothels even if they were located near schools or in residential neighborhoods. In response to numerous complaints, the Mayor of Auckland served an abatement notice on a brothel in a residential neighborhood located near a school. Staff at an Auckland agency noted that the numbers of johns in the streets has doubled since decriminalization. Debbie Baker is Manager of Streetreach New Zealand, a support service for people in prostitution that encourages them to leave the sex industry by providing exit strategies. In September 2008, Baker noted adverse effects of New Zealand’s decriminalization of prostitution.
We have also seen a marked increase in men cruising the streets trying to buy sex. Although the numbers vary from day to day, it appears to us that overall, the number of men buyers has doubled since decriminalization. We as a team have been solicited by men while working with our clients on the street. Before decriminalisation this had not happened. These solicitations of the Streetreach staff occurred both in the street and also in massage parlours. The staff at Streetreach believe that the clients of prostitutes who are trying to pick up women have generally become more open and forthright. (Baker in phone interview with Farley 15 September 2008)
Once defined as work, NZ’s decriminalized prostitution law not only encouraged men to buy sex, it transformed prostitution into an acceptable, even attractive job for young, poor women in New Zealand. In one of the Report’s own surveys 25% of those interviewed said that they entered the sex industry because it had been decriminalized (PLRC, 2008:39).
Melissa Farley, 2009, Theory versus reality: Commentary on four articles about trafficking for prostitution