This is one of today’s search engine terms:
my dom beats me when i mess up without aftercare
For anyone visiting this blog in this type of situation, you are being abused. It doesn’t matter what ‘contract’ you signed, what you agreed to verbally, how nice your abuser is other times, what kind of ‘pillar’ of the BDSM ‘community’ your abuser is, this is a dangerous situation, and you should leave, not just your abuser, but the BDSM ‘scene’ altogether.
You deserve love and affection and care without having to be tortured first, you deserve respect without having to agree to total submission and obedience first. You can take responsibility for your own life and your own decisions, you don’t need a ‘dom’ to do this for you.
If you feel like you can’t leave, because of financial reasons, because you have become isolated from family and community outside of BDSM, because you are afraid of what your abuser might do, there are resources out there available to help you escape.
Kitty Stryker is a phoney and a fake radical who has co-opted the language of radical feminism, and shills for the sex industry while providing a fig-leaf for the BDSM ‘community’.
On twitter a few days ago, she said “I swear to god I wish we could just put the TERFs and Nazis on a goddamn boat together and send them into the sea.”
When someone else added “or we could put them in concentration camps? Maybe before they went into ovens? Lol” Stryker merely complained that that was “in bad taste”.
Sryker has changed her twitter handle to “Punch Nazis”, and added a later tweet about ‘terfs’ drowning, so it’s clear she has no problem with violence against women, when they are women she disagrees with politically.
This isn’t the first time Stryker has demonstrated that she sees women she doesn’t like as not fully human, in this tweet I screen capped a while back, we can see her wondering if radical feminists are actually real people, the ‘kill all terfs’ rhetoric follows on easily.
Stryker is also an intellectual coward, who ran away from conversations on this blog she wasn’t winning, and now won’t even engage, but she does keep an eye on me, as she tweeted about my previous post more than once.
Here’s a clue for you Stryker, ‘terfs’ don’t exist, there are no ‘terf’ organisations, there are no ‘terf’ leaders, there are no women calling themselves ‘terfs’ except ironically, it’s a term trans activists made up in order to intimidate women into unquestioning silence and obedience.
Stryker also likes lying about the Nordic (Abolitionist) Model, claiming that it made it easier for the police to arrest her – tell me Stryker, how does decriminalising ‘sex workers’ make it easier for the police to arrest them?
She’s doing this still, implying that under the Nordic Model, the police are more dangerous to ‘sex workers’, deliberately and cynically obscuring the fact that the Nordic Model means decriminalising the prostitute her (or him) self.
[EDIT 19/Feb/17: If decriminalising ‘sex workers’ under the Nordic Model doesn’t make the police ‘safe’, then how will decriminalising the whole of the sex industry make the police ‘safe’?]
The first loyalty of sex industry advocates is to the sex industry itself, always.
Organised crime is far more involved in running Britain’s sex trade than previously thought, with more than three-quarters of brothels found to have links to criminal gangs, according to pioneering research. It claims that [prostitutes]’ movements were controlled by brothels in a third of cases and criticises police for failing to tackle the criminals who control much of the off-street sex industry.
Published by an independent thinktank, the Police Foundation, the study is the first of its kind to document the links between organised crime and prostitution in a comprehensive way.
Using police data, researchers examined 65 known brothels in Bristol over two years, a figure which is a fraction of the true total, and interviewed more than 100 officials from the police and supporting agencies.
The report criticises the failure of local police to protect vulnerable [prostitutes], quoting one source saying that organised crime in the sex trade is “too hard [to tackle] for the amount of harm it causes”, while admitting that operations against brothel owners are rare.
The findings come shortly after the conviction of Christopher Halliwell for the murder in 2003 of 20-year-old Becky Godden, a Swindon [victim of commercial sexual exploitation], a development that has prompted debate about the ability of the police to provide sufficient protection to [prostitutes].
The cost of tackling trafficking for sexual exploitation in the UK is estimated to be £890m a year, but the study highlights a near absence of proactive police strategies. “Occasional welfare checks were completed at brothels by a local police team and partners, but sex workers rarely came forward,” it states.
“Consequently, there were few calls to respond to and little information to direct more proactive policing efforts.” It says that police welfare checks at brothels are “sporadic and not core business for any local agency”.
Researchers say police, whose organised crime work is primarily focused on theft and drug-related offenders, did not apply a rigorous approach to the issue. “While one or two officers had attempted to scan online ads for the threat of exploitation, this was not done systematically or regularly,” the report states.
[prostitutes] most vulnerable to trafficking are those at “pop-up brothels”, which constitute up to a fifth of the number identified and move location frequently. Almost half of the [prostitutes] identified in Bristol are Romanian.
The combined failure of any agency to take full responsibility for exploitation in the off-street sex trade, the Police Foundation claims, is leaving many [prostitutes] isolated and vulnerable to exploitation by organised criminals.
“The relative impunity with which pimps and traffickers operate, combined with the almost total exclusion of many off-street [prostitutes] – particularly foreign nationals – from mainstream society, requires a radical reconsideration of what the police and other relevant agencies should be doing,” the report adds.
Overall, the Police Foundation recommends a radical overhaul of local police approaches to organised crime in the sex trade. It urges the police, working with other local agencies, to do more to help victims of exploitation to come forward and offer more protection when they do.
The study also outlines a need for police forces to gather more robust intelligence: “The police and other local agencies need to do more to identify the hidden victims exploited in the off-street sex market and facilitate investigations for which no victim comes forward.”
This is from the Observer, which, I am happy to say, no longer calls raped children workers, but is still ok calling raped adults workers, and, in the full article, quotes the IUSW without offering the alternative view of the Nordic model.
I am writing to the Observer readers editor (he at least replied to my emails before, the Guardian readers editor never has).
I was disappointed to read an article in the Observer today (https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/sep/24/organised-crime-behind-uk-sex-trade) on the sex trade that used the term ‘sex worker’ to describe women in prostitution controlled by criminal gangs. You have already agreed that it is not appropriate to call a raped child a ‘worker’, so it should be equally inappropriate to call a raped adult a ‘worker’.
I was also disappointed to see the article quote the IUSW uncritically, without offering any alternative viewpoint on the legal status of the sex industry. The IUSW is not a legitimate union, as it allows bosses to join (see this article here: https://www.byline.com/project/3/article/4).
It is bad journalism to only offer one side of an argument, the Nordic (abolitionist) model has been successful in Sweden since 1999 (https://nordicmodelnow.org/what-is-the-nordic-model/), and should at least be mentioned along side other legal approaches to prostitution.
I look forward to hearing back from you.
I saw this on the front page of the Guardian yesterday:
and despaired. I can’t bring myself to actually listen to the thing, but ‘fortunately’ there is an article summery published today. It’s all pretty meager stuff (‘fun facts’ and titillation more than anything else), and I almost gave up after reading this:
“Despite the fact that we spend more time peeing or menstruating out of them than anything else, sex remains the primary association when people think of vaginas”
Women do not urinate out of their vaginas!
And despite an attempt at being ‘trans inclusive’ they’re going to get it in the neck for talking about ‘menstrual art’.
The Guardian is still calling commercially sexually exploited children ‘workers’, and it is particularly frustrating, when the term ‘sex work’ is not used by the children/teenagers, or researchers quoted in the article.
Teenagers in America are resorting to sex work because they cannot afford food, according to a study that suggests widespread hunger in the world’s wealthiest country.
Focus groups in all 10 communities analysed by the Urban Institute, a Washington-based thinktank, described girls “selling their body” or “sex for money” as a strategy to make ends meet. Boys desperate for food were said to go to extremes such as shoplifting and selling drugs.
The findings raise questions over the legacy of Bill Clinton’s landmark welfare-reform legislation 20 years ago as well as the spending priorities of Congress and the impact of slow wage growth. Evidence of teenage girls turning to “transactional dating” with older men is likely to cause particular alarm.
“I’ve been doing research in low-income communities for a long time, and I’ve written extensively about the experiences of women in high poverty communities and the risk of sexual exploitation, but this was new,” said Susan Popkin, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute and lead author of the report, Impossible Choices.
“Even for me, who has been paying attention to this and has heard women tell their stories for a long time, the extent to which we were hearing about food being related to this vulnerability was new and shocking to me, and the level of desperation that it implies was really shocking to me. It’s a situation I think is just getting worse over time.”
The qualitative study, carried out in partnership with the food banks network Feeding America, created two focus groups – one male, one female – in each of 10 poor communities across the US. The locations included big cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington and rural North Carolina and eastern Oregon. A total of 193 participants aged 13 to 18 took part and were allowed to remain anonymous.
Their testimony paints a picture of teenagers – often overlooked by policymakers focused on children aged zero to five – missing meals, making sacrifices and going hungry, with worrying long-term consequences.
Popkin said: “We heard the same story everywhere, a really disturbing picture about hunger and food insecurity affecting the wellbeing of some of the most vulnerable young people. The fact that we heard it everywhere from kids in the same way tells us there’s a problem out there that we should be paying attention to.”
The consistency of the findings across gender, race and geography was a surprise.
“I wasn’t sure we would see it,” Popkin said. “Kids knew about all these strategies: hanging around your friend’s house and see if they’ll feed you, going hungry so that their younger brothers and sisters could eat, saving their school lunch so they could eat it at night so they could sleep at night.
“Everybody knew where you get the cheapest food and how you keep some emergency stuff in your house. It was just very matter-of-fact and very common, in the richest country in the world.”
In every community, and in 13 of the 20 focus groups, there were accounts of sexual exploitation, often related with distaste. A girl in Portland, Oregon told researchers: “It’s really like selling yourself. Like you’ll do whatever you need to do to get money or eat.”
Another comment from Portland: “You’re not even dating … they’ll be like … ‘I don’t really love him, but I’m going to do what I have to do.’”
Many prefer to rationalise what they are doing as dating of sorts. A boy in rural North Carolina said: “When you’re selling your body, it’s more in disguise. Like if I had sex with you, you have to buy me dinner tonight … that’s how girls deal with the struggle … That’s better than taking money because if they take money, they will be labeled a prostitute.”
In seven of the 10 communities, teenagers told stories of girls exchanging sexual favours with strangers or stripping for money in abandoned houses, at flea markets and on the street. A girl in San Diego, California, said: “Someone I knew dropped out of high school to make money for the family. She felt the need to step up. She started selling herself.”
Another girl in Chicago told researchers of an 11-year-old girl who dropped out of sixth grade to work in the sex trade, while boys in Los Angeles described how middle school girls put up flyers in public places to advertise their services.
In the communities with the highest poverty rates, both girls and boys steal food and other basics from local stores for themselves or their families. A male teenager in Chicago said: “I ain’t talking about robbing nobody. I’m just talking like going there and get what you need, just hurry up and walk out, which I do … They didn’t even know. If you need to do that, that’s what you got to do, that’s what you got to do.”
Some children begin stealing at the age of seven or eight, according to the focus groups. Boys mainly take items such as phones, shoes, jewelry and bikes. Selling drugs is also common. One in Los Angeles said: “A lot of kids at a young age will sell drugs to get money for their families. People think it’s good but it messes you up.”
Popkin, who has been researching distressed public housing communities for more than 25 years, explained: “With the boys there was a lot of hustling and shoplifting or maybe stealing a car stereo or something small they could sell. Getting pushed into drug dealing, sometimes getting pulled into gangs.
“I find it particularly disturbing that all the kids in almost every focus group were aware about what was happening to the girls – they knew the story about girls dating older guys or being exploited. The stories we heard were mostly about girls dating older men in order to get them to provide money for them for rent, for food, for clothes. They’re just very vulnerable.”
She added: “It’s a sexual exploitation. You hear about homeless teenagers engaging in transactional sex, you hear it about refugees. To hear it from stably housed kids in the United States is shocking and even if it’s only a handful of kids, it should be something that we’re paying attention to, that there are kids that desperate.”
I have lost count of the number of times I have emailed the Guardian about this, and I have yet to receive a single response, but I will keep on trying.
Please feel free to use or adapt the template below.
I am writing to you to complain about the use of the term ‘sex work’ in an article about the commercial sexual exploitation of children and teenagers (“US teens often forced to trade sex work for food, study finds” published online 12/Sep/16)
The children interviewed for the study were between 13 and 18 (and a sexually exploited 11-year-old girl was mentioned), an 11- or 13-year-old child cannot consent to sexual activity with an adult, it is statutory rape at the very least.
While this is very much a poverty issue, it is also a sexual exploitation issue; by using the term ‘sex work’ you reduce child sexual exploitation to a labour issue, and also invisibilize the men who use economic and social inequality to coerce children and teenagers into sexual activity.
In the quotes in the article from the children and teenagers interviewed, none of them used the term ‘sex work’, and the academic who wrote the article used the term ‘sexual exploitation’.
I would like to remind you that the Guardian style guide calls for ‘child pornography’ to be referred to as child abuse images. Therefore a recording of a child doing ‘sex work’ would be an image of abuse, but the creation of that abuse image would just be ‘work’, which is nonsensical.
The guide also says to use the term ‘child sexual abuse’, rather than ‘child sex’, so how is referring to commercial child sexual abuse as ‘sex work’ in keeping with the Guardian’s stated guidelines?
Earlier this year, Stephen Pritchard, the Observer’s readers editor, altered an article on child exploitation (“10,000 refugee children are missing, says Europol”, published 30/Jan/2016) to remove the term ‘sex work’, stating: “This article was amended on 11 February 2016 to remove the term “sex work” relating to children. Children caught up in the sex trade are victims of abuse.” I hope you will follow the precedent he has set.
The Guardian readers editor is on Twitter, if you have a twitter account, please ask them why they think it is ok to call a raped child a ‘worker’
I’m glad articles like this are getting written and published in the mainstream press, but it’s still not naming the problem; it is not naming men, it is not naming male entitlement, it is not joining the dots between child sex abuse, patriarchy and the sex industry.
The resignation of Lowell Goddard as chair of the official inquiry into historical child sex abuse is an opportunity for us to now focus on the really critical issue. For the inquiry to be credible the whole purpose must be to learn the lessons from past institutional failures so that children now and in the future are effectively protected.
The inquiry I chaired into child sexual exploitation in gangs and groups found extensive evidence of professionals and institutions refusing to see the signs and hear the voices of abused children. This was institutional denial by those whose job is to protect children from rape and sexual violation.
There is a dangerous belief that the sexual abuse of children is a “historical” phenomenon, that it’s about a few rotten apples in high places or recognised positions of power. Let’s look at the reality. The new crime survey from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) tells us that 11% of all females and 3% of all males aged 16-59 have disclosed that they were sexually abused as children.
This translates into at least 600,000 girls in England today who are, have been or will be victims of sexual abuse by the time they are 18. The figure for boys would be at least 150,000. These figures are profoundly shocking and yet I am not in the least surprised by them for they fit the known evidence, including that most people were abused by someone known to them such as a friend, acquaintance or family member.
David Finkelhor, probably the world’s most eminent researcher on child sexual abuse, has gathered evidence in the US that as many as one in four females is a victim of child sexual abuse. If true for the UK, this would equate to 3 million of the 12 million children in England.
Frankly, whichever figure we go with, if this was a communicable disease such as measles or rubella, mass inoculations and huge public health campaigns would be the order of the day. But it’s not – it’s the rape and violation of children, so silence and turning away, wholly or partially, are the responses.
Understanding and addressing denial at the institutional, social and political levels is what the inquiry should be focusing on. It should identify the systemic issues that contribute to and perpetuate a climate and culture in which hundreds of thousands of children can be and are raped and violated.
The inquiry presents an important opportunity to counteract the shame and stigma of sexual abuse – two key factors that contribute so powerfully to the silencing of victims. It should do this by holding public sessions in which the inquiry, on behalf of the nation, bears witness to the suffering endured by those who were victims.
The focus of these sessions should be the institutional failures to protect rather than the naming and shaming of alleged perpetrators, and they should serve the dual purpose of public acknowledgement of terrible wrong done and lessons to be learned. Holding the sessions in public would give a powerful message that being a victim is not shameful or stigmatising and would help to give today’s victims the strength to speak out.
Two years into the inquiry, children continue to be abandoned to their fate and their abusers by persistent and continuing institutional failures, although the police must be given credit for now treating this crime with the seriousness it deserves. Compare the figures for the ONS with the numbers of victims of sexual abuse identified by local authorities. At any one time approximately 48,000 children in England have a child protection plan on the grounds of one of the four categories of physical, emotional, sexual abuse or neglect. Of these children approximately 5% have a plan on the grounds of sexual abuse.
This amounts to fewer than 2,500 children across the whole of England. I recently told a local authority what the likely real scale of sexual use is in their area as opposed to the minuscule numbers identified, using best case scenario prevalence data. They were horrified and said they could not begin to face up to the reality as they lacked the resources and skills to do so.
Turning away is not the answer. Placing the burden of disclosure on the victims is not the answer. This is the time to boldly face the reality of sexual abuse, to develop a national strategy to change culture and practice in our institutions, our mores, our way of life, so that we honour our obligations to children to keep them safe and free from harm. Children cannot wait five or 10 years for this inquiry to conclude. A new chair gives us the opportunity to get this right. The lessons from the inquiry need to be shared urgently and applied now.
Below are two articles I spotted recently on poverty in New Zealand. I think it is useful to point this out, as sex industry advocates want us to think that prostitution is ‘necessary’ because of women’s poverty, and that prostitution somehow ‘cures’ women’s poverty (if that were true there would be no poverty by now).
If prostitution was such a great way to make money, wouldn’t all poor women do it? The reality is that prostitution is most profitable for the pimps and brothel keepers, and a very small number of young, conventionally attractive, relatively privileged women, for a short time only; other women end up there out of desperation, deeper desperation, it seems, than having to rent a garage to live in.
Schoolgirls in New Zealand are skipping class because they cannot afford sanitary pads and are being forced to use phonebooks, newspapers and rags to make-do during menstruation.
In the last three months local charity KidsCan distributed 4,000 sanitary items to more than 500 low-income schools nationwide after they were given a NZ$25,000 (USD$18,000) government grant to begin to address the issue.
Because KidsCan buy in bulk, they are able to purchase packs of sanitary products for around NZ$1 – instead of the NZ$4-8 that supermarkets usually charge. Sanitary products are taxed in New Zealand.
Vaughan Couillault, principal of Papatoetoe high school in south Auckland, said it was a “serious concern” that many of his 700 female students from lower socio-economic backgrounds could not afford the products to manage their monthly cycle hygienically.
This year KidsCan started supplying the school with sanitary items, but before that his staff would make regular trips to the supermarket to buy sanitary supplies, and charge female students 50 cents to cover costs. According to Couillault, at other low-income schools in New Zealand teachers buy students sanitary products using their own money.
Sarah Kull, a school nurse at Papatoetoe, said since the 50 cent charge was removed the number of students approaching her for sanitary products had increased to around 10-15 pupils each day. Half of them needed one-off items and half were stocking up to cater for their entire period.
“There is a shame factor involved in asking for help with such an intimate part of your life, and I think the girls we see approaching us are just the tip of the iceberg,” said Kull.
“A lot of girls are too embarrassed to ask. We also have about the same number each day come to us for pain relief related to their periods. Paracetamol is cheaper than pads but there is still a cost involved, which for many students from low-income families is unmanageable.”
Labour MP Louisa Wall is spear-heading the campaign to draw attention to school-age girls who can’t afford the average NZ$5-15 (USD$3-10) a month for sanitary items. She has also been told of women in hospital who have been unable to access sanitary items, and that many female university students struggle to pay to cover their periods.
“Local schools started coming to me and saying: ‘We need help with this’. Girls are skipping class and sports because they can’t afford the sanitary items that make their periods a normal part of life,” she said.
“This issue is still taboo and we really need to start addressing it because sanitary items are not a luxury – they are a basic necessity. Not being able to afford them is holding many girls and women back, and I am especially concerned about them missing out on education because of their periods.”
Should we consider schoolgirls in New Zealand to be at a disadvantage compared to the girls in various African countries, were ‘dating’ a ‘sugar daddy’ in return for money for basic essentials like sanitary pads is ‘normal’ (remember, ‘normal’ here doesn’t mean ‘right’ or ‘good’ or ‘beneficial’, it just means commonplace and unremarkable)? Are these schoolgirls being ‘oppressed’ by the age limit of 18 to enter the sex industry? Remember, sex industry advocates are pushing for the decriminalisation of the commercial sexual exploitation of children as well (this is something I want to write about in more detail, I have seen a sex industry advocate use the rationalisation that ‘children are poor too’).
Hundreds of families in Auckland are living in cars, garages and even a shipping container as a housing crisis fuelled by rising property prices forces low-income workers out of private rental accommodation.
Charity groups have warned that, as the southern hemisphere winter approaches, most of the premises have no electricity, sewage or cooking facilities.
“This is not people who haven’t been trying. They have been trying very hard and still they’re failing,” said Campbell Roberts of The Salvation Army, who has worked in South Auckland for 25 years.
“A few years ago people in this situation were largely unemployed or on very low-incomes. But consistently now we are finding people coming to us who are in work, and have their life together in other ways, but housing is alluding them.”
Auckland’s housing market is one of the most expensive in the world, with property prices increasing 77.5% over the last five years (this growth has now slowed), and the average house price fetching over NZ$940,000 (£440,000), according to CoreLogic, New Zealand.
Combined with low interest rates, rising migration, near full occupancy of state housing in South Auckland, and minimal wage rises, the pressure on many low to middle income earners has become too much to bear.
Some families are now forced to choose between having a permanent roof over their heads, or feeding themselves and their children.
Jenny Salesa, a Labour MP in the South Auckland suburb of Otara, says Maori and Pacific peoples are overwhelmingly bearing the brunt of Auckland’s housing crisis, and she has people coming to her office every day begging for help.
“People are living in garages with ten family members and paying close to NZ$400 for the privilege,” said Salesa.
“People are ashamed their lives have come to this, and they try to hide. But you can tell which garages are occupied – there are curtains on the windows, small attempts to make it a home. And on the weekends, in the park, there can be up to fifty cars grouped together, with people sleeping in them.”
Salesa estimates nearly 50% of people asking for her help in finding a home are in paid employment, and many families have two parents working and are still unable to make ends meet.
Nobody knows exactly how many people are living rough in Auckland, but common estimates range in the hundreds.
Darryl Evans, CEO of Mangere Budgeting in South Auckland, says on some roads in South Auckland every second house has additional accommodation erected – be it an occupied garage, a portable cabin with a chemical toilet, or tents pitched on the front and back lawn.
“Up until a few years ago, a family member might let you camp in the garage at no cost, as a temporary set-up,” said Evans.
“But now landlords have cottoned on to how desperate people are, and are renting out garages or Portakabins for hundreds of dollars. Our food bank – every food bank in Auckland – is under the most pressure its ever been.”
Evans has also seen many families get trapped in a cycle of a gradual migration south, chasing cheaper rents, but causing huge unrest for children, who are unable to access regular schooling, health care or social support networks.
“People living in these situations are feeling huge shame,” said Evans.
Last week the New Zealand government announced NZ$41.1m for emergency housing, but with winter mere weeks away, charities believe any assistance will come too late for most.
“We warned the government six or seven years ago that a housing crisis was looming,” said Roberts.
“Successive governments have ignored our warnings, and now look where we are. The worst homelessness I have seen in 25 years. You might be able to survive like this in the summer, but you can’t in winter. You just can’t live like this in a New Zealand winter.”
Will Ghibli ever employ a female director? Nishimura fields this question. “It depends on what kind of a film it would be. Unlike live action, with animation we have to simplify the real world. Women tend to be more realistic and manage day-to-day lives very well. Men on the other hand tend to be more idealistic – and fantasy films need that idealistic approach. I don’t think it’s a coincidence men are picked.”
I love Studio Ghibli, so this is not a direct attack on them, but I think this quote perfectly demonstrates something Cordelia Fine discusses in her excellent book Delusions of Gender, that whatever are positive traits in a given situation become male traits (even if in most other contexts they are seen as female traits).
I have covered already how the recent UK porn regulations are not ‘anti-woman’, and the acts it bans not ‘feminist’. Pandora Blake is not a ‘feminist pornographer’ she is a female pornographer, selfish-individualism while female is not feminism.
This is barely a victory for ‘free speech’, it proves nothing about porn being ‘speech’. Ofcom didn’t actually rule on whether or not the site’s contents counted as ‘harmful material’, just whether it was the type of site that fell under the regulations. It’s about a regulatory body acting outside of it’s remit, it’s a technical victory only.
A [female] pornographer has hailed a victory for freedom of expression after she won her appeal against an order that had forced her to take down a sadomasochism fetish website
Pandora Blake, from London, said she believed she was targeted by the Authority for Television on Demand (Atvod) watchdog because she spoke out publicly against rules on porn deemed “harmful to minors”.
Now, after Ofcom ruled that Blake’s website, dreamsofspanking.com, did not fall under Atvod’s remit, she is free to reinstate its content. “Now I’ve won my appeal I feel vindicated,” she said. “The war against intrusive and oppressive state censorship isn’t over but this decision is a landmark victory for [porn], diversity and freedom of expression.”
“If you look at [Atvod’s] archive, the sites they were ruling against, a lot of them were run by women,” Blake said. “It did really feel like they were upholding a kind of patriarchal sexuality.”
Atvod, a quango which regulated video-on-demand websites, was stripped of its powers earlier this year. It had been widely criticised for acting against sites outside its remit and, after new rules were introduced in 2014 banning some sex acts in pornography, free speech campaigners also said it disproportionately acted against websites run by women.
Blake had been among those who spoke out publicly against the Audio Visual Media Services regulations (AVMS), which in 2014 banned the depiction of sex acts that were judged morally damaging or life-threatening, including face-sitting, female ejaculation and spanking that leaves marks. She appeared in panel discussions on Newsnight and Women’s Hour opposing the new rules.
She says she was placed under investigation by Atvod soon after. In August 2015, after a five-month inquiry, she was forced to censor her website, which Atvod ruled had breached rules in three areas: a failure to pay regulatory fees, a lack of effective age controls to restrict access to over-18s, and the broadcast of harmful material.
Atvod’s investigation into her work had been traumatic, Blake said. “Making porn was part of an act of self-acceptance for me, to say I’m not ashamed and to reach out to other people who share the same sort of fantasies,” she said. “As a result, the films that I was making did show very honestly the sort of play that I enjoy in real life, it does include quite heavy impact with things like belts and canes – always consensual, but it does leave welts and bruises that might take a few days to heal.”
In a ruling published on Monday, Ofcom decided in favour of dreamsofspanking.com. A spokesperson said: “Ofcom found that the site was not a video-on-demand service and therefore it was not subject to regulation. When regulated video-on-demand services break our rules, we take robust action to protect children.”
If someone had told me, one week ago today, that a simple bake sale aiming to educate students about wage disparity in Australia would rile up a university campus to the point of death threats to the organisers, would reach media sources across Australia, the UK and US, and would result in the single most successful bake sale ever to be held on campus, I would have told them not to be silly; no one cares about a bake sale.
I also would have been wrong.
The now infamous Gender Pay Gap Bake Sale was an afterthought, a supplementary event to the panel discussions, workshops and stalls to be held throughout feminist week on the University of Queensland campus. We have hosted bake sales before, we just wanted this one to have an educational catch: why not educate students about wage disparity while feeding them sugar?
The idea was that each baked good would only cost you the proportion of $1 that you earn comparative to men (or, if you identify as a man, all baked goods would cost you $1). For example, for a woman of colour in the legal profession, a baked good at the stall would only cost you 55 cents.
Other university campuses and women’s collectives around the world have done it before – from campuses in the US charging more for white students than black students, to campuses in the UK only giving students the proportion of a cupcake they would earn in real life. This was not a new idea.
This particular bake sale, however, started something we could never in a million years have foreseen: a spiral into the darkest depths of gender inequality, the online world of cyberbullying and firsthand experiences of what women face every time they raise their voices.
Far from simply starting a discussion about wage disparity in Australia, the online backlash over the Gender Pay Gap Bake Sale brought to light hundreds of other issues of gender inequality, from sexual violence and threats against women, to why we still need feminism in the 21st century. This bake sale did its job and more.
We had students who had previously dismissed the idea of feminism approach us at the bake sale, purchase an item and explain that they “didn’t believe feminism was still needed until reading the comments posted online.”
These comments, posted by anonymous keyboard warriors (those who love to sit behind their computer screens and attack people changing the world) threatened violence against attendees and organisers of the bake sale, with posts including:
- “I’m so glad I know this event is on, now I won’t have to sort through all the ugly chicks when I’m out clubbing cos they’ll all be at feminist week instead”
- “Kill all women”
- “I’d punch a chick if she winked at me at the bake sale”
- “Females are fucking scum, they should be put down as babies”
- “I want to rape these feminist cunts with their fucking baked goods”
These comments were posted on the public event page, on subsequent posts about feminist week and sent directly to the email accounts, personal Facebook accounts and, in one case, via voicemail, of the organisers of feminist week, general members of the UQ Union Women’s Collective and to staff members who spoke out in support of the event.
This innocuous bake sale drew a vitriol of negative, derogatory and threatening online comments from people threatened by a discussion about equality and feminism; a discussion that we now, so obviously, need to be having in a public space.
As with all keyboard warriors, however, they never materialise in real life. The actual bake sale event was filled with positivity, support and enthusiasm for starting the conversation about wage disparity, the online behaviours of others, and, most importantly, global gender equality.
But while the keyboard warriors remained behind their screens, the threat to the safety and lives of women, the silencing of women in public spaces, and the wage disparity around the world are still very real issues that impact upon women and other marginalised groups in everyday life. These are the issues that the vitriol of online comments regarding the bake sale brought to light.
The bake sale may be over, but this discussion is just beginning.
And it all started because a couple of male students were upset that they would have to pay $1 for a cupcake.
Madeline Price is described in her bio as “the current Vice President of Gender and Sexuality (Women’s Officer) at the University of Queensland Union. A proud feminist and student at the University of Queensland, Madeline is also the founder and director of the One Woman Project, a gender education organisation.”
What amazes me, is that someone can write about rape and death threats against women, but never use the term ‘misogyny’ or ‘woman-hating’ once, instead it is somehow about ‘gender equality’ as if this violence would go away once women have wage parity with men. I guess this is one of the many consequences of liberal feminism, even when women see the problem, they can’t quite name it.