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Padraig MacLochlainn makes political decision based on tweets, bullies public, and doesn’t deny pimp with 5 aliases gave evidence to Irish prostitution hearing

On 25/02/13, elected Irish politician Padraig MacLochlainn started hurling insults at the sex workers he is claiming to help. Padraig is the TD for Donegal North East and Sinn Féin’s 26 County Spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Defence. After insulting various members of the public including sex workers, bloggers, an Irish Law student and a parody account and ‘blocking’ most of them, MacLochlainn frther demonstrated his contempt for political debate and evidence-based policy by tweeting that he will now advise Sinn Fein to support Turn Off the Red Light – not because of evidence, but because he was feeling annoyed with the people he’d just mocked and blocked.

Turn Off the Red Light is an anti-prostitution organisation.

padraigtorlfull

Padraig openly claimed that in “24 hours” he had made his decision (if not actually immediately due to tweets). This doesn’t sound like the thoghtful, evidence based conduct we would expect from politicians.

When tweeted a link to an article exposing the fact that one of anti-prostitution organisation Ruhama Agency’s witnesses, a prostitution “survivor”, is actually a convicted pimp with several aliases, Padraig did not deny this. He only said that other witnesses had used aliases – which entirely misses the point. Using aliases is normal within the sex worker community, because our sex-negative society forces sex workers to remain pseudonymous. But using multiple alias on different TV shows, at hearings and other public forums is creating a false impression to the electorate that many more “survivors” support the Swedish/Nordic model than is in fact the case. And if a sex worker is also a pimp, they need to admit this at the Irish prostituution hearing, because there could be a conflict of interest. There isn’t necessarily a conflict of interest, but there might be, because the fewer rights sex workers have, the more money pimps could make, just like any other labour relationship.

padraigdoesntdenyaliases

There’s no denial. Does Padraig MacLochlainn not care about the integrity of the Irish prostitution hearing? Or did he already know? I guess we’ll never know. Article here: http://sexwork.ie/2013/02/24/false-witness/

Padraig MacLochlainn also showed incredible disdain for sex workers (and everyone else who attempted to engage him in debate). He blocked people for sending him a single, polite, reasonable tweet. He replied to tweets with “zzz” a few tiimes, then called people  “arrogant” and “very sinister” simply for engaging in political debate. Padraig MacLoclainn also appeares to take issue with the fact that “many” of the random people who happened to tweet at him at that particular time were “from overseas” (i.e. Scotland – where the same attempt to force the Swedish model is being made right now -and England). Despite his public image of helping women in the sex industry, MacLochlainn insisted on calling sex workers “prostitutes”. Padraig MacLoclainn also called someone “pathetic” for “hiding behind a false name” despite his earlier  fierce defence of  using 5 aliases in public debate and hearings. The person in question was actually a parody account rather than a “fake persona” or “false name” as MacLochlainn alleged.

But don’t take my word for it:

padraigbbwmelody

Stand-up comic @BBWMelody’s plea for MacLochlainn not to keep blocking people and replying with “zzz” is seen by MacLochlainn as another opportunity to insult the general public.

MacLochlainn's Twitter timeline becomes a catalogue of his derision for anyone disagreeing with the Swedish model

MacLochlainn’s Twitter timeline becomes a catalogue of his derision for anyone disagreeing with the Swedish model

padraigmaggie

padraigturnoffrl

What a shining example of the Irish political process – if Sinn Fein really dies endorse Turn Off the Red Light, we’ll all know it was because one Padraig MacLochlainn decided to bully members of the public – including an Irish Law student and an Irish sex worker – then got in a bit of a huff after his blockfest.

Update: Sinn Fein has endorsed Turn Off The Red Light.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2013 in Feminism, Media, Sex work

 

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Anti prostitution rhetoric is an agenda for mass irresponsibility (especially you, Stella Marr)

This post is not going to deal primarily with the harm that is being caused by criminalization (arrests of sexworkers, which occur even with the Swedish ‘end demand model’, state sexual assault framed as ‘evidence gathering’, civil liberties and police surveillance. I’ve written about this before. Instead, I’m going to focus on the irresponsibility of abolitionist logic and what they’re doing.

Stella Marr

Firstly, abolitionists do not accept responsibility for their own mistakes. Stella Marr is a wonderful example. She chose to enter the sex industry, but instead of admitting it was her own choice, she blames men/the patriarchy/the sex industry. Stella was a high-class escort in Manhattan, who eventually went to cohabit with one of her clients, a British professor, for two years. He gave her “a beautiful condominium across from the Lincoln center” which she sold and then went off to university where she met her life partner, the ‘beloved’ she’d been waiting for. (All this information is from Stella’s own blog).

So, she was actually much more fortunate than the other students. They were living on a tight budget, still relatively inexperienced with the opposite sex, vulnerable to being hurt by breakups and knowing that they have a lot of uni debts to pay back. But Stella had lots of money and was much less vulnerable to being coerced by boys or being hurt by breakups or regretting casual sex. She didn’t have to figure out relationships or worry about debts or what would happen if she didn’t get her degree; she had money so didn’t need a degree. She was living a dream student life – well, actually the life she was living wasn’t a student’s life at all, it was the life a well-off person.

But Stella calls herself a “prostituted” woman as if she was trafficked, instead of choosing to go into sexwork. I feel genuinely bad for her that she regrets her choice of career. But we all make mistakes and we all have to own up to them. We can’t all blame men for that. It also seems ungrateful to her client to imply that he was bad for her. Women get beaten or raped by boyfriends and husbands, yet he was just her punter and he treated her better than many men treat their partners and lived with her like they were married. But no, Stella still thinks all this is legitimately something to whinge about. She should try being a battered wife, or a woman who is used by a man for sex and then dumped. Or me – Roland hasn’t given me a house. Huh.

Also, the fact that she tried to out a fellow sexworker, (@pastachips on Twitter who blogs over at glasgowsexworker.wordpress.com) on SCASE’s (an anti-sexwork group) very public Facebook page, is not very impressive. It is not very nice when the threat to your anonymity comes from a feminist, an ex-whore, who (in theory) should be one of your own. Not a journalist or a conservative, but someone who knows what it’s like to be you. I didn’t think about anonymity back then;  it was just more freeing writing such personal stuff under a pseudonym, and I’d actually thought about writing under my real identity. But I assumed people would respect your wish to remain anonymous unless you were trolling.

Stella Marr has 3 degrees; why can’t she think? She is now a well known abolitionist figure in some circles, and a public speaker; she gets fame and money to say this stuff. It’s incredible. And it looks like sexwork at least now has brought her a degree of fame, so it wasn’t all bad for her. At least she wasn’t outed like other sexworkers and sex bloggers;, or fired for previously being a call girl like American teacher Melissa Petro. She is accepted by society despite being an ex-sexworker because he is repentant; she bolsters the patriarchal ideas of women’s innate modesty by regretting sexwork and by claiming that no woman willingly sells sex. This soothes the fears of many a conservative.

Abolitionist rhetoric

The feminist orgs’ position that sexwork is violence against women is also promoting the refusal to accept responsibility for your own choices, but instead blame it on society and on men for demanding it. Yes, clients are part of the equation, but neither can the provider’s agency be denied. They are silencing sexworkers’ stories, confusing sex with rape and sexwork with trafficking, to the annoyance of real anti human trafficking organisations. They confuse the issue of human trafficking. This is also insulting to human trafficking and rape survivors, who did not consent and whose experiences were traumatic and violent, not just another day at work. They also bolster patriarchal norms of modest women, which promotes rigid gender norms and the sexual double standard.

Rhoda Grant MSP

If ignoring the existence of male sexworkers and female clients isn’t irresponsible, I don’t know what it. She’s a politician. She is prepared to drastically change the law while knowing nothing about the issue. She also presented misleading information in her consultation. Oh, and she’s pushing for a law that is very harmful to sexworkers.

In general

All of this is just holding back feminism. Men won’t take women seriously if we are seen not to admit our own mistakes. Teaching female children and young girls to be irresponsible and give others the blame for their mistakes is not a good example. Confusing sex and rape just plays into the hands of rape apologists and rape culture more generally.

Tackling human trafficking is very important, but by giving a separate designation to ‘sex trafficking’ instead of just leaving it in with human or labour trafficking, they are getting in the way of real human trafficking organisations. By vastly inflating sex trafficking figures, the abolitionist groups get funding which is not needed and which should be going to human trafficking groups who are struggling to raise awareness of labour trafficking which doesn’t involve the sex industry.

The rhetoric also begs the question whether sugar daddy relationships and sites like seekarrangement.com which pair up students with rich older men who give them a monthly allowance in exchange for a sexual relationship will be criminalized. This is clearly sexwork, but the radical feminists seem to define sexwork differently (though Grant’s consultation doesn’t define ‘sex’ or ‘money’, to stop people getting around it.) It also begs the question of whether pro dome, fetish and adult baby service providers are sexworkers and therefore whether their lients should be criminalised. (Grant’s consultation would probably catch all of these as well as anyone haing sex after dinner and a movie). Threatening so many of us with arrest, jail and a criminal record is clearly irresponsible.

British abolitionist groups are funded by right-wing American Christians, giving Americans too much influence over British politics and laws, now culminating in Rhoda Grant’s consultation.

All this leads to increased policing and moralizing attitudes which push sexworkers, especislly street workers, out into dark, secluded areas where they might experience violence. Some died because policing forced them away from well lit areas. In other countries where criminalization holds sway, rape by clients and abuse by police as well as trafficking has increased. It’s very ironic and sad that people are being murdered and raped because of criminalization which is supposed to ‘help’ them – a ‘help’ they never asked for and are doing their best to fight.

Rhoda – misleading information in Consultation: http://glasgowsexworker.wordpress.com/2012/09/21/close-reading-rhoda/

Feminists’ tactics to silence sexworkers, by Nine on the Feminist Ire blog. (She’s @supernowescna on Twitter):  http://feministire.wordpress.com/2012/09/24/just-dont-call-it-slut-shaming-a-feminist-guide-to-silencing-sex-workers/

Letter from an Irish sexworker about feminist organizations oppressing sexworkers and lack of representation of sexworkes at a hearing about criminalization: http://glasgowsexworker.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/letter-from-an-irish-sex-worker/

A woman died when increased policing forced her to do street sexwork away from the city: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/sex/9750059/Current-laws-do-not-prevent-violence-against-sex-workers.html

These links are sources for what I’ve said in this post, but I’ve left out all the sources about criminalization etc because they are in my other posts here:

Why I think sex trafficking should be  lumped in with labour trafficking, and more sources: https://diaryofavirginwhore.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/sex-trafficking-is-labour-trafficking-and-thats-what-we-should-call-it/

My response to Rhoda Grant’s consultation: https://diaryofavirginwhore.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/response-to-the-rhoda-grant-consultation-on-criminalising-sexwork/

UPDATE: Stella Marr links (wasn’t going to post these, but understandably you might appreciate some evidence that I’m not just making stuff up):

The Stella Marr v Glasgow Sex Worker fiasco:

They disagreed and had a simple and civil debate —-> http://glasgowsexworker.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/dear-stella/ possibly to do with/escalated by this stuff:  http://glasgowsexworker.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/further-scase-study/

Then Stella doxed GSW and attempted to out GSW on SCASE’S Facebook page —> http://glasgowsexworker.wordpress.com/2012/08/02/so-that-was-weird/

Stella Marr’s blog: http://secretlifeofamanhattancallgirl.wordpress.com/

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2013 in Feminism, Sex work

 

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“Generation Sex” – when our daughters become our sexual rivals and it’s easier to slutshame them than fight the patriarchy

The recent controversy over ‘Generation Sex’ was quite amusing – but also frustrating. Hypocrites in the news media and blogosphere put on a prim face as they lecture parents on controlling their teens, or throw their hands up in despair at how we’ll never be able to control them. But whether they’re scaremongering parents or shaming teens, they are united in their message: we should abhor the sluttiness of the young.

As for the young themselves, they are quite invisible in the national conversation. Being a marginalised, disenfranchised group, they haven’t been able to defend their actions, repudiate the report’s claims, or set the terms of the debate. 12-16 year olds – and even those who are older – are less socially adept, less intellectually developed and less educated. Hardly fair game, wouldn’t you agree? And as if what anyone does at age 12 or 14 is any indication of the kind of adult they’ll grow up to be. (At this age, young Kalika hated sluts and despised sexworkers; what kids think and do about sex at this age is absolutely unimportant). This is especially true of sex; many individuals don’t come out as gay or begin transitioning until their later teen years; we take time to explore our sexuality and build on our sexual skills. Sure, there must be 12 year olds enacting rape scenes with a St. Andrew’s Cross in a makeshift torture chamber, and props to them; but if you’re such a prude that you can’t bear this scenario, you haven’t got a whole lot to worry about in a society so sexually conservative that we think Fifty Shades is porn. Or kinky.

Historically, people have always been paranoid about the sexuality of the young; from the Can-Can dance of the Victorian era to “heavy petting” in the 1960s to 1990s “bumping and grinding”, young peoples’ bits and where they put them have never ceased to be of interest to the older generations.

But there is no getting away from the fact that, before sexting – which, by the way, has been going on since 2001, so it’s a bit late to be getting bothered about it – there were cameras. Before flashing on webcam, there was groping behind the bike sheds. Before weed, there was LSD. Before alcopops, there was beer. Before bralets there were miniskirts. All this unhealthy interest in our childrens’ privates is just classic moral panicking over the wider range of adolescent behaviour as documented by Stanley Cohen in 1970. But it’s not hip to be on about violence any more (at least, without mentioning video gaming) or drinking (because we aren’t even debating it any more – we’ve moved on to debating if minimum alcohol pricing is the right ‘solution’ to this ‘problem’ of people drinking) so teen sex – titillating, worrying, tabloid-selling teen sex – is the Next Big National Distraction.

As ‘teen pregnancy’ has been falling since the 1970s, people who write with shock about our nation’s slutty youth need to admit they are hypocrites. They weren’t wearing chastity belts when they were in high school, so what gives them any right to tut-tut when it’s the turn of the young ‘uns? Perhaps it is envy, especially now that in the developed world, people are living longer. With Britain’s retirement age now 68, people who would once have been in old age homes are now still working. They’re parents to forty-somethings and grandparents to high school pupils and students. Whereas in previous generations our descendants would help out on our farm or carry on the family business, now they carve out their own careers, subscribe to their own religious and political beliefs, and even (especially in a recession) compete with us for jobs. We are no longer raising our successors, but our competitors.

In addition, it is now more acceptable for mothers and middle-aged women to openly have a sex life, even one that is non-monogamous. More than ever, forty and fifty year olds are using beauty products, exercise and visits to salons to look after their appearance and remain attractive. As a mother’s appearance wrinkles and her body sags, she watches her 15-year-old daughter growing up and getting her pick of the lads; if her daughter is older – perhaps a student or graduate –  she sees her daughter dating the men she can only dream of dating.

Why do I say “mother” and “daughter” without mentioning fathers and sons? Because the photos associated with such articles usually only feature teenage girls. It is girls’ sexting, not boys’, that is controversial. (Double standard again).

Instead of bitterly airing our envy in a paternalistic ‘concern’ to protect our kids from themselves, why not accept that no consequencs arise from sexting in a society without the double standard? For one thing, photos of body parts cannot be identified; also, even if your face is in the photo, photos don’t always look like the real person. And for another, there are so many naked photos on the internet that it hardly matters if yours ends up there too; if it’s seen, it will be seen amid many others.

The only consequences come from slut-shaming and bullying. We shouldn’t be telling girls not to sext, we should be telling all kids not to slutshame. Amanda Todd didn’t commit suicide because she sexted and the image was sent to others; she killed herself because she was slutshamed by other girls. If the double standard didn’t exist, then no matter how many people saw the photo she wouldn’t have been slutshamed and would still be alive today. Sexting shouldn’t have an “aftermath” or any “consequences”, and in a healthy, non-misogynistic society, it wouldn’t.

Kids shouldn’t be discouraged from sexting any more than they should be discouraged from expressing themselves in any other way such as through art, sport or creative writing. If you want kids to stop sexting, adults must first stop sexting and provide an example. As long as adults sext, we are hypocrites for being ‘concerned’ over teens doing it. They should in fact be just as concerned for us. At least if a teen’s photo ends up on the internet, they would look effin’ good, instead of an older adult who might look droopy or balding [goes off to vomit]. And we can’t call teens ‘Generation Sex’ as long as we sext and have sex. We’re as slutty as they are. and it is morally wrong to slutshame a marginalised, disenfranchised and still generally voiceless generation.

Boys and girls sext in equal measure, but people seem less concerned about boys. Is it because only girls should be chaste and hide their sinful-but-precious bodies, or because only females get slutshamed? I don’t know; but we have to stop and focus on telling our kids not to slutshame, rape, or coerce and to report molesters instead of what we currently are telling them.

Hugo Schwyzer’s take on sexting and girls: http://www.hugoschwyzer.net/2012/10/28/one-mistake-wont-ruin-your-life-why-we-need-a-female-steve-jobs/

The same, but longer, article on Jezebel – it’s excellent! http://jezebel.com/5955277/one-mistake-wont-ruin-your-life-remember-that

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2012 in Feminism

 

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Dressing like sluts 2/2: Mutton dressed as Lamb

In part 1 I talked about women in general and how they’e stigmatised for “slutty” outfits. But older women are often laughed at even more than their younger sisters, as being “mutton dressed as lamb”. The arguments for and against shaming her are something like this:

 

Society: She’s immature.

Questioner: Why? You set the standard for immaturity versus maturity. There is no fixed human standard of dressing. You do not call tribespeople who are scantily clad “mutton dressed as lamb”.

Society: But she belongs to this society, so she must be more immature than other women to dress that way when other women of the same culture don’t.

Questioner:  Or maybe she is more mature, and has transcended you. Maybe she is free and not bound by your dictates.

Society: It’s worse when an older woman dresses slutty.

Questioner: Why? Why is it worse than a young woman? Because we see firm youg bodies as more sexy? Older men don’t always agree; they prefer women of their age. Or is it that you think older women aren’t entitled to a sex drive anymore?

Society: OK, I’m changing tack. It looks stupid. It looks cheap and tacky.

Questioner: Because that’s your opinion; you feel this way and dictate your preferred mode of dressing to your subjects. These are your prejudices. Next you’ll be telling us women shouldn’t be having too much sex or selling sexual services.

Society: Um, well…yes, that is how I feel about all women.

Questioner: I rest my case, and may your illogical dictates burn in hell when we finally overthrow them.

 

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2012 in Feminism

 

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Response to the Rhoda Grant Consultation on Criminalising sexwork

It’s not that good or very well cited, but I know people who are much better at this stuff than me are responding, so hopefully it’s a contribution at least. It took over one and a half hours to write, which is obv a long time but now I wish I’d spent two or three hours on it and made it better or included critique of Rhoda’s consultation paper “statistics”. Well, I can always do another response in my legal name I guess – and I think certain people will have critiqued the statistics, so maybe it doesn’t matter. Anyway, here it is:

Rhoda Grant MSP

Room M1.06

The Scottish Parliament
Edinburgh
EH99 1SP

Rhoda.Grant.msp@scottish.parliament.uk

Dear Rhoda Grant

I am writing to register my objection to your proposals to criminalise the purchase of sex in Scotland.

Criminalising buyers leads to more trafficking and scares off the educated and safe buyers who would have a lot to lose if they were caught. It just leaves the clients who already have criminal records and don’t care about being caught. This law wouldn’t affect the high-end escorts; they’d just stop sexwork and continue working their other jobs or studying. But it would affect the more vulnerable sexworkers who rely on their earnings, or are drug-addicted. As the safer clients are scared off, they’re forced to take the criminal clients – and put their lives in danger. Clients may also want street sexworkers to get into cars quickly, and may pick up street workers late at night or in remote spots to avoid being caught. This is very dangerous for sexworkers. If you care about vulnerable sexworkers, you cannot support criminalising sexwork.

Criminalising clients has turned out very badly in Sweden, leading to trafficking to Russia, police secretly filming sexworkers having sex (which is a kind of sexual assault), condoms being used as evidence in court, as well as forced evidence-taking from the genitals of any woman suspected of being a sexworker – which of course is state-sanctioned sexual assault.

From the USA to Norway and Sweden, carrying condoms or marijuana can get you suspected by police of being a sexworker. Schools and clinics handing out condoms is seen as encouraging prostitution – which makes it hard for governments, local authorities, universities and schools to fight HIV and promote safe sex.

Other results are increased whorephobia and stigmatisation of sex workers; a university student was thrown out of her uni when a lecturer discovered she was stripping and doing sexwork on the side. This increase in whorephobia can also lead to more similar misogyny, such as slut-shaming and stigmatisation of female lone parents.

Although I’m not a representative sexworker, I have been paid for sex twice in the last 7 months and criminalising my client would have upset me and made me feel guilty. Forcibly taking evidence from me, as mentioned above, would for me have been equivalent to sexual assault/rape. Being forced to attend a court hearing against this person would also have made me very unhappy. This law would have wasted the court’s/police’s time, taxpayer’s money, caused emotional damage to both of us, possibly resulted in our identities being made known in the press, possibly got me fired, possibly destroyed a company and therefore left many employees jobless – in a recession where they will wait some time before being able to find new jobs. My client’s family would also be affected; as he is in an open marriage his wife would not mind him seeing other women, as she has several lovers too. But jailing her husband would have brought misery to all the family. In short, no good thing and many, many bad things would have resulted.

Also, if I could choose, I’d rather be sexually assaulted by my client than by the police. At least that way I could get justice through the courts, but if the police sexually assaulted me it’d be sanctioned by the state as “evidence gathering”!

A few points on why decriminalization is good for sexworkers and other members of the community, much better than either criminalization or legalization:

Decriminalization (the current UK situation) is:

Less hypocritical

Health/control disease by voluntary checkups

Allows welfare provision and exiting strategies as well as allowing freedom to be a sex worker at the same time, thus allowing sex workers to choose their destiny

Avoids stigmatisation by the criminal justice system and social attitudes

Sex work is not harmful/is consensual so law has no right to intervene

Laws protect workers from exploitation, unlike legalization

Sex workers can report violence to police without fear, so they are more safe

Trafficking rates low as British people willing to do sex work as it’s not a crime, they can choose how they work and they don’t have to register their legal name

More detailed points

Yes, some sex workers are recipients of violence or use drugs, but they are in the minority and are usually streetwalkers; exiting strategies and training programmes are helping them quit sex work if they wish to. They are already recieving the help they need – or, if they’re not recieving enough, pehaps we should throw our money at creating more of these programmes instead of at police officers breaking down hotel room doors to arrest people for sex work and jail them. And foster carers to take in children whose parents are jailed for sex work. And prison guards…social services…police monitoring devices…prosecutors…

We live in a democracy, and any action we take on real or percieved problems must be proportionate.  There’s no need for a blanket ban when streamlining exiting programmes and  increasing agency and massage parlour inspections will do. What about a website where sex workers can anonymously name agencies/parlours they think need to be inspected? More clinics and health services solely for sex workers (there are some)? There – a couple of my on-the-spot, half-baked ideas; no doubt the experts and politicians can come up with more. So, maybe we should discuss these and other options before imprisoning consenting adults? Perhaps reasonable, informed debate is more appropriate than moralistic knee-jerk reactions from people who aren’t sex workers?

And what about the other consequences? The cost to the state when released prisoners can’t get jobs and use state benefits? Or perhaps an engineer or solicitor who paid for sex, went to jail and now can’t get a job they’re qualified for after a criminal record, so they work in a bakery or as a waitress/waiter. They won’t make much, so the state has to give them Work Tax Credit and Housing Benefit. And what about their children when they’re in jail? Couples pay sex workers too – as a gift to one of the partners or as a threesome if the sex worker and one of the partners is bisexual. Both male and female sex workers are paid by couples.

The consultation begs these questions: Would you see women paying for sex from men as a problem, given that they’re concerned over men objectifying women? If a woman pays for sex, should she be jailed, or is it perfectly acceptable because she is a woman? What about if both she and her husband have sex with the sex worker? Is that bad, because the husband is objectifying the sex worker? Or is it okay, too, as long as the sex worker is male – because a man objectifying another man is fine?

I believe that you simply cannot formulate policy that covers educated prostitutes who earn hundreds or thousands off each client and may be sex activists and/or doing prostitution part time while studying or working other jobs and that also covers prostitutes earning £10-£30 off each client, who have no other job and use prostitution to pay for drug addictions, bills/rent or pay it to boyfriends or pimps. These women usually have a history of abuse and suffer from illness and sleep deprivation, and according to reports are often barely able to stand up as they negotiate with clients. Most were forced into it or started very young so their agency is doubtful, in contrast with sex activists who form coalitions such as PLAN, COYOTE or the UK Trade Union for sex workers. Streetwalkers usually fall into the second group, while those that work through agencies, from home or from massage parlours usually fall into the first. So you cannot have one policy to cover both situations. In the first category, the problem seems to be victimization by society and the criminal justice system itself; the solution is freedom/nonintervention. In the second category, a laissez-faire approach would be irresponsible.

And this is what we have; related streetwalking offences like soliciting and kerb-crawling are criminalised while buying sex isn’t.

Putting clients’ photos on billboards or jailing them is cruel and disproportionate. Putting them on a sex offenders’ register is only confusing rape and sex, which is a disaster as people will not feel that rape is a very serious crime, since other, harmless fun activities are confused with it. We need to be very, very clear on what is rape and what isn’t. We need to see rape as a big deal. Only then can we prevent it.

The focus on men objectifying women is very confusing and simplistic, as many men are sexworkers selling sex to men or women (sometimes both). And some female sexworkers sell sex to couples or to women.

If you want to criminalise sexwork, it would be more apt to criminalise other careers, as labour trafficking is far more prevalent than sex trafficking. The moral panic and junk stats over sex trafficking are just the lies of long-debunked junk science by Melissa Farley and NGOs such as the Ruhama Agency fuelling moral panics. These NGOs are well funded by Christian organisations – many anti-sexwork NGOS are funded by the same one (Magnanti 2012) and are run by radical feminists who are anti-pornography and anti-sexwork simply on principle, without studying the issues.

Ruhama was the organisation behind the abuse and torture of “fallen” women in the Magdalene laundries as recent as 1996.They shouldn’t be allowed to influence laws on young women or continue their obsession with nonvirginal or fallen women. Ruhama also previously claimed that women in lapdancing clubs were trafficked – this was found to be untrue by the huge Garda operation that followed.

Criminalising sexwork stigmatises it as somehow different from all other work and marginalises sexworkers. Also, if it is criminalised, sexworkers and clients will simply sign up to sexwork-disguised-as-dating sites such as seekarrangement.com (a site which pairs up female students and graduates with rich ‘sugar daddies’ who give a monthly allowance and expensive gifts in exchange for sex).

Criminalising consensual sex between adults is simply moralising and puritanism masquerading as “feminism”. REAL feminists would never ignore international evidence and deliberately endanger sexworkers – most of whom are women. It also creates a “women are pure so would never sell sex willingly; therefore they must be helpless trafficked victims” sort of view. This view only inflames sexual double standards and virgin/whore dichotomies – as well as silencing sexworkers’ own stories and lived experiences. This law leads to a sex-negative society – one even more sex-negative than the society in which we, unfortunately, currently live.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Kalika Gold a.k.a The VirginWhoreTM

 

 

 

References:

R. Matthews (1986) “Beyond Wolfenden? Prostitution, Politics and the Law” in R. Matthews and J. Young (eds) Confronting Crime, London: Sage

R. Matthews (2008) “Prostitution, vulnerability and victimisation” in Prostitution, Politics and Policy, Abingdon: Routledge-Cavendish

http://glasgowsexworker.wordpress.com/2012/09/21/close-reading-rhoda/ (the flaws and lies in Rhoda’s paper).

The Scottish Executive (2004) Being Outside: A Response to Street Prostitution (about exiting strategies and small red light zones in non-residential areas of cities. Proves that there’s only about 2,000 prostitutes in all of Scotland who streetwalk or work out of flats. However, this isn’t counting call girls and those who work in massage parlours/saunas so is an underestimation.) Available at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/30859/0024989.pdf)

J. Phoenix (2000) “Prostitute Identities: Men, Money and Violence” British Journal of Criminology 40 (1) 37-55  (There is violence, but it’s not as bad as some NGO’s make it seem, and it’s hard to see how criminalization would enable these sex workers to report violence to the police or leave violent boyfriends. Oh, and non-sexworkers also experience domestic abuse, even rape.)

R. Matthews (1993) Kerb-Crawling, Prostitution and Multi-Agency Policing”, Police Research Group Paper 43, London: Home Office

The Sex Myth by Dr Brooke Magnanti (proves human trafficking into the UK is almost nonexistent with ALL migrant sex workers legally classified as ‘trafficked’. Two massive operations to find trafficking victims found 0 and 2 cases respectively, if I remember correctly).

http://www.citypages.com/2011-03-23/news/women-s-funding-network-sex-trafficking-study-is-junk-science/

https://t.co/rcUYce34

https://glasgowsexworker.wordpress.com/2012/11/27/our-bodies-our-selves/

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2012 in Feminism, Sex work

 

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Dressing like a slut: 1 of 2

We’ve all seen Snog, Marry Avoid or other similar shows where the “sluttily dressed” go to get help to dress more decently and flatteringly. And we’ve all seen women who we think are baring too much skin. What counts as “too much” varies from person to person and between different situations; often, the age of the “sluttily” dressed woman is a big factor: it’s okay for young girls to bare their bellybuttons or strut around in tube tops or short skirts, but older women had better beware of  being ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ – a shaming, ageist phrase. And other shaming phrases exist, such as the whorephobic “dressing like a prostitute” and  the personal attack of “she’s got no self esteem” among others. These attacks often perpetuate other types of misogyny (such as whorephobia) as well as the slutshaming itself.

But did these distinctions and the aversion to bare flesh come from our minds? Surely not. When we were born there was no gene inside us that revolted against a particular amount of material or the way a garment is cut.

This is all from society; from our society in this region of the globe, at this particular point in time. And no, I’m not going to say the patriarchy. It’s all of society; all of us. Actually, it seems like women do the judging, shaming and gossiping about “slutty” clothes far more than men do. Is there a word for the privileged, prudish, hetero white female force? The Matriarchy? Because I do not believe we are fighting men here. We are fighting ourselves. We are fighting that part of us that is afraid of slutshaming – so desperately afraid that we’ll shame another woman just to make ourselves feel better. “I’m not a slut, SHE’S the slut! I dress good!” Yet when did bitching, cattiness and slutshaming one-upmanship achieve anything for feminism? It just makes our gender look like bullies obsessed over looks, modesty and trivial crap. Worst of all, it makes our youger sisters and our daughters copy our harmful behaviours and perpetuate the cycle.

Accepting that we should allow women the right to wear whatever they want to wear doesn’t mean you have wear the same thing. You don’t have to wear a bralet and a miniskirt just because another woman is; feel free to wear a burqa instead. The main issue is that women are freely choosing what they wear. Even if what they wear supposedly encourages objectification – or, conversely, is a symbol of female oppression in the Middle East – as long as a woman freely chooses to wear it, what’s wrong? Not all women can freely choose, especially if they’ve been indoctrinated from childhood. However just as not every woman wearing a burqa was brought up a fundamentalist Muslim, not every woman baring her boobs was indoctrinated by the patriarchy.

And if shaming other women for what they wear is a big part of your conversations, so that you’re finding it hard to quit, why not  try more traditional healthy entertainments such as socialising and having fun? Or buy the Nintendo 3DS or something.

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2012 in Feminism

 

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How not to get raped

Don’t dress like a slut. Whether you’re going to work, walking the dog, nipping out to Tesco’s, jogging, going out for a walk, to a friend’s house, a night out, your boyfriend’s house, the cinema, the gym, the doctor’s, make sure you aren’t dressing like a slut, you slut. (Even though there’s no evidence that seeing an inch of cleavage turns a normal dude into a rabid monster who will attack you.)

However, research has shown that attackers go for women whose clothes can be easily removed (like loose, baggy clothes or clothes with zips.) So, don’t wear loose clothes either – wear tight clothes. Which may look slutty. You slut.

Don’t walk alone at night – are you an idiot as well as a slut? Get a man to walk you home because women aren’t able to fend for themselves and should rely on men.

However, most rape victims are raped by friends, acquaintances, family and partners. So don’t ask your friend or date to walk you home, or they might rape you. Which would be your fault, you brazen whore.

As we’ve already learned, you are in danger from family, friends and acquaintances. You can protect yourself by:

Being born to a lone mother with no male relatives or other male children. This takes care of possible paedophilia or incest from your family.

Not talking to any of your fellow male pupils, students or coworkers so they don’t become friends or acquaintances and rape you. You might get referred to psychiatric services, lose all your friends or get fired, but it’s a small price to pay for being safe

Another risk comes in the form of date-rape. You should avoid this by not dating, and instead having one-night stands with strangers.

An important thing to remember is that although most victims are attacked by someone they know, you can still be attacked by a stranger. So don’t go out anywhere, because anywhere you go, you could meet a stranger.

However, if a rapist breaks into your house they could attack you there. Living with your partner or parents is no help either, as it is common for women to be attacked in their own homes by friends or family. So, really, you shouldn’t have been born female.

Though transitioning to being a man isn’t any help, because men get raped too – by women and by men.

So there is absolutely NOTHING you can do to prevent rape. Everything you do to avoid it brings its own risks.

Above all: be ready to shag absolutely anyone, because if you’re consenting then it isn’t rape so you can’t be raped. May the sluttiest woman win.

And remember, if you do get raped, it’s your fault for being a slut and you shouldn’t be ruining the rapist’s life by daring to out him or report him to the police. Because it was all your fault, slut.

***There is nothing you can do to avoid it, and why should you even try? It’s the rapist’s responsibility to ensure he doesn’t rape.***

 

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2012 in Feminism

 

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Why radical feminism is itself anti-feminist

This post is not going to name names or tackle particular books, academic articles or blog posts. I am tackling the entirety of radical feminism, which for the purposes of this post I am going to define as a political agenda or set of beliefs which is anti-porn, anti-sexwork, anti-PIV [penis-in-vagina] sex (or considers all sex to be rape), and identifies itself as “feminism”. Basically, the agenda that Andrea Dworkin started and that Kat Banyard inherited.

First, let’s look at what the goals of feminism are: gender equality, in all aspects of life from family life to career prospects to salary, media portrayals, political power, education, healthcare, quality of life, freedom to make choices, opportunities…the list goes on. The important thing is gender equality, and on that all feminists can agree. So let’s look at what the radfems are doing and how this achieves (or destroys) gender equality.

Anti-porn

I’ve already covered this in more detail in my post on the No More Page 3 campaign: https://diaryofavirginwhore.wordpress.com/2012/11/04/how-no-more-page-3-harms-feminism/  so suffice it to say that the anti-porn stance:

Assumes women do not consume porn; is harmful to women whose careers involve creating porn – either by being porn actors or porn directors, producers, scriptwriters, marketers etc (there are a LOT of roles involved in the porn industry – who do you think designs porn websites, manages sales teams and negotiates advertising deals, for instance?). The anti-porn stance also assumes that pornography causes rape, something which has never been proved and, as I said in my Page 3 post, is debunked by this blog, in which I have posted pornographic fiction about an underage boy being raped twice yet simultaneously posted criticism of a lenient sentence given to a woman who had sex with an underage boy. Inconclusion, the anti-porn stance just digs out the tired old stereotype of the pure woman who would never consume porn, and ultimately brands women who work in the porn industry as traitors to women (at worst) or misguided and exploited (at best). All this achieves is the bolstering of the sexual double standard and the silencing of womens’ lived experiences – both of women working in the industry and of female porn consumers and female amateur pornographers (women who regularly write or draw porn and put it online, or who post their sex videos or nude photos online).

I feel like adding this little anecdote in here: A few weeks ago I came across a blog that supported No More Page 3. It was badly argued, drawing a cause-and-effect between pornography and rape. I made some sort of short, on-the-fence sort of comment, to which the author replied; it was not exactly an interesting debate, owing to my reticence about arguing with people on the internet. However, despite not remembering any of what was said, I do remember this: the blogger edited my comments, changing “porn” to “p()rn” to “avoid my blog coming up in any creepy dude searches”. Obviously, she thought porn itself was ‘creepy’ not natural or titillating or entertaining. Secondly, she couldn’t concieve of the idea that half of those creepy dude searches could be creepy chick searches; that women consume pornography. I had asked her whether she thought my BDSM rape fiction about males was as bad as male-created porn about females. No wonder she didn’t respond to this question – the idea of a woman creating porn had never entered her worldview. This worldview smacks very much of the double standard and concepts of chaste women versus predatory men. It is a dichotomy that insults womens’ autonomy and sexuality and also mens’ autonomy and morality. But it harms women more, because of course such a view inevitably means that female porn consumers and creators are deviants and forces chastity on women. And it’s only a small step from this dichotomy to the “all men are rapists, all sex is rape” line of thinking.

The anti-porn stance does not promote gender equality; it promotes the old Victorian stereotypes. Therefore it is antifeminist.

Anti-Sexwork

Criminalising sexwork takes away womens’ freedom to choose their occupation and it takes away their careers. The anti-sexwork NGOs’ lies about the exploitation of all or most sexworkers silences sexworkers’ real, lived experiences. I have been on the recieving end of this – albeit only for about two hours – and no, it is not fun to be told you’re a helpless victim in denial, that your entire blog is nothing but the heartbreaking documentary of your imminent descent into drugs and trauma, that you didn’t really choose to sell sex/virginity and you need help urgently. I put a lot of hours into this blog and a lot of thought into choosing Roland (my client) – including going to a modelling shoot and being paid for spanking just to scope him out as a potential buyer. And sending that message (an ‘invitation to treat’, they call it in Contract Law). So to be told that this is all fake – I’m a tragic victim with no agency, he’s a cardboard-cutout predator with no backstory who simply dropped conveniently into my life to prey on me – well, as I said, it’s not fun. Even for two hours. I mean, I wanted a man who I vaguely know, who has a degree, lives in the Lothians area, likes spanking, doesn’t mind knives/enemas/bondage etc, is a switch, isn’t a rapist, and is rich enough to pay me what I want. And I freaking got it. (Oh, and he likes art and is polyamorous, which are my preferences.) How do I not have agency??

Anyway, the anti-sexwork stance puts sex workers in danger of rape, jail, having their children taken away and having their identities revealed. Criminal records also make it harder for them to exit the sex industry if they want to. Under criminalization, the sex industry goes from cottage industry to criminal underworld where sexworkers are controlled by pimps instead of working independently or with escort agencies. (More details and references in my post on decriminalization here: https://diaryofavirginwhore.wordpress.com/2012/08/05/why-decriminalization-is-best-for-sex-workers-and-society/ ).  Criminalization also leads to increased sex trafficking; there has been increased trafficking in Sweden since clients were criminalized. Criminalizing sexwork might mean criminalizing the creation of pornographic films also.

Putting women at risk like this and enabling clients to rape them without fear of it being reported is not helping women. This isn’t feminism – it is anti-feminism. The Ruhama Agency ran the Magdalene laundries and uses false statistics to push for criminalization; so does Rhoda Grant MSP who is also attempting to criminalize sexwork with her consultation paper. The anti-sexwork NGOs frequently confuse sex trafficking with sexwork (which annoys the real anti-human trafficking groups). Other less disturbing consequences of the anti-sexwork stance is, again, the silencing of womens’ lived experiences and stigmatising them as exploited victims (if they’re “sex slaves”) and gender traitors (if they’re “happy hookers”). Yet again, patriarchal norms of the “good”, “pure” woman and whorephobia are the only gems that emerge triumphant from this mess of an ideology. On that note, it has been proven that most anti-sexwork NGOs receive huge amounts of funding from a single Christian organization (The Sex Myth by Dr Magnanti…I can’t pimp this book enough. I reckon I should put an ad banner on this blog; I might as well get paid for advertising it in just about every non-Diary post. Seriously, though, read it). So being anti-sexwork harms women, leaves them vulnerable to rape and violence (two big issues for any feminist) limits their choices, is conducive to whorephobia and therefore also slutshaming (something feminists want to eradicate) and is therefore antifeminist.

Anti-PIV/All sex is rape

Aside from being an absolutely insane idea, this is contrary to the nature of our species. Let me explain: homosexuality/bisexuality/BDSM/being genderqueer is natural because it’s so common and is found in other species (many species exhibit homosexual or bisexual behaviour, change their gender at will, and exhibit ‘masochistic’ sexual behaviours). However, rape isn’t natural because if our species was meant to reproduce by rape then women would not need to have any sexual desire, arousal or ability to love or form committed relationships with men. And not doing PIV while being heterosexual is very rare, so it is unnatural.

More relevantly, the idea that PIV sex is degrading or that all sex is rape depends on the assumption that the man (or the party who penetrates) is dominant and active, while the other is submissive and passive. This only bolsters the idea that sex is something that men do to women – the hallowed ‘subject verb object’ of ‘man fucks woman’.

My pet peeve with the active/passive duality is that it is the reason behind rape-as-a-weapon (the most famous instance of this was Muammar Gaddafi’s use of rape against the rebels (and anyone who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time). Although rape was used against men as well as women, its “justification” as a weapon comes from the belief that sex/rape is not equal; the active person is forcing submission or humiliation on the passive person. If this duality was not believed, rape could not be used as a weapon because both sides would be equally dominating and equally submitting. Similarly, this duality enables rapists to believe that they caused humiliation to their victim by committing the rape. Sometimes rapists will show photos or videos of their crimes to boast about the “humiliation” they think they caused.

A less disturbing aspect of the duality is that it reduces the woman to an object, to be pursued and enjoyed like a product. This is not the reality of human sexuality, where both genders equally desire the other.

And of course, if being passive/recieving is humiliating or, well, passive, then it means women who have sex with people who don’t love/value/cherish/insert-meaningless-word-here them are being used, are being objectified. While f penetrating symbolises dominance and power, men are dominating women every time they have sex, which means it is a good thing for them to have sex with lots of women. You can see where this heads in terms of the double standard, slutshaming and whorephobia.

Refusing to have PIV sex only legitimizes and encourages the duality. We should be trying to dissassociate dominance from penetration and passivity from receiving.

In conclusion, this just undermines feminist goals of equality.

 

Trans women

Excluding some women from the feminist movement isn’t very feminist, is it? Not a lot to say on this, because it’s so, well, simple.

 

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, the radical feminist movement is itself antifeminist.

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2012 in Feminism

 

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How No More Page 3 harms feminism

Yeah, NoMorePage3 hurts feminism and feminist goals, and here’s why:

Firstly, the campaign founder’s statement that sex is something “beautiful”, “blissful” and “loving” between “two people”. Now that’s a huge no-no right there. It excludes poly people, swingers, kinky people, etc. The word “loving” could exclude ALL sex outside of a committed relationship. In fact, there is nothing I can recognise in her description that would apply to my own few experiences and especially to my own desires, which are rarely limited to two people. As for “loving”, education and career often delay middle-class womens’ search for love. And of course I have found no use for love in my adventures.

This is just positing a static right way of doing sex. Which is what the patriarchy, the Catholic Church and certain UK and US politicians have done and are doing. This is not feminism. It is nothing but the repression and sexual restriction of these institutions masquerading under the name of “feminism”. The campaign and this statement is aimed at women, so it is telling women that there is a right way of doing sex which society and page 3 have “debased”. Telling women that there is a right way of excercising sexual expression is a very old patriarchal device used to control women. Along with it come strict gender roles, the virgin/whore dichotomy and the double standard.

And the implicit assumption is that women, like me, whose idea of sex doesn’t fit in the Christian-esque box, are debasing this beautiful thing called sex that was “given” to humankind (another little flashback to the Bible).

 

Secondly, the campaign and its discourse ultimately takes away the models’ agency and stigmatises them as victims or gender traitors. By stigmatising these womens’ jobs and choices, the campaign impinges on womens’ freedoms and creates an anti-modelling, anti-sex industry, anti-sexwork ethos that is just patriarchal sexual repression and Victorian prudery in a new guise. Women should feel free to model and work in pornography (whether as actors, scriptwriters, models or directors) without fear of shaming and judgement. This campaign is the antithesis of the fight against slutshaming, the fight for women to be equal to men and the fight for sexworkers’ rights.

Thirdly, the campaign assumes that only men objectify women and only men consume pornography. This view degrades female sexuality by assuming that women are inherently less sexual than men, or that they shouldn’t consume porn. Again, these are patriarchal ideals of the ‘good’ asexual woman.

If women consumed and created porn, this campaign would be hypocritical, right? So to support it, it is necessary to believe that women don’t create or consume porn, or at least that women shouldn’t do so.

Spreading this idea that women don’t like, consume or create porn is very damaging to attitudes towards womens’ sexual expression. This view only makes society feel that women naturally aren’t sexual – great fodder for slutshaming attitudes. And perhaps even increased objectification, because women will be seen as sexually passive, something to therefore be chased or approached, something to get sex from. Instead of the reality that women aren’t passive objects, they too pursue desired mates and are sexual; they are also out to get sex from men.

Fourthly, the campaign makes a very dubious connection between hardcore porn and softcore porn, and also between page 3 and violence against women. There is absolutely no evidence for this and no study has ever been done on the effects of softcore porn on behaviour or on rape. (For more details read The Sex Myth by Dr Brooke Magnanti).

Just because a man views porn doesn’t mean he will then rape. This is just making excuses for rapists and abusers. It’s their fault, no one else’s – not the director, producer, actors, models or scriptwriters. It’s just porn – a film or a photo. It’s not a gun to your head and a person saying “Rape or I will kill you.”

Let me illustrate this with examples from my real life and this blog. In the Fiction section of this blog, you will find a story that depicts a 15 year old boy being raped by a same-age girl and an adult man. Yet, writing this story doesn’t mean I want to rape underage boys, and I can prove it: under the Feminism section, you’ll find a post about a woman who had sex with a 15 year old boy. In that post, I do nothing but express anger and disgust that her sentence was far too lenient and that the article and comments were insensitive and victim-blaming. I also have a story on here about the government torturing and spanking everybody for protesting and a rapid descent into a dictatorship. Yet surely you don’t all think that I want to live in a dictatorship, or be tortured by David Cameron? I have several notebooks filled with stories, some of them about myself being raped. But being raped is actually my biggest fear – or one of them – and surely it is clear to anyone who reads this blog that I am against rape.

Fifthly, given the fact that women do watch and make porn, this campaign makes no sense. It’s unfair and hypocritical to not want men to look at porn when women are free to do it. Also, if models lose work then how do those models benefit from the campaign (which has goals beyond just page 3)? It is just taking their income and careers.

Sixthly, the campaign is sex-negative, and sex-negativity usually does far more harm than good.

Seventhly, without challenging the attitudes of misogyny, sexism and objectification, even if page 3 was stopped forever, nothing would change because the attitudes would still be there. Just like criminalising drug use or sex work doesn’t stop it happening. The cause, not the effect, should be targeted. The campaign is trying to target what it sees as an effect of sexism – page 3. It fails to target the attitudes which caused page 3 and allow it to flourish. Also, the fact that other, much more hardcore porn would still exist would make the eradication of page 3 quite pointless.

 

In conclusion, the NoMorePage3 campaign takes away womens’ rights to choose their careers, ultimately shames women for their choices, prescribes a narrow Biblical model of sex, is not evidence-based and makes no logical sense. It is against feminist goals of women being allowed to express their sexuality as equals.

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2012 in Feminism

 

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Struggles with sexism: why we must be specific

Eradicating sexism is difficult because when men and women do the same things, they are interpreted differently – often to the detriment of women. Changing attitudes or portraying women as similar to men doesn’t always solve things. Here are a few examples:

When men are portrayed as dominating, that traditionally meant that women were passive and submissive. But getting more dominant women on TV might not make things much better because when women are dominant they’re seen as bitchy, crazy, mean and agressive.

When men are seen as having an insatiable sex drive, women are meant to be the civilizing influence on them, turning men to the family by witholding sex until marriage. Yet, for some regions the answer may not lie in portraying women as having equal sexual desire – because when female sex drive is acknowledged, it’s used as yet another excuse to control women (not allowing them free movement/driving) and seen as another inherent weakness in women (unable to resist temptation).

When women are percieved as more capable than men, this usually only extends to being better at parenting, organising, personal hygiene and tidiness. This portrayal of womens’ strength only serves to perpetuate the strict gender roles of women’s domesticity and motherhood-as-destiny. It further marginalizes women who are messy, disorganized or uncertain about being mothers. It’s fine for a man to be worried about loss of freedom when the baby arrives or worry about his capability as a father. Likewise, men are expected to be messy and oblivious to skin/hair products, even those for their gender. Thus, portraying women as superior to men may, in some instances, backfire completely as we inadvertently unearth the tired old Victorian ideal.

Therefore, solutions to sexism aren’t always as clear-cut as they seem. I am not advocating that we refrain from certain courses of action, nor that we do certain actions; I am just pointing out that the politics surrounding sexism are complex and that solutions cannot be too generalised. Solutions which work well in the west may backfire in other regions if the message is not more specific and tailored. Marketing images of women as superior to men may also backfire.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2012 in Feminism

 

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Sex Positive Feminism

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2012 in Feminism

 

Why some sexist jokes cause harm and some don’t

Just because I’m a feminist doesn’t mean I believe that ALL sexist jokes cause harm to women.

 

I’m guessing that some feminists left after reading that. For everyone who has stayed on this page, I thank you, and here is why:

Some sexist jokes are too full of hyperbole and carry such controversial or very generalized messages that they have little effect on attitudes to women. For example, “Why did the woman cross the road? Never mind that, what’s she doing out of the kitchen!” is unlikely to significantly affect attitudes because our society does not believe in making all women housewives, and we know that doing so would affect the economy and create many other problems. Also, there is no real threat of men suddenly making all women housewives.

However, “Why do women have boobs? So you’ve got something to look at when you’re talking to them!” is more harmful because women are being objectified by men more than they are being forced by men to be housewives. There is a real threat of such objectification increasing (I blame lad culture, media and advertising more than pornography for reasons I’ll discuss in another post). Also, the message here is more specific and also more subtle: that women are meant to be objectified or that breasts exist for male pleasure.

Lastly, “What did her right leg say to her left leg? Nothing, because they never met!” is even more harmful because slutshaming is rampant and this joke is not only encouraging slutshaming, it itself is a form of slutshaming material. There is a real threat of slutshaming increasing due to the speech and rhetoric of certain politicians, radfems, prolife NGOs and anti-sexwork NGOs. The message is also subtle – that women are not supposed to express their sexuality, and that doing so is deviant and worthy of mockery. Who knows, perhaps this “joke” or something similar was used to bully Amanda Todd in any of the schools she moved away from. It’s a popular joke and has been used to shame and bully girls and women for years now. I dream of a slutopia where this joke would make no sense.

The most dangerous and offensive jokes are the ones that help perpetuate rape culture. Jokes about rape – of either men or women. The only way a rape joke could ever be funny was if the joke was about the rapist and portrayed the rapist as evil, inept, cowardly, etc. The joke should make the audience laugh at the rapist. Sadly I don’t know of any jokes like this. We don’t joke about murder or serious assault, so why do we even joke about rape? That’s a disturbing question right there. I also find objectionable jokes about accidental sex or jokes which do not make clear if it was consensual (“she said ‘that’s not my [object]’. And he said, ‘well that’s not my [object]’.”)

On a personal note, I don’t believe my tolerance of some sexist jokes to be that surprising, given that as someone who’s half Asian I like Asian jokes and the way L;u Kim is drawn in South Park. It’s hilarious to me and my Asian relatives. If racist jokes don’t inspire racial hatred and aren’t used in a hateful way, they’re fine by me; perhaps if South Park didn’t mock white males the most I wouldn’t approve. Family Guy is similar: “I’m standing outside the Park Barrington Hotel because they don’t allow Asians inside.” “When [an Asian guy] comes in I’m going to blindfold him with this dental floss. Nah nah nah nah nah nah, racial slur.” And I think this is absolutely hilarious, because these two shows mock every other race, so why should Asians be exempted? That would just be treating them differently.

And it’s the same with sexism. If we joke about men, gays, alcoholics, vegetarians, Jews, nationalities, race, rich people, poor people, politicians etc, why exempt women? Wouldn’t that be treating women differently?

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2012 in Feminism

 

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Kat: You are not my leader

We have a problem. Being feminist in Britain now means you’re anti-sex work and anti-porn. The sex-negative feminists (heirs of the 1970’s radical feminists) have hijacked these debates and the word “feminism” itself. Women (and men) are afraid to call themselves feminists if they don’t share these ideas. They may feel, as I did, that because they are okay with sex work or pornography that they are not feminists.

This creates a vicious circle: when only anti-sex work, anti-pornography women call themselves ‘feminists’, they create a sex-negative public image of feminism. And so when the media portrays feminists and feminism, it is forced to portray sex-negative anti-porn women, because that’s the pool it has to choose from. So now Kat Banyard, founder of UK Feminista and ally of Object (an anti-sex work, anti-porn NGO aiming to make sex work a crime) is “Britain’s leading young feminist” according to The Guardian. This title implies that all feminists share her beliefs. But as we know, many feminists do not agree. Some feminists are sex workers or work in the sex industry. Some do not want to ban pornography or sex work. Yet others feel that different issues are more important and more to blame for gender inequality.

Yet, can we blame the Guardian? With only antis labelling themselves feminist, who else could they choose? If it wasn’t Banyard, it would be another with exactly the same views. Sex-positive public figures such as Dr Brooke Magnanti could never be labelled as our leading young feminist, because they reject the label of ‘feminist’.

Many sex-positive bloggers and sex activists already call themselves feminists or gender-equalists ‘in their heads’ but not publically.

So, this is a call to all sex-positive people – female, male, trans, genderqueer, whatever: CALL YOURSELF A FEMINIST! Then strippers, models, women who watch porn and sex workers can no longer be stigmatised or subjected to laws that harm them in the name of ‘feminism’, because it’ll be obvious that many feminists are against these measures. Showing publically that you are a feminist could be as simple as putting the word “feminist” in your Twitter, Facebook or blog/site profiles, or creating social media groups about sex-positive feminism, or social media groups to encourage others to adopt the label. As my lecturer said,” if you believe women should be equal to men then you are a feminist” – so millions of people are feminists but don’t accept the label because they associate feminism with people like Banyard.

Eventually, prominent feminists won’t only be sex-negative, we will have sex-positive prominent feminists! More famous people will adopt the label of feminist, and stigmatising all models/lapdancers/sexworkers as ‘slaves’, and women who like porn as ‘brainwashed’, -or even trying to criminalise prostitution in Scotland -will no longer be done in the name of feminism.

IIf all sex-positives call ourselves feminists, we remind everyone that Object, SCASE and the ever-lingering voice of 1970’s radfem Andrea Dworkin do not speak for us. And Banyard is not our leader.

Please RT, reblog etc or spread the word in your own words 🙂

Thanks, ‘Lika

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2012 in Feminism, Media

 

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Leniency to female sex offenders harms feminism

WHAT HAPPENED

A couple of days ago, Claire Roundhill, a woman who knowingly had sex with a 15 year old and his overage brother – and supplied them with cannabis as well as sending them explicit images of herself – was spared jail: http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/10/10/mum-of-three-had-affairs-with-brothers-aged-15-and-17-and-became-pregnant/

She was given a 9-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and will be on the Sex Offender’s Register for 10 years.

For a man in this situation, the defence that he didn’t know the girl was under 16 is not valid; he must have good reason to believe she was over 16. And this woman admitted to knowing the boy was underage the second time she had sex with him.

The astonishingly lenient sentence may or may not set a precedent for Forrest, though in my estimation his crime was worse as he was in a position of trust and he took Stammers abroad without her parents’ consent. But at least he loves her, instead of using the child for sex like Roundhill did.

WHY IT IS HARMFUL TO BOYS

Sentences like this hurt boys. All children deserve protection – EQUAL protection. We cannot discriminate on gender any more than we can discriminate on race or religion. Yet some commenters on the story seem to think that boys are so slutty that they cannot be abused as they’d go with anyone, or that a boy would enjoy being sexually abused. This issue is quite obvious, and I won’t dissect it here, except to quote the article on the effect Roundhill’s predating had on the boy:

The 15-year-old boy said Roundill bombarded him with hundreds of text messages and photographs every day. He said: “She would be in sexy outfits or topless. I now know she took advantage of me. I just want to put it behind me.” …there has been a victim personal statement from the boy which says he wants to put all this behind him and he is relieved that he does not have to give evidence in this case.”

The father of the two teenage boys, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has said Roundhill’s sentence was too lenient.

He said: “If it had been the other way around and this was a man having sex with a 15-year-old girl, he would have been locked up, without a shadow of a doubt. But, because she is a woman, she has walked free. She took advantage of both my sons. When my elder son dumped her, she targeted the younger. She planned it. I hope she now realises exactly what she has done. If she had gone to prison, I would have been happy but she has just got a slap on the wrist. We are disappointed. This doesn’t send out a message. Before this, he was a lovely boy and now it has changed him. He has gone off the rails. He has been in trouble with the police and this has never happened before. It was disgusting what she did. She has taken advantage of my family. If we had known what was going on, we would have put a stop to it straight away.”

Indeed, the court accepted the excuse that she was having a troubling time and a bad marriage – as if that somehow excuses child abuse!

The reporting of this case is full of the sexism that used to – and still does – categorise tabloid reports of women being raped. The headline uses the word “affair” instead of “child abuse” and the facts that the abuser is married, is a parent and that the victim had an older sibling who lawfully had sex with the abuser is totally irrelevant.

 

IT HARMS WOMEN AND FEMINISM

So far, so obvious – especially to parents of young boys. But let’s go on to the less obvious stuff, about how leniency towards female sex offenders, far from granting women superiority, actually harms feminism and women in general.

Firstly, women are harmed because female relatives, friends and carers of boys are harmed. How would a mother of 15 year old twins feel, knowing the female twin was protected but that the male twin was not protected? How does the mother of the boy in the article feel now that she has to live with the knowledge that her son was abused and violated, perhaps running all the ‘what-ifs’ and ‘if-onlys’ daily through her mind? Constantly wishing she’d realised what was going on, or talked to her son more about women and sex so he wouldn’t fall for her lies and promises, or had been there to protect her son. Similar thoughts might be racing through the minds of the boy’s older sister (if he has one) or his aunts.

Secondly, and here is the more complex bit: When female sex offending is not taken seriously and male minors can’t get justice, it perpetuates the view that only women can be hurt by sex while men – even boys – always enjoy sex or are at least immune to emotional pain from sex. So we start to see women as vulnerable and in need of protecting. We monitor daughters’ sex lives more than sons’, ‘for their own good’. Males are seen as sexually aggressive and females as sexually passive – great conditions for the sexual double standard, paternalism and male control of female sexuality to flourish. If sex is seen as dangerous to women then confusion or derision will be directed against women who do enjoy and seek sex. If sex as seen as harmful to teenage girls and young women then it justifies parental control over daughters’ sexuality.

The message of this case is that only teenage girls’ innocence (or virginity) is valued enough to be protected. Boys’ innocence is worthless (or nonexistent)? This might actually harm girls even more than boys, as this sort of thinking is full of that antifeminist social conservatism which buoys up slutshaming and the sexual double standard.

Thirdly, and this is the controversial bit: In a way, it is a good thing for women to be seen as sex predators. (To be SEEN AS, not to actually DO child abuse. I AM NOT ADVOCATING THAT WOMEN MOLEST CHILDREN IN THE NAME OF FEMINISM. And I’m talking about women who are guilty of being sex predators being seen for what they are, not innocent women being seen as sex predators.) It is a good thing because when we accept that women are sexx predators, we can offer support and counselling to their victims. Men will be more confident about reporting sexual assaults by women and recieving support from rape centres. It will no longer be acceptable to joke about men being raped, as if somehow they’re incapable of feeling as bad as women, as if somehow they can’t be violated because they’re sluts anyway, so who cares? It’s not as if dignity and bodily integrity could actually mean something to anyone with a penis, right?

Also, when we accept that women can and do commit sex crimes, the double standard will crumble to dust. The double standard is based on a conservative view of female passivity, chastity and asexuality – women want love, marriage and children while men want sex. The acceptance of the existence of female sex offending will prove that this is nonsense – anyone can be sexually aggressive, romantic, or chaste and it’s got nothing to do with either gender or biological sex.

With the fall of the double standard, stigma against lone mothers, “sluts” and (female) sex workers would also start to lift.

The culture of telling women how not to get raped, holding women responsible for rape (victim blaming) and paternalism would also fall once men realise they could become the victim of rape by a woman. And if men fear rape by women, they might be happier to accept that rape is real (step forward Todd Akin) and not oppose abortion in such cases – after all, would men really want to pay child support towards a child concieved by rape? (Claire Roundhill got pregnant, by the way. She had an abortion. But if she hadn’t and it was the 15 year old’s baby, he would be paying child support as soon as he turns 16 or gets a full-time job.)

In conclusion, this sentence was very unjust, unfair and insulting to the 15 year old victim and his family. It may set a worrying precedent about how male children are protected from exploitation and abuse. The comments below it seem to mean that male victims of female sex offenders can expect to be ridiculed and shamed as “wimps” for showing distress, or at best have their abuse dismissed as “a great experience”. Angry parents seeking justice can expect to be ridiculed as overprotective and restricting their child’s sex life. And female sex offenders will be propositioned, praised, or shamed as “slut” instead of “sex offender” – (the second one is the WORSE title, people!). The victims and their families suffer with little of the sympathy, understanding or support given to female victims – all because the kid is the wrong gender. And feminism suffers alongside them, as the message given is “Only females’ innocence is important enough for the law to protect”.

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2012 in Feminism, Media

 

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Rape the sluts: the ‘Men can’t control themselves’ excuse

The clothes that a woman happens to be wearing at the time of an assault are often used against her in court, in the media or in her own social circle. I remember as an 18 year old being told by a girl I knew about a newspaper article which reported that a rape victim’s underwear was shown in court to prove that she consented. This was because the underwear had been manufactured with the words “Little devil” printed on the fabric. More recently an article in the Daily Mail sparked outrage for claiming that rape laws were too harsh and were catching innocent men; an example used was that a 19 year old attacked by two footballers had been drinking and had the top three buttons on her blouse undone, so it could not possibly be rape.

Another tactic in using clothes to victim-blame is claiming that if a man sees a woman wearing revealing clothes, he cannot help not raping her, or that the clothes themselves confuse men or constitute consent (a dress is a ‘yes’).

However, the assertion that all men are filthy, sexualised animals who can’t see a bit of cleavage without attcking a woman makes no logical sense. Firstly, men (and women) tend not to commit sexual assaults when there are witnesses around. This is why most attacks on women happen in the victim’s own home, in a dark or secluded area (an empty classroom, a car, an ambulance, a quiet street), in the attacker’s home or are perpertrated by the woman’s partner or family member. So, if men are really beasts who can’t control themselves, why can they control themselves when they know they’re likely to be caught? Why don’t we see men committing rape in malls, busy classrooms or crowded streets? Even when they do abduct victims from crowded places, how are they able to control themselves long enough to get their victim into a secluded area (remember the 14 year old boy abducted from a mall and raped in a toilet in Marks and Spencer’s?) How can Daddy control himself in the street and when Mummy is around, but suddenly he can’t control himself if his wife leaves the house? The myth that men can’t control themselves is just a nonsensical excuse.

A disturbing fact is that we don’t accept the ‘I couldn’t control myself because of my gender’ for any other crime or for any other gender. Try telling a judge that you couldn’t help knifing that person or nicking that wallet because you’re a man. Try telling anyone that you couldn’t help sexually assaulting that man because you’re a woman. So why accept that excuse for men who rape? The excuse should either be valid for all crimes and all genders, or it should be invalid for all crimes and all genders.

Another fact: we don’t accept the excuse for men who molest children or have sex with underage girls. But it seems that if you’re over the age of consent, it’s all your fault for leading him on and he couldn’t help it. If he really can’t help it with girls over 16, why is he able to control himself with a 15 year old? Why is it all his fault if you’re 15 and consenting, and all your fault if you’re 16 and not consenting?

Yet another illogical aspect of this excuse is: If men can’t control themselves, wouldn’t that mean that women also can’t control themselves? So why are only men deemed to be animals, and not women?

The tactic of using clothes to victim-blame, or even just to slutshame women ordinarily, is a dirty trick. You see, that outfit that Jenny is wearing that seems slutty to you isn’t Jenny – it’s an outfit. You’re judging Jenny based on what she’s wearing. If you had met her two hurs earlier she would have been wearing a business suit. If you were to meet her two hours later she’ll be wearing a frumpy, mumsy cardigan and worn baggy jeans.Later, when Jenny’s wearing her fleecey PJ’s, you might be wearing a short see-through nightie. So if Jenny is attacked at 4pm, she will be wearing a suit and will be seen as a victim (unless she knows the attacker). But if her attacker decides to lie in wait for her until 5pm and stalk her, by the time he attacks her she might be wearing a ‘revealing’ outfit. So it’s her fault for being dressed that way. And if the rapist instead chooses to follow her home and then break in, she’ll be wearing her mumsy outfit and be seen as a victim. Women have no control and no choice over when they are attacked or what they’re wearing when they are attacked. We don’t dress in the mornings or change our outfits in the day thinking that we might be raped, any more than men dress to be raped. We don’t think that men are dangerous animals who will leap at the first chance to attack us; we’re not paranoid. Neither are men. Judging women and victim-blaming on the basis of dress puts victims under the power of their rapist. The attacker chose when to attack; he has that control. The victim doesn’t. By victim-blaming, you are giving the rapist the power to make his victim endure shaming and make her testimony less believable. You are giving him the power to negotiate and influence the wider disourse around rape, as well as the opportunity to escape prison if the victim isn’t believed. By assuming womens’ dress causes them to be raped, we might even end up with a society in which men try to attack women who are dressed a certain way, so that they will get away with it – a self-fulfilling prophecy.

And if men are biologically compelled to rape if they catch a glimpse of cleavage, leg or belly button, how are they able not to rape when they see women in bikinis on the beach? Or naked women in nudist colonies? Or topless women on the beach? When I was 8 I once saw a naked woman at the beach, pulling her two young children in a rubber ring and covering herself with her other hand. Nobody tried to rape her or even noticed her or cared. In fact, I, an eight year old female, was the one who was staring the most.

This final argument comes with illustrations (yay!). In Britain, it is ILLEGAL to wear clothing in public that would display nipples or genitals. Strip clubs, nudist colonies and BDSM club nights may have different rules, but when you step out of these establishments onto the street, you will be charged with public indecency if you aren’t covering those areas. So how revealing can revealing clothes even be?

This woman is wearing a bralet and short skirt, but all she is revealing is a little of her belly.

This is the most revealing photo I could find of people who appeared on Snog, Marry Avoid. However, the two womens’ outfits, while being as revealing as possible without being illegal, are actually less revealing than a bikini. And neither of them are revealing their nipples or private parts, so the most sexual parts of their bodies are covered. So they aren’t revealing anything at all – the erogenous zones are covered up, leaving only the mundane non-sexy bits showing.

Really, anyone who believes that men are so weak, violent and bestial that they would attack these two women just because their tummies, legs and decolletage are revealed is an idiot.

A man wouldn’t be compelled to attack a woman walking down the street naked any more than a woman would be compelled to attack a naked man, or an adult of either sex would be compelled to attack a naked child.

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2012 in Feminism

 

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“Slut!”: When your sex life is deemed more important than your career, achievements and dreams

This evening I was watching BBC4’s documentary on theories about what existed before the Big Bang (which, as the documentary reveals, may have been a slow inflation, a bouncing back of a shrunken universe, or the other end of a black hole.) A female scientist appeared on the documentary, expounding a theory which I barely understand. I had a sudden realisation that her career, theories, achievements, childhood, dreams, hobbies and relationships could be completely negated by the word “slut”.

Because that is what the word slut does. That is what it means – that no matter what you’ve achieved, no matter the nuances and complexities of your character and personality, what is really important is what you do in the bedroom. Your sex life trumps your work life, family life and social life. It trumps everything you’ve created, like essays, blogs, stories, art. You could have a black belt in karate or be a world champion gymnast, a published poet, or have got a First class degree. You could have hobbies that make you very unique, such as base jumping or knitting. You could volunteer in a charity or be a human rights activist. But none of that counts for anything. No skill you’ve learned, no qualification you’ve earned or sport you’ve mastered is as important as how many men and under what circumstances and in which time frame you’ve had sex with. What you’ve produced with your brain, your drive and your two hands are meaningless compared to the activity around your vagina. It is that little part of you, your genitals, that are key.

Not your mind. Not your faith, politics or experiences. Failing that, not even a body toned and fit from regular excercise, dance or sporting activity. Not even something as meaningless as a face that is beautiful or a hairstyle that is on trend. Nope. Just what goes in your vagina. Not even the appearance, health etc of the vagina itself – just what goes in it.

That’s pretty sick. And disgusting. And woman-hating.

And the word “slut” is static. It assumes you’ve always been a slut and always will be. But in reality, your 14 year old self might be very different from your 23 year old self, and at age 35 you’ll be different again. At age 60 you’ll be different yet again. It’s very unlikely that, even if everyone could agree on a definition of ‘slut’ that the same individual would remain slutty from puberty until her death.

When someone uses words like “slut”, they are denying the whole woman. They are reducing her to slut, whore, tart, a two-dimensional sliver of a multifaceted and complex person. Nobody is just a ‘slut’ and nothing else. You cannot be ‘just a slut’; you will be a daughter, student, colleague, schoolgirl, dreamer, amateur writer, artist, musician. There is a tendency to assume sexually active female adolescents are sluts. However, they might go swimming, have a group of friends, skateboard, paint, go to dance classes, any number of things. Nobody is just a slut or a whore. Nobody is just a sex worker. Nobody is just a single mum. Nobody is just single and pregnant.

And that’s why slutshaming is so harmful and misogynistic.

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2012 in Feminism

 

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