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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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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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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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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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Moulin Rouge!: Smashing the ‘happy hooker’/sex slave dichotomy

Baz Luhrmann’s 2002 movie about naive young Christian (Ewan MacGregor) falling in love with Moulin Rouge dancer and sex worker Satine (Nicole Kidman) tells a nuanced story of love and sex work.

The Moulin Rouge nightclub and brothel is owned by Harold Zidler. The movie follows Christian as he writes a play that is to be performed there and pursues Satine, finally recieving reprocity and having to keep their love a secret from the jealous Duke who wants to marry Satine. All of the characters’ success and happiness (and, for Zidler, his livelihood) depends on Satine keeping the violent Duke happy by ceasing her sex work. This is reminiscent of the great cultural burdens of honour that women historically carried/still carry in some communities; if they lost their virginity it was a betrayal and tragedy to their families.

Although Satine is what we in 21st-century Britain would think of as more of a ‘sex slave’ since there was no welfare state in her time (so if she didn’t do sex work she would starve), she is portrayed as enjoying her work and as having agency. She is capable of building healthy relationships – friendships with the other characters and being in love with Christian. Satine can recognise unhealthy or abusive relationships (the Duke’s possessiveness and, in a sense, Harold Zidler for using her for business).

Best of all, when Satine becomes the victim of attempted rape, this is not portrayed as an inherent risk of sex work or as Satine’s ‘fault’ for being a sex worker. Instead, the Duke’s abusive, insecure, violent character is to blame.

Of the two men interested in Satine, the one with the rescuer mentality (a desire to ‘rescue’ sex workers from their work) is the evil abusive character. Christian, while struggling with jealousy, seems jealous only of the Duke and diesn’t go as far as demanding Satine stop doing sex work, as the Duke does by requiring a contract from Zidler that “binds Satine to me”.

None of the characters are stereotypes. Zidler is both the unscrupulous pimp and the concerned father-figure; Christian is a respectful, loving boyfriend but still toys with jealousy. And Satine says that she must do sex work to survive – “A girl has got to eat/Or she’ll end up on the street” and that she has ambitions beyond the sex industry (to be an actress, the next Sara Bernhardt) but, at the same time, she obviously enjoys her work and is capable of manipulating clients (such as using love, sex or charm to get the Duke to invest in the play). This portrayal seems quite odd to some participants in the current sex work discourse; how can one want to exit sex work, yet enjoy it, be proud of it and not want to escape the industry to a life of luxury by marrying the Duke? Significantly, Satine does not realise her dream of “flying away” and “leav[ing] all this to yesterday” but instead dies in the Moulin Rouge.

The Duke’s possessiveness, Christian’s love, Zidler’s business plans and Satine’s ambitions were really just dreams all along – Satine had tuberculosis and would never have lived long enough for any of this to be realised. All that was real was their love and her sex work.

A good point in the film is when Satine talks of escaping the Duke and the Moulin Rouge with Christian; however Christian isn’t rescuing her, she is choosing her destiny and wants to depart with Christian as equals.

Satine also only began to have wishes of exiting prostitution when she was told of an opportunity the Duke was affording her to become a celebrity, and this feeling only intensified when she fell in love and her relationship with Christian became her priority. So, without these two men entering her life, Satine would have remained happy to be a sex worker.

In addition, Satine is a well-rounded character who has a talent for acting and enjoys socialising – she isn’t a cardboart-cutout prostitute.

Sex work is not portrayed as either degrading or empowering in the film. It seems to be just another job, seen alongside the other characters’ jobs of acting, singing, dancing, writing and the arts – ( indeed, even interchangeable with the arts, as the sex workers dance in the Moulin Rouge and act in the play, and the actors (and writer) date and form friendships with the sex workers. The play itself is about a sex worker, and Christian’s novel, which narrates the film, is about the Moulin Rouge; Satine’s ambition is to act.)) All of these professions are shown as falling under the Bohemian Revolution spirit of Truth, Beauty, Freedom and Love. The Duke, who stops Satine’s sex work, is the one character who is opposed to these ideals – “I don’t care about your ridiculous dogma!”.

In general, Moulin Rouge! does not fall prey to either side of the happy hooker/sex slave dichotomy, but embraces the good and the bad of sex work without demonising, glamorising or dramatising it; it’s just another way to make money in a corrupt and unequal society.

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2012 in Film, Sex work

 

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Chastity’s blog post

“No vows, no sex”

Hello, this is me writing as Chastity White, a right-wing nutjob. I’m here to tell you why just the women you all should be abstinent. By the way, Kalika is not the only virginal slut/slutty virgin. Check out these other abstinent whores…I mean, totally serious photos that prove my points. If you believe in any other so-called religion that is obviously from the devil, leave now stay and be indoctrinated, you disgusting heathens.

“True love waits”

Women can make it easier for themselves to be abstinent by denying their femininty and degrading their sexuality. We must allow ourselves to be dominated by men, and wear underwear that expresses our dads’ possession of us as a commodity valuable only for our hymen.

Daddy owns me. Daddy’s a gun-wielding, violent maniac who’d murder his own daughter’s boyfriend, and he OWNS me. Help. Please. Child Protection servies? Anyone?

Another good tip is to be on your guard against impure thoughts. Never let a man have sexual contact with you – it’s your fault if he does, because you let him. Women are the guardians of sex and it’s our job to tell him no. It’s not his job to tell us no, or to control himself. If you don’t tell him no, that’s a shame on you but fame for him, because boys should have as many girls as they can. Their virginity is worthless but yours is priceless. This is all non-negotiable because it just is. It’s not even in the Bible, but let’s act like  it’s in the Bible and the laws of our country all at the same time.

Your virginity is your gift. It’s the greatest gift you have – worth way more than your intelligence, personality, good character, hard work, sports achievements, degree(s), religious or political beliefs…

Another argument is that this is all for your own good. Women get hurt by sex but men don’t. This is true for 100% of women and men even in vastly different cultures and historical periods. It’s just as true for homosexuals and trans people. The reason why women get hurt is that we are inferior to men and have a chemical called oxytocin that releases when we chat to friends or have sex; it makes us feel happy. Somehow, that interferes with our ability to not get emotions all mixed up with sex. Men don’t have this chemical or any similar chemical of course. That’s why men don’t have any friends. Obviously. And why men can separate emotions and sex; this separation is the reason why men don’t have committed relationships or get married. Only women ever enter committed relationships, because women fall in love whenever they have sex, and also they want commitment – men never want commitment, of course.

The hymen/corona is of sacred importance. Everything else is okay because it is the non-existent hymen that is symbolic. We know it’s actually called the corona, which never gets ‘broken’ and the ‘hymen’ is just a myth, but WE DON’T CARE. Seriously. So fuck off, liberals.

When you are abstinent, it is of paramount importance to comport yourself in a decent fashion. The abstinence cult doesn’t harm women in any way, or perpetuate the double standard at all. In fact, giving Daddy complete control over his daughter’s sexual choices in a purity ball or purity pledge is actually empowering for his daughter – even though girls as young as four are forced into these pledges. After all, what could be more self-actualising and healthy than letting Daddy decided who you date, and giving Daddy a key until the day you get married and he gives that key to your husband, symbolising the key to your heart and your virginity? This is very progressive behaviour and not barbaric or repressive at all. And although the fact that boys aren’t made to attend purity balls and pledge their virginity to their mothers, that doesn’t mean that we care more about female virginity than male virginity…it doesn’t…honest!!!! As to why Mommy isn’t the natural guardian of her daughter’s virginity, as she has of course gone through the same temptations and understands the urges and hormonal upheavals a young girl has to face, well…Mommy can’t guard her daughter’s heart. It’s Daddy’s job. After all, Mommy is just a woman…she doesn’t have a penis, which of course means she can’t be trusted with anything. Just look at the wonderful regimes in Iran and Saudi Arabia – they know the score. Just because some women – and men- in those countries vehemently oppose the laws and campaign for gender equality doesn’t mean the governments aren’t totally right. We should use their example in our own society by not having a separation of church and state. That way, we could have abstinence indoctrination – sorry, I mean education – in ALL schools, not just some. Then the virgins will be virgins and the sluts will get pregnant and be shamed by the community as they won’t be allowed contraception or abortion (in my ideal universe). The women would have only two choices: which will you be, slut or virgin? No grey areas, just black and white – if you’re not a virgin, you’re a slut. The boys can do what they like, of course, boys are naturally meant to have lots of sex. And everyone would be a repressed conservative and worship the government.

Women are of course passive and asexual, and we don’t have a right to anything more.

 

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Radical feminism: sex-negativism and an anti-feminist agenda

This was inspired by SCASE (Scottish Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation) outing Glasgow Sex Worker and claiming she is not a real person but an internet campaigns company on Facebook yesterday. (GSW was lucky that Marr outed her by the wrong identity/or deliberately lied what this identity was.)However, this post isn’t about that.

I’m not suggesting that all anti-sex feminists are trying to out sex workers or share exactly the same views as SCASE or can realistically all be lumped into one category of “radical feminists” or “anti-sex/anti sex industry feminists”. That’s ignorant. So let’s be calm about this and stress that SCASE has now deleted Stella Marr’s post and apologised which GSW has accepted. So maybe it would be more appropriate to say that Stella Marr outed GSW, and not SCASE. Regardless, the message – well, threat – was that if you speak out in favour of sex work – i.e. you don’t agree with criminalising it – you risk being publically outed and/or discredited on Facebook by feminists.  What Stella Marr was doing was effectively interfering with the excercise of free speech.

Moving swiftly on from this fiasco, feminist sex-negativism – whether that of the 1970’s as exemplified by Andrea Dworkin or that which still exists now, is not of benefit to women. Here’s why:

Feminist sex-negativism – whether it’s anti-pornography, anti-sex work, anti-the entire sex industry (if it’s even possible to lump women working out of flats, call girls, street walkers, Playboy, internet porn, FHM, porn actors, lap dancing clubs, etc all in one ‘industry’) becomes a position virtually indistinguishable from the Christian moral right. Carol Smart said it in 1985, and she was right.

It strips women of agency, labelling them as victims, trafficked, or exploited. This suppresses individual womens’ experiences and narratives. (Briefly glancing at their Facebook page and knowing that they would consider me to be Roland’s victim and this entire blog either a pro-sex work lie or a sad illusion of a meaningful experience was kind of frustrating). R Matthews and Ann Phoenix are two objective academics who describe the bad experiences of sex workers as well as the fallacy of depriving them of agency, why both legalisation and criminaliation are bad for sex workers and how most sex workers aren’t career sex workers. Some “pro-sex work” organisations are COYOTE, PLAN, and the sex workers’ trade union.

It leads to moral panics over sex trafficking which is actually very rare in the UK;  trafficking for labour is much more prevalent. But nobody cares, because ‘labour trafficking’ hasn’t got the word ‘sex’ in it so it doesn’t sell papers. The moral panics obscure real non-sex trafficking and stop these victims from recieving the help, justice and awareness they really, really need. Right now. They need it.

All that time and taxpayer’s money going into stopping sex trafficking (which led to only 5 convictions in the second nationwide sex trafficking operation) -read Brooke Magnanti’s book ‘The Sex Myth’ – could be better used to increase awafreness of, the conviction rates of and rates of reporting crimes such as rape, domestic abuse, and child molestation.

Criminalizing prostitution only leads to worse treatment of sex workers by employers and the criminal justice system; it also leads to sex workers’ children being taken away. They may lie that they were trafficked to keep their children, which results in innocent people being imprisoned for sex trafficking. Privacy and human rights are often infringed by the police, who can legally break down doors in hotel rooms or pose as sex workers to trap clients. Clients’ photographs and names are displayed on billboards. (America)

Likewise, legalizing prostitution also has problems (Australia, Netherlands). Decriminalization, or R Matthews’ ‘radical regulationism’ is the best way. (Oviously saying ‘this is the best way’ is not an actual argument. I will elaborate on this view in another post.) Decriminalization is what we currently have here in Britain.

Claiming all women are exploited by sex work or pornography diminishes society’s view of female sexual agency and rewrites women as sexually vulnerable and in need of protection and men as sexual predators. This is insulting and harmful to both genders.

Crusading to stop other women selling their bodies or lap dancing and condemning such activities is merely playing the role of enforcer (a female enforcer of the patriarchal double standard. I discused this in my post ‘SM and the double standard’, in the ‘Feminism’ category). This harms women as it teaches them that they are vulnerable to exploitation and can’t take control of their sexuality by sex work – if they do sex work, they’re automatically victims. It also reinforces the value of chastity and the sexual vulnerability of women in the public imagination, perpetuating the double standard and protectiveness of the female body.

Claiming that all women are exploited is a huge generalisation. You cannot make blanket statements about such a varied industry. It would be more sensible to accept that some women have horrific experiences, some women love it so much they spend all their time writing blogs/books about what a great time they’re having, and most women have mixed experiences, just like every other job where you have good times and bad times. Haven’t we all been there.

Criminalizing all sex work is not necessary to get a better life and better working conditions for sex workers. Sex worker activist groups like COYOTE in the USA and the sex worker trade union in the UK are already campaigning for better working conditions. By supporting them politically and financially, sex workers will be helped. Trying to criminalize sex work actually disparages and discredits these activists’ experiences, narratives and political efforts by claiming they are exploited or brainwashed. If criminalization were achieved, working conditions for sex workers would be much, much worse and there would be more violence, rape and sex trafficking. Why? Because the workers wouldn’t be able to report it to the police without being charged themselves. Sex work would be the province of a criminal underground, not random citizens working out of flats, unemployed women walking the streets when they feel like it, or students signing up with escort agencies – which tend to be small companies. There aren’t big prostitution corporations out there; let’s not make any. Porn companies tend to be small, too; (see my post about Zada Modelling, obviously a very small pornography company) an exception is of course Playboy, which has branched out into the fashion industry too.

All of the above doesn’t benefit women – either non-sex workers or sex workers and every nuance in between. (Yes, there are grey areas.) Four quick examples: me; sex shop assistants; porn film scriptwriters; SeekArrangement.com; escorts who don’t have sex but only provide an escorting service; phone sex chat workers; erotic novel authors; erotic anime/manga artists; people who sell pornography; people who have sex to get that promotion; people who date someone because they’re rich…(Ok that was more than four, but I couldn’t resist. There are an awful lot of grey areas. I really find it difficult to answer the question: Who is a sex worker?

Since the feminist anti-sex crusade is harmful to women, it is (unintentionally, inadvertently) anti-feminist.

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2012 in Feminism, Sex work

 

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