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Archive for the ‘Porn Consumption’ Category

Introduction

This post is a follow-up to my previous (March 2008) post On Choices.

A couple of important points I had made in that post:

1/ Prostitution is a global industry of sexual exploitation in which sex is traded for money, clothing, food, drugs, shelter, or favors. Prostitution includes strip bars, lap-dancing clubs, massage parlors, brothels, saunas, adult and child pornography, street walking, live sex shows, phone sex, prostitution rings, Internet pornography, escort services, peep shows, ritual abuse, and mail order bride services.

2/ The ‘sex’ industry has done a great job in focusing the debate on “women’s choices”, while the focus of any discussion on the subject should be on the consumers who CHOOSE to use pornography, and, in the case of prostitution, on the johns who CHOOSE to buy women for sex.

 

Agency: Who really has it?

One of the most common misrepresentation and accusation that gets thrown at radical feminist who take a stand against pornography and prostitution is that we’re somehow “denying women’s choices” or that we’re “ignoring women’s agency” in all this.

I know that in my previous post I stated that I acknowledged the lack of choices that most women who enter the ‘sex’ industry have. I still do. I meant that, in a patriarchy, women in general have more or less limited choices and that our agency is often shaped by patriarchal logic, by male supremacy. I meant that most of the women and girls who end up in prostitution are the female human beings with the most limited choices.

Still, I’ll tell you what I think of this “rad fems deny women’s choices” accusation:

Rad fems do not “deny women’s choices.”

Yes, we, women as a class, do have agency, but it is somehow more or less restricted within the boundaries of patriarchy. The male-supremacist system is not here to benefit us, which always more or less limits our choices.

Accusatory people haven’t properly read our work or haven’t paid enough attention to all our words. I, myself, in my post On Choices, wrote:

“I believe it is possible that there are a few women out there who do freely choose to enter the industry, are fully aware of what’s involved and/or make a lot of money. Still, I do not believe it is honest people focusing all their attention on those few somewhat privileged women while ignoring the vast majority of prostituted women who never got the chance to choose a better life, who are being controlled and mistreated by pimps, and who are used and abused by johns.”


In another post, Prostitution, Trafficking and Law, that came after that, I wrote:

“Never will I stop being on the side of the overwhelming majority of prostituted women who never got the chance to get a better life and are suffering unbearable pain and injury on a daily basis!”

The fact is that Melissa Farley, a feminist researcher on prostitution, and some colleagues of hers conducted a large-scale study interviewing 854 people (who were in prostitution) across nine countries. The results of this research can be found here. 89% of those prostituted or prostituting people (most of them women) stated that they wanted to escape prostitution immediately. Which makes it obvious that their choices and agency were limited within this cruel industry.

Farley has carried on researching on prostitution ever since, one of her most recent studies being on the ‘sex’ industry in Nevada. Farley was repeatedly slandered and misrepresented by the pro-prostitution lobby and its followers. She was repeatedly slandered and misrepresented by some women who claimed they advocated “the rights of women”.

But what was most unfair and disturbing was that the voices of the 89% of those prostitutes who said they wanted out of prostitution were denied and silenced by the pro-prostitution lobby. People who claimed they “defended sex workers’ rights” refused to hear those important voices. The voices of those so many prostitutes, who’d made it clear that prostitution is not a “career choice” but abuse and violence on a daily basis, were silenced by the pro-prostitution lobby in order to try to promote their agenda (i.e. “prostitution as work”).

“Melissa Farley is lying”, “Biased research” or some other foolishness, the pro-prostitution lobby and its followers said. No, there was no way that lobby was going to believe such a comprehensive research and the voices of the so many prostitutes who had been interviewed in it. . . because, obviously, there was so much ‘vested interest’ in protecting the ‘sex’ industry for those pro-prostitution folks, right? (rhetorical question)

Recently, I left a comment on Rebecca Mott’s blog, telling her that she was NOT the only ‘example of the harms of the sex trade’ (as she put it). I’ve met women in the radical feminist movement who are survivors of the sex trade. I’ve been in touch with an anti-prostitution organization that helps women exit the sex trade. And most of the members of that organization are radical feminists and they are very pro-Swedish model abolitionists because they have worked with so many prostituted women and girls who wanted out of the sex trade, not “better working conditions”.

I also said to Rebecca:

“You are far away from being the only survivor of prostitution. I’ve read and heard so many stories similar to yours. These important stories have so much educated me on the harms of prostitution. Two years and a half ago, I was ignorant, i.e. I had no idea that all of this was happening in prostitution ’cause I had never read nor heard stories like these.”

I love Rebecca. She’s one of my favorite writers. And, by speaking out her truth, she’s hoping to help many women who are or have been in the sex trade to be heard and/or speak out on the harms that are inherent in prostitution.

Thing is that when we criticize pornography and prostitution, we sometimes hear (but not always) someone say “But my friend does porn or strips or prostitutes and she likes it”. Well, here is how I would respond to this: I would never judge your friend for her choices and I don’t know her exact circumstances or what the experience really means to her. I think she is an exception because the circumstances within which most women and girls who enter prostitution and pornography are as follows:

— past experience of child sexual abuse, rape or physical abuse; because when a woman or a girl has been raped or molested (sometimes repeatedly) in childhood, she is more likely to be re-victimized, and more vulnerable to recruitment for pornography and prostitution. By this, we do not imply that a woman who has been abused in the past is incapable of making choices, but we are just trying to shed light on all the complex feelings that abuse (especially rape) entails: it is very traumatic and it can make you believe that you’re just a “sexual object” or a “thing”, that it is your only value or purpose in this world. Abuse in general often leads to self-hatred in the victim, and the victim sometimes needs to find a place where they can have a feeling of “being loved” or “empowered” (even if it’s fake). All these feelings and more. To summarize study findings, research carried out interviewing prostitutes (some of whom had pornography made of them) and clinical literature on different types of prostitution, it is estimated that between 65% and 95% of those in prostitution were sexually assaulted as children;

— poverty, economic hardship, or homelessness; because, yes, serious money problems can lead some women to entering the ‘sex’ industry;

— international and domestic trafficking; because some women are transported by pimps from one place to another for the purpose of prostitution. And many of the practices systematically used by pimps to control women in prostitution — sensory deprivation, dehumanization, threats to family, deliberately induced exhaustion — are the same as those used by military torturers, as also recently reported in Traffick Jamming;

— and socialization to the pornified culture; because we, radical feminist, do acknowledge that some women choose to enter the ‘sex’ industry but also acknowledge that most of the choices of those women are probably uninformed, i.e. some young women have only seen the “glamorization” side of the pornstitution industry and are not fully aware of what it entails.

As I wrote in On Choices:

“There are many agencies that specialize in recruiting young women to the porn industry with the promise of making big money and becoming a star. Indeed, the money is an attraction for mostly young, working-class women who face limited choices in a harsh economy. Given those economic realities and the glamorization of pornography, it’s not surprising that some young women will see this as a viable career option. Undeniably, the whole culture promotes the “porn star” job as a glamorous job. In TV shows, the image of the “porn star” is shown as “liberating” and “empowering” for women.”

We do not imply that every woman who makes certain choices is poor, uneducated, and/or horribly abused. We are not saying that every single woman or girl in the ‘sex’ industry has had exactly the same experience. We just want to point out to the fact that most women in prostitution (i.e. that includes pornography) are the female human beings who have entered the ‘sex’ industry with choices that are not really free. We are saying that their agency, in general, has been somehow unfortunately constrained, limited or influenced by patriarchal (il)logic and we deeply empathize with them.

And we, radical feminists, sincerely empathize with those women because WE KNOW they are being terribly harmed in the pornstitution industry. Here is another page on things to know, based on research, not mere guesses.

Now, the REAL question is: Who really has agency in this patriarchal society?

I will tell you who really has it in a patriarchy:

It is the john who really has it, the porn user, the strip club patron, etc. It is HIM.

He has the agency of buying a female body, the body of another human being, and do whatever he wants to her, whether she wants it or not.

He has the agency of buying, renting or downloading movies that contain images of her naked body wounded or hurt, her personality dehumanized, her self humiliated and degraded, her mind so harmed (sometimes beyond recovery), her face sometimes shown onscreen as enjoying the torture because the pimps control the script and run the show for the johns. Movies and images of her to which the john/porn user cruelly jerks off to.

He has the agency of going to clubs where her body is exposed, objectified and degraded for his own selfish pleasure.

He has the agency of creating the demand for an industry within which she, for the most part, will not have full agency and will be hurt.

He can insult her. He can beat her. He can rape her. He can tie her up. He can throw money at her and say “That wasn’t rape ’cause I paid you”.

He can reproduce the image of her being degraded, tortured and/or hurt, this image being used as a ‘jerk-off’ material, and share it with other men at an exponential rate, technologically speaking (i.e. internet porn, etc.).

He can do anything to her. Because HE has the full agency to do so.

Within patriarchy, his agency is, more often than not, unlimited. Because the patriarchy works toward his advantage. Male supremacy serves him, fulfills his purpose.

He’d rather try to prove his “masculinity” to his male friends by using porn or buying prostitutes. He’d usually rather go toward that direction instead of questioning the whole concept of masculinity altogether. Generally, he doesn’t even know that masculinity is not innate, that he could choose humanity instead.

His agency is thoroughly defended in a patriarchy. However, within a society that purports to be egalitarian, the patriarchal defense of his agency to use and abuse women has to be implicitly expressed under the cover of “her agency”, i.e. framed in arguments such as “That woman, she wants it, they all do” or “women freely choose to prostitute” and blah, blah, blah. . . ad nauseam. . . ultimately tacitly meaning (in fact): “I, the man, want to degrade her and use her for my own pleasure, thus I have the ‘right’ to do so” or “I, the man, freely choose to have her as my prostitute, my ‘fuck object’ or my property”. This is what you hear when you get to the core of his thinking.

 

“Subhumanity”: Who really sees prostituted women as ‘subhuman’?

I already explained why we, radical feminists, refer to women in the ‘sex’ industry as ‘prostituted women’ somewhere in there.

There is an unfounded accusation that has been thrown at radical feminists and that stuns me: “Radfems see women in the sex industry as ‘subhumans'”. Blah-the-fucking-blah.

I will tell you who really sees prostituted women (“sex workers”) as ‘subhuman’:

The male with the pornographic mind does, NOT radical feminists.

As Rebecca Mott recently posted on her blog:

“When men rape prostitutes, it is not real. How can there be a rape, when he has paid.

Injuries on prostituted women and girls don’t matter, it just rough sex. Men know her fear or lack of reaction is just part of the act.

Hadn’t he seen in porn over and over that women like her like to be raped. Women like her enjoy violence with sex.

Didn’t porn say that whores will do anything for money.

I know in my body as it remembers the tortures men did to me, that they saw me as real-life porn. I know as I remember their contempt, their laughter at my injuries and not believing that I could feel pain.

God, I remember those men posing me on the bed, against the wall, in alleys, on top of graves, in back rooms at the club. At those times, flashes of photos from the hard-core porn went over me.

I know I was infected by porn, as I became a robot performing the sex acts the men wanted.”

I certainly do not believe that the men who bought and abused Rebecca were seeing prostituted women as real human beings. I believe that they saw them as ‘subhuman’.

It is not uncommon to encounter this type of men. The men with the pornographic mind. Many non-prostituted women frequently meet those men in real life. But prostituted women, unfortunately, are the ones who are the most horribly abused by these men.

These men believe in the sexual philosophy of the Marquis de Sade (whether they know it or not), which is, to quote:

“. . . there is no more selfish passion than lust; none that is severer in its demands; smitten stiff with desire, ’tis with yourself you must be solely concerned, and as for the object that serves you, it must always be considered as some sort of victim, destined to that passion’s fury. Do not all passions require victims?”

— Sade, in Juliette, p.269.

I totally disagree that “all passions require victims.” There are many sexual and sensual passions that can be enjoyed with the inclusion of the respect toward another person’s dignity, the inclusion of the caring, the connection, the equality and the mutuality.

Sade was a rapist, a batterer, a child abuser and the world’s foremost pornographer. Sade has his apologists and his ‘libertarian’ defenders who mistakenly portray(ed) him as an “avatar of freedom”. Sade helped pave the way for the unfair ‘leftist’ defense of pornography we’ve been confronting for years.

Here is de Sade’s conception of sexuality served to the male pornographic mind (translated in its full cruelty): “All that matters is your own selfish male pleasure. Do not care about being cruel to women or treating them as objects. There is nothing more important than your orgasm even if it requires necessary victims.” Cruel conception indeed.

As Andrea Dworkin wrote in Pornography: Men Possessing Women (p.100):

“[Sade’s] convictions are ordinary, expressed often in less grand language. . . they are fully consonant with the practices. . . of ordinary men with ordinary women. . .”

It is to wonder what those ordinary men are influenced by?

Dworkin also wrote:

“. . . pornography and prostitution were one and the same thing. We know that the world’s foremost pornographer, the Marquis de Sade, tortured, raped, imprisoned, beat, and bought women and girls. We know that influential male thinkers and artists who enthused about rape or prostitution or battery had, in many cases, raped or bought or battered women or girls and were also users and often devotees of pornography.”

Seriously, I will tell you who sees prostituted women as ‘subhuman’:

Not radical feminists, we fully empathize with women in the sex industry. We realize that most of them have had a somehow limited agency in patriarchy and that they are being terribly abused by abusive johns.

The johns, the tricks, the porn users, the strip-club patrons, etc. are the ones who really see prostituted women as ‘subhuman’.

They are the ones who think it is their “male right” to treat women in the sex industry as ‘subhuman’ objects.

They are the ones who have the, barely questioned, agency to see women in the sex industry as ‘subhuman’ through pornography, in the act of prostitution or at the strip club, etc.

They are the ones who believe there are necessary victims required for their self-centered orgasm.

They are the ones who create the demand for these widespread crimes against women that are called pornography and prostitution.

They are the ones who believe it is their “male right” to use, objectify, degrade, hurt, harm, abuse, rape, beat up, torture and/or (sometimes) kill women.

They are the ones who believe it is ‘male nature’ to do so, without seriously thinking about how culturally trained their porn use, etc. have been within a culture that unfairly condones such an unfair abuse of female human beings by describing it as “adult entertainment” or “sex work”.

These johns, tricks, porn users, strip-club patrons, etc. are the ones who have to stop seeing prostituted women as ‘subhuman’ and who have to stop creating the demand for a brutal misogynistic and racist pornstitution industry that relies on the discrimination and the ill-treatment of half the world’s population to cater to its consumers/johns’ cruel appetite for the degradation of women and girls.

Postscript: for another excellent resource on prostitution, please see also my previous post Prostitution, Trafficking and Law.

ETA (08/25/2008): For another excellent resource on prostitution, please see also Heart’s new post Voices of Survivors of the Sex Trade: Prostitution Is Sexual Slavery, Gang-Rape, Sexual Abuse.

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Why do (most) men have to be the way they are? That’s a question I used to ask myself when I was a little younger and abused by them.

Why do we sisters sometimes have doubts about the future? Why do we sisters sometimes lose our strength?

I mean. . . Where do I start?

Few men are interested feminism in the first place. Most men on this earth haven’t even got any interest in any kind of feminism whatsoever, let alone radical feminism.

There are times I’m strong at hiding my deepest feelings about men and oppression, especially sexual oppression.

I mean, there are times when I’m very optimistic. That is when I’m happy about having learned the truth about what’s happening around me, what is wrong with this world and how we, radical feminists, can advocate for real progressive change.

I’m glad to have discovered radical feminism and I will always be. Few women ever get the chance to even know it exists, and, quite honestly, I had lived 26 years of my life without even knowing such a truly radical movement for change existed.

And there are other times, like right now, when I just want to scream and cry. There is such an incredible amount of oppression on this planet (that patriarchy causes) that I just want to stop hiding my deepest feelings.

I am revealing them now:

Will all this ever stop? We, women, do share a common condition. We constantly live in oppression and fear of male violence.

We, radical feminists, believe that masculinity is a social construct. We believe that rape, child sexual abuse, battery, the pornography use, the prostitution of millions and millions of women & girls are not inevitable facts of life.

We instead believe that men are human beings, just like us, but that they have been culturally trained to repress whatever feelings they have in common with us (although it doesn’t always work). Men are routinely socialized to be tough and not to show their sensitivity (too much).

We also believe that rape, child sexual abuse, battery, the pornography use, the prostitution of millions and millions of women & girls happen because men have had such a masculine or hyper-masculine socialization that makes them do these horrible things.

However, I fear that some of my radical feminist sisters might have already thought about the very same thing that crosses my mind. That is, because men are what they’ve become, due to millennia of patriarchy, what if there is no hope for change? What are we going to have to do? Consider that the problem lies in the men? And I think this idea is awful because such statement is somehow underlain by rotten “biological” explanation.

As Andrea Dworkin, a feminist who has always been demonized and misrepresented by the pro-pornography lobby, once stated:

The vital question is: are we to accept their world view of a moral polarity that is biologically fixed, genetically or hormonally or genitally (or whatever organ or secretion or molecular particle they scapegoat next) absolute; or does our own historical experience of social deprivation and injustice teach us that to be free in a just world we will have to destroy the power, the dignity, the efficacy of this one idea above all others? [. . .]

. . . the price we pay [in believing biological ideology] is that we become carriers of the disease we must cure. [. . .]

It is shamefully easy for us to enjoy our own fantasies of biological omnipotence while despising men for enjoying the reality of theirs. And it is dangerous–because genocide begins, however improbably, in the conviction that classes of biological distinction indisputably sanction social and political discrimination. [. . .]

What I mean to say is that, if we seriously start believing that the problem lies in the male biological sex, we lose. Our radical ideas, our progressive belief of gender as being a social construct is completely lost.

I mean, yes, men do oppress us.

Men do hate us in a particular way that they do not want to admit.

Men do objectify us.

Men do want to see us submit to them.

Men do spread our legs, grab our arms painfully tightly, pull our hair, bruise our thighs, make our eyes water, etc.

Men do imagine us everyday saying No but meaning Yes or saying Yes & meaning Yes to any possible humiliation that comes from the hierarchical sex they’ve seen in pornography. (Whatever any other gruesome detail coming from their pornographized mind I’m not going to mention here but you, sisters, know what I’m talking about.)

Men do coerce us into sexual activity.

Men do rape us.

Men do prostitute some of us to feed the demand of other men who want to buy our bodies.

Men do make pornography of some of us.

Men do beat us up.

Men do sexually abuse our children.

Yes, these are the painful realities of abuse in this world. Yes, all this happens every day.

But, you know what, sisters? No, it doesn’t have to be that way.

No, no, and no!

The fact that there are some men on this earth who do not use pornography and are respectful of women proves that rape, battery, etc. are not “natural” or biological inevitabilities, no matter how many writers try to argue the opposite.

Throughout history, there have been (almost exclusively male) writers trying to “prove” that hierarchy and aggression were just unavoidable facts of life, and gosh knows how many times they’ve been quoted by radical feminist writers as examples of defenders of male supremacy by claiming “biological” arguments.

Sisters, I do know that men are so fucking dangerous and I totally agree with Allecto.

Yes, I’m not very optimistic when I hear a male porn user speaking that way to a young woman who’d started an anti-porn petition:

 

“I LIKE WATHCING GOOD BITCHES GETTING FUCKED.
THE PROBLEM IS THE SHIT ROGERS SHOWS IS ALL AMERICAN CRAP WITH THE FILTHY DIRTY AMERICAN GOOK WHORES. THE BETTER PETITION WOULD BE TO SHOW REALLY GOOD HARDCORE UNCENSORED JAPANESE PORN. THE GOOD ONES ARE: GANG RAPE BUKKAKE (COVERED IN CUM) LESBIANS BESTIALITY GANGBANGS NIGGERS FUCKING LITTLE GOOK WHORES. IF YOU SHOW WHITE BITCHES, MAKE THEM MILFS AND AMATURES” [SIC] 

 

from the mouth of a john/consumer, as reported by Demonista.

 

This clearly shows that the secret thoughts of the porn users, which they sometimes express vividly online, are filled with misogyny and racism.

Neither do I feel optimistic when I hear about a so-called “pro-radical feminist man” (who was in fact a porn user) who sexually assaulted a woman and made pornography of her.

(However, as I have lately become a little more suspicious of male allies without necessarily writing them off, I believe, sisters that we’ll seriously have to be careful in the future, try to find a way of making sure they are genuine.)

Nor do I feel hopeful when I hear about a gang-rape that was filmed by a bunch of male “bukake” fans.

And I certainly am not seeing this world other than cruel when I hear about all the rapes, the sexual coercions that are endlessly perpetrated in this pornified culture by scores of men who don’t even give a shit about any type of feminism.

Nevertheless, sisters, we mustn’t give up the fight. We must continue to ask for a radical change in the behavior of males. We must ask for the complete eradication of gender itself.

As Andrea Dworkin, my favorite (and so unfairly misrepresented) writer, said:

[O]nce we do not accept the notion that men are positive and women are negative, we are essentially rejecting the notion that there are men and women at all. In other words, the system based on this polar model of existence is absolutely real; but the model itself is not true. We are living imprisoned inside a pernicious delusion, a delusion on which all reality as we know it is predicated.

In my view, those of us who are women inside this system of reality will never be free until the delusion of sexual polarity is destroyed and until the system of reality based on it is eradicated entirely from human society and from human memory. This is the notion of cultural transformation at the heart of feminism. This is the revolutionary possibility inherent in the feminist struggle.

As I see it, our revolutionary task is to destroy phallic identity in men and masochistic nonidentity in women–that is, to destroy the polar realities of men and women as we now know them so that this division of human flesh into two camps–one an armed camp and the other a concentration camp–is no longer possible. Phallic identity is real and it must be destroyed. Female masochism is real and it must be destroyed. The cultural institutions which embody and enforce those interlocked aberrations–for instance, law, art, religion, nation-states, the family, tribe, or commune based on father-right–these institutions are real and they must be destroyed. If they are not, we will be consigned as women to perpetual inferiority and subjugation. […]

Only when manhood is dead–and it will perish when ravaged femininity no longer sustains it–only then will we know what it is to be free.

— Andrea Dworkin, in The Root Cause.

 

 I am an anarchist of the patriarchy.

I want the whole concept of manhood to die.

In the book Refusing to Be a Man, John Stoltenberg argues that males can refuse to be men and genuinely act out in favor of social equality and justice. Males should be human beings, not men.

The anti-gender ideology which underlies radical feminist politics is very simple once you grasp it: In order to create a just world where rape, battery, child sexual abuse and any form of discriminations would not exist, not only pornography, prostitution and patriarchal religions & institutions must be abolished, but gender itself, i.e. the patriarchal polar role definitions of ‘men’ and ‘women’, what it means to be “masculine” or “feminine”, must be destroyed.

Sexism must be eradicated. And it will be, on the day people stop enforcing it or believing it as inevitable. It will be when males do realize that we, females are no “other species” but human beings just like them, and vice-versa.

No, sisters we mustn’t say the silly excuse “the problem lies in the men”, no matter how tempting this becomes when we lose hope while seeing all this violence against women not being taken truly seriously.

Instead we must carry on asking for change even if all the oppression of the world looks like it has the size of an ocean and we’re trying to empty it with teaspoons, even if we feel like we’re losing our strength.

Recently, I had someone telling me that I was “hysterical” (this isn’t an exactly pro-woman term). But we, rad fems, have a complete passion for being angry, as our anger often suppresses our sadness or pain.

Of course, male-supremacist society particularly dislikes angry women.

But, you know what?

I don’t care about sounding angry or “hysterical”. I want to keep up the fight for radical change.

I wanna keep standing up and carry on asking our oppressors to stop oppressing us or stop apologizing for sexual oppression as “unavoidable”.

I do know, sisters, that pro-porn women are females, just like us, who share our common condition.

But they are also the smokescreen to conceal our real proscribers, our real ‘nemeses’-wannabes: the (largely) male supporters of pornography and prostitution.

The men who defend pornography and prostitution do defend female sexual slavery. They are the real guardians of the status quo. They are the ones who predominantly support the gynocides,(*) the sexual terrorisms that are called pornography and prostitution.

We must carry on exposing the harms of pornography and prostitution while arguing against “biological inevitability”, which is anyway nothing but patriarchal ideology we must refute.

We must ask for men to change, to understand us and to stop hating us (whether they admit it or not).

We must ask for conversations on pornstitution to be directed toward the subject of the johns/users, who always have a 100% choice in the matter. They are the ones who feed the demand for the gynocides,(*) the sexual terrorisms that are called pornography and prostitution.

Apologists for bad things as “being natural” are people who do not want the status quo to be overthrown. They want it to be maintained.

We must be strong, sisters, and keep up the good work.

Those who try to shut us up will not succeed. They will fail. 🙂

No matter how small a group we are. We are a sisterhood.

One day, we’ll get bigger. No matter how much time it takes.

Most women out there do not defend pornstitution and aren’t comfortable with it. That is a fact. We must count on it.

 

(*) Gynocide, according to Dworkin, is “the systematic crippling, raping, and/or killing of women by men.” (Dworkin, Our Blood, p.16) Also referring to the witch-hunt in early modern Europe. Patriarchal religion orchestrated the killing of nine million women as witches. The Malleus Maleficarum was a form of (Christian) pornography.

 

“Female sexual slavery is present in ALL situations where women or girls cannot change the immediate conditions of their existence; where regardless of how they got into those conditions they cannot get out; and where they are subject to sexual violence and exploitation.”
— Kathleen Barry, in Female Sexual Slavery, p. 40.

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See this? Yeah, that’s a broken record. I chose this image for this post because I sincerely believe that all the pro-porners, pro-prostitutionists, pro-sexploitation folks, pro-hate speech & pro-“sex work” activists (or whatever you rad fems wanna call them) sound like a fucking broken record with all their “same old shit” reactionary arguments that do nothing whatsoever to help women as a class, arguments that, on the contrary, bolster the patriarchal anti-woman status quo. Thus, I have decided to write a a list of the porn apologists’ bullshit arguments.

I know these are all parts of the same broken record we hear every day; I know that some people (especially some men) are so stupid and stubborn in defending such a widespread violation of women’s bodies in order to maintain their own selfish sexual pleasure, I know all this. I also know that the pro-pornstitution folks are not only folks we meet online. The pro-porners we meet online are so easy to avoid or dismiss when we want to ignore them (thank fuck for that) while the pro-porners we meet offline are most often our co-workers, classmates, friends, even sometimes partners and so on. These offline people who defend porn aren’t so easy to avoid and, more or less often, we find ourselves in a conversation on pornography with them at some point.

It usually happens like this: They suddenly bring up pornography or prostitution for whatever reason, as part of a “joke” that we don’t find funny at all (but rather sad — as we do know that there’s a terrible sexual slavery going on out there and people keep on denying it) or simply because they’ve been influenced by pornified pop culture. Then we feel like we cannot tolerate these pro-porn arguments any longer so we start informing them on what we know about the sexual slavery industry. But, unfortunately, we’re feeling so upset that we just stop talking. There is just so much to say and we don’t know where to start. And, on top of that, there they go! Talking the same old reactionary bullshit arguments we’ve heard ten thousand times again and again, sounding like the same old broken record. . . And we start losing our confidence. . . so we stop talking.

Therefore I prepared this handy “Porn Apologists’ Bullshit Arguments List and How to Respond to Them with Confidence” collection in order to help myself and other rad fems to challenge those apologies confidently IRL. I constructed it as a dialog:

Porn Apologist: Women freely choose to sell their bodies in pornography and in prostitution. How can you criticize the women’s consent to be in porn?
Rad Fem: Contrary to myths, radical feminists have never criticized women’s involvement in the pornography industry as performers. Instead, we focus on the difficulties within which they make their choice to participate. Documentaries and articles on pornography in the mainstream media (which generally pick a very small number of performers out of the so much larger number of porn performers out there) typically show pornography performers as “happy women who have made a totally free choice”. However, the reality of the circumstances within which the vast majority of those women entered the porn industry are very much different from this whole mainstream media glamorization crap. A lot of thorough research on prostitution (based on interviewing hundreds and hundreds of prostituting women) has shown that child sexual or physical abuse or neglect, poverty, economic hardship, past experience of battery or rape, trafficking, socialization to the sexist and racist pornified culture, etc. are key factors for women who enter the ‘sex’ industry. Feminists do not condemn the women who are in the industry, but we empathize with them. We understand that they are terribly exploited and harmed in this industry. As one woman who used to prostitute said that, while she was in prostitution, she would have yelled from the roof-tops how wonderful being a prostitute was, but that, while now she’s still healing from her prostitution experience, she has “found that the worse thing of exiting prostitution is seeing the real reasons [she] became a prostitute. Seeing it could of never been a choice. It was just a way to self-destruct.”[sic]

Porn Apologist: Women in porn make a lot of money anyway.
Rad Fem: Some research and testimonies have suggested that most strippers, prostitutes and pornography performers do not make a lot of money. Although some do, the idea that all of them make a lot of money is another part of the pornographers’ and the mainstream media’s propaganda. Most female porn performers do not get rich, particularly due to their brief “shelf lives” — male consumers often want to see new women being exploited — so even if pornstituted females initially command a high rate per scene or per movie, their market value as “fresh meat” declines rapidly. Thus, even if there are a few really famous porn “actresses”, the vast majority of the women in pornography leave that business feeling exploited, pained and ashamed by this terrible experience or after being considered “overexposed” by the consumers and producers. So, the pornography industry keeps using and discarding female bodies after having used those human beings as if they were pieces of meat. There have been words coming from people who have been involved in the industry to testify of this brutal reality. Besides, even if these women get paid for performing in porn, does it mean that it should excuse the extensive physical, psychological and emotional harms done to them? So, once a woman has been paid, the torture committed against her body is expiated, huh? Well, that’s an incredibly cruel and unfair way of reasoning! No amount of money whatsoever should excuse any harm done to a woman’s body.

Porn Apologist: Pornography is not prostitution.
Rad Fem: The fact is that pornography IS prostitution, plus a camera.

Porn Apologist: Look, prostitution is the world’s oldest profession. It should be legalized and regulated. That would make it safer.
Rad Fem: Prostitution is NOT the oldest profession, pimping is! Countries where prostitution has been legalized have become Number One destinations for traffickers. There is no evidence that legalization in any way benefits women in prostitution — indeed it simply legalizes the harm caused to women. Prostitution is inherently a form of violence against women and a violation of women’s human rights and dignity as persons. The belief that prostitution is “sex work” is being a direct cause for the widespread international and domestic trafficking of women and children for prostitution. The Netherlands (where prostitution is regarded as “just a job like another”) remains one of the primary destinations for victims of human trafficking (as again recently reported in the article “Home Office goes to Amsterdam for prostitution ideas” in politics.co.uk) and half the window brothels over there have been closed since 2006 because of an exponential rise in organized crime and money laundering and also the trafficking of women and children. Legalization is, in effect, a failed experiment.

Porn Apologist: Sexuality is good. Why are you anti-sex?
Rad Fem: Being against pornography and prostitution does not equate being against sex, FFS. Sexuality is just a part of being human and may involve a lot of strong feelings of affection and connection to another person when a sense of genuine care is involved. But pornography is stripped of any empathy and it fuses sexual desire with the degradation and abuse of women. Being against pornography does not mean being against sex, it simply means having recognized that there is a sexual world of imagination based on equality & respect and that goes beyond sexuality as simple “domination/subordination”.

Porn Apologist: Only conservative right wingers criticize porn. Are you a religious zealot?
Rad Fem: Radical feminists have, for a long time, opposed Christianity by recognizing it as patriarchal religion. Mary Daly, for example, is a prominent radical feminist writer of the feminist critique of Christianity. Radical feminists usually see Christianity as patriarchal and oppressive to women. So, no, I’m certainly not religious and I’m very much of an atheist. Perpetuating the myth that radical feminists “are siding with religious zealots” just because we oppose pornography has always been one of the favorite pro-porn tactics of the so-called “sex poz” lobby.

Porn Apologist: If there weren’t any porn, there’d be more rape.
Rad Fem: Do we ever suggest that the availability of loads of films showing children being beaten up would reduce child physical abuse? Of course not, because we know it’s not the case. So why would it be different with pornography? Few rapes get reported to the police and correlational studies only based on reported rapes have limits. While a few studies have shown a decrease in reported rapes, many other correlational studies, as shown here, have shown dramatic increases in sexual violence with the availability of pornography. Pornography has no “catharthic” effect whatsoever. Also, this “catharthic effect” porn apologist excuse quite sounds like a threat: “We need pornography or we will rape more!” Blah-the-fucking-blah. . .

Porn Apologist: Pornography has no effect whatsoever. It’s only a fantasy.
Rad Fem: So why do corporations spend billions of dollars each year on mass-mediated advertising if not precisely because they know ads have effects on people? Why would it be different with pornography? Pornography HAS effects, negative ones! Besides, as I said before, “an industry which relies on the suffering of half the population in order to keep catering to its ever-expanding demand is not fantasy!” Fantasy is in the head. Pornography is mediated and mass-marketed. I feel a lot more free not having my fantasies being controlled by pornography. . . Freud argued that the sexual abuse that his female patients had been experiencing in childhood (and had been telling him about) was just a fantasy. Freud knew that child sexual abuse was pervasive in his time, but he kept on denying it as “fantasy” (Source: Testimony of Jeffrey Masson, author of The Assault on Truth, in “The Los Angeles Hearing, Los Angeles County Commission for Women, April 22, 1985”; in Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin Eds., In Harm’s way: The pornography Civil Rights Hearings; 1997.)

Porn Apologist: Where is the harm in porn?
Rad Fem: The first people who are harmed are the prostituted women constantly used, abused and discarded by the industry. Then, the harms extend to the women outside of the industry. The easiest way of making violence invisible is by sexualizing it, making it appear as “just sex” to the viewer. Pornography makes rape, sexism and racism sexy. It makes force look like a thrilling sexual experience to men. Pornography desensitizes its users to female degradation, it makes them believe that women enjoy all sorts of pain and humiliation. Pornography increases the belief in rape myths. Pornography is pure woman-hating propaganda! Many women are coerced by their boyfriends and husbands into sexual acts they do not want because of those men’s pornography use. Pornography also increases the violence perpetrated against prostituted women. As reported by former prostitute J.W. in Massachusetts, for instance, she “considered the men who were into pornography to be the most dangerous and potentially violent since that is what aroused them”.

Porn Apologist: Advocating censorship is not a good thing. Pornography is free speech.
Rad Fem: Who’s talking about censorship here? You, not me. I’m talking of harms. Pro-porners often use the inaccurate word “censorship” to stigmatize any feminist work against pornography and to try to shut us up. Censorship or banning would never address the demand for pornography. Educating people on the harms and asking for an end to men’s demand for an industry that is predicated upon and produces sex-based exploitation and widespread aggression has nothing in common with censorship. Pornography is not free speech, it is hatred of women. The only freedom in pornography is the one for men to abuse women. In a male-supremacist, capitalist society, the First Amendment protects only those who can exercise the rights it protects. Where is women’s freedom of speech in all of this? Pornography keeps women and other people who have been harmed from exercising their rights to free speech.

Porn Apologist: Feminists are often man-haters. That’s why they criticize porn.
Rad Fem: In a patriarchal society where misogyny is the norm, whenever you point out to the fact of male violence against women you’re accused of being a “man-hater”, while whenever a man says a misogynist comment or laughs at misogynist jokes he’s never accused of being a “woman-hater”. Feminists aren’t man-haters and they criticize porn because it is harmful and it is strongly linked to violence against women. Isn’t it natural for men to watch porn? Pornography expresses sexual freedom and all men use porn.
Rad Fem: If it is natural for men to use porn, then how come some men have given up on their porn consumption and haven’t died? Not all men use porn. And pornography is not freedom; it is a mechanical, mindless, plasticized, inhuman, cruel and disconnected form of sexual imagery made by big corporations who only want to make big bucks. Besides, if pornography was so “natural” for men, why would it be so relentlessly misogynistic? Men have usually been socialized so differently from women that we can hardly claim anything about their nature. From an early age, males are typically trained to repress their feelings of sensitivity, care and empathy. It doesn’t have to be that way but gender roles both uphold and are maintained by male supremacist social order. And pornography typically reinforces gender, i.e. what it means to be “masculine” and what it means to be “feminine”.

Porn Apologist:

Porn Apologist: But, I don’t look at the bad and extreme stuff. Misogyny is not really inherent in pornography. And pornography is neither violent nor racist.
Rad Fem: Violence is pervasive in pornography; it is normalized because it is made to look like “just sex”. Any proper and clear-headed study of the content of the best-selling porn titles will reveal that violence and contempt for women are pervasive in mainstream pornography, as a comprehensive 2007 media research based on top-selling porn titles listed in Adult Video news (results of the research are revealed in this video here) has proven. As for the racism, pornography typically portrays black women as subhuman, dirty, primitive “ebony hoes”, black men as savage, animalistic beasts, Asian women as slavishly obedient, and Hispanic women as “hot-blooded Latinas”. If you don’t recognize these stereotypes as horrifyingly racist, then I’m afraid I can’t help you. . .

Porn Apologist: Look, women are objectified everywhere, even in the media. How is pornography different? I simply cannot imagine a world without the objectification of the female body.
Rad Fem: While mainstream media has clearly been invaded by soft-core objectifying pornography and that’s certainly not a good thing, hard-core mainstream pornography is worse. Women are not human beings in pornography, just things. . . Dare imagine a world that would not rely on the objectification of women, dare ask for justice and real sexual freedom within a new world where women would have the right to their own bodies without having to force themselves to have sex with men, where we would have true intimacy and mutuality, and where our lives wouldn’t be invaded and controlled by pornography.

Porn Apologist: Women look at porn too.
Rad Fem: While women’s use of porn has somehow increased since the Internet, the VAST majority of pornography users are men and the industry knows it (but they’re not gonna tell you). Porn producers, when interviewed at the Las Vegas porn convention, said most of the consumers of their materials are men. That is why porn is so endlessly misogynistic and degrading.

Porn Apologist: Hey, do you know that there’s also feminist porn available out there, that is to say porn for women?
Rad Fem: Women-made porn is a smokescreen to protect the largely (mostly) male-run, male-led pornography industry. It is only a small portion of the industry. The solution to ending the harms of pornography is not to create “feminist porn”. As I said before, “[m]isogynistic porn (which is the type of sexual material that most men want to see and masturbate to) isn’t going to go away so easily, and women and children will continue to be harmed. There are so many more urgent things and so many more struggles to overcome before we are able to live in a non-patriarchal society and maybe think about such things as any “egalitarian forms of erotic arts”!!! Indeed, thinking about such things before the overthrow of the whole patriarchy itself happens, is nothing other than capitulation! And it is insane! Considering and confronting the harms of pornography and prostitution to women and children, and working toward the building of a new non-patriarchal world, are paramount causes!!! As Gail Dines pointed out at the 2007 feminist anti-porn conference, we live in an “image based culture” (i.e. any thing, to be valuable, has to be made into an image) and the answer to stopping porn culture is not more images. Personally, I feel A LOT MORE FREE without having images or so-called “art” control my life and/or sexuality!”

Porn Apologist: If you don’t like porn, just don’t watch it.
Rad Fem: If this could only be that easy! Women have to interact with men who use pornography every day without knowing about the harms. I walk in the street and see soft-core porn on billboards. I cannot watch T.V. without stumbling upon a show or a film within which a joke on pornography is being laughed about. I cannot go to a party without seeing a bunch of guys laughing at the porn pics on their phones they’re showing to each others. The list goes on. . . Pornography is everywhere. What you’re saying sounds so much like saying “If you don’t like the president, then forget he is the president!” or “If you don’t like pollution, then forget it also comes from cars”.

Porn Apologist: Porn was the only sex education I had. I can’t give it up.
Rad Fem: Then you have been sexually “educated” by what is the mainstream sex miseducation for men, a form of media within which women are stripped of their own humanity and portrayed as sexual objects, as things to be penetrated. How original! Wouldn’t you be more free without having the corporate pimps mapping out your sex life? Besides, even if you’re not causing harm to women you know, by not giving up on pornography, you believe that there are acceptable losses, “necessary victims” in order to satisfy your self-centered orgasm to the sexuality of cruelty, the sexuality of disconnection from truly meaningful feelings toward another human being. By creating the demand for pornography, you generate, maintain or condone the harms it causes as well as submit to the self-objectification it creates when it controls you, shapes your sexual thoughts into a twisted manner and when you become addicted to it. So, why not giving up and have your own dreams for yourself? Why not accepting that your sex (mis)education did not involve sexual justice and equality between sexes?. . .

That’s it for now, readers. In case some of you want to add any porn apologist bullshit arguments (that I forgot to mention) to the list, please do so in the comments. Or, simply give your feedback, rad fems & pro-radfems, if you want to. . .

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[Edited to add (05/01/2008): I was just trying to mean “a withdrawal from reality into fantasy” by using the word ‘schizophrenia’, basically, BTW. I didn’t mean using that word in any kind of offensive way, but I can understand why some people would get upset by it. I think I was somehow searching for a word that would describe, metaphorically speaking, the way I felt about patriarchy and its social influences on people and so that was the word I came up with. However, I now understand that using the word ‘schizophrenia’, even in a metaphorical context, may still seem offensive to some people but I’m leaving this post as it is so that the following comment thread (containing reactions to my usage of that word) makes sense.]

It is something we’re living in. Something that is ever-omnipresent. We live and we breathe in it.

There is not one single hour, not one single minute, not one single second, without it existing.

It is what this world is ruled by. It is also what underlies the oppressive system that is called capitalism, among so many other systems of oppression. It is what is at the root of all systems of oppression as a matter of fact, whether political, economic, social, sexual, emotional, psychological, etc.

Yet, it is not visible to most people living on this earth. And that is the most painful part: it not being acknowledged as (still) existing by most people.

I used to to be amongst that majority of people. I used to be ignorant of its existence. I used to believe that we were somehow “post-feminism”, that women were now equal to men. . .

. . .until that day. That day I “woke up” and noticed it. The oppression of women and girls. I saw it raw, undisguised, inhuman and also searing, distressing, upsetting, heart-breaking.

It had been there all along. I just hadn’t noticed it. The oppression of women, the unfair system keeping them as a class in a position of inferiority to men, had been there all along. I just hadn’t noticed it before because it had been hidden, somehow away from public view and pushed more toward the private sphere in people’s lives.

In this patriarchal world, I walk around the streets, places, my workplace, my home or my college and I see all those people not knowing that patriarchy (still) exists.

Sometimes I find myself fidgeting, worrying, walking back and forth, wondering “When will people (especially women) will ever see it is there?”. On the other hand, I absolutely don’t blame them. I used to be in the same position as them, i.e. not knowing it is there.

Most of the time, the only moment I get peace in mind is when I sleep so I don’t have to think about it then, as it’s haunting me.

It’s haunting me like remembering the voices of ex-boyfriends who abused me.

There is something I remember Gail Dines saying at the end of one of her speeches when I was at the Wheelock College anti-pornography conference in March 2007. It was:

“We are very, very close to losing it all. There is a point at which it is very hard to pull back on. What’s going on in environmental destruction is very similar to cultural destruction. There is a point where it is over. People are too robotic. They have lost what it means to be human and they are thoroughly colonized by the corporate pimps. This has to stop. We have to fight back. It is not in my nature to play dead. I will fight to the last breathing word. And you will have to join in, because unless we do something, there is nobody else who is going to do it.”

I’ll say, it is not in my nature to play dead either. I am here and I will speak and carry on speaking.

Let me talk about that private sphere in people’s lives.

In it, most men are watching a certain kind of images to which they masturbate. And those images are mainstream, popular in male culture.

In those images, women are portrayed as being worthless “fuck-objects” who are being degraded, humiliated, roughly penetrated in every possible way, choked, bruised, slapped, handled callously, hurt, ejaculated upon, etc (the list goes on) while they are also being portrayed as either saying they enjoy all these things being done to them or eagerly seeking all this kind of insensitive and debasing treatment.

The day I noticed those images in a way I had never noticed them before, I saw the oppression of women raw, undisguised, inhuman and also searing, distressing, upsetting, heart-breaking.

Those images, among other things, made me notice how much I was living in patriarchy.

Similarly, the day I paid attention to the fact that my abusive ex-boyfriends had often been using those images and I connected the dots, I saw how the ways I have been oppressed had been enforced by patriarchy.

Patriarchy is a totalitarian and reactionary oppressive system. It colonizes us as women. It trains us to “please men”, to be “sexy” by fitting male-defined “feminine” roles and appearances.

Patriarchy is not inevitable. The root cause of patriarchy is gender socialization, i.e. what it means to be “masculine” and what it means to be “feminine” and how we are trained to “fit” those constraining and constricting roles.

Patriarchy is also what engineered these environmental and cultural destructions that Gail Dines mentioned.

Patriarchy is what makes people become too robotic, what makes people lose what it means to be human.

Patriarchy is the state of schizophrenia. Now, by “schizophrenia”, I mean to speak in the figurative sense, NOT the literal one.

“Schizophrenia”, metaphorically speaking, to me, means a withdrawal from reality into “fantasy”, a refusal to engage with reality.

I have chosen to be wide awake. I have chosen to refuse living into the “this-isn’t-happening-we’re-post-feminism-women-are-now-equal-to-men” fantasy realm that patriarchy wants to keep us asleep into.

But because patriarchy is the state of schizophrenia, the few people who are fully awake are (metaphorically speaking) accused of being “schizophrenic” as they notice this oppressive system.

What I mean by that is that most people on this earth who cannot see the truth, i.e. that we live in patriarchy, accuse radical feminists and pro-radfems of “talking nonsense” or “not knowing”, etc (the list goes on).

I have chosen to face reality and firmly hold onto my humanity, even though most people say that the reality I see is somehow “not reality”.

I can see patriarchy. It is deeply entrenched within our society. Sometimes, I wish I were able to alert all women and girls out there that we are living in this male-supremacist system.

I wish I could tell them all about the risks we take within patriarchy, how much we have been so perniciously trained, socialized, brainwashed by this male-supremacist system and that we are very close to losing it all.

Unfortunately, radical feminism gets little or no malestream media attention, unless to be misrepresented, vilified and lied about by liberals and members of other political wings.

As a rad fem friend of mine said, I don’t believe it is because radical feminism is somehow “wrong” or “evil” or anything like that (as detractors would have us believe).

It is rather because radical feminism is so revolutionary and progressive that it is threatening not only to the patriarchal status quo but also to every single other political faction that calls itself revolutionary or progressive while expecting to preserve the same basic unfair hierarchies.

In this world we’re living in, I walk around the streets, places, my workplace, my home or my college and I KNOW that patriarchy still exists and is ever-omnipresent, dangerous, ominous.

I can see the oppression of women raw, undisguised, inhuman and also searing, distressing, upsetting, heart-breaking.

I can see that women are not perceived as human beings by many men.

I see women being objectified by many men and this inhuman objectification being perceived as commonplace in this soon-to-become completely robotic society.

As I’m firmly holding onto my humanity in this patriarchy we’re living in, I can see so many forms of abuse happening and all the proofs that those horrible things are happening.

Because I am wide awake and have chosen to face reality, it is painful.

But I am glad I know about the fact that we still live in patriarchy as it makes me able to speak out about that fact and all the harms and oppressions that patriarchy caused, causes and will cause.

It is not in my nature to play dead and I will not withdraw from reality into fantasy.

Like other radical feminists, I seek the abolition of patriarchy.

The oppression of women now occurs in their personal lives and I believe that the personal is political.

The unbearable patriarchal system has to be stopped before it’s too late. We have to stand up, speak out and fight back.

Postscript: Dunno when I will write “Patriarchy (part 2)” but I will someday. . .

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I’m so so so fucking angry!

An atrocious gang-rape occurred in Brisbane (Australia) and many porn apologists, in the comment thread of this excellent and compelling article (that Caroline Norma wrote), are still out there in force defending this misogynistic propaganda that is called pornography over the life of a young woman that has been wrecked by not only what must have been an extremely distressing, humiliating and painful night but also the pictures that were taken of the assault.

This young rape victim had pornography made of her.

There is no doubt that rapes and gang-rapes are occurring all around the world, especially where people are living in pornified cultures.

In her article, Norma wrote about a popular pornographic genre called “bukake” and saw this gang-rape as a possible imitation of it.

Here is the article:

ABC news radio reported on the morning of International Women’s Day that a 17-year-old girl had been raped in Brisbane. The newsdesk copywriter must have had a strong coffee that morning because she decided to include the bold description that “ten men stood over the girl masturbating while each of them raped her in turn”.

This snippet of information, plus the inevitable news that the men took photos of the girl while they abused her, provides the clues women need to understand why this rape occurred, and what it means for our lives in Australian society.

Pornography users will immediately recognise the brand of rape the men used against the girl. There is a genre of pornography called “bukake” in which men stand around a single woman masturbating and ejaculating while they wait their turn to orally penetrate her. The anti-pornography documentary Pornography: the musical features footage of bukake scenes being produced, as well as a heart wrenching interview with a woman immediately after being filmed in bukake pornography. Readers can also consult the Internet, of course – it is teeming with bukake pornography sites.

As revolting as we might think it sounds, it’s important to keep in mind that men are watching and masturbating to bukake pornography in the name of pleasure and fun. The pornography industry makes more money than the mainstream entertainment industry, so we can assume it’s not a few men that are enjoying themselves with pictures of men spraying their ejaculate all over naked women.

Consuming pornography is no longer the pastime of a few men on the margins, nor is it an activity that is marginal to the lives of men. Catharine Lumby’s recent study reports that only 7 per cent of surveyed users could imagine their pornography use to be harmful in any way.

It’s hard to believe the ten men would have perpetrated the pack rape on the spur of the moment. The girl was picked up and taken back to an inner city apartment after meeting a man in a nightclub. The man then called the nine other men to come over. It was reported in The Courier-Mail (March 7) that this inner city apartment “had been rented for the night by the group of men”. Presumably they all knew each other – they were all between the ages of 18 and 22. And they must have known each other well enough to trust that no one would feel a sudden pang of conscience and upset the highly organised operation.

How has a rape club managed to flourish in the tropical surroundings of sunny Brisbane? What is leading men to come up with the idea that getting together with a bunch of friends to rape a woman might be a fun way to spend a Saturday night?

Boys from the Melbourne suburb of Werribee hit upon the idea last year, and now, it seems, in Brisbane. Could this be a new trend? Maybe Lumby and her friends could chart the rise of rape clubs in Australian society and even predict new developments in this exciting Australian subculture. They need only look to pornography to find out what these innovations will be.

The 17-year-old girl who had bukake pornography made out of her probably struggles to exist these days. She would have been frightened out of her mind on the night the men pack raped her, and the death threats they subsequently made against her couldn’t have helped her sense of personal security.

She probably worries about her pictures appearing on the Internet, and perhaps even dares to think about the men who will have a good time looking at her abuse. This probably leaves her wondering how she’s going to get through the rest of her life. Her rape club assailants, who were apparently smiling in court during their bail hearing, now face the prospect of jail, but not the prospect of a lifetime of mental anguish.

The girl might take some comfort in the fact that Australian society lurched to offer some response to the crime. The Queensland police worked on the case for six months, and the Crime and Misconduct Commission played a part in bringing the men before court.

On the Monday morning after news of the rape was broadcast on Saturday March 8, graffiti appeared on the wall of a sex shop in Brisbane’s inner city suburb of Highgate Hill reading: “10 man rape: porn imitation?” Feminists have already planned a rally outside the court where the men will appear on April 21.

But none of this will change the conditions that foster rape clubs. Pornography has made it very sexy to hurt and humiliate women. To date there have been few acts of resistance to the sex industry. This has to change.

There is a large amount of evidence of the link between pornography and rape as you can read on my website and from books containing important research and testimonies that show the undeniable link between pornography and violence against women and girls. And while the porn industry is becoming more mainstream, the images it produces are increasingly more degrading and sadistic.

Rapes are becoming more violent. Empathy toward women is decreasing day after day. Many men and boys (who use pornography) may be having many nights like these “just between friends” around the globe: “rape club” nights that destroy many women’s lives forever — not only this poor young Australian woman, she’s certainly not the only one it’s happened to. Rape and gang-rape are far away from being rare!

But prepare to be thoroughly pissed off, rad fems, because, as usual (such as in the comment thread to this article), pro-porners jump in and keep defending their misogynistic crap over women’s lives with such an outrageous fervor.

The pornographic videos and pictures are more important than the lives of women and girls who have been coerced into sex, raped or even gang-raped by some pornography users. These pornographic images are seen as a lot more essential to life than women’s safety to pro-porners. And porn is valued over female lives in the eyes of porn apologists. The “free speech” of the woman-hating propaganda material that is called pornography matters much more than the speech of the women and girls who have been, are, and will be raped and silenced. This is so sickening I want to scream in rage!

And I do not believe in any bullshit “biological” explanation such as “if those guys did this, that just means they are ‘naturally bad’ people”. The men and boys who do rape have been socially conditioned and influenced by patriarchal pornified culture to behave that way. I’m not saying that every single porn user becomes a rapist; I’m only saying that there is damn well a strong link between pornography and rape and there’s thorough research that has been made to prove that. Rapists are not born; they are made, into a culture that implicitly condones rape in the first place.

From childhood on, many men are socialized and trained to a masculinity which encourages them to suppress their emotional reactions and feelings (“be a man” so the saying goes); then they often learn sex from pornography which reinforces a masculinity based on conquest and control. As professor Chyng Sun says: “Pornography encourages people to disregard others’ pain for one’s own pleasure.”

When will society ever notice the undeniable connection between pornography and rape? Why do some people have to be so cruel to believe that women and girls’ lives and safety matter less than this woman-hatred propaganda material (porn) that is used by (primarily) males when they want a selfish orgasm? An orgasm at the expense of millions and millions of female human beings who are raped?

An Australian piece of news described that “ten men stood over the girl masturbating while each of them raped her in turn”. A graffiti put on the wall of a porn shop in Brisbane read: “10 man rape: porn imitation?”

Caroline Norma, with a keen sense of suspicion, asked: “What is leading men to come up with the idea that getting together with a bunch of friends to rape a woman might be a fun way to spend a Saturday night?” The connection to these gang rapes, the way they are perpetrated, the pattern clearly show the link between pornography and sexual violence against women. When are people out there going to wake up and see, eventually notice this incontestable link?

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The Swedish law that prosecutes johns and pimps (while decriminalizing prostituting women) has been such a great success that a city council in another country, Scotland, sees this law as a fair way of fighting the atrocious sexual slavery that is called prostitution. Some excerpts from the Scottish Daily Record:

GROUNDBREAKING laws that have almost wiped out prostitution in Sweden could be introduced in Scotland.

The Swedes stopped punishing the prostitutes – and instead criminalised the men who buy sex. […]

[Glasgow City Council deputy leader] Coleman said: “There’s no doubt it has worked in Sweden and there’s no reason why it can’t work here too.

“There can be no question that prostitution is exploitative and abusive of the women involved.

“Name one other situation where we would put up with endemic violence, abuse, disease, drug addiction, alcoholism, mental health problems, fear and trauma as a way to earn cash?

“The only logical way we can stop the damage suffered by this group of vulnerable women is to cut off the demand for buying sex.” […]

In Sweden, 1650 men have been convicted for buying sex. They faced up to six months in jail but all were fined Stockholm Detective Inspector Jonas Trolle, who is part of the delegation, says indoor prostitution is every bit as harmful to the women.

He said: “You need at least five customers a day for it to be profitable.

“One case I was involved in, the woman took 17 customers one evening and she was not able to walk from the flat afterwards. Is this a question of free will, when you can’t even walk?” […]

In 2006, researchers found Swedish men were least likely of about 30 nationalities to use prostitutes as they considered it unacceptable.

Another phenomenon has been a dramatic fall in sex trafficking. It has fallen to just 200 women, while neighbouring Finland sees 15,000 a year brought across its borders. […]

Now former prostitutes are treated as victims and helped to find a way out of the trade through retraining and counselling….

Also, it is wonderful to see a radical feminist (like Melissa Farley) being published in the NY Times. It is so so so rare when a radical feminist gets to be published in a major newspaper nowadays. From Melissa Farley and Victor Malarek’s excellent op-ed article The Myth of the Victimless Crime:

[…] Whose theory is it that prostitution is victimless? It’s the men who buy prostitutes who spew the myths that women choose prostitution, that they get rich, that it’s glamorous and that it turns women on.

But most women in prostitution, including those working for escort services, have been sexually abused as children, studies show. Incest sets young women up for prostitution — by letting them know what they’re worth and what’s expected of them. Other forces that channel women into escort prostitution are economic hardship and racism. […]

Whether the woman is in a hotel room or on a side street in someone’s car, whether she’s trafficked from New York to Washington or from Mexico to Florida or from the city to the suburbs, the experience of being prostituted causes her immense psychological and physical harm. And it all starts with the buyer.

Pro-radical feminist man Richard Leader, of Adonis Mirror, has recently written a compelling piece, She will not be Forgotten, on Ruth Christenson, a woman to whom the sexism of pornography has shattered her life:

[…] Perhaps Ruth Christenson is still remembered in quiet vigils in Minneapolis. I hope so. She sure as hell isn’t remembered anywhere else.

Perhaps that’s for the best. If Ruth Christenson were remembered today, she’d be remembered not as a hero — or even as a martyr — but as a crazy woman. A tragic figure, no doubt, but the tragedy would be considered hers to bear alone.

Even people calling themselves feminists, no shortage of men in that number these days, would believe Christenson did what she did out of selfish, personal desperation: an inability to cope with private horrors that have little to do with what the “common woman” experiences. Hormones and brain chemistry. To them, that can be the only reason why she took such a terrible and final action.

Not because sexism shatters women’s lives. […]

Who would be willing to remember the bravery of Ruth Christenson in a world where even anti-pornography activists are ready to shed the word “feminist” from their organizations in exchange for better funding? […]

If female bravery of that kind could be celebrated, it would mean that women suffer under patriarchy in the here and now, even surrounded by good men….

And Debs, at The Burning Times, posted an article about a porn report that shows that men still represent the majority of pornography consumers:

“Of the pornography consumers interviewed for The Porn Report, 17 per cent were women and 82 per cent were male…”

Debs also wrote:

All porn is violence against women. The existence of any type of porn is a symptom of a world in which women are seen as commodities, and where violence against women is at epidemic proportions. […]

For the man, porn is just a normal part of his everyday life, and the women he encounters in his everyday life could easily appear in the porn he watches. It is easier for him that way; he does not have to do any work. The ‘normal’ women in his porn are the checkout operator and the traffic warden he sees when out and about – the women in his porn are every-woman. Women make a separation for the sake of their own sanity – there are real women, and there are the women in porn. Men make no such distinction – the women in porn are all women everywhere. […]

I think a far more likely reason for women’s [slightly] increased use of porn is a sort of “if you can’t beat them, join them” attitude. Women have resigned themselves to the fact that porn is increasingly prevalent in society; it’s impossible to escape, so they just play along, because to do otherwise (ie, fight it) is to be seen as ‘anti-sex’, a prude, frigid, or any number of other meaningless insults. […]

Studies like this, as I’m sure they don’t intend to, do not progress the fight against porn, nor set it back. They just observe….

Finally, I’d like to link to the Carnival Against Pornography and Prostitution’s Homepage. There has already been three editions of that Carnival that have been posted so far and some of my writings have been selected a few times for it. The older editions are linked on the top of the sidebar (on the right) of that Carnival blog.

I would like to let my readers know (as you’ve probably noticed) that I blog intermittently. It is because I need to have enough time to write articles. I’m often busy with work and studies. However, I’m planning on writing more. Don’t worry, I ain’t going away. There is no way anyone could silence me. I will not be silenced. So please stay tuned and check on my place now and again.

In Sisterhood,

M.H.

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Before I knew there was such a thing as radical feminism, I remember I wasn’t very interested in politics. No politics out there really appealed to me. They seemed all boring and unprogressive. No politics seemed to make any sense or to support any genuine change.

I was younger and more interested in listening to music, watching movies, having fun with friends, going out dancing, trying to “find the right man” for me, etc. I was a rather “everyday girl” (if I can call it that way ’cause I cannot figure any other way of how to call it). There was an incredible pain, an incredible boredom, an incredible suffering that I was feeling in me. However, I didn’t know what it was. Having been raised in a Catholic family, I had been taught to believe in “god”. But “god” was of no help in all those painful years.

Then, one day, I found out about a little faction of the world’s politics, a small group of (usually) women kept away from mainstream politics. They had their own politics. It was called radical feminism.

I learned from radical feminism that pornography and prostitution were inherently harmful to women and children. And I also noticed that this radical feminist claim wasn’t based on mere guesses, but a great amount of thorough research, public testimonies, etc. Their anti-porn movement had also grown out of 70’s grassroots anti-violence groups.

I had spent a great part of my life living with abusive boyfriends who consumed porn. One of them especially, the first one, had been coercing me into sex and repeatedly tried to have me imitate the scenes that were in the pornography he was using.

He was also highly interested in the degradation of women who were in prostitution and in pornography. Most of my life, I had somehow known that there was a sort of unequal power relationship between the prostituted or pornographized women and the johns. But I had no word to talk about it.

As for other men I’d known in my life (before my current partner), I could observe these cruel, uncaring, and rough behaviors in them, along with the fact that I could often see the lack of empathy in their eyes. I could feel the callousness of most men but had no words to express my feelings about it. I often had asked myself “why?”, “Why most men are the way they are?”, “Why do they have to hurt that much?”.

When I started reading radical feminist literature and being interested in radical feminism, I concluded that I had finally found a politics that spoke to me. I had found, for the first time, a politics that genuinely wanted complete revolution and social change. As I read the painful stories of so many women and girls that were written in radical feminist books, I felt pained but I also felt heard, echoed. It was reassuring: I was not the only one these things were happening to.

I learned from radical feminism that I was living in patriarchy, that is to say a society largely controlled by men. I learned that most men were not the way they are by nature, not only as a result of being born male but as a result of being men having been socialized to benefit from patriarchy and male privilege, having been socialized to repress their empathy and get off on the suffering of the other half of the world’s population — women. I thought (and I still think) there is a hope if men are not born that way, but made to be that way.

I also learned from radical feminism that religions such as Christianity were male-supremacist and I then renounced Catholicism. I renounced Christianity and I don’t care if my Catholic parents don’t like this fact! Radical feminism taught me that patriarchal religions were brainwashing and woman-hating. I learned about the misogyny of the Bible and I couldn’t care less about the patriarchal “god” that doesn’t exist. I had never been a committed religious person anyway. So being an atheist now feels better for me.

I also learned that there were many other patriarchal instrument of brainwashing, including pornography (as I mentioned above). As I said before: the patriarchal Church once used to dominate the society and control women’s lives, rights and sexuality — and still dominates and controls many women’s lives, rights and sexuality nowadays. But now pornography primarily dominates the society and controls women’s social and private lives and their sexuality.

At the same time I learned terribly bad news: radical feminists are largely censored and slandered by mainstream media; and all the people who have fallen for what the media says to them about rad fems, believe that radical feminists are evil man-haters. Such a lie!

Plus whenever academic pro-porners criticize radical feminists, they cannot even quote one part of their works properly: they (1) quote parts of rad fem books or articles that have been put in a certain context (in the original source), either that or they (2) falsely quote things that rad fems have never said nor will ever say. I cannot even believe how shocking this is when radical feminists are accused of the misogyny they are pointing out. They are merely describing the misogyny that is happening right now within this pornographic world.

Before I chose to become a radical feminist, of course I knew that radical feminism was hated. It didn’t stop me from choosing radical feminism though for I perfectly knew through reading radical feminist books that these women were not like the mainstream media and pornified culture portrayed them.

And also because never in my life had I seen such a progressive politics, a politics that wanted genuine social change, a politics that wanted the end of all forms of oppression, a politics that was speaking to me, that had been speaking to me all along as a woman suffering in this patriarchal world, a politics that was now giving me words to really be able to express my feelings. And I’ve also met quite a few radical feminists who are themselves survivors of prostitution and that also confirmed to me that there was nothing glamorous about the ‘sex’ industry.

I expected to be hated in becoming a radical feminist and speaking out against pornography and prostitution which harm so many women and girls (and porn also harmed me), which is partly the reason why, since I created this blog, I’ve hidden backlinks. I wouldn’t be interested in checking out whoever links to my blog because I know that, although well-meaning rad fem friends might do it sometimes they tell me when they do so, and I have no interest in knowing whichever pro-porn site or blog will be linking to me (if it hasn’t already happened).

I know that because rad fems tell the truth about patriarchy, rad fems are hated. And I know that pro-porners have an agenda which is completely an antithesis of our agenda. And they are very manipulative in the way they promote their own agenda.

I know from Laurelin’s recent Observation at her blog that we, rad fems, are referred to as “fascists” and “wingnuts” by pro-porners. These are the comments I’ve made on Laurelin’s blog:

“. . . those who call us “fascists” or “feminazis” do so as an attempt to shut us up. They’re obviously annoyed that we criticize their porn and their so-called “rights” to use prostituted women. The idea of women being objects for their use matters to them more than the fact that women are human beings who suffer. They just don’t understand oppression under patriarchy!”

“. . . Truthfully, that’s the politics of pro-porners which are right-wing and reactionary: They are cruel, anti-humanity, anti-empathy because they don’t care about the facts that women and children are harmed in porn/prostitution and by pornography; they don’t give a fuck who gets hurt so long as they have their jerk-off material! Atrocious!”

Obviously, being a rad fem living in a patriarchal pornified culture, I am totally aware that whenever a woman speaks out against pornography and prostitution, she is hated, she is rejected, she is called a “shrew”, a “bitch”, etc.

It is also noteworthy not to forget that the patriarchists, the guardians of the status quo, the pro-porners know that if they were all males defending their pornstitution, they wouldn’t be credible. People would more quickly notice the woman-hatred inherent in pornography and prostitution if there were only men defending these sexual exploitation businesses.

Therefore, this is why porn users/johns/pimps have to magnify the few women who are willing to defend misogynistic industries and then use these women as proxies to attack radical feminists. These pro-pornstitution women also help them conceal their misogyny and excuse their so-called “rights” to use women and girls as sex objects in pornography and prostitution.

Undeniably, porn users/johns also need “happy hookers” to elevate and to help them viciously attack rad fems. Typically, these men only want to hear the glamorized malestream corporate media stories of “women who say they love being in prostitution and pornography” while refusing to hear the stories of women who say they have been harmed in porn/prostitution and by porn. If presented with the real life stories of these women, they’ll pretend to care about abusive pornstitution stories for a minute or so and then dismiss these common stories as “rare” (or “lying”) and go back to “happy hooker” stories they love so much.

In truth, these few “happy hookers” (whether what they say is the result of dissociation or not) are more listened to by men than us rad fems because men only listen to women who accept their position as “sex objects”. And when women “celebrate” themselves as sexual objects, porncrazy men champion that because “happy hookers” validate men’s pornographic fantasies and make them feel good about their porn use. Porncrazy men hate whoever opposes the idea of women as objects! They hate whoever supports women as human beings!

This is what happens in the world of patriarchal logic: women-as-objects are elevated, championed and magnified by porncrazy men while women-not-as-objects are hated, rejected, dismissed or ridiculed, or even sometimes raped and beaten. Of course, in the end, both women-as-objects and women-not-as-objects will be viewed in the same way by porncrazy men: as women, as inferior to men. Nevertheless, most men need women-as-objects in their maintenance of the male-supremacist status quo. This is such a cruel and unfair world and this is what patriarchy is about= making sure the status quo is being maintained.

There is something terribly wrong about being lied about and thrashed. Which is why I hid backlinks, I am not interested in checking my backlinks: I’d rather not know when it happens to me (if it hasn’t already happened). I expect to be hated, I expect to be misrepresented, but in the end I don’t care. All that pro-porners can say is bullshit and childish name-calling. The politics of pornography and, more broadly, patriarchy are anti-evolution. It is so much easier for some people to be on the pro-porn side because it refuses a serious deep thinking which is an essential part of evolution toward real political action and revolution.

I know it happens to all of us fighting pornstitution: the better we are at what we do, the more shit we get for it. Pro-porners are overwhelmly male and we know it. They simply need to magnify the few pro-porn women and give them “megaphones” so they (men) then can attack us better! We’ll never be able to prevent pro-porners, MRA’s and their posse of porn users from vilifying radical feminists. Them using women to attack us is not new. It’s a two-decade-old pro-pornstitution tactic.

I’d rather not give a fuck. I’ve heard pro-pornography arguments during most of my life while I was the girlfriend of abusive porn-users. I’ve heard pro-pornography arguments during all those years I had to force myself to have sex in order to please men. Now, I’d rather stay away from pro-pornography arguments. They give me bad memories.

Whatever pro-pornstitution folks have said, are saying or will be saying about me, I know it’s only about them thinking their “We benefit from the status quo so that’s where our loyalties lie” me, me, me’s. Whatever pro-pornstitution folks have said, are saying or will be saying about me, I know it’s not true, I know it’s not me and that’s all that matters to me.

I’d rather not know and not give a flying fuck. I’d rather be spending my energy on doing some more patriarchy-bashing. In other words, I’d rather carry on what I’m doing and try to reach other women or people who have/will have a heart and understand the harms of pornography and prostitution.

I know that there are also a few well-meaning secular men, in this world, who have reconsidered their patriarchal socialization and who have understood why men (in general) should stop using pornography and should stop buying women and girls in prostitution too. I welcome them to be our pro-feminist allies.

Above all, I know that we, women, have to unite in a sisterhood as best as we can in order to, one day, accomplish the feminist revolution of overthrowing the whole patriarchal system!

“The Revolution is not an event that takes two or three days, in which there is shooting and hanging. It is a long drawn out process in which new people are created, capable of renovating society so that the revolution does not replace one elite with another, but so that the revolution creates a new anti-authoritarian structure with anti-authoritarian people who in their turn re-organize society so that it becomes a non-alienated human society, free from war, hunger, and exploitation.”
— Rudi Dutschke, March 7, 1968.

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