. . . is now up at the Spinning Spinsters’. Enjoy!
And I still blame the porno-iarchy. . . and the patriarchy!
. . . is now up at the Spinning Spinsters’. Enjoy!
And I still blame the porno-iarchy. . . and the patriarchy!
Posted in "Sex Work" Advocates, Effects of porn, Feminism, Free Speech, Harms, Patriarchy, Pornified culture, Pornography, Pro-pornstitution 'feminists', Prostitution, Rape, Resource, Responding to detractors on July 26, 2008| 27 Comments »
As I define those terms (dunno how other radical feminists define them):
‘Porno-iarchy’ or ‘pornoiarchy’: a patriarchal society invaded and controlled by pornography & the culture it has pornified, as well as a society upheld by men’s cruel needs for female sexual subordination. For proper definitions of what pornography really is (stated by different feminist writers), please click here.
‘Pornified Culture’: a culture which has been invaded by the mainstreaming of pornography.
‘Sex Poz’: my light-hearted abbreviation of “sex-positive”, a label which the pro-pornstitution ‘feminists’ often use to describe themselves, while deliberately attempting to conflate pornography with sex as if they were the same thing. See one of my comments at Rage Against the Man-chine for an expression of my opinion on this lack of distinction between porn and sex.
‘Pornstitution’ (Originally coined by Sam Berg): Pornography and prostitution, both the same part of the same misogynistic ‘sex’ industry. Also highlights the fact that the sex trade is a system of interconnected misogynistic forms of commodified sexual abuse.
‘Rad Fem’: just an abbreviation of Radical Feminist, that’s all, as I learned this shortening term (‘radfem’) from my private discussions within the Genderberg feminist anti-porn forums.
‘Malestream media’: Mainstream corporate media, largely controlled by white capitalist men in suits.
‘Herstory’: the history of women (as the term is sometimes used by radical feminists) , not the history of men (which has always been more popular and talked about in a patriarchy).
Why do I blame the porno-iarchy?
I blame the porno-iarchy for all the sexual violence done to the women in the ‘sex’ industry.
I blame the porno-iarchy for the lack of choices most women who enter prostitution have (when I say ‘prostitution’, that also includes pornography as a form of prostitution of course).
I blame the porno-iarchy for the sexual violence perpetrated against so many women and girls who are in prostitution.
I blame the porno-iarchy for all the misogyny, degradation, abuse, and racism that are inherent and blatant in the content of mainstream pornography.
I blame the porno-iarchy for all the harms caused by pornography to women and children (and sometimes to men) in this unjust male-supremacist society.
I blame the porno-iarchy for so many women and girls having to make themselves look “sexy” or “fuckable” to men in the goal to achieve a false sense of “empowerment” (been there myself when I used to go clubbing).
I blame the porno-iarchy for the fact that so many women and girls have to force themselves to have sex when they don’t necessarily want to in order to please their boyfriends and husbands.
I blame the porno-iarchy for the fact that so many women and girls are sexually coerced into sexual acts (coming from the ‘domination/subordination’ pornographic mind) they do not really want to practice.
I blame the porno-iarchy for all the rapes, the battery, the sexual and physical violence against (mostly) women and girls that happen in this culture.
I blame the porno-iarchy for blaming the victims of rape (saying that’s “her fault, she’s responsible for what happened because blah, blah, blah. . .”) and not the rapists.
I blame the porno-iarchy for sometimes not even believing rape victims (saying that “she probably consented or enjoyed it”).
I blame the porno-iarchy for the (usual) censoring and demonizing of radical feminists in the malestream media.
I blame the porno-iarchy for accusing us of “siding with religious zealots”.
I blame the porno-iarchy for not letting us rad fems educate enough people on the harms of pornography ’cause of the malestream media being tied to the pornography industry, ’cause pro-porners are endlessly trying to silence us and ’cause of ‘leftist’ liberal stubborn pornography-protecting mind (as Gail Dines & Robert Jensen say ‘Pornography is a Left Issue‘, not a right-wing one)
I blame the porno-iarchy for some women defending pornography and prostitution in the name of ‘feminism’.
I blame the porno-iarchy for the pro-pornstitution ‘feminists’ being unfairly magnified by malestream media.
I blame the porno-iarchy for slandering us, radical feminists, and totally misrepresenting our views or simply not understanding why we’re so angry at the pornstitution industry (because of the HARMS!!!).
I blame the porno-iarchy for many other things you might also wanna mention to me here, rad fem or anti-porn readers?
Acknowledging Harms and Lack of Choice
“She wants it; they all do” is the biggest lie coming from pornographic misogyny.
The vast majority of women in pornstitution do not want all this degradation and torture to happen to them, but they are subject to all this because of Lack of Choice, as I’ve also already explained here and there.
I just read another interesting article, ‘You’re consenting to being raped for money’, about a prostitute who tells us about how “the life” really is like and how prostitution is glamorized in pornified media partly because “[y]ounger women are being coerced into valuing themselves by what they look like and men’s definition of how a woman should be valued. . . Women are being told that their bodies should be accessible at all times to men. . . there is a conspiracy to turn women into readily accessible semen receptacles.” A truly male-supremacist pornified conspiracy indeed!
Although I do not much like the expression “sex work” (more on that soon enough), I believe that the ‘sex’ industry is largely male-controlled (even though there are quite a few women who are now sexploitation business entrepreneurs & who abuse other women) and I do not believe that “outlawing strip clubs & porn” would address the demand for pornstitution, I find the comment that this person left in the Traffick Jamming blog nevertheless very interesting:
“The comment by Maggie Hays sums up my experience as a stripper in many ways. The only difference is my boss and the management were women and they were perfectly content to exploit us women just as any man would. I have known women who got into porn and prostitution and I know all about how sex work often leads to violence and S/M. Sex work is inherently violent as it demands the objectification of the person, and what is happening at Kink is merely the final result of a warped and morally bankrupt industry. That is why porn should be outlawed as should strip clubs. These are only legalised forms of prostitution. I saw so much abuse and violence at [sic] criminality at my club, it was insane. Prostitution was openly being conducted as was drug dealing. And we were all regularly physically and mentally abused by the patrons and the staff. I have been viciously attacked by pro-stripper apologists on stripperweb.com for my testimony, which shows how people on the pro-sex industry side have zero compassion for sex workers and don’t want the truth about the business to be disseminated on the internet.”
Pamela, in case you read here, I can understand that this is so terrible the abuse you have both suffered and witnessed in “sex work”. I hear you, sister. The fact that these pro-porn women (whoever they were) had no consideration for your painful experience and unpleasant feelings regarding prostitution is absolutely horrifying. And I do hope that, wherever you are, you are alright and you’re gonna be alright.
The fact is that once a woman has entered the sex industry and she is harmed within it, there is no going back. The damage from past ill-treatment, the PTSD, the pain, the unsettling trauma, etc. are all there. And the pornstitution apologists would have us believe that she “chose it”, thus nothing can be said? Many (especially male) pro-prostitutionists would have us believe that once a prostituted woman has ‘chosen it’ and has been paid, the harms done to her body and mind can then all be dismissed or forgotten. What an anti-woman propaganda! 😦
Also, the ‘sex poz’ lobby would have us believe that prostitution is (for the most part) not abusive, that it is work, and that pornography is liberating or can be. . . What a rhetorical nonsense! Broken record, *yawn*. . . It is such a distressing shame that some women have been deluded into believing all this very nonsense and thus have been encouraged to defend pornstitution.
I do not believe in “sex work”, i.e. “prostitution as a good career option for women”. I believe that prostitution is an inherently harmful and misogynistic form of sexual abuse. This is why I do not call prostitution “sex work”. Prostitution is not the oldest profession, it is the world’s oldest lie.
While prostitution has existed for a very long time, slavery existed before prostitution, as feminist historian Gerda Lerner related in The Creation of Patriarchy. This is an important part of the herstory to know, just as important as knowing about the witch-hunt in early modern Europe, the mass-gynocide caused by patriarchal religion and its pornographic Malleus Maleficarum (See Dworkin’s chapter on the witches in her first book, Woman Hating, for a recap on what happened to women deemed witches during the Inquisition in early modern Europe).
And talking about herstory, prostitution and contemporary society, here is an excellent quote from Sherry Lee Short:
“. . . the arguments of pro-sex industry advocates and proponents have a common theme: the industry springs from a liberal mindset and frees women and men, sexually, politically, and spiritually. Part of this logic is that sexuality — particularly women’s sexuality — has been oppressed historically and that the sex industry offers women and men the liberating possibility of unbridled sexual expression. This logic ignores the fact that the use of women in prostitution as well as other forms of sexual commodification has existed for as least as long as there has been an historical record. Thus, if sexual commodification were freeing, then sexual oppression would be uncommon or, more likely, exist only as some curious historical fact. This logic also ignores the reality that the sex industry thrives where the political, social, and religious milieu is fundamentally conservative. It thrives where beliefs about women and children and their roles are the most traditional. . .”
— Sherry Lee Short in Not For Sale, Stark & Whisnant Eds., p.309.
In this patriarchy we’re living in, pro-pornstitution folks are just as reactionary as religious zealots. Both groups uphold patriarchy and perpetuate age-old woman-hating lies. They merely do it in different ways.
I do not believe in “sex work”, just like I do not believe in “feminist porn” (oxymoron). Prostitution and pornography are inherently misogynistic. If sex is about a process of discovery and connection between two people, then there can be no “cookbook”, no ‘recipe guide’ for non-patriarchal sexuality. And to not reiterate, I’ve already expressed my opinion on ‘feminist porn’ somewhere in this post here.
The idea that prostitution is “sex work” is the biggest fallacy of the pro-prostitution lobby. It has been & is being a direct cause for the ever-increasing trafficking and exploitation of women in prostitution.
We, radical feminists, generally refer to women in the sex industry as ‘prostituted women’ because (1) we acknowledge that they’ve had extremely limited choices under patriarchy & we empathize with them, (2) we realize that most of them are under the control of cruel pimps & brutal or hurtful johns, and (3) we want to emphasize the fact that most of the victims of the ‘sex’ industry are female.
More people should realize and admit that most women in prostitution are tremendously and awfully harmed within it.
There is such an incredible victim-blaming in this society and that spreads like sickness. Being a victim is not a character flaw. A rad fem friend once told me about this: Only in a society which regards women who have been abused as responsible for their own victimization, only in a culture that moans that the oppressed should pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, can the word “victim” be seen as an insult.
Calling someone a victim is seen as much an insult as calling someone oppressed to some people, including in the academia. Also, the word “victim” also implies that there is a victimizer, which can be very disturbing to recognize for some women who want to feel empowered, such as the ‘sex poz’ feminists for instance.
Some women just do not want to face their oppressed status. And I’ve been there myself once, at some point in my life. I used to live in some sort of ‘denial’ ’cause I wanted to feel empowered and desirable to men a few years back. Because the reality of my inferior status to men would have been just too painful. . . to realize.
I believe that we, women, should all start understanding our inequality, we should all become aware of it in the hope of changing the world in which we live (a world ruled by the patriarchy and the porno-iarchy) and working toward genuine equality between the sexes.
As I said, I believe that discussions on prostitution should now be directed toward the johns, who always have 100% choice in this matter.
The legalization of prostitution does not work. Organized crimes and trafficking still occur in the Netherlands, where prostitution is mistakenly seen as “work”, as it has recently been reported here. There, in this article, a spokeswoman for Equality Now (an anti-trafficking organization) lately said that “[i]nstead of controlling prostitution, legalisation has led to a disastrous outbreak of increased exploitation of women in the sex trade, sex trafficking and other related crimes.”
On the other hand, the Swedish law, that prosecutes johns, pimps & traffickers and provides exit programs for prostitutes, has worked. As recently reported in the Herald Tribune:
“Swedish officials have vowed to step up the fight against prostitution, using a unique law that targets sex buyers instead of prostitutes. [. . .]
“Sweden is not a good place for (your) business,” Justice Minister Beatrice Ask said in a warning to those who buy sex or are involved in trafficking. “(There’s) a very big risk of getting caught, and getting caught big time.”
Sweden’s unusual prostitution law, which allows the sale of sex but prohibits the buying, faced ridicule when it was introduced nine years ago. However, other countries are now considering emulating the Swedish model, which officials say has reduced the demand for prostitutes and reshaped attitudes toward the sex trade. [. . .]
The plan boosts policing against sex buyers and expands rehabilitation centers for sex workers and trafficking victims. It also trains hospital workers and social services employees to deal with suspected cases of prostitution and trafficking.
Integration Minister Nyamko Sabuni noted that men are the primary buyers of sex.
“Prostitution and human trafficking for sexual purposes is a serious barrier for social equality and equality between the sexes,” she said.
The thing is to be able to understand the Swedish prostitution law and its success, more people must understand the harms intrinsic to prostitution itself. More people must understand that prostitution is not “work”, it is violence against women, as the failure of legalization and the success of the Swedish 1999 legislation have proven.
[ETA: No, by saying “lack of choice”, rad fems do not “deny women’s choices”. We do NOT see prostitutes as “people with no agency”. Clarification of that in this new post here, On Choices (part 2): Prostitution and the Agency of Johns.]
Pornography: Looking into the Reflection of Porno-iarchy.
Stop Porn Culture, a feminist anti-pornography movement, has recently launched a new website, on which people (especially women) who don’t know what pornography is really about (i.e. who still believe ‘this is just pictures of people having sex’) can watch the most recently updated slide show which presents a feminist critique of the contemporary mainstream pornography industry (*you must be 18 or over to watch this – Warning: may trigger*) and then they can witness the undeniable misogyny of the content of porn.
As the creators of this slideshow said in the script for it:
“This presentation provides a critical analysis of these sexist and racist images that are so harmful to children, women, and men; to our relationships; and to the culture at large. For many, this show is an introduction to a feminist understanding of the pornographic culture, and the slides may be hard to look at. We have included these harsh images not to shock but to help us understand porn culture so that we can organize against it.”
I have seen that slideshow, I have been trained to be able to present it at some point in the future, and I do know how well-made and eye-opening it is. After projections of it in large rooms, I would always notice how (usually) more than three quarters of the audiences were horrified by this appalling abuse of women that pornography is and how this slideshow would stir anyone (who has at least a remnant of humanity left within him/herself) into action.
Although I do not visit pro-porn blogs anymore, I lately got told by rad fems about how silencing these people are trying to be and how intolerant they really are.
As it has, a few days ago, been reported by A Birch Tree, there has been a misunderstanding of the law and the blogger also said:
“I suppose what really ruffles the finches’ feathers [referring to the name of the blog Tree of Finches] is that the pro-porn lobby seems to show so much concern for the “rights” of porn participators when it comes to using their images without proper documentation, but not when it comes to, say, their terrifyingly high rates of PTSD or the fact that 80% of them don’t even get the courtesy of a condom, much less how they tend to discount the stories of any woman who has been horribly abused by the porn industry. No no, their (arbitrarily applied) concern is over documentation. That’s obviously the important issue.”
In the slideshow script, it is written:
“. . . the women’s faces are not blurred and are often recognizable. We cannot know how these women would feel about having their images used in this presentation. We have made the difficult decision to show them, because the women’s facial expressions are crucial to understanding these images. We ask you to recognize with us the moral complexity of this decision, keeping in mind that these women are human beings with dignity. “
“I don’t think that the porn slideshows are intended primarily to change the minds of porn-users – though they do (if I remember the Stop Porn Culture slideshow rightly – it’s offline) present the images with a feminist critique, pointing out the aggression and hatred in the images. The slideshows are also a way for women & other activists who don’t use porn and have had little exposure to it to get an idea of the reality of porn. It’s all too easy to assume that porn is just images of people having sex. . .”
The matter is in no doubt complex. If you don’t show pornography, then people can just say, “Pornography is just about people having sex,” and thus easily shrug off the issue. And if you do show pornography, then you can possibly trigger some rape or prostitution survivors in the audience. But then anybody can decide to stop watching the slideshow or get out of the room (if it’s a public presentation) anytime though.
Going back to the subject of the women in the images, I remember a line of the slideshow script that says “in some DP [double penetration] films, the woman is shown grimacing, or saying things like “that hurts” or “please make it stop”; her apparent pain is part of the appeal” while at the same time on the screen the slideshow is showing pornographic pictures of women suffering, their terrible facial expressions of pain.
Once we understand that these women are victims and not “actresses”, it becomes perfectly understandable while we would show that slideshow.
Ghastly and horrendous images of military torture or victims of war have for a long time been broadcast on television and have often been recognized as being the greatest incentive behind the mass demonstrations against war and military torture.
I doubt the thousands of victims who were shown on TV, suffering or drenched in blood, would all have given their consent to the filming and photos of their bodies being used by anti-war protesters. The children burned with napalm and the victims of Abu Graib couldn’t possibly have given consent to have their photos used by journalists and anti-war or anti-torture activists.
Saying that none of the images of pornographic torture, showing the women humiliated, suffering and having their bodies being injured, should be allowed to be used by feminist anti-pornography educators within the framework of the feminist critique of the pornstitution industry is just like saying that the free speech of anti-war activists should be suppressed.
To restrict the political use of images merely because the victimized subjects did not give permission could make whole categories of journalism impossible (and I don’t care if pro-porners later on deny all the facts that I’m writing here — as denying facts and slandering rad fems is all they do anyway).
We are neither the users who cruelly masturbate to this atrocious and widespread crime against women that is called pornography, nor are we the pornographers who capitalize on women’s pornographic ordeals.
We show the slideshow because we want to stir people into feminist actions against the pornography industry. We want to stop the demand for this gruesome abuse. We want to stop the abuse itself, by educating communities and working toward reducing (largely) male demand for female sexual slavery, torture, agony and suffering.
Something tells me that porn apologists, deep down, know that our feminist anti-pornography slideshow is a powerful educating tool against their anti-woman propaganda (although it is something else that they will inevitably deny as usual, of course). That is why they’re trying to silence us. Their protest against our slideshow is nothing else but another attempt to shut us up. And it will fail! 🙂
As Diana Russell, a long-time antiporn slideshow presenter wrote in her 1993 book Against Pornography: The Evidence of Harm:
“I have found that showing pornography is an effective and rapid consciousness-raiser about misogyny and male views of women. It helps to enhance women’s understanding of many males’ dangerous notions of what it is to be a man. It often also succeeds in arousing women viewers’ anger (and some men’s) at the contempt and hatred of women they see in the pictures and captions.”
Anti-porn feminist Diana Russell has been reproducing pornography in her showing of the evidence of harms for decades. There has been no legal challenge that I’m aware of.
As a formerly prostituted woman (that a friend of mine knew) once said:
“Please DO look at the photographs, which are not owned by the people depicted, but by the torturers. As long as the only people who see these and others like them are the torturers and torture and pornography consumers, women haters, abusers and traffickers win, because ordinary people will not see what pornography is really about.”
Showing the slideshow is one of the best way to make our point when we say that mainstream pornography is misogynistic. Contemporary pornography is a lot more about images and films than words, so restricting our critique to words would be inadequate.
One of the aims of the feminist anti-pornography slideshow is to encourage empathy for porn performers (whom porn consumers do not regard as human beings, but cruelly use them as “fuck-objects” instead). I remember how sad and angry I felt after I’d attended that slideshow’s screening. While the slideshow is onscreen, we witness these women’s suffering in it, which makes it known so it cannot be ignored.
If pornography is protected as “free speech”, then so should be any criticism of it while showing its images.
Seeing pornography is like looking into the reflection of porno-iarchy, taking a look into the mirror of male dominance. It is nauseating, distressing but sometimes it is necessary when we want to educate other people to combat the harms.
Porno-iarchy’s Influences: The Undeniable Links between Pornography, Sexual Coercion and Violence
The harms of pornography are undeniable.
Pornography increases the belief in rape myths. Examples of the rape myths that regular pornography users (and sometimes also people living in a rape culture) are more likely to believe are as follows:
“Women are eager to accommodate seemingly any and every sexual request.”
“When a woman says ‘no,’ she means ‘yes’.”
“Women incite men to rape.”
“Women secretly fantasize about being raped.”
“Rape doesn’t happen very often.”
“False reporting of rape is common.”
“Women secretly enjoy being raped.”
“Women who are drunk are willing to engage in any kind of sexual activity.”
“Real rapes are only committed by strangers.”
“Women who are sexually assaulted ‘ask for it’ by the way they dress or act.”
“A woman who goes to the home or the apartment of a man on their first date implies that she is willing to have sex.”
“Any healthy woman can successfully resist a rapist if she really wants to.”
“Many women have an unconscious wish to be raped, and many then unconsciously set up a situation in which they are likely to be attacked.”
“If a girl engages in necking or petting and she lets things get out of hand, it is her own fault if her partner forces sex on her.”
“Being roughed up is sexually stimulating to many women.”
“Sometimes the only way a man can get a cold woman turned on is to use force.”
“Many times a woman will pretend she doesn’t want to have intercourse because she doesn’t want to seem loose, but she’s really hoping the man will force her.”
[End of Rape Myths]
There obviously are many more rape myths perpetuated by pornified culture out there that I haven’t mentioned above, but only reading those makes me understand why all my ex-(porn-using) boyfriends didn’t stop coercing me into sexual activities and carried on abusing me after I’d cried, shown my discomfort or said No. And worse still, I can understand why my story is so similar to many other women & girls’ stories.
Women’s oppression is now been kept away from public eye and pushed into the private sphere, where women are most at risk of male violence. No wonder why few rapes end up in convictions. Sexual coercion has become “sexy” in this culture, and women & girls are being trained to submit to men, in just the same way I had been trained to submit to men. During all those years, I’d been consciously ignorant of pornography’s harms while however subconsciously I knew about those harms because I’d experienced them.
Another woman wrote to me on my blog:
“I always feel bad about myself. I can not remember everything but I know I was molested by some relatives who used pornography to show me what to do. I have been sexually harassed, stalked, peeped, raped, hit, grabbed, shaken, name called by many men. I do not have one woman friend who has not had similar experiences. I am 32 years old. What am I supposed to do? I am considered abnormal because i hate pornography. I have been told I need therapy because of my views about men and porn. I am scared too death of what is happening to women. I have no support group in the area where I live for this sort of thing. There must be a better way. I appreciate this site and other sites like it because I do not feel so alone when I read these stories.”
What am I supposed to do?
Fight the lies (*) of porn culture. I hear you, anonymous sister! Don’t feel bad about yourself, you haven’t done anything wrong. I’m so sorry all these terrible things happened to you. (((Big Hugs))) I’m a victim/survivor too. Please join us if you like. The people who tell you you’re abnormal are wrong. You are perfectly normal because you hate pornography, and the folks who tell you the opposite are the ones who need therapy, or more exactly a good anti-porn ‘therapy’. Truth is that this whole fucking pornified culture & society needs a good anti-porn ‘therapy’. Although, I would definitely replace the word ‘therapy’ with ‘education’, radical feminist educational material such as books for instance. Those books educated me about the world I’m living in more than any other books I’d ever read.
The very male-supremacist system that engenders and maintains porno-iarchy has to be smashed out of existence.
No doubt we have a long way to go and a lot of work to do but we mustn’t give up, no matter how many times pro-porners slander us, call us liars, or try to silence us with their empty slurs.
We must carry on because WE KNOW about the undeniable harms that pornography causes. And nobody, no one, can take that knowledge away from us. WE KNOW.
Unfortunately, more people still have to know about us and our feminist anti-pornstitution struggle.
Meanwhile, pornography keeps harming women and children.
Women and girls are being coerced into all sorts of patriarchal sex they do not want.
Women and girls are being raped by men who use pornography.
Young girls, sometimes aged twelve, are being socialized to objectify themselves.
Young boys, as they grow up, learn how to use pornography and objectify women and girls.
Rape jokes and misogynistic jokes keep being told and laughed about.
Pornography keeps sustaining a rape culture.
Men keep using pornography as if it were “just sex” while being blind to the sheer misogyny, racism, and violence against women or, worse (in some cases), while being excited even more by those things that pornography inherently entails.
Men keep coercing their wives & girlfriends into watching pornography and into re-enacting the sexualized humiliations and degradations that are in it.
Pornography keeps influencing men’s minds and actions.
All this and more, ad nauseam. The harms carry on and on.
All this has to stop.
Pornography’s intrinsic harms and sex-based discrimination have to be acknowledged by everyone who calls her/himself a feminist or a pro-feminist, at least.
And the harms of pornography and prostitution will eventually have to be recognized by society at large.
We, radical feminists, will keep speaking out on those harms that the ‘sex’ industry generates and perpetuates.
Surrender, I will not.
Surrender, we will not.
(*) Heart has recently created a website “Fight the Lies,” intended to debunk the slanderous myths about radical feminists, BTW.
“Women must be the only group, and sex the only means, in which a form of oppression is openly defended, not to mention sold as pleasure and even accepted by some of the oppressed, as a means of their liberation.”
— Catharine A. MacKinnon, in Pornography: Driving the Demand in International Sex Trafficking, Captive Daughters Ed., p.32.
“Sexual capitalism, which has found a way to commoditize nearly every imaginable act of sexual subordination, has even found a way to repackage and recycle some of its victims. As a result, a small number of women who have had lifetimes of abuse and learned their sexuality in the sex industry serving men are now able, often with backing from male sex industrialists, to promote themselves as sex educators in the lesbian and feminist communities. [. . .]
“[Some] formerly prostituted women who promote the sex of prostitution — but now get paid to lecture and publish — provide a message that even some feminists have found more palatable than all the visions and ideas we have shared about how to transform sex, how to love each other in passionate equality as the basis for a future in which women could really be free. [. . .]
“As feminist research. . . shows, women are aware of the threat of men’s violence and change their lives in response to that fear even though they may not have experienced serious assault. Against this everyday reality of ordinary women’s lives, the notion that an orgasm “under any circumstances” could vanquish that fear and remembered vulnerability is perhaps pseudofeminism’s cruelest hoax.”
— Sheila Jeffreys, in How Orgasm Politics Has Hijacked the Women’s Movement. [Emphases Mine]
“For the sake of argument, let’s assume that some women who perform in pornography make completely free choices to participate, as women in the industry often assert that they do, with absolutely no constraints or limitations on them. That could be the case, though it doesn’t alter the unavoidable conclusion that some number of women in the industry — likely a majority, and quite possibly a significant majority — choose under conditions that make choice much more complex (histories of sexual abuse, economic hardship, perceived and/or actual lack of opportunities, within a culture that glamorizes the sex industry).
“In most cases, the consumer has no reliable way to judge which women are participating in the industry as a result of a meaningfully free choice. When a consumer plays a DVD at home, he has no information that could help him make such a judgment. Therefore, he likely is using a woman whose choice to perform was not meaningfully free.
“But what if he had that information about the nature of the conditions, objective and subjective, under which the women made that choice? Even that is not so simple. So long as the industry is profitable and a large number of women are needed to make such films, it is certain that some number of those women will be choosing under conditions that render the concept of “free choice” virtually meaningless. When a man buys or rents a DVD, he is creating the demand for pornography that will lead to some number of women being used — that is, being hurt in some fashion, psychologically and/or physically — no matter what he knows or thinks he knows about a specific woman.”
— Robert Jensen, in Men and Pornography.
“The word pornography, derived from the ancient Greek porné and graphos, means ‘writing about whores’. Porné means ‘whore’, specifically and exclusively the lowest class of whore, which in ancient Greece was the brothel slut available to all male citizens. The porné was the cheapest (in the literal sense), least regarded, least protected of all women, including slaves. She was, simply and clearly and absolutely, a sexual slave. Graphos means ‘writing, etching, or drawing.’
“The word pornography. . . means the graphic depiction of women as vile whores. [. . .]
“Contemporary photography strictly and literally conforms to the word’s root meaning. . . With the technologically advanced methods of graphic depiction, real women are required for the depiction as such to exist. [. . .]
“In a time of widespread economic impoverishment, it is growing: more and more male consumers are eager to spend more and more money on pornography-on depictions of women as vile whores. Pornography is now carried by cable television; it is now being marketed for home use in video machines. The technology itself demands the creation of more and more porneia to meet the market opened up by the technology. Real women are tied up, stretched, hanged, fucked, gang-banged, whipped, beaten and begging for more. In the photographs and films, real women are used as porneia and real women are depicted as porneia. To profit, the pimps must supply the porneia as the technology widens the market for the visual consumption of women being brutalized and loving it. One picture is worth a thousand words.”
— Andrea Dworkin, in Pornography: Men Possessing Women, pp. 199-202.
“I [feel] deeply wounded by women who named themselves “feminists”, then say how harmless the sex trade is. I am sick of being reasonable about this.
“I say here that you cannot be a feminist and support the sex trade.
“I have said this in many ways and many times. I know that you choose not to hear. But again I say, do not call yourself a feminist and suppport the sex trade. [. . .]
“When you promote the sex trade, you are discounting a whole section of women and girls. You are placing them as sub-humans.
“For, by backing the sex trade, you [are] saying that the performers, lap-dancers, prostituted women and girls, escorts and all the other women and girls in the sex trade do not feel pain. That [they] do not have a life outside of their role in the sex trade. [. . .]
“And I do not believe in feminist porn. I thought feminist politics could go beyond the sexuality of degradation. . .”
— Rebecca Mott, former prostitute, in I Have Had Enough.
ETA: I thought about the term “PORNO-IARCHY” because it blends the two words Pornography and Patriarchy. It fuses the two, that’s how I invented it. Patriarchy invented the language. Patriarchy also sometimes controls the language (i.e. “patriarchists have the power of naming”, as I read about that before). So, I say that every radical feminists can invent their own anti-patriarchal language and words as they please. I believe it is fruitful to invent new anti-patriarchy words.
Posted in Effects of porn, Free Speech, Gender, Misogyny, Patriarchy, Porn Consumption, Pornography, Pro-pornstitution 'feminists', Racism, Radical Feminism, Rage, Rape, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Violence on July 13, 2008| 50 Comments »
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]
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.
Okay, as y’all know, I blog intermittently, whenever I’ve got enough time to settle down and write an article (partly due to my busy schedule). I think that if I write more and be less shy then my words will flow just like that. . .
Sometimes I also need to know where to start and how to start. I’m still pretty new to the rad fem blogosphere but, as I wrote about before in this previous post here, I’d rather not care about what’s being said about me, over the so-called “sex-poz” blogosphere, by ignorant pro-porners who don’t even know me and merely attack me just because I’m a radical feminist who staunchly stands up for her politics, that and the fact that I and my fellow rad fems have an anti-pornstitution agenda which is the very antithesis of their agenda.
Is this worth posting vitriol about us just because we are rad fems and we disagree with *their* politics and we don’t allow *them* to post comments on our blogs due to our important reasons we’ve got (i.e. this post here)? Obviously not. Which is why they’re not really worth paying attention to.
Most of the time, they don’t seem to have anything better to do than trashing rad fems on their blogs, which, as I pointed out in a comment to this post at Witchy-Woo’s, is so fucking pathetic BTW. I need not fear. I need just laugh at their silly radfem-bashing and also be angry (sometimes) at what they’ve done to my sisters when they’ve gone too far (as in the case of Sam, for instance). Let’s see. . .
First, there was this other post at Witchy-Woo’s. I’m guessing she meant to speak of the patriarchy by saying “the shitheap” To quote some of Witchy’s words in this post:
“. . .then they get booked to speak at the last minute in discussions about how what they do impacts upon the rest of us (women). And they agree! And then they start posting about “laughing like a super villain” and their “wank worthy fantasy” of debating “some anti-porn sex work types”. To me, the language used is the same language that rapists use (I’m a rape crisis counsellor, I’ve heard it a million times) – it has nothing to do with where women are in this ‘debate’ at all. . .”
I posted a comment to Witchy’s post over there. It was:
“Excellent post, Witchy-Woo, this is terrific! 😀
I’m totally in agreement with you here. I loved your point here:
” So I tend not to go there these days; to the shitheap. I’m so past shitheap performers trying to argue the *real* with me like their privileged 10% stacks up in any meaningful way against the 90%. Yes, they argue that. Liars. They lie. They negate the lives of those suffering for the choices they make and then have the audacity to promote themselves as the ‘one true voice’ in the well of silence centred in the poverty of those they argue they represent.”
So, so true, the few privileged ones are acting as if the world revolved around them. They cannot get past their “me, me, me, me” arguments and “what about me?” and so forth. What a narcissism that is on their part! And they do lie. They pretend to care, they pretend to be the ones who represent and defend the vast majority of prostituted women in order to promote their “sex work” agenda. There are some major studies that proved that legalization of prostitution has failed but they refuse to hear that fact. They carry on stupidly talking their “choice” rhetoric and have the cruelty of denying major research studies (= http://www.prostitutionresearch.com/c-prostitution-research.html
Most prostituted women are silenced by abusive johns and pimps and do not get the chance to speak as much as the few privileged women do.
“laughing like a super villain”? “wank worthy fantasy”? I agree that these comments were totally inappropriate. This makes me think: this kind of language is awfully similar to the sort of language a porn-using abuvive [sic](*) ex-boyfriend of mine was often using when talking to me.
And this is absolutely unethical and dishonest to change the participants on one side of the panel only a few days before the event without even letting the opposing panelists know about the change. Would a rad fem be supposed to turn up there and then find out? How shady that is!
“If I’d been invited to a speaking event where the panel members were changed within the week prior, I’d pull out on principle – whether I wanted to debate them or not. ”
Damn right, Witchy-Woo!”
(*)Please excuse my typo, I meant to write “abusive” instead.
Second, there was this post at Laurelin’s on what silencing is and what it isn’t. And I completely agree with what Laurelin says in that post. To summarize what Laurelin said, I’ll tell you what silencing is and isn’t:
– Silencing is (1) when you can’t speak for fear that the cruelty in the reactions of others will have bad consequences on your mental, physical or emotional health; (2) when someone uses pornified language in an attempt to humiliate radical feminists like you because you stand against that person’s selfish pleasures, or disingenuously accuses you or other rad fems “of siding with right wingers” because of that; (3) when someone disseminates jeers, insults and hateful remarks at you and other rad fems who also oppose their politics or rad fems “whom *they* perceive to be speaking against *them*”; (4) when someone endorses these tactics, complies with them, has the cowardice of doing so; (5) when someone suppresses the speech of others with their “me, me, me, me” narcissistic self-importance, mocks and taunts, jeers at rad fem dissenters like you, distorts, misinterprets your views; and (6) when someone “assumes the ultimate priority of one’s own speech.”
– Silencing isn’t (1) when you don’t publish knee-jerk pro-porn comments on your blog, your own personal space; (2) when someone’s having one’s actions critiqued by radical feminists. “the critique itself presents no barrier to their continuing to act.”; and (3) when someone is asked to take responsibility for one’s own words. And I’ll add that it doesn’t matter if the person continues to argue that “those words were being said in a particular context and blah, blah, blah” so long as what the person’s said was truly enough inappropriate or abusive, there’s no context whatsoever that should prevent a fair critique.
Third, there’s Sam’s important version of the story, as I believe it is fair that we finally get to expose what really happened:
The Prime of Miss Sammi Berg
On March 19th I was invited to a panel debate on pornography at William and Mary College. My contact for the organizing group was Constance Sisk, who told me funding assistance could likely be found to fly me 3,000 miles across the country so I agreed to be penciled in until enough money could be raised. A call for donations among anti-pornography feminist colleagues covered airfare, and I had just enough vacation days earned at work to take off.
On March 24th I confirmed that I would gladly join the two other two confirmed panelists, on the anti-pornography side, John D. Foubert, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Higher Education at the College of William and Mary, and on the pro-pornography side Amanda Brooks, a former escort and sex work advocate.
Constance told me April 2nd that they moved the panel date to the 21st and the rest of April slid by without communication until April 16th when an anti-porn friend informed me that Jill Brenneman and RenEv blogged they would be on the panel. I had received no word from Constance of this and was dumbfounded that wholesale changes were being made to the panel just five days before the event without informing me. I had agreed to do the panel with John and Amanda, and I hadn’t gotten any emails saying she couldn’t attend or that they were looking for a replacement.
If they had told me Amanda couldn’t make it I would have suggested that pornographers and strip club owners are very easy to find through legal channels so they could have been asked to appear on the panel. I would have also suggested that the number of porn-using men on campus should have been able to produce just one pornsturbator willing to defend his porn consumption. Because I was under the impression that Constance & Co. were being honest with me about their intentions, I chalked up the lack of a pornographer or porn-using man on the panel to inept organizing and the extreme amount of publicity given recently to sex work advocacy at William and Mary.
How much sex work advocacy has been given a voice there can be answered with the name Constance. I spoke with John Foubert for the first time Thursday and he told me that Constance is a big pro-sex work advocate on campus and she brought the sex worker show to campus the past three years. A woman named Audrey invited John to the panel because Constance didn’t think he would agree if she asked him. Constance was a guest on Jill’s radio show a few weeks ago, and Jill did a pro-sex work chat with William and Mary college folks a few weeks ago, but in her emails Constance claimed ignorance of the lengthy pro-porn and radical blogosphere debates on this contentious subject.
Constance. Constance said she was excited to have me coming and offered to let me spend Monday night at her place, where she planned on cooking dinner for a group of people post-panel. How do you think it would feel if a pro-choice feminist were invited to a predominantly pro-life campus by a predominantly pro-life group and the pro-life organizer did everything Constance did without revealing her pro-life politics to her pro-choice panelist and house guest?
Little story: Heading home from presenting at a prostitution conference I was in the airport shuttle with a middle-aged black social worker with her name tag still pinned to her blouse. I’m a young, white, tattoo-bearing woman and at the time I think my hair was blue. We exchanged delicate pleasantries and danced around how we talked about the conference until she sat up earnestly and cut to the chase, “So, are you for or against?” When I replied, “Against,” she slouched down and sighed and we grooved on the same anti-prostitution track until we got to the airport.
I agreed to do the panel with John and Amanda three weeks ago. Though it was unethical to make major lineup changes at the last minute like that without telling me and things started feeling really fishy due to the lack of notification about the event anywhere besides pro-john blogs (it’s not listed on W&M’s events calendar or advertised around campus), I agreed to debate Jill. I could not agree to debate Ren, and I don’t suppose I have to tell most of you reading this why but I’ll touch upon it a tad anyway.
Here are Ren’s thoughts on sharing a panel discussion table with me:
“So serious I am taking it very seriously. And looking forward to it in my uniquely grim and serious way. Planning and preparing with a very serious, serious sneer on my face.
And also laughing like a super villain the whole time. Why?
Once upon a time, I had a wish, a dream, a surely wank worthy fantasy of some anti-porn sex work types having to face down, in a forum, and debate those from the other side. And I wanted to be there.”
“And, yes, oh yes, I am seriously looking forward to it. I have so lusted for such an opportunity. Very seriously. And yes, if possible, I will have the whole thing on video. Get your cerebral wanking tissues ready.”
Serious serious sneers, super villain mocking laughter, wank worthy fantasies, whole thing on video, get your tissues ready.
Those are the words of a malicious person licking their chops in anticipation of a messy, humiliation-inducing scene they will relish. Those are the words of a person trying to waste my time with personal attacks when my time is best used educating audiences about the facts of human trafficking, prostitution, and pornography. The trash talk began within hours of being surreptitiously offered the spot on the panel, and that sort of smug pugnaciousness and disrespectful engagement was instrumental in prompting John to cancel his appearance on the panel and he suggested to me that I do the same. I believe we were right to cancel. I refuse to pose for the pornographically spiteful scene being painted.
What to do when a woman who says she’s happy in prostitution says, “Take me, for example” when you know if you actually do take her as her own example by quoting her own words and deeds she will complain, “How dare you make an example of me?” Say you’ll speak with her about prostitution as a global system and of all women’s oppression as the core problem but you don’t want to talk about her personally and she’ll reply, “You refuse to hear my truth.” If you talk about her personally like she insists then you’re the baddie radfem who makes it personal. It’s a lose-lose ruse.
I’d love to debate a porn-user, and there are tens of millions of them. I’d love to debate a pornographer and there’s no lack of those either. I’d love to debate a john. They don’t want to debate anti-pornography and anti-prostitution feminists. They want women in the prostitute supply pool to subjectively defend them against the objective mounds of testimony and undeniable data that anti-pornstitution feminists can produce proving pornography and prostitution violate women and girls human rights immensely. Most of you have seen how deftly I wield the wealth of information I’ve collected in my noodle to make the case against men’s right to economically coerce sex from others. Some of you have seen me do it before with Ren:
Saturday morning I woke up to an email from a professor asking if I can come speak to a few women’s studies classes of hers in May. It turns out I can make the date. Life skedaddles on and so do I.
— Sam Berg, creator of Genderberg.
IMHO, what happened was absolutely dishonest, cruel and unfair. And I’m glad to have exposed Sam’s side of the story as it is clear that Sam in no way deserved such a treatment and massive online misrepresenting and bashing of her all over the pro-porn blogosphere! And I’m not the only one to expose it. There’s also Laurelin, Witchy-Woo and Heart, so far.
I read about all the bad things pro-porners have done to us and all the lies they’re spreading about us rad fems on their blogosphere. I’ve read this thread at Witchy’s and two very well-written posts from Stormy, Bumblebees and It’s a Bug’s Life, so I know all this nasty targeting and online bullying of rad fems has been going on for some time and a while before I came to the rad fem blogosphere and sometimes I feel like saying we mustn’t take all this shit they throw at us passively anymore but I believe that ignoring them when they stupidly trash us on their blogs is best. I used to find it hard to ignore them but we have to.
I’ve seen those pro-porn blogs before and you know what? They’re all so unbelievably pathetic! All the nonsense these pro-porners talk and the gender-specific name-calling they sometimes use clearly show pornography’s negative effects on them. They aren’t worth paying attention to, which is why I gave up caring about what they say about me as I made it clear in this post here, I don’t give a shit about what they say about me and I believe the best thing to do for someone who’s targeted is not to give a flying fuck about what they say about oneself, which is why the next post I’ll make on this blog will not be about the same subject. I’ll go back to doing my patriarchy-bashing and exposing the harms of pornography and prostitution.
Other women out there will come to our blogs and listen. They hate pornstitution (or do not feel comfortable about it) so they will follow their feelings and there will be other new Rad Fems in the future — at least it is how I became a rad fem: by listening to what I believe was a group that had strong arguments backed up by thorough research and facts and refusing to listen to the other group that merely had money, corporate media, lobbyists, lawyers, managers, marketeers, industry analysts, paid writers of “opinion” and “journalism”, publicists, etc. to defend their fallacious arguments supporting misogynistic industries. Rad fem arguments are so real and based on experience. The “other side” is so fake: it is patriarchy, it is “the state of schizophrenia” (as I would call it).
The overwhelming majority of women out there hate (or do not like) pornography. That’s a fact. And the overwhelming majority of prostituting women out there are harmed in the sex trade. That’s another fact. Those facts, among other things, mean that we have to keep on writing. We are speaking the truth and pro-porners hate it and try to silence us. I will not be silenced. And the pro-pornstitution “feminists” are merely magnified by and elevated in patriarchy while being endlessly promoted by porn defenders, that’s all.
But now the fact that they’ve done this to Sam clearly shows that they’ve now gone way way way too far. Sam Berg just wanted something fair as a pornography discussion forum, not the pro-porn side of the panel being changed merely a few days before the event without even letting her, one of the anti-porn panelists, know about the change. The way Sam found out about it via an anti-porn radfem friend telling her she’d seen Ren posting about it on her blog (instead of her being contacted by the organizers about it) wasn’t the way she was supposed to get to know about it. And the way Ren was rejoicing at the anticipating of the event on her blog was utterly inappropriate. The words Ren was using were inappropriate.
There is a complete understanding in why Sam would never want to debate a woman who has once wished a gruesomely vivid death to women who want to stop the exploitation of women that is currently happening on a massive scale (never mind the apologies and so-called “context” for that sentence that Ren had said, if she really was so sorry about what she’d said that day, she would have deleted that “Hate & hardline” post from her blog altogether). I wouldn’t want to debate somebody like that and I know Sam has very good personal reasons not to want to debate her.
I know Sam. She’s my friend. I even met her in person and I can tell you she’s a wonderful radical feminist well-devoted to her politics and she’s also a very nice person. And Sam has never said threats whatsoever to any pro-porner, hasn’t ever done anything wrong to the pro-porny crowd apart from disagreeing with their views and once using one of Ren’s quotes as a bottom signature in her Genderberg forums. As if briefly quoting what someone had once written on her blog was such a crime? Come on, give me a break!
I’ve had pro-porners on their blogs stealing way too large quotes (like sometimes nearly whole articles) from my work on this blog without them even asking for copyright permissions. If they’re angry at Sam for once using a short enough quote from Ren as a sigfile, then perhaps I should be angry at *them* for stealing parts of my work by providing way too long quotes on their blogs without asking for my consent, which is very unfair and dishonest BTW?
What Sam has been accused of is untrue and unfair, whether pro-porners like it or not, it is the truth now exposed, clarifying what really happened as a matter of fact. . .
Finally, I really miss rad fem Biting Beaver. I remember how in late 2006/early 2007, I used to read her amazing blog so often. Gosh, I really miss BB. I wish she’d come back online someday. One Angry Girl, with a little bit of my help, recently put up a new blog with some of BB’s important writings on it, Archive of the Biting Beaver. I hope BB sees it someday and that it (hopefully) helps bring her back online.
Edited to add: Please check out my new post here to see a new message from Sam Berg.
Posted in Blogging, Free Speech, Porn Consumption, Pornified culture, Pornography, Pro-porners, Pro-pornstitution 'feminists', Prostitution, Radical Feminism, Rage, Responding to detractors on March 9, 2008| 7 Comments »
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.
In the comments that were made to my recent post On Choices, Delphyne made a great point:
“As always it boils down to who do we listen to. The handful of women who claim that sexually servicing men is fab and who are fully supported by the sex industry in their defence of it, or the much greater number of women who have been damaged and hurt by being sexually used and exploited by men. Of course the pornstitutionists want to pretend that what the latter say don’t matter, but we don’t have to go along with them.”
I agree that pro-pornstitution folks would have us believe that the vast majority of prostituting women who are abused in the ‘sex’ industry don’t matter, not as much as “sex workers’ rights”, or, more exactly the so-called rights of pimps (mostly men, but sometimes women) and johns to make big profits from and/or get off on the degradation of prostituting women.
As I said before, pro-prostitution women or “sex workers” who say they “defend sex workers’ rights”, very often, are in fact madams, or women who defend the rights of pimps to run a business which inherently relies on the sexual exploitation of women and children, and the rights of johns to (ab)use prostituted women. They sometimes are also among the tiny number of somewhat privileged prostituting/pornographized women who “made it to the top” (i.e. make a lot of money), the ones who genuinely want to stay in prostitution and, thus, who are magnified by male-supremacist porn culture (as I already talked about in my previous post on prostitution).
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!
Melissa Farley, Janice G. Raymond, Donna M. Hughes, Gunilla Ekberg, etc. are excellent prostitution researchers. I read their work, met most of them once or twice and have been in touch with them more than a few times. They have (like Mimi Silbert and Ayala Pines had in the early 1980’s) interviewed hundreds of prostituted women and girls (some of whom had had pornography made of them). The true stories of all these prostituted female human beings (who were interviewed by good researchers I know) apparently don’t mean jack shit to “sex work” advocates and pro-pornstitution “feminists”. How vile and sick all that is!
Of course, “sex work” advocates sometimes pretend to care about the stories of abused and prostituted women. But then, they usually quickly ignore them in favor of “sex workers’ rights” (please read “pimps’, johns’, and a few privileged women’s rights” instead of “sex workers’ rights”) and glamorized pornstitution stories. And “sex work” advocates obviously cruelly deny major research findings on prostitution.
As Dorchen Leidholdt, the other co-executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women wrote in an admirable essay entitled “Prostitution and Trafficking in Women: An Intimate Relationship” (which was published both in the Journal of Trauma Practice and in Melissa Farley’s masterpiece book Prostitution, Trafficking and Traumatic Stress) that explored legal instruments that addressed and defined trafficking, pointing out that distinctions between prostitution and trafficking in women have been promoted by organizations and governments trying to legitimize and/or legalize prostitution as work:
“A perceived need to define trafficking and to distinguish it from prostitution came only. . . in the 1980’s. The goal was to confine both the scope of domestic and international laws addressing the sex industry and activism against it. . . Media reports of the suffering of trafficking victims and the increasing globalization of the sex industry were fueling support for a campaign against the sex industry. Eager to ward off such a danger, pro-sex industry forces developed a strategy. Ignoring or denying the harm of the sex industry was not an option, for that harm was well documented. A more pragmatic approach was to focus on the most brutal and extreme practices of the sex industry — transporting women from poor countries to rich countries using tactics of debt bondage and overt force — while legitimizing its other activities in the name of workers’ rights. The old dichotomy of Madonna-whore was replaced by a new dichotomy: sex worker-trafficked woman. In order to defend prostitution as sex work, trafficking was articulated as gender-neutral, with labor trafficking and sex trafficking collapsed under the same rubric as “trafficking in persons.” Otherwise it would be too evident that the ultimate harm of sex trafficking is the decidedly gendered condition in which the trafficking victim is transported into — prostitution. “Prostitution” was stricken from the lexicon and replaced by “sex work.” Similarly, “pimp”, “procurer”, and “brothel owner” were replaced by “business owners” or “third-party managers”. The old terminology suggested that the sex industry was exploitive or worse whereas, according to the new understanding, it is about the right of individuals to make money as they choose. Indeed it is about the right to economic development. Even “trafficking” was troublesome because it implied that those who were trafficked were victims. The term “trafficking” began to be replaced with the more neutral “migration.” Because there was a danger that the agents who profited from transporting women might be stigmatized as common traffickers the phrase “facilitated migration” was coined.”
The term “facilitated migration” is about how some “sex work” advocates claim that trafficked women from poor countries are “migrating for sex work” so that pimps can profit without having to be recognized as traffickers. Leidholdt also explained, in the same essay, that prostitution and trafficking are fundamentally interrelated, to the extent that sex trafficking can accurately be viewed as “globalized prostitution” while generic prostitution often is a practice of “domestic trafficking.” I totally agree with that.
Here is a link to the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women’s Case Against the Legalization of Prostitution.
Janice G. Raymond also argues that Sex Trafficking is Not “Sex Work”:
“Over the last decade, certain UN agencies, various governments, and some NGOs have promoted the policy that prostitution is voluntary and sex trafficking is forced. Yet, the reality is that prostitution and sex trafficking are habitually co-dependent. In countries that prohibit trafficking but decriminalize the sex industry, prostitution, sex trafficking, the illegal sex sector and child prostitution all expand. Even the indulgent Dutch are closing down their main tolerance zones, originally promoted as places that would protect women in prostitution and control the influence of organized crime. In 2004, Amsterdam’s mayor admitted that the “Tippelzone,” Amsterdam’s infamous prostitution zone, had become a haven for traffickers and unsafe for women. . . To its victims, sexual exploitation is neither sex nor sexy. Many progressives who state that globalized capitalism promotes gender, race and class inequality have a strange reluctance to criticize the sex industry for doing exactly that. They are out of touch with the majority of women in prostitution who want not “better working conditions” but a better life. Prostitution is not “sex work;” it is violence against women. It exists because significant numbers of men are given social, moral and legal permission to buy women on demand. It exists because pimps and traffickers prey on women’s poverty and inequality. It exists because it is a last ditch survival strategy, not a choice, for millions of the world’s women. . . When the American Civil Liberties Union joins with evangelicals to pass the Prison Rape Elimination Act, or when the Congressional Black Caucus works with conservatives to pass the Sudan Peace Act, their progressive credentials are not suspect. . . Opposing sex trafficking, the system of prostitution and the sex industry doesn’t make you a conservative, a moralist, or an apologist for some political party or group. It helps make you a feminist and a human rights advocate.”
Also in the comments that were made to my recent post On Choices, Witchy-Woo made clear that:
“. . . the focus of attention needs to shift from women’s “choices” to the motivations and actions of those who create and sustain the demand for the sexual commodification of women and children.”
Jennifer Drew also said that:
“. . . we must switch from asking why do so many women enter prostitution/porn and instead ask why do so many men believe it is their right and entitlement to have a constant supply of fresh women and girls available for them to rape, sexually abuse and subsequently destroy.”
I believe that there are systems of prostitution (trafficking, pornography, strip clubs, escort services, etc. — as mentioned in previous post). I believe that those systems of prostitution are interconnected and are a violation of women and girls’ human rights. I wrote my previous post on choices so that now I can shift my focus from explaining prostituting women’s lack of meaningful choices toward writing about who has the real power over systems of prostitution in this patriarchal world. For systems of prostitution to exists, there has to be a demand for them.
This demand is generated by millions and millions a of men who seek to benefit of the sexual exploitation of women and girls one way or another. You’ve got a starting point here: you’ve got a large amount of men who want to get off on the sexual degradation of women and girls. Then, you’ve got another massive group of (mostly) men who want to capitalize on the sexual degradation of women and girls. Thus, pimps have to procure the supply to the johns somehow.
And, because there is a very little amount of women who would want this type of “job”(*), pimps usually prey on many young girls who either ran away from abusive homes or got kicked out of their homes, destitute women, girls and women who are marginalized due to class, race or ethnicity, battered wives who ran away from their husbands, women being transported from poor countries by traffickers, etc. The magnitude of violence against women and girls that occurs in the prostitution industry in order to cater to males’ desires for the sexual degradation of female human beings is gruesomely atrocious!
I don’t believe that legalization of prostitution is a solution to reduce the harms perpetrated against prostituted women and girls. Legalization has been proven to be an utter failure in countries where prostitution has been legalized or decriminalized. In those countries: violence against women has become more normative; there are very few exit programs for prostituted women; trafficking, child prostitution, and sexual exploitation of women in illegal brothels or on the street have dramatically increased.
I believe that the right solution to tackle the problem of prostitution, this atrocious and widespread crime against women and girls, is found in laws similar to the abolitionist Swedish laws. Prostitution is a form of slavery. Therefore, it has to be abolished. In passing their legislations that criminalize johns, pimps, procurers and traffickers while decriminalizing prostituting women, Sweden has adopted the right solution of reducing men’s demands (for this abject sexual crime against women) while assisting the prostituted with exit services. Sweden has given the overwhelming majority of prostituting women the assistance they want.
Of course male-supremacist mainstream media typically loves to discredit the Swedish model. But that’s an inevitable consequence of patriarchal capitalism trying to maintain the status quo.
As for the small number of somewhat privileged women who genuinely want to stay in prostitution: well, after all, they are not criminalized in Sweden, and consequently not oppressed. And, as I said above: 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!
Posted in "Sex Work" Advocates, Feminism, Free Speech, Harms, Misogyny, Pornified culture, Pornography, Pro-porners, Pro-pornstitution 'feminists', Prostitution, Racism, Resource, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Violence on March 2, 2008| 14 Comments »
Corporate media propaganda
Given the mass-pornified media propaganda pervasive throughout this culture, it is no wonder that many people believe that “women freely choose to sell their bodies in pornography and in prostitution”. The malestream media typically portrays and elevates misleading images such as of “the happy hooker”, “the glamorous life of the stripper”, or “the empowering job of the porn star”. HBO and other major TV/cable channels are filled with deluding glamorizations like these in order to gloss over the dark side of the porn industry and other forms of sexual exploitation of prostituting women. Corporate media only shows the few “Jenna Jamesons” of the world, the few prostitutes/’porn actresses’ who “made it to the top”, while ignoring the overwhelming majority of women who appear in video and Internet pornography.
For instance, the problem with a typical HBO-type (or other TV channels) documentaries which glamorize the porn industry is this: the sample size (usually around 30) of porn performers interviewed is both too small and unrepresentative of the overwhelming majority of porn ‘actresses’ for these pro-porn TV programs to be accurate portrayals of what life is like for the women in the porn industry.
Of the millions of women who are pornographized worldwide, the (usual) thirty that HBO (or another TV channel) picks are the ones who are near the top of the business, who have some degree of name recognition and some kind of “fame” among porn consumers. It is likely that their tales differ to an extent from those whose names we will never know, who don’t get the “glamorous” Vivid contract, and who work in some disgusting grimy basement for a miserable amount of money.
Those on screen probably also have to protect themselves — if they say defamatory things about the pimps that prostitute them out for mass consumption, they’re likely to lose their position to someone who is a lot more compliant. Glamorized pornified documentaries such as these should normally be deserving of our contempt and little else. As a friend of mine once told me, “why does anyone believe mega corporations with billions of dollars invested into pornified media will provide a fair analysis of pornified media?” Unfortunately, too many people fall for the lies perpetuated by pornified media.
In a recent article which was published in the in Hartford Courant, Gail Dines wrote that mainstream culture “is accepting, even promoting, the media-generated sugar-coated image of the porn industry as glamorous, fun and cool. This image has been made popular by Howard Stern, documentaries on E! Entertainment and celebrity magazines such as People. The Vivid Girls are the elite of the porn industry, women who earn a decent, if short-lived livelihood, and are somewhat protected from the much larger world of more violent and body-punishing hard-core movies called “gonzo” by the industry. The (mainly white) Vivid Girls are the respectable face of the porn industry; their job is to make porn look like a wholesome route to stardom; they act as a recruitment tool for a mass production sweatshop industry that needs to keep replenishing its supply of female bodies.”
Dines also wrote that “Those women who do go into porn are mostly women from underprivileged backgrounds who, facing a life of minimum wage labor, see porn as a way out of anonymous economic drudgery. And why not? The only image they ever get of porn is one that highlights the lucky few who actually make real money and get to mix with a few B list celebrities. What they don’t get to see are the thousands and thousands of women who start in porn and end up, within a short time, working the brothels of Nevada for a pittance, or having to deal with substance abuse and sexually transmitted diseases.”
While I was having a conversation with Janice G. Raymond (the co-executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – CATW International) at a conference last year, she said to me “There are some women who choose to prostitute but there aren’t many”. 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.
Stories of “happy hookers” or “women who love doing porn” are magnified by malestream media and are elevated in patriarchy. These “happy pornstitution stories” are exalted by pornographers and their defenders. All this done with the purpose to conceal or obscure the real life stories of those who undergo a vile and excruciating form of slavery: the sexual slavery that is prostitution.
What kind of a world is this, in which many women have to go through the pain of being penetrated vaginally, orally and anally by five to ten men a day in exchange for money (which for the most part goes to their pimps) and then all of this gets defended as “sex work”? What kind of a world is this, in which the very same acts which are done to these women, whose bodies are being sold, are filmed or photographed and then all of this gets defended as “sexual freedom” or “free speech”?
There is no doubt that pro-porners, cruelly reveling in their pornographic ‘fantasies’ and being deaf to the cries of millions of suffering women and girls, would rather not hear stories like:
“I was thirteen when I was forced into prostitution and pornography. . . I was drugged, raped, gang-raped, imprisoned, beaten, sold from one pimp to another, photographed by pimps, photographed by tricks; I was used in pornography and they used pornography on me; “[t]hey knew a child’s face when they looked into it. It was clear that I was not acting of my own free will. I was always covered with welts and bruises. . . It was even clearer that I was sexually inexperienced. I literally didn’t know what to do. So they showed me pornography to teach me about sex and then they would ignore my tears as they positioned my body like the women in the pictures and used me.”;
“My entrance into prostitution overlapped with stepdad’s sexual abuse of me. For me, it was a logical move, after all I was already having sex and getting gifts. I knew I was nothing more than some holes for men to use. So when I stayed up late and went to clubs, I was attracted to sleaze. I wanted to be the “bad girl” because being good never stopped the pain. . . From aged 12, I had started drinking. It deadened my pain. It made me not care how I was treated. I drank because then I forgot for a while. It was also a slow way to killing myself. It was within this head-space that I entered into paid sex. I was aged 14 when I first had sex for money. I thought I knew what I was doing but I had no idea. . . I was having sex too much. I had sex, but I had no love or affection. I had decided I was just an object for men to fuck. I had lost who I was. Now, I had hit on a form of self-harm that fitted me. I find it so hard to see that time, for I was so scared and abandoned. I see that time, and all I think is that I was recreating the images I had seen in hard-core porn. For, as I was being raped over and over again by these men, I had learned to act as if I was enjoying it… I was so dead inside, that after many acts of violence, I would “act normal” afterward. I could not allow myself to think about what had happened, because then I would lose my mind.”;
“[O]ver a period of eight years… I worked as a prostitute, dancer and nude model… As a prostitute I worked in massage parlours, peep shows, private apartments, street corners, bars and for escort services… At the age of seventeen I began dancing in topless and bottomless bars. I was working for a pimp and was under a lot of pressure from him and the club owners to make a lot of money. In these bars they had pornographic videos playing constantly which contained graphic scenes of various sexual acts. The women in the videos were usually naked and the men were often clothed except for their penis. . . I had never seen pornographic movies before. I soon found out that in order to make tips I had to lay on the dance floor, spread my legs and expose my genitals to the customers, just like in the videos. . . A lot of my work consisted of acting out particular scenes for the customer [john] which caused him to become aroused. . . Some of the most violent pornography that I saw was in the houses of customers that I saw through escort services… I considered the men who were into pornography to be the most dangerous and potentially violent since that is what aroused them. . . At least fifty percent of the men that I saw professionally were into fantasies and pornography such as I have described. They were men from all over the world and all types of professions. Every prostitute I know has had similar experiences. Often we keep it to ourselves because it is very painful to remember. I have been scarred for life both mentally and physically. I have violent nightmares on a regular basis which replay my worst experiences of sexual violence over and over. I have difficulty relating to people in normal social situations. I cannot make love with someone without having flashbacks of being a prostitute. I have very little self confidence…”;
“I’m just tired of the industry. The way that they treat us as though we’re just pieces of meat. That we don’t have a mind and our body is everybody’s and we have no soul… [In the porn industry] Guys [are] punching you in the face. You have semen… Twenty or thirty guys all over your face, in your eyes. You get ripped. Your insides can come out of you. It’s never ending. You’re viewed as an object not as a human with a spirit. People don’t care. People do drugs because they can’t deal with the way they’re being treated… You are a number. You’re bruised. You have black eyes. You’re ripped. You’re torn. You have your insides coming out of you. It’s not pretty and foofoo on set. You get hurt… You have to numb yourself to go on set. The more you work, the more you have to numb yourself. The more you become addicted, the more your personal life is nothing but drugs… Your whole life becomes nothing but porn… We’re ripped, we’re tired, we’re sored, we’re bleeding, we’re cut up, we have dried semen all over our faces from numerous guys and we can’t wash it off because they want to take pictures. You have this stuff all over you and they’re telling you, ‘Hold it!’… It’s all about the money. They’ve forgotten who they are and they don’t care who they’re hurting.”;
“[Melissa] Farley presented a panel on prostitution shortly after her book [Prostitution and Trafficking in Nevada: Making the Connections] came out, and a number of former prostitutes spoke. One said that Las Vegas is greatly lacking in services to help prostituted women, girls, and children. (The city has a thriving business based on the sale of young girls, ages 13-17.) She said that local charities would not help the prostituted. Once they discover you worked as one, they throw you out. . . At the panel, one prostitute came up with a startling fact: that very few women, girls, or children actually make it out of prostitution, and, of the few who do, life expectancy is short. Most are dead two or three years later. From insanity, suicide, disease?. Her remarks made me stop breathing for a few seconds. I now realize that I was incredibly lucky to actually survive the three-year stint I spent in prostitution and that the odds of my being alive now are amazing. When I was in it, I saw no way out. Esteem so low and a body and mind and emotions so battered that I could not see past the next hour or so. I felt as if I was in a ten-foot pit and could not see the rim. I smiled all the time, as if everything was okay. But I simply assumed I would die in prostitution. I gave up. What life is there after being raped thousands of times by men you don´t know? There is none. I have no courage, no self-worth―all these must come from inside and there is only empty cold space inside me. I am afraid to leave the house. I am terrified of everything. I am not a rape/prostitution survivor. I didn´t survive. I have no ´support network´ since I have never spoken to another prostitute. I am always afraid I will see the same sadness in her eyes that I see in my own. The only way I know what other prostitutes think is through people like Melissa Farley, who has talked to so many all over the world. With surprise, I found many similarities―whether it´s Bangkok or Bombay or London or Las Vegas, the raped body feels the same. Through Farley´s interviews, I have also found ones who are ´true´ survivors. Hope and peace and safety they have found. That´s not me. No hope, no peace, and certainly no safety―since I am terrified to go outside the door. This is a big deal for me since you can´t do much of anything else if you can´t cross the threshold, into the outside world. I pretty much live in spite of this. The beautiful things in the world–I know they are there–but I can´t reach them for comfort. I am still ten feet down, in that pit. I love sparrows. So small and cute and sweet and fragile, yet also so cheeky and spirited. I wish I could appreciate the beauty of a sparrow again.”; or
“What I saw were women just like myself who were desperate, addicted to drugs, homeless, and I’m sure probably at least 80 percent of them suffered from sexual abuse as children. I saw them re-living their childhood experiences by getting into that industry. They were looking for attention, pleasing men, and being abused. And that’s all they know. They think it’s great. They think it’s wonderful. I could’ve looked you in the eye ten years ago and told you that I loved being in pornography, was proud of what I was doing and that I was having a great time. But now I can tell you that it’s so far from the truth. I was very convincing. I could convince you. I mean, I could walk up to a porn star today and she could tell me the same story and I can remember being in that place.”
Pro-pronstitution folks would rather not hear such stories; they’d rather avoid such stories; they’d rather not care about such stories; they’d rather try to silence these women’s stories. I do not believe it is fair. There are many stories like these and probably many more that we do not even know about. These accounts are the true stories of the daily lives of many women an girls who are/have been in the sex(-slave) trade and these bought and sold female human beings don’t want to hear about “sex work”!
The problem is that, for most people, it is very hard to understand why women who are in prostitution or pornography would not enjoy their ‘job’, because people only see a few of them on TV pseudo-documentaries which glamorize the sex industry and the women they see typically say they do it because “they love the sex and they feel good about their bodies”. People usually fall for mainstream media propaganda and conclude that prostituting women are “having a great time” because “they say that they are having a great time”.
Unfortunately, most people do not understand Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the mental process of dissociation. Of the 854 prostituted respondents interviewed by researchers, 68% met the criteria for PTSD. Women in prostitution whose tricks or pimps had made pornography of them had significantly more severe symptoms of PTSD than did prostituted women who did not have pornography made of them. While it is hard to tell how another person feels, we do know that prostituted and pornographized women often have their mind splitting into different parts of the self in order to be able to cope with what they do.
Dissociative disorders are common in prostituted women. Seeing a prostituting woman on a screen smiling and saying that “she loves her job” does not necessarily mean that she is happy . She might believe that she is happy while being shielded in a form of protective denial with the purpose to protect herself from the painful reality she lives in: the ongoing abuse which occurs in the sex trade.
In a study of the strip bar industry, strippers reported a dissociation to abuse: “It takes a willingness to do it…anybody can do it.” “It takes somebody who can shut themselves off and be really fake.” In her book Prostitution, Trafficking, and Traumatic Stress (2003), Melissa Farley, clinical psychologist and researcher (whose research on prostitution has been used by state governments, as well as by advocates and organizations providing services to prostituted and trafficked women) wrote: “In order to survive the brutal commodification of their sexuality in prostitution, women dissociate, and appear to accept the view of themselves as sexual commodities.”
In a study of 854 prostituting (mostly female) human beings from nine countries (Canada, Colombia, Germany, Mexico, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, USA, and Zambia), 57% reported having been raped in prostitution; 73% reported having experienced physical assault in prostitution; 49% had pornography made of them; 75% were currently or formerly homeless; and 89% stated that they wanted to escape prostitution immediately. Summarizing different study findings, research carried out on 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 women in prostitution were sexually assaulted as children. This Farley et al. nine-country study is the most comprehensive research on prostitution which the world has known to date!
In Germany, where prostitution is legal, out of the estimated 400,000 Germany’s “sex workers” only 100 joined a union. That’s .00025% of German prostitutes. According to the Nevada Coalition Against Sex Trafficking, 81% of women in the Nevada legal brothel prostitution urgently want to escape it. This makes even clearer that women don’t want to be prostitutes!
In spite of all this, “sex work” advocates carry on their propaganda by upholding the anti-woman status quo. “Prostitution is the world’s oldest profession”, they frequently say; this misogynistic saying should be translated as “Women as whores: that’s what women are for, have always been for, and will always be for: being men’s whores”. It is also worth pointing out that the pornstitution industry and pornified corporate media glorify the few women who defend them as an attempt to conceal the obvious misogyny of the ‘sex’ industry (i.e. trying to show something like this: “See, if some women defend it; it can’t be misogynistic”).
Many of the pro-pornstitution women are, without any doubt, financed by the ‘sex’ industry itself! So, pro-pornstitution women more often get to be heard than us (rad fems) in this atrocious patriarchy. Radical feminists know that the overwhelming majority of people who defend pornography and prostitution are in fact men, though. Pro- pornstitution women are merely a sideshow (a pro-porn tactic to create diversion).
The few somewhat privileged women who genuinely want to stay in prostitution (probably due to the deeply entrenched institutionalized female masochism enforced by patriarchy) are elevated in male-supremacist culture. They are magnified by pornified media, highly praised by “sex work” advocates and pro-porners; they are given megaphones, book deals, spaces on major websites, etc.
Some of those few women who “make it to the top” in the pornstitution industry become pimps (i.e. Madams) themselves and (ab)use the other women they sell, instead of channeling their internalized anger (from past abuse) in the right direction: toward the industry itself and the johns/porn users who abused them. The “sex work” advocates inhumanly refuse to hear the stories of the vast majority of prostituting women or prostitution survivors and attempt to silence them.
A few months ago, some “sex work” advocates violently attempted to disrupt a play entitled My Real Name, which used the real life stories of survivors of prostitution. My Real Name was about, by, and for survivors of prostitution and sex trafficking, and was a racially and ethnically diverse production. Maxine Doogan, a “sex work” advocate who wrote a propaganda piece called “Anti-prostitution group commits violence on sex worker”, is a convicted madam from Washington state. She encourages prostituting women to oppose anti-prostitution feminists and sex industry survivors. Maxine Doogan was one of the women who orchestrated the racist and classist ruckus that occurred when the play My Real Name was being performed in Berkeley.
Some “sex work” advocates, such as Yasmin Nair in Clamor Magazine, have even gone so far as saying that women who are from poor countries and who are trafficked into the U.S. for prostitution, are lying about being pimped, enslaved, raped, beaten and sold into the American sex industry. Those “sex work” advocates have claimed that trafficked women are “problably migrating for ‘sex work'” instead. Victims of sex trafficking have been recognized by Amnesty International, Equality Now, the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, the Polaris Project and hundreds of other international organizations. This sort of “sex work” advocates’ propaganda indeed erases rapes and promotes racism.
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.
Some young girls unfortunately, turning 18, fall for the pernicious ideologies that the media industries (whose owners, managers, producers and broadcasters are predominantly men) want them to believe. Brainwashing pornified pimp culture obviously trains women and girls to view the porn industry as glamorous. However, those young women and girls who enter the porn industry after having had a harmful pornified media training, are often not aware of the conditions in which they will “work”. They’ve only seen the glamorized side of porn and hope they can become the next Jenna Jameson. They aren’t aware of the ongoing sexual violence that goes on in porn.
The average age of entry into prostitution is 13-14 years old (Sources: M.H. Silbert and A.M. Pines, 1982, “Victimization of street prostitutes”, Victimology: An International Journal, 1982; and D. Kelly Weisberg, Children of the Night: A Study of Adolescent Prostitution, 1985). Many women in pornography are only 18, and are easily used and discarded by the industry. Most pornography performers have a very brief “shelf life”, they find themselves being overexposed so, even if they initially command a high rate per scene or per movie, their market value as “fresh meat” declines rapidly. Some ex-porn ‘actresses’ and people who knew pornography performers, are also known to have revealed that most women in porn are indeed survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
When we expose the facts, “sex work” advocates argue that we are “portraying women in the sex industry as victims” and that we are “denying their autonomy”. All this is untrue and “sex work” advocates fail (do not want) to understand our analysis of circumstances within which some women have much more limited choices than others in patriarchal capitalist society. “Sex work” advocates simply do not want to face the fact that denying major study results on prostitution along with real life stories of prostitution survivors is a deplorable repudiation of one’s empathy.
Some “sex work” advocates claim that the exploitation of prostituting women arises from the social stigma associated with prostitution. There is a great body of evidence that prostituted women are still being horribly discriminated against in countries where prostitution is legal. The issue of stigmatization of prostituted women and girls simply cannot be separated from their ongoing reality of economic exploitation and sexual and physical violence.
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.
“In the past we had a women’s movement which understood that the choice to be beaten by one man for economic survival was not a real choice, despite the appearance of consent a marriage contract might provide. Yet now we are supposed to believe, in the name of ‘feminism’, that the choice to be fucked by hundreds of men for economic survival must be affirmed as a real choice, and if the woman signs a model release then there is no coercion there”.
— Catharine A. MacKinnon.
ETA: For a follow-up to this post see this post here: On Choices (part 2): Prostitution and the Agency of Johns