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Archive for the ‘Racism’ Category

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

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

I mean. . . Where do I start?

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

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

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

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

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

I am revealing them now:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I mean, yes, men do oppress us.

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

Men do objectify us.

Men do want to see us submit to them.

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

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

Men do coerce us into sexual activity.

Men do rape us.

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

Men do make pornography of some of us.

Men do beat us up.

Men do sexually abuse our children.

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

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

No, no, and no!

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Andrea Dworkin, in The Root Cause.

 

 I am an anarchist of the patriarchy.

I want the whole concept of manhood to die.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But, you know what?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Porn Apologist:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Fourth Carnival Against Pornography and Prostitution is now up at The Burning Times. Have a good reading time!

Also, I found this via Allecto who got it thanks to Demonista: please sign this petition to ask Rogers Communications (a Canadian-based corporation that is the largest provider of cable to Canadians) to stop selling misogynistic and racist pornography.

“Pornography tells lies about women. Pornography tells the truth about men.”
— John Stoltenberg, pro-feminist writer.

“At the Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence, serving Linn and Benton counties, most women we work with say their abusers are heavily into pornography.”
Mary Zelinka, assistant executive director of a Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence in Oregon.

“When people deplore sexism and racism but make allowances for their proliferations in pornography, pornography has achieved its aim: the creation of acceptance for materials that publicly practise and advertise the hatred and domination of women of colour. Pornography perpetrates racism through the sexualization and fetishisation of racist stereotypes.”
— Joyce Wu, in her article Not a Fantasy: Racial Hatred and Misogyny in Pornography.

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“Women freely choose to sell their bodies in pornography and in prostitution” is one of the main disputes that pornstitution defenders put forward as an attempt to silence any feminist critique of misogynistic industries. Wallowing in their muddy myopia, pro-porners and pro-”sex work” people argue that “women in the sex industry (especially the porn industry) are fully consenting adults and, besides, for the most part, they make a lot of money” and then they smugly hope that their “Women freely choose, so don’t criticize the sex industry” argument will obviate any fair criticism of the multi-billion dollar sexual exploitation business. In other words, this “choice” argument is one of the most common excuses that pro-pornstitution folks use as a conversation-stopper.
Radical feminists have never denounced prostituting women and pornography performers for their choices. Instead, we compassionately acknowledge that many of those women’s choices are made under a variety of constraints. We believe that any discussion regarding prostituting women’s choices should take into consideration the different conditions under which they choose.
As Robert Jensen wrote in his recent book Getting Off: “A meaningful discussion of choice can’t be restricted to the single moment when a woman decides to perform in a specific pornographic film but must include all the existing background conditions that affect not only the objective choices she faces but her subjective assessment of those choices.” The same applies to prostitution: one woman doesn’t suddenly wake up one morning and say “Oh, I’ve just decided today that I’m going to sell my body for sex among a wide range of opportunities to make money”, this is absurd! Prostituting women’s life stories are much more complex than this.
Debunking the “sex industry isn’t a monolith” lie
Before I raise awareness on prostituting women’s complicated choices and lack of choices, I believe it is important to mention how pornstitution’s defenders deliberately and frequently obfuscate the links between pornography, stripping, prostitution and any other forms of commodification of women’s and girls’ bodies with their “the sex industry isn’t a monolith” lie, namely pro-pornstitution folks claim that “the sex industry isn’t something merely uniform and massive; there are lots of opportunities, aspects and types.”
However, this view of the sex industry is very limited and male-centered. It all boils down to the consumerist vision of johns/porn users and the heartless capitalism of pimps/pornographers. This view of the sex industry serves to obscure the reality of a business that is one of the world’s major cases of trafficking (other main traffickings being in guns and drugs): sex trafficking, i.e. the global sexual exploitation of women and girls and their suffering inside of the sex industry.
A man can choose to take unfair advantage of the brutal and popular commodification of women and girls’ bodies in various ways: he can choose to be a strip-club patron, a pornography user, a john, etc. or he can choose to be a strip-club owner/manager, a porn producer/director, a pimp, etc.
On the other hand, a woman or girl entering the sex industry will very likely start as an exotic dancer or a prostitute,etc. then become a porn ‘actress’ or ‘nude model’, etc., or vice versa. To prostituted women, the ‘sex’ industry is something uniform and massive in this constant way: they are being (ab)used and controlled by men. The only different thing is that there are various ways within which they are being (ab)used and controlled by men.
To most prostituting women: prostitution feels like “paid rape”; pornography is prostitution plus a camera; trafficking is being transported from one place to another (domestically or internationally); stripping is a particular way of being prostituted and having one’s body being used (i.e. strip bars’ customers are often led to the impression that they have bought “the right to touch, grab, slap or otherwise violate, degrade, or devalue the woman stripping”, as former stripper Taylor Lee explained).
As a matter of fact, prostitution businesses are interconnected. The Truth is that prostitution is a global industry of sexual exploitation in which sex is traded for money, clothing, food, drugs, shelter, or favors. Prostitution (or “the sex industry”, term used as an euphemism) includes strip bars, lap-dancing clubs, massage parlors, brothels, saunas, adult and child pornography, street walking, live sex shows, phone sex, prostitution rings, Internet pornography, escort services, peep shows, ritual abuse, and mail order bride services.
Therefore, this “the sex industry isn’t a monolith or something being merely uniform and massive, blah, blah, blah” view promulgated by pro-pornstitution people is a male-centered and misogynistic myth because, in the end, it all boils down to this: the exploitation and abuse of prostituted women and girls will have various forms (in order to cater to different kinds of male needs to use female human beings as merely objects to degrade) but it still will be the exploitation and abuse of prostituted women and girls, and an ongoing suffering to them.
You’re right on this one point, pro-pornstitution folks: “the sex industry isn’t a monolith”; it is a mega-monolith of interconnected forms of sexual exploitations, abuses, and ongoing suffering of prostituted women and girls!

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.”

Different stories

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:

Sarah Wynter’s:

“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.”;

Rebecca Mott’s:

“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.”;

J.W.’s:

“[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…”;

Jersey Jaxin’s:

“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.”;

Suki Falconberg’s:

“[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

Carol Smith’s:

“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.”

Choices

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

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