A young man taking the lead
Now and then I stumble on a brave man passionate about the issues taken up here on the MTR blog.
Recently I’ve made the acquaintance of Matthew Holloway. Only 26, Matthew’s written some compelling pieces in recent months on pornography, prostitution and rape-permission giving in men’s magazines. I thought you should get to know him too and in doing so be encouraged that more men seem to be willing to risk criticism and step up to the plate on these issues.
Matthew Holloway is a freelance writer and social justice advocate from Tasmania, where he stood for state and federal parliament and co-founded Tasmanians for Transparency. Matthew now lives in Melbourne where he works as a Counsellor in Aboriginal Health. I asked Matthew what motivated him to engage on these issues. He responded:
To be honest I have had a broad upbringing which included exposure to many of the feminist writings from the old school, specifically Andrea Dworkin.
On a personal level ‘not myself’ but males I have known, I have seen how destructive things like pornography can be and the conflict this can cause for many men. The way it can change their perceptions, the way that their thinking can become so warped, but also the way that their sexual urges have become so perverted that they have also become victims of a society which has normalized the material which has created these attitudes including the sexualisation and commodification of not only women but children.
For a brief period on moving to Victoria I worked for a councillor on Yarra City Council, Stephen Jolly, who worked hard uncovering trafficking in the area.
Aside from this I worked for a few years as a social worker on Grey Street in St Kilda. My client group included sex workers both male and female. I heard the stories of abuse, the way that every one of them felt they had no other options, the way they felt worthless and without skills. The other truly sad aspect was hearing how many had suffered abuse. In so many ways these people had become conditioned to using sex for survival. To hear how many had also suffered physical, verbal and sexual abuse through their work was also tragic and heart breaking.
So although I know that there are many people out there who say that people like you and I have no idea about why people go into sex work. I honestly think they are defenders if the industry and have no idea of the continued psychological damage that the sex industry and those who support it, continue to inflict on people who are truly vulnerable and at risk. Also people who through life circumstances cannot see other options let alone a pathway out of the use and abuse.
Here’s a lengthy, detailed and evidence-based piece Matthew wrote for the Tasmanian Times on the true nature of the prostitution industry.
Working against the global sex industry
…Unfortunately evidence seems to show that legalisation still has many inherent safety risks and has often become an issue of governments wanting to derive profits from the sexual degradation and exploitation of some of society’s most vulnerable people. It should be noted that I am not the only one who is saying that the government is keen to get a slice of the sex industry pie. This claim is even made by the Eros foundation who stated that the sex industry has a combined turnover of over $1 billion and that government agencies were looking at ways to levy a slice of this revenue….
The issue of prostitution and the problems it raises have been addressed by many of the great feminists of our time; Germaine Greer once famously stated “Pornography is simply the advertising of prostitution” and this holds to the fact that there are many problems in our hyper sexualised culture which have promoted the expansion of sexual slavery. Prostitution is still a capitalistic and patriarchal structure and always will be, no matter how much Mr Cox tries to argue against the fact; women are always enslaved to sex work because of male demand for it. This is a key point which the Swedish model recognises and this is the reason for its success…Read full article here
And here’s strong piece on porn and exploitation – including of men – Matthew had published in Eureka Street:
Germaine Greer and Gay Exploitation
It is commonly thought that men represent the main producers and the main consumers of pornography. But earlier this year feminist firebrand Germaine Greer alluded to an important and often forgotten fact: men are also its victims.
‘Pornography’, Greer said on a September episode of ABC1′s Q&A, ‘also exploits boys, men and children, but most of all, it exploits the consumer of pornography.
‘The consumer’, she said, ‘doesn’t realise that because of the stage in your life at which you become aware of pornography, that his sexual responses are being altered by pornography, so that he is expecting a certain kind of mechanical sequence of events, which he’s learnt to manipulate in his own self-gratification. This then gets parked on a relationship, which prevents real intimacy from ever ensuing.
‘That’s pretty grim but it’s much grimmer, the fact that people are moving towards each other in a series of pre-programmed responses.’
Like women, men have fallen prey to the unrealistic expectations of a hyper-sexualised culture….
All elements lead to what Greer described as pornography’s ability to promote the acting out of pre-programmed responses devoid of intimacy. Ultimately we need a movement away from porn, and to re-assert a sexuality that is not based on images of actors from a specifically geared, targeted and manipulative industry.
For years the pro-porn lobby has tried to win the argument and take the ground from the left and right by portraying them as either censorship fascists or religious conservatives. The truth is that you cannot have exploitation in the name of liberalism. Read full article here
And this one in Online Opinion last year on a British study on men’s magazines and rape apologism.
Re-assessing men’s magazines
A new study to be published in the British journal of Psychology is set to have massive ramifications and has already kick started a re-assessment of soft core pornography.
The study by Psychologists from Middlesex University and the University of Surrey, showed participants quotes from men’s magazines such as FHM, Loaded, and Zoo.
The participants were also shown quotes from convicted sex offenders which were taken from ‘The Rapist Files: Interviews with Convicted Rapists written by Sussman & Bordwell
Participants were not informed which source the quotes came from, they were asked to assess for themselves based on the content.
Most participants were unable to distinguish the source of the quotes; the study also revealed that most male participants identified more strongly with the language expressed by the convicted rapists.
Dr Miranda Horvath from Middlesex University said: “We were surprised that participants identified more with the rapists’ quotes, and we are concerned that the legitimisation strategies that rapists deploy when they talk about women are more familiar to these young men than we had anticipated.”
The study has already had an impact in the UK where retailers have agreed to move all men’s magazines to top shelves and censor front covers.Read full article here.
That’s just a sample. There’s lots more of Matthew’s work online. Have a look. And men, why not join Matthew and add your voices to his?