Launched this week in Ireland, ‘Prostitution – We Don’t Buy It’ is an Irish movement organised by The Reach Project, encouraging men not to buy prostituted women. The new movement was launched by Tom Meagher, bereaved husband of Melbourne woman Jill Meagher who was murdered in September 2012 by serial predator and rapist Adrian Bayley, who was then out on parole. With Meagher at the event was sex industry survivor Rachel Moran, author of Paid For: My Journey Through Prostitution (Spinifex Press 2013).
Discussing the men who purchase sex and the lies they tell themselves, Meagher said:
Two years ago I read this document from an interview with a man who had repeatedly and very violently raped a number of prostitutes in Australia. His answer to the question, ‘Why did you do this?’ was ‘I paid for her, I can do what I want with her.’
Ten years later that man was out on parole and raped and murdered my wife.
Hear Tom Meagher and Rachel Moran at the launch (via Irish Video News):
‘The pornographic vocabulary of sex as the violent debasement of the female body had seeped out from screens and into the lives of women’
There’s a shift happening. Perhaps not quite enough yet to call it a tipping point. But something is going on. When my colleagues and I were working on ‘Big Porn Inc: Exposing the harms of the global pornography industry’ in 2010-11, concerns about the way porn was shaping sexual attitudes and behaviours in new and harmful ways were barely a whisper. But now the ill effects of the pornographic experiment on relationships and sexuality are being named out loud.
This personal piece on Twitlonger by Rosie Redstockings is one of the most potent I’ve read describing a woman’s experience of porn-conditioned men. I reprint it with permission. And below it, Sarah Ditum’s remarkable confession in New Statesman last week. You must read the whole thing. “The pornographic vocabulary of sex as the violent debasement of the female body had seeped out from screens and into the lives of the women I knew”, she writes. Rosie’s experience, and Sarah’s frank admission, are a perfect match here on MTR today.
In Response to Owen Jones
I’m 23. Mine is the first generation to be exposed to online porn from a young age. We learnt what sex is from watching strangers on the internet, we don’t know anything else.
Here are some of the things that I have experienced…
- having my head shoved into his crotch, and held down while I sucked him off
- being told that my gag reflex was too strong, couldn’t I work on it?
- bullied into submitting to facials. I didn’t want to. He said (joking?) that he’d ejaculate on my face while I was asleep. He wasn’t joking – I woke up with him wanking over me.
- bullied into trying anal. It hurt so much I begged him to stop. He stopped, then complained that I was being too sensitive and it can’t be *that* bad, he continued to ask for it
- having my hair pulled
- constant requests for threesomes
- constant requests to let him film it
And on every single occasion, I felt guilty for not being a ‘cool girl’. I was letting him down. I was a prude.
THIS IS NOW NORMAL. Every single straight girl I know has had similar experiences. Every. Single. One. Some have experienced far worse. Some have given in, some have resisted, all have felt guilty and awkward for not being “liberated” enough, not giving him what he wants.
It wasn’t until a few years ago, when I discovered radical feminism, that I realised it was ok to say no. I’m lucky enough to be with a man who respects this and who understands. Even so, it was only recently that I decided I wasn’t going to swallow anymore. I’d never liked it, but always thought I was obliged. I told my boyfriend and he said that was totally fine, he was horrified to hear I hadn’t enjoyed it previously. Why would he think anything else? This is what sex is for the porn generation.
I’m a very privileged woman – I’m middle class, well educated, I come from a very supportive family – and yet I still struggled to muster up the confidence to say no. The men I have had sex with are now lawyers, doctors, management consultants – they’re powerful people, they have influence, and they still think that degrading their sexual partners is normal.
Porn has done this.
When you use your influence to tell thousands of your readers that all men watch porn, this is just what men are like, “why should we care?”, you’re perpetuating this. An entire generation of women have suffered because of porn, and we will all continue to suffer unless men change. This isn’t just an intellectual exercise for us. “Boys will be boys” is not going to change anything, nor will bleating “yeah but porn doesn’t *have* to be misogynistic”. Please start using your influence for good.
You say you’re a feminist ally? Prove it.
Why I changed my mind about porn
….Though it seemed callow to admit it, I’d seen things in my research that shocked and upset me – real penetration of real women causing real pain. And there was one more thing, which happened more gradually: I heard from friends about the boyfriend who wanted to choke them, or the one who slapped them about in bed, or pressured them to do anal, or wanted to film it all. The pornographic vocabulary of sex as the violent debasement of the female body had seeped out from screens and into the lives of the women I knew…
The actions of Craft, Dworkin, Mackinnon and Dines are defined by their urgency. Anti-porn feminism recognises a link between the propaganda of sexual violence and its practice, and stopping porn is understood to be essential in ending the rapes, killings and torture that men practice against women. These campaigners believe that lives are at stake – and even so, they are somehow less censorious, more open to dialogue, more creative than those who now police the “safe spaces.” In these spaces, everyone must be warmly welcomed and intellectually unchallenged, except of course for feminists speaking against male violence. One wonders exactly why Pornland was such an intimidating prospect for supporters of the sex industry in Austin. Perhaps it is a perverse testament to Dines: maybe her opponents know that, if viewers approach with a readiness to debate in good faith, they might, like me, end up changing their minds. Read full article
How come the sex industry never has anything to say about the johns and punters – the kind of men, for example, who share their ratings of women with other men in the way you might recommend a meal or place to stay? While they continue to roll out selected prostituted women as human shields* to talk about how wonderful the industry is (for example on Canberra’s ABC 666 last Friday in promoting an exhibition of the sex industry at the Canberra Museum- more to come on this), excluded is any response to the men who treat women in the trade as pieces of meat.
Men who buy sex: in their own words
Men who buy women and children for sex often regard them as less than human. We know this because the men themselves openly say so both in research and on customer review websites where men detail and rank the ‘services’ of the women they buy. These websites showcase the contempt these men have for the women they exploit.
We’ve collected a small sample of quotes from men who buy women. Several main themes emerge.
Regarding the women they buy as mere objects of sexual gratification and less than human
“Being with a prostitute is like having a cup of coffee- once you’re done with it, you throw it out.” Source
“I have an easier time treating them worse.” Source
“For gods sake woman…I just want you to get naked and suck my cock!…If you like big tits, she is your girl. Too much like hard work for me.” Source
“Some of the girls are lovely but most are just holes to f*ck.” Source
“If you want an attractive receptacle for your semen she will do.” Source
“LOL what beautiful girls OMG! WTF are you talking about dogg??? They are all old as fuck and the only young ones are ugly junkies lol rather fuck a blow up doll lol” Source
A sense of entitlement to sex any way they want it with no regard for the woman they exploit
“I don’t want them to get any pleasure. I am paying for it and it is her job to give me pleasure. If she enjoys it I would feel cheated.” Source
“…She said “NO!” Sorry, what do you mean NO, this is what I paid for.” Source
“Well, she certainly knows what she’s doing and how to please a man. And there’s no damn nonsense about ‘don’t do this’ and ‘I don’t want it in there’ either. So, in a word, a perfect whore.” Source
“She was definitely on something…her oral (covered) was mechanical to say the least…No interaction at all. I know not all the girls enjoy it, but I’m not paying them to enjoy it- just to pretend that they are.” Source
“I took the lead and it was like shagging a corpse…Someone should inform her that a part of the job is to show some enjoyment and give some pleasure back to the punter.” Source
An opportunity to control and dominate a woman and perform degrading sex acts on her that their female partners refuse
“If my fiancée won’t give me anal, I know someone who will.” Source
“You get to treat a ho like a ho…you can find a ho for any type of need – slapping, choking, aggressive sex beyond what your girlfriend will do – you won’t do stuff to your girlfriend that will make her lose her self esteem.” Source
“I guess the big thing is the control aspect of it. When you’re with a prostitute you have control over what happens. You get to have control over what you do, when, how, in what order, and I like that.” Source
“I would have no issue making a girl do what I want, after all that is what I pay for. 60 minutes of HER time to make ME happy doing whatever I want. If she doesn’t like it she is in the wrong game. I never spit on a girl but I have raised my hand to a girl.” Source
Recognising that the women they buy are unwilling participants
“I wish she had loosened up or pretended to be into it more. She grimaced as I came on her which was a turn off…Would recommend for those interested in ethnic girls, big boobs…just wish she’d lighten up a bit.” Source
“[She] pulled away, which really put me off. She didn’t seem to like her hair being touched…she just seemed really on edge for the whole, short time I was with her.” Source
“She had the gagging expression on her face…again she just lay there and complained about it hurting.” Source
“I got the impression she was somewhere else, and even though she looked, she wouldn’t make eye contact. Total waste of cash. The management should starve girls like this to make them perform.” Source
“Overall, she is quite attractive, but doesn’t have a great attitude and gives the impression that she doesn’t really want to be here.” Source
Describing signs of women who have been trafficked for sexual exploitation
“Onto the sex which was the best part as Hana was tight and able to take instuctions [sic] well. Her English is non existant [sic] in April but may be better now. Lucky for me i was able to converse in some Korean with her.”- ‘Might and Power’, Punter Planet, 19 June 2011
“The thing that struck me was the absence of the usual cheerful welcoming manner I enjoy with most other Thai girls. She did flash a pretty smile once or twice but mostly made it glumly obvious that my visit was just a chore for her. So although I got my semen extracted, I couldn’t call that a joyful hour.” Source
“Cold and passive. I tried to talk to her to understand if there was an issue: homesickness, personal event? Unfortunately with her poor English, I could barely get a few words as an answer…She remained passive and distant.” Source
“Ukrainian brunette in her teenage years…She seemed disinterested and took off her clothes as if she was merely doing a duty, alarm bells started ringing as she lay down on the bed without a word, no attempt at trying to warm up and break the ice…Her English is poor…[she] seemed nervous and fidgety.” Source
“Unenthusiastic, dispassionate…she claimed afterwards that she was “just tired” but I suspect she’s not cut out for being a WG [Working Girl]. I wonder if it would be stretching a thought too far to question if she had in any way been coerced?” Source
As Mary Lucille Sullivan pointed out in her book Making Sex Work, “The [sex] buyer’s economic power means he determines how the sexual act will be played out. Buyers believe their purchasing power entitles them to demand any type of sex they want.” It is clear that many men are more concerned with the quality of the ‘sexual service’ than the fact that women they pay to exploit are not there by choice.
Earlier this month, ABC’s Lateline dedicated a segment to exploring Sweden’s solution to prostitution and trafficking. The ‘Nordic model’ criminalises the demand for commercial sexual exploitation, decriminalizes those exploited, and provides exit programs for individuals in prostitution who want to leave the industry.
Various human rights campaigners and organisations along with prostitution survivors advocate for the implementation of the Nordic model, with former US president Jimmy Carter calling it ‘the only workable solution’. Nordic legislation has been implemented in a growing number of countries around the world, and the European Parliament overwhelmingly voted in favour of it.
Gunilla Ekberg explained the rationale behind criminalizing buyers of sex and decriminalizing the sellers:
“One of the cornerstones of Swedish policies against prostitution and trafficking in human beings is the focus on the root cause, the recognition that without men’s demand for and use of women and girls for sexual exploitation, the global prostitution industry would not be able to flourish and expand.”
While there are countless debates over the notion of ‘choice’ for women and children in the sex trade, largely missing from these discussions is the role of men who make choices to buy women and children for sexual exploitation.
Over half are married or in a de-facto relationship
The sex industry attempts to obscure the realities of prostitution, including its gendered nature. It is primarily men buying mainly women and children. According to Detective Inspector Simon Haggstrom of the Stockholm Police Prostitution Unit, in the 15 years since buying sex has been criminalized, they have not found a single woman paying for sex. While the media narrative tends to depict lonely or even disabled men who are just looking for some companionship or someone to talk to, a major international study found that over half were married or in a de-facto relationship.
One exited woman shed some light on why men in committed intimate relationships buy women. She said, “I spent 15 years servicing men and allowing them to use me any way they saw fit. I’ve had clients confess that the things they paid me to do were things they would never ask their wives, whom they respected, or their “child’s mother” to do.
Many are well aware women are exploited
The study describes how men who pay to sexually exploit women are aware of the harms to women they exploit:
“The sex buyers had an extensive awareness of the intimate relationship between coercion, prostitution and trafficking.”
“Many (41%) of the sex buyers used women who they knew were controlled by pimps at the time they used her.”
“Both sex buyers and non-sex buyers evidenced extensive knowledge of the physical and psychological harms of prostitution.”
“Two thirds of both the sex buyers and the non-sex buyers observed that a majority of women are lured, tricked, or trafficked into prostitution.”
“Many of them had an awareness of the economic coercion and lack of alternatives in women’s entry into prostitution.”
“Almost all of the sex buyers and non-sex buyers shared the opinion that minor children are almost always available for prostitution in bars, massage parlours, escort and other prostitution in Boston.”
But this awareness didn’t stop them:
“The knowledge that women have been exploited, coerced, pimped or trafficked failed to deter sex buyers from buying sex.”
They know what would deter them
The men surveyed agreed that the most effective deterrents to buying sex would be being placed on a sex offender registry, public exposure, significant fines and jail time.
Progress under the Nordic model
Since Sweden’s legislation criminalising the buying of sex, considerable progress has been made. According to research from the Nordic Gender Institute, the number of men buying sex has decreased from 13.6% in 1996 to 7.9% in 2008. Street prostitution in Sweden has halved while in neighbouring countries such as Norway and Denmark it is estimated to be three times higher. Police have intercepted phone correspondence between pimps and traffickers who now regard Sweden as an unattractive market and suggest Denmark, Germany or Holland (where prostitution is legal) as alternatives. Reportedly, there has been a cultural shift in Sweden where it is no longer considered acceptable to purchase another person.
As proponents of the Nordic model attest, we cannot oppose sex trafficking of women and children and support the commercial sexual exploitation of women and children that is prostitution. Sex trafficking would cease to exist if men stopped buying women. There can never be gender equality while women are commodities to be bought and sold.
…the reality of prostitution is not a romantic fantasy but a tragic horror story. Sadly, in my work with Exodus Cry, my colleagues and I have encountered young women who have told us that Pretty Women lured them into the sex industry by leading them to believe that prostitution was glamorous and romantic. We interviewed one such girl for our documentary about sex trafficking. Stephanie was sexually abused as a child and entered into prostitution underage. She was dominated by an abusive, controlling pimp and trafficked for sex…. She told us, “I watched the movie, Pretty Woman, and I was like, well gosh, look at her, she’s beautiful, she’s making money, she’s meeting guys, and she fell in love with this guy, and she’s living in this nice hotel suite, and has everything she wants, and she’s fallen in love, man I need to become a ho. That’s what I thought, so, that’s what I did. I experienced nothing like Pretty Woman, it’s totally, totally different. I’ve been held hostage at gunpoint, raped, robbed, strangled, beaten up, everything, by customers.” Read full article here.
*With thanks to Dr Helen Pringle for the ‘human shields’ phrase.
I wrote earlier how the sex industry went into overdrive over some fair questioning on ABC Lateline last week. The industry’s meltdown over the program demonstrated how hostile it is to any light being shed on the realities of the business of sexploitation which profits from the bodies of women. This blog post exposes the facts about the Scarlet Alliance, which receives Federal and State Government grants to address trafficking – which is funny if it wasn’t so sad – Scarlet Alliance doesn’t even believe in trafficking. It doesn’t even think brothels who sell trafficked women should be penalised, and wants no organised exit programs for women who want to get out of the industry. So why are out taxes propping them up? The money should be diverted into services that actually help real women rather than benefitting the brothel owners, pimps profiteers and vested interests of the prostitution trade.
The Scarlet Alliance/Sex Worker Collective’s Misogyny. Why They Should Not Be funded.
March 16, 2015
I have appropriated the pimp lobby’s red umbrella to fight for the Nordic Model.
Perhaps everyone who actually cares about women in prostitution can use this as a profile pic- although, I realise my creation is not very pretty. I have no sympathy for the Scarlet Alliance and the whole red umbrella collective crying how oppressed and stigmatised they are. They never helped me, and as evidenced below, they never will help anyone trying to leave the industry. Too much money to be made trading in human beings. They are among the scum of the earth and treat prostituted women like shit. But don’t take my word for it- here are just the facts.
“Evidence of SCARLET ALLIANCE’S opposition to Federal Government Policies to stem Human Trafficking
1. Opposition to exit programs
Scarlet Alliance publicly opposes exit programs to support trafficked women wanting to leave the sex industry.[i]
2. Denies the reality of human trafficking for sexual exploitation
Scarlet Alliance refuses to acknowledge that sex slavery exists and claims that leaving prostitution is an individual decision for which there should be no government intervention.[ii]Scarlet Alliance’s policy is to have “sex work” considered equivalent to any other professional occupation.
3. Opposition to making debt bondage an offence
Scarlet Alliance is opposed to debt bondage being an offence under State Government crime legislation[iii]
4. Opposition to any controls on prostitution
Scarlet Alliance opposes all laws, regulations, rules or policies for the sex industry.Yet it asserts that the safety of “sex workers” should be prioritised over all industry or community concerns.[iv]
5. Opposed to penalties for knowingly using trafficked women:
The Scarlet Alliance is opposed to criminalisation of intentionally, knowingly or recklessly obtaining sexual services from trafficked women.[v]
6. Opposes penalties for brothel owners knowingly using trafficked women:
Scarlet Alliance has publicly declared its opposition to any form of sanction or penalty for brothel owners who knowingly engage and exploit trafficked persons.[vi]
7. Opposes police checks on brothels
Scarlet Alliance has declared its opposition to giving Police a more flexible right of entry to legal or illegal brothels.[vii]
8. Opposition to any kind of police involvement in policing of prostitution.
It believes that police should be removed from any administrative or regulatory role in the sex industry. This belief makes mockery of the fact that Scarlet Alliance also claims that people “working” in the sex industry should be afforded police protection.[viii]
9. Opposition to police giving trafficking a higher priority
Scarlet Alliance is opposed to police being trained to be more aware of the signs of human trafficking and giving it a higher priority.They are also opposed to increasing public awareness about sex trafficking and sexual slavery.[ix]
10. Claims human trafficking is a myth
Scarlet Alliance claims that trafficking is a myth produced by media hype, anti-trafficking and anti-slavery organisations[x]. It believes that anti trafficking raids have forced “sex workers” “underground”.This position makes a mockery of the fact that Scarlet Alliance contributed to the development of the Guidelines for NGOs Working with Trafficked People.[xi]
11. Opposition to provision of refuges for trafficked women
It beggars belief, but Scarlet Alliance is opposed to the establishment of appropriately funded refuges for trafficked women, and they oppose assistance and support being provided to victims of trafficking.[xii]
They oppose these services to victims lest attention be drawn to the evil of human trafficking which, in turn, would make it difficult to argue that “sex work” is the equivalent of any other professional occupation
12. Opposition to public awareness programs for clients of prostitution:
Scarlet Alliance is opposed to any advertising that alerts purchasers (johns)and prospective purchasers (johns)of sexual service to the existence of the crime of sexual trafficking.[xiii]
It wants the public to remain in denial about the existence and magnitude of sex trafficking on the grounds that this would give a bad name to “sex work” in general.
13. Opposition to anything that hinders the promotion of sex work
Anything that hinders the promotion of “sex work”.[xiv]
Wants to promote sex work and 457 visas for sex work.
Scarlet Alliance wants to promote “sex work” as a legitimate occupation; it claims that “sex workers” should become entitled to 457 Visas and that brothel owners should be eligible sponsors of “migrant sex workers” (i.e trafficked women) to give more respectability to the pursuit of professional “sex work”.[xv]
Scarlet Alliance claims that “sex work” should be considered legitimate in all its forms, including brothel, private escort and street based work. No licensing model should apply.[xvi]”
So this is for anyone still wondering why they oppose the Nordic Model, which decriminalises the prostituted and instead calls the men who buy and sell us the criminals. For anyone still wondering if they have a point and if this is all about sex being taboo and “stigma” and blah, blah, blah. For anyone wondering if you yourself should oppose a model which provides exiting strategies and funding for women trying to leave prostitution .You can have a think about their ethics, their chants of “sex worker rights!”, their actual misogyny parading as some personal, stigmatised oppression from “moralists” and “rescuers”. You can have a think about how these ‘advocates’ who claim to be “run by sex workers, for sex workers”, even if they are in management positions and don’t have to sell sex at all ! treat women such as myself and so many others who actually give a shit about women. Would you call a woman entered into prostitution as a child a “Migrant Sex Worker”? And what would you give to know back then, when you were being “liberal” and “Choosy-Choice”, what you know right now?
They are calling for more funding . The Scarlet Alliance just received an extra of $960,000,(on top of the funding they have already received, which adds up to millions), for their place on a board to fight sex-trafficking.
Yes, you read that right. A group which denies sex-trafficking exists is on an advisory panel with the Abbott Government’s National Anti-Trafficking Plan.
The sex industry’s reaction to even mild questioning of its position demonstrates how any discussion about prostitution is shut down in Australia.
When an industry is used to having its way day after day and rarely being called to account, it’s a rare moment when a serious national current affairs program such as ABC’s Lateline (welcome back!) decides to explore the realities of life for women in the industry, give voice to survivors and provide coverage of the Nordic Model which criminalises not the prostituted women but the buyers of these women, now taken up by a number of countries.(Last year, the European Parliament and the Council of Europe both passed non-binding motions on prostitution that recommended the adoption of the Nordic Model throughout Europe and France has also taken steps to adopt the same).
This is one clip of four from the Lateline program March 13. (The other interviews can be found on Lateline’s website). This extract, titled ‘Reaching out to Sex Workers’ shows Kate Connett, an outreach worker with Project Respect, on her brothel visitation rounds. As a survivor of the industry herself, Kate’s bravery is commendable. Thank you for speaking out Kate.
Lateline’s coverage was fair. Pro sex industry figures and Nordic model critics were represented. But even this mild coverage was attacked by the Scarlett Alliance and their friends especially on social media (search twitter @Lateline @Scarlett Alliance #Lateline). We need to ask why the sex work movement is so hostile to any suggestion that prostitution harms women? Looks like a case of vested interests, with the industry doing all it can to silence dissent.
The sex industry’s reaction to even mild questioning of the its position demonstrates how any discussion about prostitution is shut down in Australia.
However a new movement – led by a number of women who were once involved in the sex industry – is calling on Australia to adopt the NORDIC model. It is growing in strength daily and so many of us are hoping that a policy model which recognises prostitution as violence against women and punishes the perpetrators and not the victims, is implemented here as soon as possible.
…Hedges went on to say, “This is just an example of the utter hypocrisy of the liberal establishment which, on this issue, has abandoned poor women – primarily poor women of colour – to a form of sexual slavery and abuse.”
He calls Collis’ response “an example of how spineless and morally bankrupted the liberal establishment is, particularly on this issue as well as on many others. Every time it’s uncomfortable to stand up for something they run for the exit door. Yet they position themselves as moral or good people.”
It’s that time of year again! With the Christmas season upon us, retailers are taking it up a notch competing for your business.
Now is the time to remember the companies who objectified women and sexualized girls to sell products and services. They do not respect women and have refused to change their ways. They should not be allowed to profit on the backs of women and girls.
You can make a difference by making an ethical purchasing choice, sending a clear message about the importance of corporate social responsibility.
Here’s our list of stand out corporate offenders for 2014.
While major department stores Target and Kmart opted to withdraw Grand Theft Auto V after a campaign lead by women survivors of violence, Big W chose profits over ethics, continuing to sell a game where players can brutally murder women for fun. Big W was also the target of a petition calling for removal of sexualised Christmas t-shirts. Read more here.
General Pants Co
General Pants attracted complaints for their ‘Wet Dreams’ ad campaign in shopping centres nationwide. Their history of porn-themed advertising here.
City Beach has a long history of selling products with sexist, violent and porn inspired imagery to its youth market. Read more here.
Fresh One/Fresh Boost
Fresh Boost used pornographic images, including simulated sex acts to advertise their coffee bean grand, Fresh One. Read more here.
Online marketplace CafePress has a long history of selling clothing and merchandise with sexualised, porn-inspired and pro-rape slogans and imagery, including on clothing for babies and toddlers. Read more here.
Ultra Tune came under fire for their sexist ad using rubber clad dominatrix women to promote car accessories. Read more here.
Schick For Men’s ‘Get Closer’ campaign is a classic example of objectification, using women’s bodies and breasts to promote men’s hygiene products. We hijacked their campaign. Read more here.
Bonds reignited their BOOBS outdoor advertising campaign, objectifying women and defining them by their ‘perky’, ‘saggy’ or ‘bouncy’ breasts. Several years ago we successfully lobbied Bonds to withdraw bras for six year old girls. Read more here.
Honey Birdette is a sex shop masquerading as a high-end lingerie store in shopping malls around the country. Honey Birdette persists with violating advertising standards with its porn-themed shop front advertising. At Christmas Honey Birdette goes out of its way to link “Santa Claus” with sex using slogans such as “Santa baby…” and “Santa’s toy shop.” Read more here.
Myer failed to respond to a petition calling on them to withdraw sexually objectifying in store advertising for Viktor and Rolf perfume. Myer also defended using sexualised images to advertise lingerie throughout Westfield, including in the food court beside Mcdonalds. Read more.
American Apparel continually depicts women and girls in pornified ways. This year the UK Ad Watchdog upheld complaints regarding an American Apparel ad ruled they sexualized schoolgirls. Read more here.
Retailers funding Playboy branded sexual exploitation
Collective Shout has continued to highlight companies which profit from the mainstreaming, normalising and embedding of a major brand of the sex industry into mainstream culture.
Hooters restaurant promotes the sexual objectification of female staff, sexism and sexual harassment. This doesn’t stop the venue from openly marketing to children, hosting children’s parties and ‘kids eat free’ style promotions. (Thanks to a successful protest led by Collective Shouts Townsville coordinator, construction of a ‘Hooters’ restaurant in the area has been abandoned). Read more.
Despite a protest including a 29,000 strong petition calling on Eatons Hill Hotel to refuse to host rapper Tyler the Creator whose lyrics glorify violence against women, the hotel failed to act in the best interests of the community. (Due to our campaign,Tyler the Creator was refused entry to New Zealand).
Please let these companies know why you won’t be supporting them this Christmas.
Are you crossing off other companies this Christmas? Let us know!
‘At least Emma isn’t advocating for sex predators. At least Emma isn’t advocating for pedophiles. At least Emma isn’t advocating for men who produce violent pornography. At least Emma isn’t advocating for human traffickers. At least Emma is advocating for women’
By Laura McNally
Emma Watson’s speech at the UN has made headlines worldwide. It wasn’t a bad speech. Like all women, Watson is doing the best she can with the information she has available to her.
Several feminists have already addressed some of the problematic aspects of her speech. Like many, I am critical of the strategies employed by transnational organizations like the UN. I am also critical of liberal feminism.
But as a woman who is most concerned with women’s liberation, I acknowledge that Emma Watson has created more awareness in ten minutes than I could in my lifetime.
So you know what is more problematic, male-centric, and piecemeal than Emma Watson’s speech?
Liberal feminist analysis. Let me give just a few examples:
2) Liberal feminism frames sexual violence in porn as an empowered choice for women.
3) Liberal feminism responds “Not All Porn” (#NAP) in the same way sexists respond “not all men” when we talk about male violence and misogyny. Feminists ought to be aware that criticism is aimed at cultures, classes, and industries — not individual people.
5) Liberal feminism applies criticism to every industry except the sex trade despite the fact that the sex industry hinges upon classism, sexism, racism and a global trade which commodifies violence against girls and women.
6) Liberal feminism prioritises first-world women’s accounts of feeling empowered, shunning women who don’t have the language, resources, Twitter/Tumblr accounts to articulate the extent of their oppression.
7) While liberal feminism claims to be “intersectional” it concomitantly evades structural analysis and conceals multiple oppressions with a rhetoric of agency. This is an issue that Kimberlé Crenshaw has spoken on recently. As if feeling agentic is going to keep the most vulnerable women alive.
8) Liberal feminism claims to want to end sexist stereotypes, but freely labels women “thin-lipped,” prudish, and anti-sex if they dare say any of the things that I have just written here.
9) Liberal feminism has been so concerned about “including men” and being “pro-sex” that they have repeatedly published “feminist” works on behalf of male sex predators and attempted killers.
Liberal feminism is not only male-centric in rhetoric, but it positions male entitlement as feminist.
I say: At least Emma isn’t advocating for sex predators. At least Emma isn’t advocating for pedophiles. At least Emma isn’t advocating for men who produce violent pornography. At least Emma isn’t advocating for human traffickers. At least Emma is advocating for women.
Yes, Emma is another white woman adding her voice to a movement that continues to prioritize the perspectives of white people. But does that mean professional white feminists are going to renounce their careers? I wouldn’t expect so. But I would expect that they might consider whether their political analysis serves to amplify or obscure the reality of women already marginalized by the current white-male-centric world order.
Perhaps Emma’s critics can also question whether liberal feminism is really working to challenge male hegemony continuing to serve up diatribes about “finding agency” in oppressive circumstances. They might question whether this liberal, postmodern, anti-structural, acontextual approach to feminism even means anything for women outside of first-world capital cities… Marketing something as “intersectional” doesn’t make it so.
It would seem that we can either fight to end patriarchy and the institutions that prop up its existence, or we can work to make patriarchy more acceptable and equitable by selling it as “choice.” One of these options sounds like feminism and the other sounds like corporate strategy.
As it turns out nobody is liberated by these industries and participation is rarely a “free choice.” In fact research shows quite the opposite with very few South East Asian women ever personally seeking out the industry. To defend an industry that hinges upon impoverished girls and women’s lack of choice, and instead frame it as being primarily about “women’s choices” shows that liberal feminism is reserved for women with class privilege.
Yes, some women can choose. Some women have the social mobility required to move in and out of different fields of work and that is great. Of course no woman should be stigmatised for her choices, whatever they may be. But feminist analysis is not just about women who have options. Feminism that only reflects women with choice serves to further silence women who have few or none.
As bell hooks has said:
[Feminism] has never emerged from the women who are most victimized by sexist oppression; women who are daily beaten down, mentally, physically, and spiritually — women who are powerless to change their condition in life. They are a silent majority.
Girls are increasingly surrounded by sex trade influences, with much of the visual culture saturated with pornography. Male entitlement is a dangerous, global epidemic. Thai reports show 40 per cent of the sex industry is made up of underage girls. Male sexual entitlement is colonizing the third world faster than transnational corporations ever could. This local-global industrializing of sexual exploitation is constraining the rights and choices of girls globally. Working to legitimize this exploitation only solidifies the lack of choice for these girls and women.
How can liberal feminists bolster these industries and simultaneously claim to fight for choice? Whose choice? Male sex tourists perhaps? From my experience living throughout South East Asia, a deep sense of collectivist culture, filial piety where children are strongly obligated to support their aging parents, combined with poverty, all make the idea of individual choice and empowerment laughable. Poor women living in South East Asia don’t simply log on to seek.com and peruse potential career “choices.” Life is not as simply as victims vs. agents.
An all too common story across Asia is parents who cannot afford to feed their children. They may find themselves forced to send their daughters or sons to the city with the promise of “school and work” — this is increasingly impacting strained rural populations. Are these girls going to be helped by “feeling agency” while they are exploited? Perhaps they could benefit from state sanctioned and local development programs, rather than sex predator tourists?
Australian writers have told me that girls in Asia have to “choose” between the garment industry and the sex industry, otherwise beg. Why is this first-world “choice” narrative homogenizing feminist discourse? It is an entirely reductionist, ethnocentric and distorted idea of women’s reality overseas. What ever happened to intersectionality?
Liberal feminist rhetoric is dominated by first-world accounts of “I think this is empowering so it is.” This apolitical approach evades the statistics and realities of millions of girls and women whose stories we will likely never read about in a feminist bestseller. Feminism has come to mean whatever wealthy consumers want it to mean — “feeling good,” rather than actual change or justice. We seem to forget that the world is not full of women who are privileged enough to try out oppressive systems like pole-dancing for “fun.” We’ve ended up in a situation where Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus call their actions feminist — while that’s ludicrous, I can see exactly how they came to that conclusion.
I understand that liberal feminism does seek to change sexist norms and attitudes, but it does so by supporting the industries that ensure sexist behaviour is normative, institutionalized, and profitable. Not only does this garner political legitimacy for sexist industries, but it bolsters male consumers who can argue their sex tourism and excessive porn use is acceptable or even “feminist.” Empirical evidence shows that first-world male consumers of pornography have higher sexist and rape-accepting attitudes — attitudes that they can more easily enact in locations with fewer law enforcement resources.
I am struck by recent liberal feminist texts criticizing “neoliberal feminism” (which isn’t actually a thing) while the crux of liberal feminism could not be more closely aligned with neoliberal exploitation of women.
So is #heforshe going to actually achieve anything with men? At an individual level, I hope so — we certainly need it. What I do know is that, for my friends living in poverty, having men hear about this will likely do more for them than talking about feminist agency or feminist porn.
I understand entirely why Watson’s speech was somewhat piecemeal, problematic and feminist-lite… But that is because she is working with liberal feminist theory, and it’s the best she (or anyone) could do with that body of work.
Watson is simply advocating for girls and women the only way she knows. So all I have to say to her is: “Thank you. You did what you could, we have a lot of work to do and we welcome you.”
Laura McNally is a psychologist, consultant, author and PhD candidate. Her current work draws upon critical theory to examine the limitations of corporate social responsibility and liberal feminism. She blogs at lauramcnally.com. Reprinted with permission Laura McNally/ Feminist Current
Brothel legalisation: a Top End race to the bottom
…Tollner’s proposal to brothels is particularly cynical, given the population demographics of the Territory. As LNG development proceeds in Darwin, the city will host increasingly large numbers of white, cashed-up men who are a well-worn target consumer group of the sex industry.
Only a small proportion of these men (roughly 15 per cent) are likely to seek out a woman for prostitution, but a greater proportion are vulnerable to “opportunistic” patronage facilitated through semi-prostitution venues like strip clubs, advertising and touting, and all-male group activities like visiting a brothel after a night out drinking.
The sex industry stands to commercially benefit from Tollner’s proposal to legalise brothels through capturing this segment of the market that isn’t inclined to ring one of the NT’s legal outcall agencies.
The sex industry is keen for Tollner’s amendment to be made to the NT’s Prostitution Regulation Act because it would acquire a legitimate shop-front in the Territory. According to research, legalised brothels hamper efforts to detect illegal venues, normalise and encourage public acceptance of the pimping of women for prostitution, and foster an environment that is welcoming of sex tourists for economic gain.
Legal brothels act as “hidden-in-plain-sight” housing for trafficked women, and the Queensland Government has been forced to issue guidelines for “sleeping accommodation for sex workers” to stop the practice.
The Territory is a prime destination for women trafficked from South-East Asia, and also for homeless women, particularly from Aboriginal communities. Sex industry entrepreneurs in the Territory currently run into legal trouble setting up groups of women in apartments to be housed and pimped, but legal brothels would solve this problem….Read full story
Dr Caroline Norma is a lecturer in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University, and member of Amnesty Australia.
Mainstreaming and normalising the abuse and exploitation of women
The Sex Factor is a new reality TV program where contestants compete for the chance to become a porn star. It will be shown exclusively online. The Sex Factor is setting to profit from the mainstreaming of pornography and legitimising it as an attractive career choice for young women. It is also normalising violence against women, given what we know porn ‘performers’ suffer in the industry.
While discussions of the harms of pornography often focus on the damage to children, to the healthy sexuality of porn consumers and the damage to women as a whole, it is important to also acknowledge the harms to those (particularly women) in the industry. While the porn industry works hard to portray pornography as a glamorous and liberating career choice, many of the female performers speak of violence, exploitation and abuse.
A common misconception about pornography is that it is just people having sex on camera. However, in mainstream pornography violence is now the norm, with men inflicting violence and abuse against women who are forced to submit to body-punishing and humiliating sex acts. A 2010 study of the fifty most popular pornographic DVD titles found that 88% of scenes included violence. Of these, 95% depicted violence against women by men.
One need look no further than the industry’s own Adult Video News website to see the best-selling pornographic films to see sexualized violence against women, misogyny, incest and pseudo-child pornography in titles like the following: (Warning, graphic)
Deep Ass f*cking with young girls Gape Me 2 Daughter Does Daddy I wanna buttf*ck your daughter 16
The plot synopsis for each of these films lists the body punishing, humiliating sex acts inflicted on women including anal sex, cumshots (men ejaculating on women’s faces), multiple penetrations and ATM (Ass To Mouth, anal sex immediately followed by fellatio). These acts are designed do maximum physical damage to the woman. The damage to the female performers is often the drawcard, with descriptive phrases such as “red, glistening anal prolapse”, “gaping buttholes”, “prolapsing rectum”, “with her ass impaled on his boner”.
One of the judges on The Sex Factor is Miriam Weeks (aka Belle Knox, the Duke Porn Star.) Despite claims of empowerment, behind-the-scenes footage shows Weeks being choked, slapped and abused during filming. You can view a slightly censored version here- Warning, distressing content.
Activist Shelley Lubben, who exited the porn industry, exposed the abuse of women in the porn industry in this secret footage taken on a porn set. You can view a slightly censored video here- Warning, distressing content.
Many women who have exited the pornography industry have opened up and shared their experiences of body punishing sex acts, brutal physical abuse and injuries so severe they required surgery.
Female Performers recount incidents of physical violence against them in pornography.
”My first movie I was treated very rough by 3 guys. They pounded on me, gagged me with their penises, and tossed me around like I was a ball! I was sore, hurting and could barely walk. My insides burned and hurt so badly. I could barely pee and to try to have a bowel movement was out of the question. I was hurting so bad from the physical abuse from these 3 male porn stars.” -Alexa Milano Read more here.
”Guys punching you in the face. You have semen from many guys all over your face, in your eyes. You get ripped. Your insides can come out of you. It’s never ending.” -Jersey Jaxin Read more here.
(After being whipped and caned for 35 minutes) “I’ve never received a beating like that before in my life. I have permanent scars up and down the backs of my thighs. It was all things that I had consented to, but I didn’t know quite the brutality of what was about to happen to me until I was in it.”- Alexander Read more here.
“I was crying and crying, which was not against their shooting rules. There was a male dominant and a male videographer and a female photographer. I kept looking to her to save me.”-Princess Donna Read more here.
“I got the shit kicked out of me. I was told before the video – and they said this very proudly, mind you – that in this line most of the girls start crying because they’re hurting so bad . . . I couldn’t breathe. I was being hit and choked. I was really upset, and they didn’t stop. They kept filming. You can hear me say, ‘Turn the f*cking camera off’, and they kept going.”-Regan Starr Read more here.
If you are still not convinced, you can read more stories of physical abuse to female porn performers here.
Many more performers also report rampant drug use, depression, trauma and suicide attempts.
“It was torture for seven years. I was miserable, I was lonely. I eventually turned to drugs and alcohol…to numb my pain and get me through…and attempted suicide. I knew I wanted out, but I didn’t know how to get out.” -Jenna Presley Read more here.
“I’m not happy… I don’t like myself at all… My whole entire body feels it when I’m doing it and… I feel so — so gross. I hung out with a lot of people in the Adult industry, everybody from contract girls to gonzo actresses. Everybody has the same problems. Everybody is on drugs. It’s an empty lifestyle trying to fill up a void.” – Belladonna Read more here.
“I became horribly addicted to heroin and crack. I overdosed at least 3 times, had tricks pull knives on me, have been beaten half to death.” -Becca Brat Read more here.
”I honestly felt that if I had to have another strange man in my face, his hands (God knows where they’ve been all over me) him calling me his baby and having to exude some sort of forged passion for the world to see, I probably would have exploded. And what would have been stuck to the walls would have probably been nothing, just pieces of skin, bone, the brain of a robot, and what would have been left of what would have existed once as a huge and warm heart.”-Ashlyn Brooke Read more here.
Others still reported catching incurable STIs.
”After only 30 movies I caught two sexually transmitted diseases. Herpes, a non-curable disease and HPV, which led to cervical cancer where I had to have half of my cervix removed. Porn destroyed my life.”- Roxy Read more here.
”As for myself, I ended up paying the price from working in the porn industry. In 2006, not even 9 months in, I caught a moderate form of dysplasia of the cervix (which is a form of HPV, a sexually transmitted disease) and later that day, I also found out I was pregnant. I had only 1 choice which was to abort the baby during my first month. It was extremely painful emotionally and physically. When it was all over, I cried my eyes out.”-Tamra Toryn Read more here.
Given the horrific, abusive and even criminal treatment of female performers, why would entry into the pornography industry be a prize? Who is really winning here?
This year I’ve had the privilege of addressing a few thousand medical professionals at one-day seminars run by Health Ed around the country, most recently in Brisbane. My subject: ‘Is pornography becoming a public health issue?’ I’m finding it interesting that where it seemed only a few of us were once saying this, now there are eminent bodies coming to the same conclusion. This is encouraging – if significant medical bodies are recognising the problem, perhaps it will be taken seriously and more resources provided to address it. The British Medical Journal has just reported on a UK conference on the issue. And there’s also a piece in the Edmonton Journal by a Canadian psychologist of the harms of online pornography and the destructive impact of the sex industry.
Internet Pornography is an urgent public health issue, conference hears
…[Pamela Luna, a governing councillor of the American Public Health Association] who co-chairs the American Public Health Association’s film festival, said that girls who were being systematically recruited by the hard core pornography industry all over the world were discarded and left “mentally and emotionally wrecked,” as highlighted in one of the films, Hot Girls Wanted. She said that public health professionals should do more to prevent this happening, by using the media to exert a positive influence on young people’s behaviour, strengthen resilience, and deter young people from risky behaviours.
“We have to look at the media, we have to understand it, we have to use it in a way that’s powerful, we have to have our voices heard, we need to be advising on films, we need to be there—we can’t sit back,” she said.
Peter Donnelly, professor of public health medicine at St Andrew’s University, Scotland, said that the “very violent and denigrating” nature of much internet pornography was a deep concern. He said, “All males need to think very carefully about their use of pornography, because if there’s no market, you begin to change this. What you hear in the films and from other young men you speak to is they’re not sure what it is to be a young man these days, and they need help in expressing their masculinity in a way that feels constructive and comfortable.” Read full article.
‘Pornification of Culture a Threat’
…The commercialization of human sexuality is pervasive, and I believe the primary force driving this is online pornography, which shapes child and adolescent sexual identity and attitudes toward female and male sexual roles.
In a recent longitudinal study of American youth aged 10 to 15, 19 to 27 per cent reported exposure to X-rated material in the past 12 months. A recent review of the research observed that “consistent findings have emerged linking adolescent use of pornography that depicts violence with increased degrees of sexually aggressive behaviour” and that “research suggests that adolescents who use pornography, especially that found on the Internet, have lower degrees of social integration, increases in conduct problems, higher levels of delinquent behaviour, higher incidence of depressive symptoms and decreased emotional bonding with caregivers.”
This “pornification of culture” — the seepage of pornographic images, language, behaviours and attitudes into popular cultural forms such as advertising, music and films — is rolling through our society like a tsunami. Unless we openly acknowledge, understand and resist this disturbing trend, the issue of where, how and when men pay for sex will simply be an afterthought.
As a psychotherapist, I specialize in supporting women and men as they recover from working on the streets, in body rub parlours, brothels and as escorts. In the 12 years I’ve been doing this, I’ve found the vast majority grow up in desperation and deprivation, and become ensnared as adolescents within an exploitative machine that deepens their degradation and stigmatization. I have yet to meet anyone who truly and freely chose selling sex services as a preferred way of life.” Read full article.
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