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Wow, kick back and let Ms.Moran guide you though the problems of liberal feminism with regards to prostitution and the changes that are necessary to make in society.

FemiFestFirst of all I’d like to talk a little bit about what Radical Feminism means to me in the context of my work as an abolitionist activist, and also in an emotional sense, as a sex-trade survivor. Three years ago, when I began writing anonymous newspaper articles and blogging under the pseudonym FreeIrishWoman, I noticed pretty quickly that my words were shared amongst and disseminated by a particular group of feminists: Radical Feminists. Given that the recollections I described were the experiences of a homeless, socially-disowned, prostituted fifteen-year-old girl, I would have expected support from the feminist community, of all places. Just as well I wasn’t completely politically ignorant with regard to the divisions between those who describe themselves as feminists, otherwise it would have been a shock to discover that while my words and experiences were honoured and shared by Radical Feminists, they were widely ridiculed and had their authenticity relentlessly challenged by some of those who referred to themselves as Liberal Feminists.

Liberal feminism – which holds that anything a woman does can be empowering as long as she does it without a gun pointed to her head – had always sounded like a crock of crap to me anyway, so I cannot say I was terribly disappointed. I was wounded though; and above all, I was galled. It is both wounding and galling for me to know that there is a whole army of twenty-something, white, socially-privileged young women out there talking of prostitution as the very epitome of female empowerment. That they’ve made this assessment about an experience they’ve never had, while having spent years being educated in an effort to keep themselves out of the social class of women who most commonly have to experience it, and have decided it’s harmless, in spite of the tsunami of evidence that attests to its harm, is, to me, the most repulsive sort of hypocrisy.

Sometimes we who speak the truth about the global sex-trade find ourselves close to despair, crushed beneath the weight of the prevailing public view, steeped as it is in ignorance; both wilful and malignant, and in obliviousness, sometimes innocent in its nature, and when it is, all the more frustrating for it. We know the interests of patriarchy are served by the very existence of the global sex-trade and by the annihilation of the innumerable female lives snuffed out of existence within it. It is galling therefore, for all of us to listen to the Liberal Feminists toe the patriarchal line with the lie they buy for themselves and try to sell on to us that black is white, up is down, and imprisonment is liberating. Conflating consent with liberation is the business of those who do not know that oppression cannot operate without it. But the consent of oppression, consent under duress, is not true consent. The duress itself has morphed consent into a different shape and moved it away from its own nature. True sexual consent is not possible here. Sexual consent is beyond the laws of commerce; it is beyond sale and it is beyond purchase. Sexual abuse however, often has a price tag, and when it does, we call it prostitution.

I am tired of the ignorance of women who do not understand this, but is it surprising to anyone, really, that most of these women are, as I’ve said, young, white and privileged? I doubt that any of the women gathered here today are surprised by that, because, that the socially privileged are removed from the realities of the socially dispossessed is simply not surprising to any woman with a whit of political savvy.

But yes, I’ll own that we are tired and frustrated and pissed off, and with good reason. Each time we speak out, they do their best to shut us down. We’ve seen examples of this in recent weeks, as we do in all weeks. As I speak, there are fools running petitions against this conference from Edinburgh to Brighton and back again. The most genteel advice I could give these women would be to consult their dictionaries, and turn to the word feminist. Of course, unfortunately, I’d have to also advise them, in many cases, to disregard what they had found, since so many dictionaries frame feminism as a matter of sexual equality, which rather puts the cart before the horse. A woman who believes in the social, economic and political equality of the sexes is not a feminist, but a fantasist. We don’t live in that world; we don’t have equality, and, as Radical Feminists know, a prerequisite of equality is the dismantling of male supremacy. First, we must be liberated from it. Then, and only then, might we live our lives as equals.

The simple cruelty of the Liberal Feminist stance is something that also, apparently, escapes them. Their stance tells us sex-trade survivors that every rape we endured did not matter, that every sexual assault of every manner and variety were just occupational hazards, and that our gang-rapes would not have been gang-rapes had legislation just forced those men to use us one at a time. Well, I have news for them: flat rate brothels and gang-bang packages are all the rage in Germany now. For anyone who hasn’t heard these terms, a flat rate brothel is prostitution’s answer to an all you can eat buffet. Men pay a one-off fee, a ‘flat rate’, and for this fee they can use the body, or bodies, of women for as long as they are humanly able, climaxing as many times as they want, or can. These are sometimes combined with gang-bang packages, whereby five or six or seven men arrive at the brothel together, pay their ‘flat rate’ and use the body of a woman until she can barely stand. I have had photographs forwarded to me from one such a scene from a German brothel. The girl being used by a half dozen men was nineteen years old, and seven months pregnant. This is the true face of the regulated sex-trade that Liberal Feminists fight for.

It has been claimed, in the midst of the campaigns against this conference, that I am endangering the lives of women in prostitution. It is telling how the depths of their incomprehension is revealed by the very charges they level against me. There was only one group of people who were ever responsible for endangering my life when I was in prostitution, and they most certainly were not abolitionists; they were sex-buying men; the same sex-buying men whose dicks will never be sucked by the Liberal Feminists who defend and uphold the rights of those men, to have their dicks sucked by other women; economically disenfranchised, educationally disadvantaged, socially deprived and racially marginalised women.

So where do we go, with our frustrations? And what do we do, with the anger that is so inevitable here, such an intrinsic human reaction to the injustice of telling the truth and being called a liar. The first thing I would say is take heart: this situation will not last forever. It is precisely the hypocrisy of the Liberal Feminist stance which will be its undoing. The doctrine that says ‘empowerment can be found in these experiences (which we will fight tooth and nail to avoid for ourselves)’ has a shelf life. That type of nonsense has a sell-by date. However popular it might be, for however long, such doctrine is doomed to exposure – Emperor’s New Clothes style.

I have been profoundly comforted these last years (and especially this last eighteen months, since my book, Paid For, was published) not only by the truths that were accepted from me, but by the truths that were told by so many other women, most of whom did not have to have lived these realities to acknowledge them. I have been comforted to see, in country after country, abolitionist movements spring up where none had existed before, or become strengthened where they had been floundering, and everywhere I have seen the strengthening of abolitionism I have seen a strong overlap between the abolitionist movement and the Radical Feminist movement, or, at the very least, a strong adherence in abolitionism to Radical Feminist principles.

The reality is that Radical Feminists are on the right side of history here, and they are the only feminists who get the full picture, and the reasons why it exists. Socialist Feminists have my respect, but they don’t have the whole picture here. Prostitution does not exist as a consequence of women’s economic disenfranchisement. Poverty is a supporting factor. Not a reason. Supporting factors are not reasons. They are simply supporting factors. Prostitution exists for only one reason; that reason is male demand. No amount of poverty would be capable of creating prostitution if it were not for male demand.

I have come here today to ask for the support of every woman in this room in fighting this scourge that weighs almost exclusively on girls and women. We need to fight this, not by ripping at the leaves, nor hacking at the branches, nor even cutting this off at the trunk; we need to rip it up by the roots. As daunting as this task seems, we already have the tools to do it. We are not, thankfully, totally bamboozled like the liberals, nor are we hobbled in our understanding like the socialists. We know that prostitution is both a consequence and good evidence of the subordination of women, and it is from the standpoint of this understanding that we can dismantle it. It is very important that we never give an inch in this fight. We must never concede to the tactics of the pro-prostitution lobby, the first of which is to pretend that prostitution is not a moral issue. Let me say in front of you and in front of the world: You can be damn sure that prostitution is a moral issue, as human rights always are.

Abolitionists, the pro-prostitution lobby contend, are engaged in a ‘moral crusade’ to rid the world of prostitution. Crusade, here, is a pejorative term, and it is linked with morality in order that some of its contemptuous derision will rub off. Morality itself, we are told, is negative, ill-founded and, well, wrong. The straight-up foolishness of asserting that discerning between right and wrong is itself wrong apparently escapes some people.

I am tired of hearing people frame abolitionist arguments by beginning ‘I am not a moralist, but…’ We are all moralists, unless we are psychopaths, and since when was morality a dirty word? Here’s the answer to that: morality has been a dirty word since it suited certain people that we look the other way and pretend that morality is null and void here; and you will find, time and again, that people who espouse that position are defending something which is very plainly wrong, hence their absolute insistence that morality shouldn’t get a look in.

There is also the nonsense claim that those who oppose prostitution do so necessarily from a religious standpoint, as though there were any shortage of ethical atheists in the world. The moral principles that govern or influence conduct often have no basis other than our own innate sense of what is or is not harmful human behaviour. Prostitution is damaging to the human psyche on every conceivable level; it is exactly its harmful, degrading nature that gives rise to the instant sense of objection we feel when we imagine prostitution as a feature in the lives of the women we love.

So let us stand firm on these points: That prostitution exists because of the male demand for it, and that we know damn well and will not be shaken in our assertion that it is flat-out wrong. There is a reason we are fought so consistently on these points; the reason is our opponents know we can win on them.

Let me repeat that I have come here today to ask for the support of every woman in this room in fighting prostitution. Please hear this as a call to action. Across Europe, our politicians are beginning to discuss prostitution more frequently, and just this February the European Parliament voted by an overwhelming majority to adopt the Honeyball report, which calls for a Europe wide adoption of the Nordic Model. When your politicians speak out, please support them by letters both public and private. When they do not, please encourage them to do so. When you see abolitionist campaigns spring up – and you will see more of them; the abolitionist movement is growing – please lend your time and your energy and your voice.

I am working with a group called SPACE International. SPACE stands for ‘Survivors of Prostitution-Abuse Calling for Enlightenment’. Our membership spans seven countries now and all of us have made the deeply painful sacrifice of speaking out publicly about our abuse in the sex-trade. We have friends and allies in several international organisations and we are gaining ground, but we cannot do this without the support of women in the general public. I encourage you to join RadFemUK and other groups like them, and to support their actions by sharing and disseminating their campaigns and materials. We need a groundswell of support from women, but maybe before that happens, we need to remind women that the bodies of their daughters would be just as welcome in the brothels and the red-light zones as ours ever were, should the circumstances of their lives ever happen to place them there.

I do love the heroic proclamations of anti-feminists and others boldly stating there is no need for feminism, or that we’re now in a post-feminists society, or worse they are an “egalitarian” *eye roll*.   Yeah…  soo… anyhow lets look at the evolution of costumes for women.  See if you can spot the any troublesome trend as women graduate from “child” to “object I want to put my dick into.”

sexywitch

SexyUnicorn Sexytiger

Sexypirate sexynurse Sexyminnemouse Sexydorthy sexydevil Sexybee Sexyangel

Woo.  Can’t you just feel the equality oozing from the above selections.  I know I can if I squint a little and get a partial lobotomy…

Extra bonus Sexy Halloween Costumes over at Your Social Constructs Are Showing.

Anita_Sarkeesian_headshot   Ah, all the poor male gamers having their pet misogyny project blow up in their faces.  Yep, you dudes are for sure are ruining Anita Sarkessian’s career.  Keep the hate-train going maybe you can get her into the NYT again, or Le Monde or Time or… really the sky is the limit.

*basking in the sweet sweet schadenfreude*   

Good Job Gamer Gaters – You may have to blame Anita for starting GG as well, because she must have started it, just look at all the publicity, fame and money she’s getting…  

 

   Anyhow, here is the first paragraph from Rolling Stone…go there and catch the rest of the article. :)

 

She started with a YouTube account and wound up on the front page of the New York Times. In between, all that the Canadian-American feminist cultural critic Anita Sarkeesian did, via her video series Feminist Frequency, was calmly, comprehensively collect and explain examples of the shoddy portrayal of women in video games. Titled “Tropes vs. Women,” her series on gaming pointed out that the roles most often available to women — from princesses to be rescued to prostitutes to be murdered — are both sexist and unimaginative. If these roles were rethought, diversified and expanded, Sarkeesian argues, gaming’s creative class and audience would be diversified and expanded in turn, and games would become more fun to boot.”

highheelsvbirks   “The Problem with Birkenstocks”  by Annie Kreighbaum illustrates so perfectly the fantastical through-the-looking-glass distortions of reality that we collectively we know as “Fashion“.  Unpacking this article was kind of fun in the “Wow..really??” sort of way.  What wasn’t so fun is that amount of shaming that is going on and the expectations of self-policing and in general the absolute necessity of being hyper-aware of you looks and how others perceive you.

  “Birkenstocks are the Chipotle of footwear. Like opting for a burrito bowl and a side order of guac at the end of a long workday, you wear them when you’re in no mood to try. And you don’t feel too bad about it either, because they reek of integrity and liberalism and therefore don’t invite the same harsh criticism as things like foam flip-flops or Arby’s. But still, too much Chipotle is never a good thing.”

Just so we are clear where the biases are, as a person who wears Birkenstocks all the time, the idea that they are somehow the Chipotle of footwear just leaves me scratching my head.  That somehow they are a last resort when you are “in no mood to try” – well that grinds against my feminist fancy in an entirely different way and is definitely the topic of another post.

“Your foot might splay a little bit,” said NYC podiatrist Dr. Hillary Brenner in response to a rumor my coworker’s friend, this girl Alison, heard from her shoe sales guy at Jeffrey that all the Birkenstocks and locker room slides women are wearing nowadays are making their feet bigger—thus forcing them to size up on their Fall ’14 footwear purchases. 38? Guess again, now you’re probably a 38.5.”

[Alarm Klaxon]  Whoop whoop whoop!  Ladies it is with considerable regret that I have to inform you that your feet are getting….*whispers* bigger.   You thought Cinderella was just a story!  Oh no no no,  Double XXers – you have to live by this shit because the grotesquery of moving from a 38 to 38.5 must be considered a horror that should not be named.

Unless of course you’re a bland, humourless, feminist killjoy like myself who lives for blaming on this sort normative buncombe.

“Splay” is a great word, and by that Dr. Brenner simply means that the muscles and bones inside of your feet are getting a nice little stretch and they don’t want that feeling to end. So it’s not like they’re gaining weight—they’re just not as toned.”

Gaining Weight!?!   Gaining Weight?!?  Good Lard! Anything but that…  Is there no hope?  Also, how do feet that are squished inside shoes that don’t fit = toned?

“Your foot gets comfortable in these types of shoes and only certain muscles are working. Then when you go into a high heel that’s more narrow and stiff, your foot can’t splay as much. Different pressure points are being loaded, and you’re having to use muscles you haven’t used in a while.”

Wait, what?  It sounds like you’re making an argument that it’s just ‘different muscles’ being used when you go from ergonomic brikenstocks to the damaging instruments of torture known as high heels.  You’re not actually making that argument against healthy feet and promoting the damage high heels are responsible for?

“But there are abs somewhere under the mushy softness of your lazy Birkenstock feet, and they can be un-splayed and ready for the heel-loving city life.”

Holy hell, you are toe-tally going there.  Because having footwear that fits is completely the equivalent of “mushy softness”.  Did you feel the lip curl of disgust there?  The comparison between flabby abs and now your damn flabby feet?  Can we get a little more hate and shame on for female bodies?

What, exactly the fuck, is heel-loving city life?  Who loves manoeuvring around in the frigidly winter-dark icy streets in high heels?  I want Dr.Brenner to try the icy-fun-dance in high heels – the pain of his twisted ligaments would bring me a great deal pleasure (keeping with the theme of the post, would that be shodden-freude ?).

‘Dr. Brenner suggests training your feet back into a pair of your old heels rather than buying new ones, “You still have the same foot as you’ve always had, it’s not growing wider, it’s just getting put into a different device.”

“Oh,” says the doctor who, in theory. has sworn to do no harm – you ladies just need to acclimatize to having your toes squished and your tendons abnormally stretched.  It is like taking a round with the thumbscrews before heading to the rack…you just need to warm up!

“You’ll feel it at first, in the same way that your body will feel sore after the first time of doing a workout tape. But after a while your body gets used to that workout and new muscles are being stimulated. Eventually you won’t feel as sore. It’s a good idea to wear a variety of shoes overall, so that your entire foot is being worked on a regular basis.”

All you need is time to get used to wearing damaging footwear.  Awesome.

“So, and correct me if I’m wrong, the takeaway here is that you can eat as many burritos as you like, just do it while wearing heels?”

No.  The take away is that you’re advocating against women wearing shoes that properly fit and you’re attempting to shame them into wearing shoes that can potentially damage their bodies.

   Did you catch the "subtle" sexist trope?

Did you catch the “subtle” sexist trope?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Full marks for making fun of phony social constructs. :)

Let it be said up front that this cranky second waver bears no animus with regards to hamsters, electric vehicles, or dancing.  Yet, once these elements are mixed into the toxic soup of everyone’s favourite capitalistic patriarchal construct – better known as ‘our society’ – hilarity is bound to ensue.

The advertisement in whole, before we begin.

This commercial is about selling cars. (Duh!)  But who is the target audience?  (if you thought hamsters, please leave now there are places better suited for your attentions).      Let’s break this down and take a look at the characters.

Science Hamster #1 – Red bow-tie, suspenders.

Hscientist1

Science Hamster#2 – Red bow-tie, red glasses and polka dot shirt.

Hscientist2

Science Hamster#3 – Rasta hat, white shirt.

Because all dudes are not into science!

Because not all dudes are not into science!  Bonus marks for catching the racial commentary this characterization is making.

Female Hamster in Ball – Brown and cute.  Context wise we don’t know the ball hamster is female, but with time spent on establishing a connection one could assume.

Small, helpless, and cute.  Thematic material anyone?

Small, helpless, and cute. Thematic material anyone?

We’re 10 seconds into the commercial and what do we have here – 3 male represented characters creating, designing, and actively teching out with all sorts of futuristic displays and machinery.   The female role, to smiled and waved at; the unsurprising passive receptacle  for male attentions.

Audio note – “Baby I’m preying on you tonight. Hunt you down eat you alive,.  Just like animals (x2).   Ah yes because the predator/prey relationship is so sexy, and filled with equality too!

Well nothing new here under the sun so far, but as with most patriarchal adventures it gets worse the farther you go.  Our intrepid female hamster gets herself into a jam by wheeling her ball into the experimental area and is zapped along with the vehicle by the transmogrifying beams of science.

Oh, silly female caution be thrown to the wind cause she doesn't get Science!

Oh, silly female! Caution be thrown to the wind cause she doesn’t get Science!

Our first glimpse of her portents much of what is to come.  Disembodied woman parts with feminine signifiers for the winz!

   The body parts of women - sexy!

The body parts of women – sexy!

The requisite Male gaze.

To quote Keanu Reeves: Whoa...

To quote Keanu Reeves: Whoa…

And after a full body pan, we as viewers to get to experience the male gaze.  Just some reinforcement in case you missed the objectification the first time around.

Audience gets to objectify her to, as women should be judged by the quality of their tuckus.

Audience gets to objectify her to, as women should be judged by the quality of their tuckus.

Now that we have primed the audience for sexual objectification, lets use it to sell the damn car!

   Inviting female = inviting car?

Inviting female = inviting car?

Where is the female empowerment (do tell my Third Wave friends)?!?  Oh wait the power of love.  How charmingly original for a female character (do contrast this with the creator, the scientist, the engineer).

Empowerful stuff going on here.

Empowerful stuff going on here.

Oh, dudes like their technology more than any single vampy female.  Let’s get a shot of her looking flummoxed so we can reiterate the “female body selling car” angle again.  We do remember the advertising truism – the sexual objectification of women sells.

Damn, they picked me over a car, what could they possibly after?

Damn, they picked me over a car, what could they possibly after?

Our intrepid dudes roll to the nearest pet store to ‘pick up some chicks’.  Consider the perceived power differential – the dudes looming over a cage of helpless females –  and of course the anvilicious buying of women for happy fun sexy times.

Write your own snark about how empowering prostitution is...

Write your own snark about how empowering prostitution is…

So cue more science and boom!  Let the female empowerment roar while striking sexy poses for dudes (science and/or otherwise)!

Huh, because vamping for dudes is approved female behaviour.

Huh, because vamping for dudes is approved female behaviour!

Recently bough females remarkable receptive to their buyers, with nuzzling and other overt signs of female powah affection.

Sexytimes2

Oh, we like you dudes and our role as eye-sex-candy and everything is awesome, see how much fun are having?

Cue the formation dancing with of course, our protagonists front and centre, we must never forget the centrality of the man and his power.

Never forget who is the subject and who is the object.

Never forget who is the subject and who is the object.

And thus endeth the analysis.

Going through this post made me think of all the conversations, mostly with men, about how we don’t need feminism anymore because we are an equal society now thus there is no use for feminism or feminist analysis.  This was a cute commercial until you actually look at the underlying patriarchal messages that surprisingly happen to dovetail nicely how society perceives, and thus, how society treats women in 2014.

You could knock me over with a feather given how surprised I am about the level of misogyny present in our media.

As always, IBTP.

I suggest stop being like these guys and try a new fanciful tact – treating women with the respect and the dignity that you as a dude get by default.

 

 

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