Prostitution, pornography and the illusion of ‘choice’

January 15, 2014

Maryland

Originally posted on FireWomon:

We radical feminists often get called prudish. Our critics say that we have no sex, no sex drive, or that we repress our sexual urges. Whilst any or all of these things may be true, we rad fems are no more likely to fall into any or all of these categories than the general population. We just manage to get our rocks off without harming any other living creature (you should try it some time. It’s really not that difficult).

‘Harm’ covers a wide variety of practices, at least to the rad fem mind. Included in these practices are pornography and prostitution. It is necessary to point this out because millions of girls and women are now being fed the ‘choice’ argument, i.e. you can become a prostitute and/or partake in porn if you choose to do so. If you don’t, fine, you also have the choice to abstain…

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About Cathy Brennan

Gender Atheist.

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2 Comments on “Prostitution, pornography and the illusion of ‘choice’”

  1. elizabeth1848 Says:

    Comment made on “Trafficking Jamming” Blog in response to people defending pornography and sado-masochism.

    “Even the most humble creature, a mouse, a worm, has the instinctive urge to recoil, shrink from pain. It’s a deeply embedded physiological survival reflex. When this breaks down it’s a sign of physical dysfunction. When this death-courting impairment is embraced it signifies an emotional disconnect from our life force, our instinct for survival. When the impaired vulnerability of one person is justified to serve the predatory instincts of another it demonstrates a social and political breakdown. While this justification works beautifully for the perpetrators, abusers and predators, it’s disastrous for the victims who, stripped of their survival instinct, are often unable to act in their own best interests.

    Having worked with battered women for several decades, I’ve seen that those who have been abused sometimes self-injure as a result of these experiences. Nearly all recognize it as a frightening symptom and want to be freed from such impulses. Even when they‘ve been conditioned to find sexual release in abuse, pain or degradation they long to reestablish a healthy relationship between their minds and bodies.

    What’s really contemptible about alleged women like “C**in” (the pseudonym of the person claiming to be a woman who likes being abused) is that while expounding on their love of freedom and choice, they studiously ignore the pain and suffering of the millions of women and children being trafficked around the globe and disregard how this misuse of humans feeds the poison flowing into the body politic which drugs cultural consciousness into acquiescence. Even the pseudo-leftists must see the class dynamic here, the cash nexus where it’s always a buyers market even where there’s no cash exchange involved. Of course you don’t have to go abroad to find victims of sexual trafficking and other abuse, there are plenty in this country – as well as the twisted sociopaths who find happiness in physically torturing and emotionally annihilating them.

    That there are a few women who are committed supporting these deeply reactionary sociopaths comes as no surprise. There are always those who would betray the common good and the vulnerable for the price of the approval of those in power; in this case, men in a system of male supremacy. Those few women who would champion even the most debased male interests whether in war, sexual abuse or hate speech are lionized by men, given generous forums (note Ann Coulter, Camille Paglia, Patricia Rice Califia, et al), dredged from any pool to defend and advance the interests of men who resent the feminist challenge to their inhumanity. (I use the term “man” as a generalization, but recognize that there are many men who are disgusted and opposed to the degradation of women and the destruction of children through pornography. Unfortunately, they are not those in charge or with the power to stop it; though their added opposition to it helps to contain its virulent impact.)

    While women defending porn may claim to be feminist, they never have been. Not only are these women anti-feminist, but more deeply, they’re anti-woman. I personally know such women making bogus claims to feminism whose first contact with the women’s movement resulted from the prompting of their male colleagues to attend feminist meetings and report back to them or to go to meetings to disrupt them with fraudulent, divisive or diversionary issues and accusations in order to block women from organizing in their own interest and from developing cohesive analyses and theory. These women were also encouraged to slander the women’s movement to create divisions and discourage other women from joining. Others only joined the women’s movement reluctantly and resentfully when it became a force that couldn’t be denied. One need only see documents like the Communiqué of the Prairie Fire Organizing Committee (quite a pompous mouthful for a handful of pretentious thugs who were basically groupies of the Weathermen), or the SWP/YSA Trotskyites schemes for takeovers of women’s groups or see some of the C.I.A.’s documented interventions into the women’s movement revealed by the Freedom of Information Act to realize that all these actors have a common thread, which is to protect male interests when they’re threatened by feminist/humanitarian opposition.

    Having been in groups targeted by of all these covert subterfuges at one time or another, their pattern of hostility towards truly progressive politics is obvious. In addition to this, there are the opportunists and individualists who in the past few decades have become parasites on women’s movement initiatives for a meal ticket and a line on their resumes. They drain our resources, betray and divert our politics to the right – all in the cause of advancing their own personal careers under the guise carrying out progressive goals.

    As a person supporting what is considered “left” ideals I find that the “male left” is a sham because even to say it’s the “male left” confines its interests to one half of the human race; the one half that is oppressing the other. So the “male left” is really a covert right tenaciously defending its male privileges under the guise of liberalism and progress. (John Stuart Mill must be turning over in his grave). How can one be an advocate of liberation when maintaining male privilege – allowing the oppression of half the human race? The overt right espouses more “traditional” modes of female exploitation than the covert right. Each has their ladies axillaries and female acolytes championing their distinctive styles of oppression. One male supremacist tendency calls it “tradition” while the other calls it “progress.” As George Bernard Shaw once observed, “Decadence can find agents only when it wears the mask of progress.”

    Although these female acolytes are rewarded for their loyalty with the approval of their male counterparts, the rewards usually prove to be of such trivial worth that some of the women ultimately espy an advantage to joining the women’s movement – at least ostensibly. Despite previously outspoken attacks on the women’s movement they may be welcomed as reformed converts. Still, they may never be able to give up their ingrained thirst for male approval – at least the approval of men who have an aversion to the advancement of women. Although these women are no longer anchored primarily in men’s groups, with the exception of some women who find their primary identity in gay men’s groups, they’re still anchored to securing male interests where they conflict with women’s interests. I find these women are often the ones promoting sado-masochism while trying to masquerade as feminists. They are simply recycling their former roles as provocateurs and saboteurs – agents of male supremacist interests within the movement. Though their numbers may be few, their voices are loud when aided by the megaphones men hold up for them to drown out progressive women’s voices. The gulf between these male identified women and feminists is a wide one – as wide as it was when feminists were first organizing and getting ferociously attacked by them. Not only is the gulf wide, but also their aims may be opposite.

    There is a great difference between feminism and opportunism. Feminists strive for the good of the many. Opportunists strive for their own good. So while feminists work for the advancement of all women as women, opportunists sell out the common good for their own advantage. While feminists fought for the right to vote, for reproductive rights, freedom from sexual harassment, battering, rape and porn, for equal wages, credit and so forth, opportunists don’t bother to, but will take advantage of any gains, and in doing so, call themselves “feminists.” They dilute the politics of feminism and divert it into issues equally effecting men or supporting right-wing policies. We’ve all seen this phenomenon.

    I don’t know if there’s any point in arguing with people like “Consent isn’t Implied”, S.M. and J. who uses football (because people playing football risk getting hurt) to discount the harm of “sadistic” (redundant) pornography. Their arguments employ such superficial thinking and lack of rational analysis that it seems a waste of effort to knock down their straw dogs. Their response to any threat to their porn is anger and resentment that their right to oppress women may be challenged. In sadistic porn the pain is an end in itself – does Jared think the point of football is likewise watching men have pain inflicted on them? What does football, where men get paid millions of dollars for their skills, have to do with sadistic porn where the victims portrayed are paid small amounts to get hurt? He sarcastically suggests that watching the Superbowl, by anti-porn reasoning, would make one a pervert. By extrapolation he implies that we’d ban all his “harmless” entertainment. Maybe a more apt analogy for his entertainment examples would be cock-fighting and pit bull fighting where the point of the exercise is, more frequently, seeing the animals get hurt. These “sports” unlike football, have been banned. There is a powerful enough sentiment against watching animals get hurt to make it illegal; not so for women apparently. Once, setting slaves to fight each other was “sporting” and throwing them to lions and other wild animals to be mauled was considered an entertaining spectacle. Now, there would be very discouraging penalties for such practices. Still, there are guys who enjoy seeing gags and whips used on women – without any consequences for them. What stage of social development do they represent?

    Then there’s the proud “leftist” (Consent Isn’t Implied) who rationalizes his own fondness for sadism, bondage and the like, while admitting to being unsure of the ethics of it. Still, he claims Kink.com appears to be an “ethical” company that profits from sadism and other approving portrayals of victimization. So, if I get pleasure from smoking cigarettes does that make it good? If I’m addicted I could claim it’s only hurting me, not anyone else. But what of the second-hand smoke? Doesn’t porn also have fallout; especially when young teens get their sex education from it? By his own admission, this leftist’s sexual appetite is whetted by violence- so is the BTK serial killer and a host of others like Ted Bundy. Any of them may rationalize the sexual stimulation they get from violence because it gives them pleasure. Pedophiles can rationalize their predilections as well. Does that make the craving good? Wouldn’t it be more honest and ethical to locate the source of the liking and address it; though, it might be incurable? Potentially, such practices might be prevented in others in the future. Even “leftists” like Ira Einhorn have their defenders and admirers despite their violence against women. Anything can be rationalized for personal, selfish reasons.

    S.M.D self-righteously cites censorship, without mentioning hate speech, to defend his fondness for pornography. Still, we don’t see him deploring the censoring of other harmful uses of speech like child-pornography, restrictions on tobacco advertisements and the like. Would he also protect radio broadcasts like the ones in Rwanda, which helped whip up the genocide? Or is he only in favor of “enthusiastic” and profitable portrayals of women getting hurt and degraded because it serves to sexually gratify him? And what of the person who, as a result of abuse, reacts with an urge to self-mutilate, to court being humiliated? Should we profit from their symptoms, use them for entertainment? Such victims certainly don’t look coerced or forced, and it may be a long and complicated process to restore them to a healthy control over their lives. S. M. D self-serving simplistic explanation ignores the forces that would bring a person to such a point. It’s like saying anorexics just aren’t hungry and leaving it at that – instead of acknowledging that self-destructive, injurious behavior is a symptom of something more deeply amiss; conditions that need to be remedied.

    When S. M. D ridicules the idea of Abu Ghraib reflecting the influence of pornography he’s either showing his ignorance of the event or assuming that the rest of us are ignorant of the particulars of the actions at Abu Ghraib. It was well documented that the ringleader at the local level, Charles Graner, was an avid consumer of pornography. So much so that he put up signs on prisoners doors naming them after some of his favorite porn stars like Ron Jeremy. Graner had a previous history of abusing prisoners in the U. S. and was brought up on charges before, but exonerated. After all, prisoners here have few rights either. Graner’s appetite for sadism was stoked by porn and power over people occupying a lower rung on the power scale than he – just as women invariably occupy a lower status than do males everywhere.
    Still, that being said, we must realize that all these porn-loving men and their loyalists are not swayed by reason, rational argument or shame at the damage and social degradation being inflicted on the body politic. Their emotions trump all else when they fear their short-term pleasure or profit may be stymied. They disregard the long-term damage and grasp at male privilege reflexively, bellowing out defensive denials. Only consequences, not reason, will make them change” – Betsy Warrior

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