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Mar 04 2014

Getting into bed with Christian fundamentalism: Behind the APPG report

In the wake of Mary Honeyball MEP’s efforts to push the whole of Europe towards adopting the so-called ‘Nordic model’ of criminalising the purchase of sexual services, the British media gave generous coverage yesterday to a new report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade.

Most of the papers obediently parroted the line that after hearing expert testimony from 413 different witnesses and organisations, the MPs were recommending the ‘legalisation‘ of prostitution but the criminalisation of buying sex and tougher policing of pimps. The current law, they reported, is an inconsistent mess which (pretty much) nobody thinks effective.

I have no intention of raking over the Nordic model debate yet again. I will quickly point out that to make the provision of a service legal but the purchase of the same service criminal would strike me as the ultimate example of an inconsistent mess. I would add that from what I have heard and read from sex workers themselves, the single greatest hazard to their safety is probably the legal bar on joint working and shared premises, which arises directly from efforts to combat pimping and brothel-keeping. Every sex worker I’ve heard comment on yesterday’s report seems in agreement that the proposals would put them at greater risk and further marginalisation, and I see no reason to argue.

I would note too that yesterday’s report, as a piece of research, is pretty dreadful. There is no attempt to record, report, quantify or evaluate the full range of evidence and opinion submitted to the inquiry, leaving a strong impression that the committee had simply cherry picked the snippets of testimony which fitted with their pre-ordained positions and ignored everything else. While the report admits to receiving contrary submissions, there is no attempt to explain or justify the route from evidence to recommendations.

Perhaps the most troubling detail is barely mentioned in the report itself. The All Party Group which funded it is made possible by the provision of a secretariat and expenses from a charity called CARE – Christian Action Research and Education, which spends more than £400,000 per annum purely on ‘influencing public policy.’ This not only includes supporting the All Party Group on prostitution, it also involves providing (at the last count) a dozen free interns for sympathetic MPs.

So who are CARE? To quote the Telegraph:

 

Care describes itself as a “mainstream Christian charity bringing Christian insight and experience to matters of public policy”. A closer look at its website appears to contradict the claim to be “mainstream”. The organisation’s published doctrinal basis is distinctly fundamentalist and among other things talks of “the divine inspiration of Holy Scripture and its consequent entire trustworthiness and supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct”. In other words, the Bible is the literal truth.

CARE are furiously and proudly homophobic, to the extent that one MP (a gay Christian) once described them as ‘a bunch of homophobic bigots.‘ They were heavily involved in lobbying against the introduction of gay marriage and against the repeal of Section 28, while they believe in prayer as a ‘cure’ for homosexuality.

Perhaps most disturbing is their position on abortion. They directly fund the network of CareConfidential crisis pregnancy centres in the UK, where counsellors were recently filmed undercover claiming abortions would increase chances of breast cancer and could predispose women to becoming child sexual abusers.

At this point, allow me to step back for some perspective. For those unfamiliar with British parliamentary process and convention, All Party Parliamentary Groups are not formal, official bodies. Unlike (highly influential) select committees, they have no official remit, no official authority, not even a budget (which is why they go cap in hand to ‘charitable’ lobbyists to pay the bills.) All it takes is 20 MPs or peers with a shared interest to decide to form a group. Consequently there are APPGs on everything from greyhound racing and crown green bowls to jazz appreciation. The report published by the APPG on prostitution yesterday carries no authority and does not compel the government to act in keeping with its recommendations.

However, what we have seen is a major new offensive in a long-running propaganda war. Few people reading the newspapers yesterday will have appreciated that the APPG is a self-selecting cabal, dancing pre-planned steps of religious and ideological conviction, to a tune played by bunch of extremist, fundamentalist bigots. They will be unaware that the recommendations of the APPG are, surprisingly enough, all but indistinguishable from the policy positions previously laid out in CARE’s own documents. What readers of the press across the political spectrum, from the Mail to the Independent to the Guardian will believe is that a group of MPs has spent a year collecting and examining expert testimony then concluded that the Nordic model was the best approach to take.

This is a profoundly dishonest and disingenuous contribution to the debate. It is no longer a shock to find leftwing and / or feminist politicians jumping into bed with rightwing religious fundamentalists, accepting their favours and cash for the cause. Dworkin and McKinnon were doing the same with Reagan’s pals on the fundie right back in the early 80s. However it is important for democracy that if these unlikely bedfellows are going to be engaged in such unholy relations, they do so in the full glare of sunlight, not skulking in the shadows.

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  1. 1
    Copyleft

    For deeply committed ideologues, dishonesty is a trivial and unimportant matter. The cause is more important. This seems to apply to fanatics of every stripe and belief.

  2. 2
    Mike Buchanan

    Ally, thanks for this piece, which we’ll link to in a moment. We have lots of complaints about BBC ‘Newsnight’, particularly in its coverage of domestic violence, but they recently (20 February) broadcast an outstanding piece on prostitution, including coverage of the ‘German model’. Our edited version is here:

    http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKhX1c3ow6BrzdzP3ydpeZQ/videos

  3. 3
    sheaf

    However it is important for democracy that if these unlikely bedfellows are going to be engaged in such unholy relations, they do so in the full glare of sunlight, not skulking in the shadows.

    I think that you would formulate this as unlikely is a sign that you are much older than me. I come from a very conservative catholic background and my first impulse when I started reading feminist blogs online my first impulse was to thin that other than a few radicals, they are conservatives. This is because their rethoric and thought patterns were deeply reminiscent of the ideologies I was exposed to in my childhood. They both have a very uneasy relationship with sex, they both have very stringent views of which behavior is acceptable and their rethoric very rarely follow the dispassionate discourse of modernism.

  4. 4
    Paul Inman

    Surely it’s all or nothing? Either it’s illegal both buy and sell sex it is legal to do both?

  5. 5
    Pen

    Thanks for that. Also you’re right. The ‘Nordic model’ is a piece of inconsistent idiocy. Only a person whose sense of logic and rationality doesn’t falter at the Bible could fail to see the gaping holes in it. They’re riding on the general sense of respect people feel for the perceived success of the Scandinavian countries.

  6. 6
    Mike Buchanan

    Just remembered – Mary Honeybunch MEP is interviewed in the ‘Newsnight’ piece to which I linked earlier (comment #2), along with a women from the ‘The Poppy Project’. The two women on the other side of the debate, along with the interviewer, Laura Kuenssberg, made Ms H and her associate look like what they are, hate-driven ideologues not interested in honest debate, let alone the wellbeing of sex workers.

  7. 7
    sheaf

    Buchanan, (6)

    The ink in 2 goes t your yt channel. I think linking to the video directly is better, sice future reader might have difficulties navigating.

  8. 8
    Mike Buchanan

    @sheaf (7)

    Thank you. I take your point, but from memory Newsnight episodes are only available on iPlayer for 7 days, i.e. it will already be unavailable through that route. The episode was edited (by the gentleman who runs the legendary ‘ManWomanMyth’ channel) so as to cover only the material in the programme relating to the prostitution story. Over the time our channel’s been available – around a year – we’ve not heard of anyone having difficulties with navigating.

    YouTube have only taken down one of our YouTube pieces (a video) in response to complaints. It had a lot more ‘upvotes’ than ‘downvotes’ and showed pro-abortion gender feminists (some topless, feigning lesbian sex…) assaulting a peaceful group of Catholic men trying to save their cathedral form vandalism (somewhere in South America). The police did nothing to defend the men from the attacks. We must assume the complaints to YouTube about our video came from feminists, ironically. Ten minutes after it was taken down we’d linked to another site where the same video was available (not on YouTube), and the new piece has attracted a lot more ‘hits’ than the old.

  9. 9
    Paul Inman

    Mike I think sheaf means that as you add more videos to your channel, the video you actually want to linnk to will disappear further down your YouTube timeline and will ultimately become harder to find for future readers. A link to the actual video rather than your channel on the other hand, would ensure that anyone clicking on the link is taken straight to the relevant video.

  10. 10
  11. 11
    Kendall

    However it is important for democracy that if these unlikely bedfellows are going to be engaged in such unholy relations, they do so in the full glare of sunlight, not skulking in the shadows.

    I struggle to see how one group of puritanical authoritarian zealots getting together with another group of puritanical authoritarian zealots constitutes “unlikely bedfellows”. The clichés that spring to mind when I look at those feminists and conservative Christians sharing a platform are instead “like two peas in a pod” or “birds of a feather flock together”.

    They may try to differentiate themselves when they aren’t collaborating, and on some issues they do disagree, but I think the similarities in thinking and behaviour makes them pretty predictable and comfortable bedfellows, especially when it comes to spreading sex based moral panic.

  12. 12
    Mike Buchanan

    @ Kendall

    To my mind Christian fundamentalists (and indeed all religious ‘traditionalists’) and gender feminists are unlikely bedfellows because there’s far more that divides them than unites them in general, and their reasons for opposing prostitution are very different. The former group believe in restricting sex to within marriage, while the latter group is against marriage, prostitution, pornography… basically against men having any sexual pleasure in relation to women. Julie Bindel even went so far as to write that bisexual women should stop having sex with men.

  13. 13
    mildlymagnificent

    I have yet to find anything written anywhere – or produced by simply thinking about stuff – that makes that Nordic model anything but ludicrous.

    Surely the whole objective must be to make the work safer for sex workers. Which means they should be able to report possible trafficking and possible exploitation of minors as well as insist on a safe working environment and be able to report abusive or medically unsafe work. I have no problem with prosecuting customers when they are paying for sex with women who are clearly acting only under duress – otherwise known as paying for rape. I also have no problem with prosecuting customers paying for sex with minors.

    The fact that it’s stupid to prosecute sex workers and not their clients is not a reason to continue that stupidity unabated by exchanging the roles of who does and who doesn’t get prosecuted.

  14. 14
    Adiabat

    Obviously there are feminists who disagree with this campaign to follow the Norwegian model.

    Does anyone here know what these feminists are actually doing to counter the efforts of their fellow feminists?

    Are they doing anything at all beyond blogging, or commenting on blogs? Or is it the case, yet again, that the only feminists actually doing something significant in the real world (such as this All Party report) are the harmful ones who’ll make life harder for women doing sex-work?

  15. 15
    Mike Buchanan

    For the past 30+ years the only feminists of any influence in the UK (and much of the developed world) have been ‘gender’ feminists, female supremacists driven by misandry. I’m not aware of any high-profile gender feminists who aren’t viscerally opposed to prostitution, because it feeds into their over-arching ‘patriarchy theory’. All men oppress all women, in all times, in all places – always have, always well. It makes as much sense as Flat Earth theory, but there we go.

  16. 16
    Ally Fogg

    Adiabat

    Obviously there are feminists who disagree with this campaign to follow the Norwegian model.

    Does anyone here know what these feminists are actually doing to counter the efforts of their fellow feminists?

    Are they doing anything at all beyond blogging, or commenting on blogs? Or is it the case, yet again, that the only feminists actually doing something significant in the real world (such as this All Party report) are the harmful ones who’ll make life harder for women doing sex-work?

    There are feminists who are actively involved in the likes of the Sex Worker Open University, with Scot-Pep and other equivalent organisations around the country.

    There have been feminists actively involved in the demonstrations and marches against raids in Soho lately.

    I think you’d find that many of those involved in the likes of the English Collective of Prostitutes and similar organisations would define themselves as feminists.

    It is a problem, however, that a certain strain of media-friendly, middle-class, anti-sex-work feminist have something close to a monopoly on prominent platforms, political lobbying channels etc etc etc. and mainstream media like to set up nice, clear dichotomies which say ‘feminists believe this’ and ‘sex workers’rights groups say that’ without acknowledging that many SW rights advocates are also feminists.

  17. 17
    Tamen

    I predict the homophobia and anti-abortion stance of CARE will not prevent anti sex work feminists like Julie Bindel, Janice Raymond and other to align themselves with them on this case. Plenty of supporters of the Nordic model were willing to look past Janice Raymond’s anti-trans stance when she was invited to hold the opening speech at a debate evaluating the Nordic model a few years after it was legislated in Norway.

    The Norwegian Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud uninvited Raymond in the nick of time last fall after academics had gotten an opinion piece asking why she was invited by the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud while documenting Raymond’s stance on trans women. Kvinnefronten (Women’s Front) and some other feminist organizations did protest that uninvite and Kvinnefronten, Kvinnegruppa Ottar (Women’s Group Ottar) and Krisesentersekreteriatet (Association of Women’s Shelters) drummed together another meeting where Janice Raymond was invited to speak.

  18. 18
    Schala

    The trans women TERF position is also one where conservatives and feminists hold the same opinion, if only for different reasons.

    http://amptoons.com/blog/2007/07/17/cartoon-an-easy-mistake-to-make/

    For trans men, they hold the same position, for the same reasons. Basically, they consider them deluded.

    So to me, it’s not strange that conservatives and feminists be in the same bed. Amazon Heart has been both in turn (first a Quiverfull with 11 children super pro-homeschooling, and then a misandrist radical feminist who thinks trans women are evil), with very little change in outlook. I guess the religious thing had more of a “front” of thinking “men are wonderful/useful”, while radical feminism doesn’t. But behind the front (which was just to keep being accepted no doubt), nothing changed.

  19. 19
    Thil

    “Getting into bed with Christian fundamentalism”

    ….I just got the pun

  20. 20
    Mike Buchanan

    Judging by the video of Mary Butterball MEP, I doubt she ever got a pun in her life. Is there a feminist politician whose general expression isn’t glum (to put it mildly)? I believe they chew on thick slices of lemon first thing every morning, to set their expressions for the day.

  21. 21
    mildlymagnificent

    I sort of get the impression that this virulently anti-sex work feminist thing is more a function of place rather than theory. That place being Britain and some northern European countries. Australia and New Zealand seem a whole lot more cool headed and straight thinking in this area if not others.

    Unsurprisingly, the local sex workers’ group Scarlet Alliance has some fairly scathing words to say on this and on the Swedish laws in particular. http://www.scarletalliance.org.au/media/News_Item.2014-02-26.0622/

    “The Swedish laws criminalising clients has proven to be a decade-long failure,” Janelle Fawkes explains. “In Sweden, it is illegal to rent a room to a sex worker, meaning that sex workers’ autonomy is impacted and legal rights are reduced for fear of detection. Adult children living at home from their parents’ earnings have been charged with “pimping” and sex workers cannot work together, advertise or hire security. Police stake out sex workers’ workplaces and, as a result, clients will only meet in public locations to avoid detection. In Sweden, laws criminalising clients are actively and maliciously used against sex workers.”

    “Anyone who believes this model of regulation is ONLY the criminalisation of clients, and not sex workers, is misled.” Janelle Fawkes said. “Mary Honeyball is proposing criminalisation. It is sex workers who will lose out from these laws.”

    (Forgive me – I have nothing to do with the site let alone the pink/purple aesthetic.)

    I must say that Miserable Mary MEP comes across as a total crank.

  22. 22
    Adiabat

    Ally (16):

    There are feminists who are actively involved in the likes of the Sex Worker Open University, with Scot-Pep and other equivalent organisations around the country.

    I was thinking more along the lines of organisations that are more “explicitly” feminist to counter the whole ‘feminists believe this’ vs ‘sex workers’rights groups say that’ thing. I think that would be very effective to challenge the automatic credibility that these groups are getting by explicitly labeling themselves as feminist.

    The Sex Worker Open University and Scot-Pep don’t seem to be feminist organisations (in fact, judging by the patrons of Scot-pep it is more ‘anti-feminist’ than feminist). The problem with ‘reasonable’feminists using non-feminist organizations to fight the harmful ones is that they aren’t fighting them as feminists, in fact they are ceding the “official feminist position” to them.

  23. 23
    Adiabat

    Mildlymagnificent (21):

    I sort of get the impression that this virulently anti-sex work feminist thing is more a function of place rather than theory.

    The virulently anti-sex work feminist thing is definitely supported by feminist theory, though interpretations of theory may vary depending on place.

    The feminist theory that feeds into it is such things as “Objectification”, “Rape Culture”, “Patriarchy” and, by extension “false consciousness”. Also “Toxic Masculinity” and other feminist attempts to demonise men and male sexuality. Just because you use those theories to reach different conclusions doesn’t mean that others can’t use the exact same theory to reach conclusions you disagree with. That’s one reason why feminist theory is criticised by many for being unscientific, anti-intellectual and for having low standards for evidence and analysis.

  24. 24
    mildlymagnificent

    The feminist theory that feeds into it is such things as “Objectification”, “Rape Culture”, “Patriarchy” and, by extension “false consciousness”. Also “Toxic Masculinity” and other feminist attempts to demonise men and male sexuality.

    I don’t see how the concept of “Toxic Masculinity” demonises men generally, let alone male sexuality. There are toxic versions of masculinity and there are other, not toxic, versions. I’m hardly the president of Dr Nerdlove’s fan club, but I thought his (rather long-winded) remarks on toxic masculinity were a pretty good overview. http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2013/10/masculinity-fails-men/

  25. 25
    Mike Buchanan

    @ Adiabat (23)

    “That’s one reason why feminist theory is criticised by many for being unscientific, anti-intellectual and for having low standards for evidence and analysis.”

    I’d replace ‘low’ with ‘no’. Feminists develop ‘theory’ and for them it has some basis in reality. You might as well talk about ‘Flat Earth Theory’ or ‘Easter Bunny Theory’. Decade after decade rolls by in which gender feminist ‘theory’ and assertions and ‘analysis’ of rape, domestic violence, gender pay gap etc. have been comprehensively discredited, but they NEVER retract their assertions. They live in a bubble of alternative ‘reality’, because they’re driven by misandry and WANT to believe men are oppressors and women oppressed. Without victimhood status, their identities would collapse.

    We’ve publicly challenged numerous gender feminists (including Kat Banyard and Caroline Criado-Perez) to retract demonstrably false allegations, and they’ve declined to do so. Julie Bindel publicly called me a liar in a recent debate at Durham University – just before the vote on a motion, and in front of an audience of 300+ people, mostly university students – and I finally got an apology over the phone. I challenged her to make a public apology, she declined to do so, so I put up a blog piece about the matter.

    Onwards and upwards!

  26. 26
    Adiabat

    Mildlymagnificent (24):

    I don’t see how the concept of “Toxic Masculinity” demonises men generally, let alone male sexuality. There are toxic versions of masculinity and there are other, not toxic, versions.

    There are usually two parts to the concept of “Toxic Masculinity”: One part is Gender Policing, the ways society prevents people from leaving their gender role. This is mixed with the other part which refers to various behaviors that men themselves exhibit that are deemed “Toxic” by whoever’s using the theory to support their pre-determined view. For example Stoicism is often deemed a part of “Toxic Masculinity” as it prevents men from getting help. Another is the male “provider” behaviours.

    (In fact there’s very little control built into the theory preventing all manner of behaviours from being deemed “toxic” allowing practically any behaviour that men exhibit to be deemed problematic, as long as you are imaginative enough to come up with some spiel about “how harmful it is”.)

    By tying Gender Policing, which does cause harm, with specific behaviours, and deeming the behaviours harmful in addition to the Gender Policing it restricts the behavior and attitudes that men are allowed to freely have. It makes men who adopt such behaviors due to their desire to do so, rather than because they are pushed into it by society, “toxic”: These men are demonized and if their behaviour regarding their sexuality, such as desire to pay for the services of a sex worker, is also deemed “toxic”, then these men’s sexuality is also demonized by the theory of “Toxic Maculinity”.

    It’s similar to how women today, who have so much choice in how they want to live, are often demonized by some feminists if they choose to be housewives, or stay-at-home-mums. Years ago feminism deemed such behavior “toxic” (even if the nomenclature was different), and now women with a free choice are being deemed “toxic” for using that choice to choose behavior that just happens to match old-fashioned gender roles.

    Freedom from Gender Roles must also mean freedom to choose to follow them, without being deemed “toxic”; otherwise you just end up Gender Policing a different version of Masculinity or Femininity.

  27. 27
    redpesto

    mildly magnificent #24:

    I don’t see how the concept of “Toxic Masculinity” demonises men generally, let alone male sexuality. There are toxic versions of masculinity and there are other, not toxic, versions.

    The question then is whether those ‘non-toxic’ versions consist of ‘men who don’t behave like that’ rather than ‘men who behave in ways which feminists approve of’.

    Similarly, men pay for sex for a wide range of reasons, so criminalising them simply for doing so is not an effective argument or strategy. Conversely, men don’t pay for sex for a wide range of reasons, but a lot of them have very little to do with a support for feminism or gender equality.

  28. 28
    mildlymagnificent

    Similarly, men pay for sex for a wide range of reasons, so criminalising them simply for doing so is not an effective argument or strategy.

    Exactly. Paying for sex should only be criminal where sexual activity would be criminal anyway – if the sexual activity is with a minor or/ and coercion is involved.

    I think the whole idea is looney from start to finish. Even if you disapprove of the activity, the objective of the laws should be to make the work as safe as possible for the workers and, as a side benefit, make the sex workers themselves as well as other people who might work with them free to draw attention to unsafe or illegal practices. They are. after all, in the best position of anyone to notice that people are being trafficked and exploited or that children are working in the trade.

    You’d think, might be a bit much to ask of Miserable Mary I suppose, that your own stated concern for the desperate people badly affected by such criminality would best be served by making the activities legal (or at least decriminalised) and then regulating them much as other industries are regulated.

    (I know things are different/better/easier here in Australia and New Zealand because we don’t have countries close by with easily crossed borders as all of Europe does, but we have a fairly reasonable set up in some states. Certainly not as confused and downright brainless as it appears some European countries prefer.)

  29. 29
    Superficially Anonymous

    @mildlymagnificent

    That and depending on your level of cynicism you could point out that most courtship and chatting up is essentially paying for sex.

  30. 30
    mildlymagnificent

    That and depending on your level of cynicism you could point out that most courtship and chatting up is essentially paying for sex.

    Only if you don’t think about where that argument might take you. Anyone who seriously argues that POV is setting themselves up for an argument that traditional marriage where a wife is totally financially dependent on her husband amounts to essentially paying for sex. Not a very admirable position to find yourself in. Some of us would say, Don’t go there!!

  31. 31
    Lucy

    Mildlymagnificent

    “Exactly. Paying for sex should only be criminal where sexual activity would be criminal anyway – if the sexual activity is with a minor or/ and coercion is involved.”

    Why?

  32. 32
    Lucy

    “Surely it’s all or nothing? Either it’s illegal both buy and sell sex it is legal to do both?”

    Why? We don’t apply that principle to the buying and selling of banned drugs or alcohol to minors, of the provision of age-related services. There are many legal precedents for criminalising only one side of a transaction.

  33. 33
    Lucy

    Redpesto

    “Similarly, men pay for sex for a wide range of reasons, so criminalising them simply for doing so is not an effective argument or strategy. ”

    Yes people break the law for a wide variety of personal reasons, buying women and kids isn’t the exception. How is this relevant?

  34. 34
    Lucy

    “I think you’d find that many of those involved in the likes of the English Collective of Prostitutes and similar organisations would define themselves as feminists.”

    That doesn’t make it so.

    What they are actually doing is acting as apologists for female subordination and established hierarchies. Like various other varieties of non-feminist “feminists” who are notable for their popularity with men.

  35. 35
    Lucy

    “Sex-positive” feminism is doing the patriarchy’s job for it
    http://www.newstatesman.com/lifestyle/2014/03/sex-positive-feminism-doing-patriarchys-work-it

    Pity is that this is the PR model that has the porn dollars behind it.

  36. 36
    Lucy

    Mike Buchanan

    “I’d replace ‘low’ with ‘no’. Feminists develop ‘theory’ and for them it has some basis in reality. You might as well talk about ‘Flat Earth Theory’ or ‘Easter Bunny Theory’. Decade after decade rolls by in which gender feminist ‘theory’ and assertions and ‘analysis’ of rape, domestic violence, gender pay gap etc. have been comprehensively discredited, but they NEVER retract their assertions. ”

    I shouldn’t throw stones in glass houses if I were you.

  37. 37
    Mike Buchanan

    @ Lucy

    Yawn.

  38. 38
    Lucy

    Ally Fogg

    “It is a problem, however, that a certain strain of media-friendly, middle-class, anti-sex-work feminist have something close to a monopoly on prominent platforms, political lobbying channels etc etc etc. ”

    That may be true in political circles, but the opposite is true in the powerful online and other media channels. There is a largely successful pro sex work propaganda campaign underway in the main leftwing media outlets. The media uptake of the politically-loaded term “sex work” reveals this to be the case. Those who oppose prostitution as inherently exploitative have to run the gauntlet of this new social-media morality police, with serious sex cash and platforms behind it.

  39. 39
    Lucy

    Mike Buchanan

    “Yawn.”

    I’m still waiting for you to retract your entirely up evidenced “theory” that the vastly higher rates of female than male attempted suicide figures can be accounted for by women in your immediate social circle making a desperate cry for help.

    Because they don’t fit your entirely arbitrarily selected subcategory of male, impulsive violent suicidal behaviour.

  40. 40
    Mike Buchanan

    Lucy, I’ve spoken to many people professionally engaged with the suicide question, and ALL have been very clear that women ‘attempting’ suicide is generally a cry for help, because women know friends, family and the state will respond. A typical ‘attempt’ will be to take a small overdose of paracetamol then calling for the ambulance. Not that it will interest you, but the male/suicide rate differential – deaths, not ‘suicide attempts’ – has risen from 1.9 in 1981 (when gendered stats were first published in the UK) to 3.5 in the latest stats. Female suicides have declined markedly, while male suicides have risen slightly.

  41. 41
    Schala

    Why? We don’t apply that principle to the buying and selling of banned drugs or alcohol to minors, of the provision of age-related services. There are many legal precedents for criminalising only one side of a transaction.

    This makes no sense.

    Product A (say alcohol)is legal to sell, but since it’s not safe for health, we make it a 21+ years old (or 18+ years old in most countries) product. The product itself is NOT illegal.

    Prostitution is not considered legal if you have the right age (or the right anything), so analogy fail.

    “Exactly. Paying for sex should only be criminal where sexual activity would be criminal anyway – if the sexual activity is with a minor or/ and coercion is involved.”

    Why?

    To be consistent and fair. And to not punish certain activities on puritanical grounds. Purity-worship sucks, period. Nothing good ever came out of it. It made people ashamed of talking about or even doing masturbation, in private, and it gave rise to the unfounded fear that people who have a penis going in the women’s bathroom will rape all women and girls there, because men are beastly uncontrollable rapists whenever they’re in a bathroom (only explanation that makes sense with the premise, even if it’s far from logical to say men are beastly).

  42. 42
    Schala

    Because they don’t fit your entirely arbitrarily selected subcategory of male, impulsive violent suicidal behaviour.

    Male suicide might be violent, but I doubt it’s impulsive. Someone who wants to end it, at 100% chance, NOW! Is not someone who never thought about it, unless they have some serious mental issue like bipolar and such.

    I threatened suicide when I was as young as 12. And I was very ready to do it at 21-22, and it showed. I looked destroyed, empty. I told everyone that might care that I would end it before I turned 25. And I was considering permanent methods, drowning in an icy river, jumping off tall buildings, etc, not a bottle of pills. I knew no one would help me.

    Transitioning saved me, but it was a fly or die thing. I considered transitioning extremely scary, but decided it was a coin flip between that and suicide anyways, might as well try my chances.

  43. 43
    Paul Inman

    @Lucy

    “Why? We don’t apply that principle to the buying and selling of banned drugs or alcohol to minors, of the provision of age-related services. There are many legal precedents for criminalising only one side of a transaction.”

    Your argument doesn’t really stack up. In fact, in terms of legality, drugs are almost the exact opposite of Prostitution. In the case of drugs it is illegal to possess controlled substances and it is also illegal (in most cases) to supply those substances – it is irrelevant whether money changes hands or not. If you pass drugs to another person you are guilty of supplying controlled substances.

    Sex on the other hand is a service and it is a service that is perfectly legal (and necessary). It is perfectly legal for two consenting adults to engage in sex. It only becomes illegal when money changes hands. It is the transaction that is criminalised because that is only point at which it can be criminalised. Before the money changes hands there are simply two people who have committed no crime. After the money has c hanged hands there are just two people having sex which in itself is not illegal. And so a decision has to be made, do we punish the buyer, the seller or both? If it were drugs all persons in possession of the substance would be guilty of possession of a controlled substance, why then in the case of Prostitution should it be any different? Why should only the buyer or the seller be criminalise? Indeed, why should either be criminalised seeing as the service being provided would in fact be legal if money were not changing hands?

  44. 44
    Lucy

    Mike

    “Lucy, I’ve spoken to many people professionally engaged with the suicide question”

    Who?
    And what does being “professionally engaged” with the “suicide question” mean?


    “and ALL have been very clear that women ‘attempting’ suicide is generally a cry for help, because women know friends, family and the state will respond. ”

    No person professionally engaged with mental health says any such thing. It would be a remarkably unprofessional and dangerous statement to make.

    “A typical ‘attempt’ will be to take a small overdose of paracetamol then calling for the ambulance.”

    And? Therefore they don’t want to not be alive anymore? They haven’t reached an impasse where they can no longer cope with their lives? They aren’t displaying suicidal behaviours?

    “Not that it will interest you, but the male/suicide rate differential – deaths, not ‘suicide attempts’ – has risen from 1.9 in 1981 (when gendered stats were first published in the UK) to 3.5 in the latest stats. Female suicides have declined markedly, while male suicides have risen slightly.”

    Not that it will interest you, but uncompleted and completed suicide attempts, rather than just completed attempts, are much more revealing about the relative rates of mental illness and levels of despair in the male and female populations.

  45. 45
    Lucy

    Schala

    “Male suicide might be violent, but I doubt it’s impulsive. ”

    Not all male suicide is either violent or impulsive. Violent, impulsive suicidal behaviours are just one subcategory of a number of different categories of suicidal behaviours according to personality type and motive, where there is some convergence, but also some divergence between males and females. Men, in death, as in life, favour more testosterone-fuelled approaches; women, in death, as in life, favour more domestically-accessible methods and have greater concern over the appearance of their body and the people who will discover it.

    I have provided this list to Mike Buchanan before, but he hasn’t retracted his “theory” that women’s attempts are fraudulent and less meaningful than men’s, and he continues to propagate it.

  46. 46
    Paul Inman

    Why are we even debating Suicide? It seems to me, Lucy, that you’ve come here spoiling for an argument and are trying to derail a discussion, if you have an issue with Mike’s views on Suicide, why not take it up with him elsewhere? You have clearly spoken to him before, so use that method of pushing whatever agenda you have rather than arguing about something totally unrelated to the legal status of prostitution.

  47. 47
    Schala

    Men, in death, as in life, favour more testosterone-fuelled approaches; women, in death, as in life, favour more domestically-accessible methods and have greater concern over the appearance of their body and the people who will discover it.

    Men can expect this kind of help:

    Man up, stop being a burden. You disgust me! You’re not a real man, toughen up.

    From people close to them, their siblings, life partners, their own adult children. Naturally they all won’t be assholes, but they’re more likely to be, because sympathy towards men as a group is almost non-existent.

    Of course someone who fully expects that will want to end it, 100% sure. Not become paraplegic and MORE of a burden.

  48. 48
    J. J. Ramsey

    Paul Inman: “Surely it’s all or nothing? Either it’s illegal both buy and sell sex it is legal to do both?”

    The justification for punishing the patrons of prostitutes but not the prostitutes themselves seems to be the idea that prostitutes are essentially victims who are being exploited by their johns. From Wikipedia [1]: “…it is unreasonable to also criminalize the one who, at least in most cases, is the weaker party who is exploited by others who want to satisfy their own sexual desires”. That’s a model that would make sense in a context where the prostitutes were forced to work by, say, human traffickers (who in essence would be committing rape by proxy). In a context where a woman actually chooses to sell sexual services … not so much.

    [1] _http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostitution_in_Sweden#Current_legal_status

  49. 49
    Paul Inman

    I understand the reasons why people think prostitution should be illegal and the act of buying it should be illegal. I don’t deny that there are problems associated with the sex industry but in that regard it is no different to any other industry – social, ecological, economic. I don’t think that criminalising the act of paying for sex will have any impact on the problems currently associated with the sex industry (it’s currently illegal to solicit for sex but it doesn’t stop anyone from doing it) but at the same time I don’t think that a fully legalised and regulated industry will have any effect on them either. A regulated industry will help the women who voluntarily work in the sex industry, but I don’t think it will lower the number of women trafficked illegally and it will only have a small effect on the number of women who solicit on the streets. Personally I am in favour of a legalised and regulated sex industry but I don’t think it will fix many of the problems people associate with prostitution.

  50. 50
    Schala

    Personally I am in favour of a legalised and regulated sex industry but I don’t think it will fix many of the problems people associate with prostitution.

    It will fix many of the problems associated with working in sex work. Including police persecution, unable to prosecute violent or rapist clients and unsafe conditions. On the positive side, it would also bring taxes to the state, and possibly side-benefits to the workers (like health plans and such).

  51. 51
    Paul Inman

    I disagree. In order for it to be regulated industry, sex workers will likely require a license or be required to operate from a licensed premises. The threat of violent clients and not being able to prosecute them is a problem faced by prostitutes who solicit on the streets or in illegal brothels, these people are unlikely to find work in a licensed brothel; one assumes that if they could they would be working in a massage parlour or as independent escorts – lsgalusing and regulating sex work affods little help to these people. It is currently legal to buy and sell sex if it is done on a premises where only a single woman is selling sex, these women are more likely tk be able to press charges against violent clients because no laws are being broken. I don’t think we should legalise street solicitation and so I don’t see a legalised sex industry helping a large number of Britain’s prostitutes.

  52. 52
    Paul Inman

    That’s not to say legasing the industry will help no-one, just that I think it will leave the most vulnerable still vulnerable.

  53. 53
    redpesto

    Paul Inman #51:

    In order for it to be regulated industry, sex workers will likely require a license or be required to operate from a licensed premises.

    As far as I am aware, many sex workers prefer decriminalisation, simply because licencing grants too much power to the state. Second working privately is different from working from commercial premises (i.e. brothels or saunas), which would be subject to the same general laws around commercial ventures. Since it’s legal in the UK to be paid for sex, and HMRC regards that income as taxable because it’s work, why would an individual sex worker need a licence?

  54. 54
    redpesto

    Lucy #33:

    Redpesto

    “Similarly, men pay for sex for a wide range of reasons, so criminalising them simply for doing so is not an effective argument or strategy. ”

    Yes people break the law for a wide variety of personal reasons, buying women and kids isn’t the exception. How is this relevant?

    1 – because anti-sex work campaigners assume all sex workers are either tyrafficked victimes or both, even when some sex workers say they aren’t

    2 – because anti-sex work campaigners assume that the very act of paying for sex is violence, even when both parties give consent to a legal activity

    3 – because anti-sex worker campaigners assume all (male) clients have the same (i.e. violent/misogynist) motivation, regardless of any evidence to the contrary

    4 – because anti-sex worker campaigners use phrases like ‘buying women and kids’ when the former is about paying for sexual acts or services and the latter is illegal, simply to smear people who disagree with them.

    In short, It’s relevant because anti-sex work campaigners seem unable to acknowledge that their sexual conservatism in the face of the sexual choices of other consenting adults is a poor basis of policy.

  55. 55
    Paul Inman

    If there was a like button, response 55 would have my vote. Well said.

    To respond you your question about why a sex worker would need a license, they would only need one if the industry were regulated – I am aware that it is legal to sell sex in your own home (provided you’re the only one in there doing so of course, otherwise it counts as a brothel). It may be that individual workers would not need a license and only the premises on which it was being sold require one, in the same way that you need a license to sell alcohol. Obviously I’m not trying to put a conclusive solution forward, only suggestions of how the industry could be regulated. Licensing would require sex workers or operators of premises on which sex workers work, to take a certain amount of responsibility (I’m not saying that most don’t) for things like sexual health, employee conditions, responsible sale – that kind of thing because with licensing comes inspection by the license giver. It would also grant consumers a level of confidence that workers in such an establishment were being treated correctly, we legal, healthy etc. It also starts the de-stigmatisation process, which would not only elevate sex workers’ social standing but would also make it easier for sex workers to make formal (and if needs be legal) complaints about customers’ (and possibly employers) behaviour.

    It’s not a definitive solution and it doesn’t mean people won’t try and get around the rules, but it

  56. 56
    Paul Inman

    Oops, pressed submit too early!

    It’s not a definitive solution and it doesn’t mean people won’t try and get around the rules, but it’s a start.

    I realise that there will be many different ideas as to how the situation can be resolved. I’m all in favour of decriminalising prostitution because I’m in favour of choice. If a person chooses to make money by having sex with people that is their choice. I accept that for many sex workers this isn’t the case but I don’t think either criminalisation or decriminalisation will help that situation either way. Most of the anti-sex trade opinions stem from either good old sexual conservatism or a feminist view that assigns a falsely inflated value to female sexuality and assumes that anyone who doesn’t treat it with the same, almost religious, reverence is a rapist – the views of the many women who willingly operate as sex workers is not considered.

  57. 57
    Schala

    Most of the anti-sex trade opinions stem from either good old sexual conservatism or a feminist view that assigns a falsely inflated value to female sexuality and assumes that anyone who doesn’t treat it with the same, almost religious, reverence is a rapist – the views of the many women who willingly operate as sex workers is not considered.

    Your conservatism and your “assigns a falsely inflated value to female sexuality and assumes that anyone who doesn’t treat it with the same, almost religious, reverence is a rapist ” feminist, sound like the exact same. But one using the left, while one uses the right. Their argument (female sexuality is super valuable) is the exact same.

  58. 58
    Paul Inman

    The two are very similar, but there are certain outdated, religious attitudes to sex that, far from praising female sexuality, thinks that sexuality should not be spoken about, celebrated or enjoyed in any way, certainly not outside of marriage. It is interesting how the elements of the left and the right hold the similar views just for different misguided reasons.

  59. 59
    Schala

    but there are certain outdated, religious attitudes to sex that, far from praising female sexuality, thinks that sexuality should not be spoken about, celebrated or enjoyed in any way, certainly not outside of marriage.

    It’s still out of a sense that female sexuality is super previous, super special, super “conserve it only for procreation within marriage”. Only the latter might not be shared by the feminist, especially if she thinks heterosexuality itself is evil.

  60. 60
    anne mariehovgaard

    Schala:

    Male suicide might be violent, but I doubt it’s impulsive. Someone who wants to end it, at 100% chance, NOW! Is not someone who never thought about it, unless they have some serious mental issue like bipolar and such.

    Doubt all you like, it doesn’t affect reality one bit. The fact is that while most people who commit suicide have shown signs of having such problems (including attempts & telling people they’re thinking about it), a sizable minority of suicides are impulsive AND by people who didn’t have any diagnosable mental health problems. Doesn’t mean they have no problems – “normal” life problems can be pretty awful. But things tend to seem less awful after a while – which is why it’s a good idea to either not have guns in the house, or at least keep them safely locked up. Impulsive methods like using a gun if you have one, or jumping off a bridge, are often very effective methods.

    Men can expect this kind of help:

    Man up, stop being a burden. You disgust me! You’re not a real man, toughen up.

    From people close to them, their siblings, life partners, their own adult children. Naturally they all won’t be assholes, but they’re more likely to be, because sympathy towards men as a group is almost non-existent.

    Have you heard of something called “Toxic masculinity”? You really should look that up you know. Because, the thing is… there’s lots of sympathy towards men as a group – as long as they stick to their designated role (like all those poor jocks who risk having their lives ruined just because they happened to rape someone) and don’t show weakness.

    Their argument (female sexuality is super valuable) is the exact same.

    No. Are you really this clueless, or are you pretending? I don’t agree with either of those two groups, but they are not talking about the same thing at all – even if they sometimes end up with the same (mostly bad) conclusions. The religious conservatives are not interested in female sexual desire at all – if they’re even willing to admit to themselves that such a thing exists; all they care about is women as sexual objects: they believe that paying for sex is not the proper way to gain access to those objects (that would be heterosexual marriage). The type of feminist who is strongly anti sex work usually is very pro female sexual desire, but they tend to have very romantic ideas about what female sexuality is like e. g. they often find it difficult to accept that women are just as kinky as men. A few have a really negative view of men, some sincerely believe that they are 100 % pro sexuality in general, male or female, but they have a very… limited view of what sexuality is/should be like. Plus a tendency to make decisions based on how they think things should be and not worry too much about the actual consequences e. g. deciding that sex work is bad because many of those who choose sex work do so in part because of various problems – and forgetting that taking away what they see as a bad solution doesn’t get rid of the problem (actually, that last bit is a lot like religious “logic”, that may be why they end up as allies…) Most of the ones I’ve talked to are not fans of any kind of marriage.

  61. 61
    bugmaster

    This entire discussion reminds me of this SMBC comic:

    http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?id=2352

  62. 62
    Schala

    You really should look that up you know. Because, the thing is… there’s lots of sympathy towards men as a group – as long as they stick to their designated role and don’t show weakness

    That sure is going to be helpful to suicidal men!

    Hey, you can get sympathy! Just not for the problem you actually have, since that would show weakness, sucks to be you, now go die!

    No. Are you really this clueless, or are you pretending? I don’t agree with either of those two groups, but they are not talking about the same thing at all – even if they sometimes end up with the same (mostly bad) conclusions. The religious conservatives are not interested in female sexual desire at all

    The thing is, I was talking about female sexuality being valuable. Not women desiring other people being valuable.

    If I talk about steak being valuable. I’m not talking about steak eaters being valuable. I’m talking about steak sellers being valuable. The eaters can go fuck themselves in my description, they’re not even in it.

  63. 63
    anne mariehovgaard

    Schala:
    Never said it was helpful, I just responded to your incorrect claim that “there is no sympathy for men”. Our culture hurts both men and women, but not in exactly the same way.

    The thing is, I was talking about female sexuality being valuable. Not women desiring other people being valuable.

    If I talk about steak being valuable. I’m not talking about steak eaters being valuable. I’m talking about steak sellers being valuable. The eaters can go fuck themselves in my description, they’re not even in it.

    Sexual desire is usually a major part of what is meant by “sexuality”. Like when people refer to being gay or straight as someone’s sexuality. But apparently in your world, “female sexuality” means women as a commodity, women as sex objects, women as a piece of meat even. How about “male sexuality”? Do you use that phrase the same way? If so, I’d really like a link to an example.

  64. 64
    J. J. Ramsey

    anne mariehovgaard, if you trace back Schala’s use of the phrase “female sexuality”, it’s actually a usage borrowed from Paul Inman in post #56. Schala seems to be trying to say that the anti-sex-trade conservatives and the anti-sex-trade feminists share a screwed-up notion of female sexuality that ends up treating women as a (valuable) commodity — and s/he’s decrying that state of affairs.

  65. 65
    Schala

    What JJ Ramsey said. While it might enter their rhetoric, desire doesn’t really factor in the actual argument of conservatives and anti-sex feminists. Both consider it oppression of women that women don’t get “what they are worth”, in exchange for their company. Essentially, they think women are getting ‘ripped off’.

    They won’t talk about it in economical terms, but consider it using Unionist language if you prefer. Union vs Boss, where you accept lower conditions than you reasonably should, possibly out of desperation (and for anti-sex people, ALWAYS out of desperation).

    With real life examples, you’d have people in India working for 1$ a day and barely making ends meet, thinking sanitary pads costing mere cents is beyond their living budgets. People in Bangladesh working in sweat shops.

    And closer to home, people working at or lower than minimum wage because they feel they have no choice to do it or starve.

    But the anti-sex people only consider it bad when it happens to women, and for the trade of sex.

  66. 66
    Schala

    As for male sexuality. People consider the (presumed) desire of men to dismiss concerns about their security, and claim that they wanted it anyway.

    Just see how male prostitutes are seen by authorities and social services. They’re perceived as exploring their homosexuality, and wanting to do so out of their own will. While the women are perceived as being exploited and not wanting it at all.

    Hyperaggency, hypoagency. Agent, patient. Actor, acted upon. Regardless of the facts, people will round the square peg until it fits. They’ll remove all agency from women until they fit their mental notion of helpless victims, they’ll add tons of agency to men until they fit their mental notion of violent willful agressors (or creator of his downfall if he’s in the shits).

  67. 67
    Tamen

    Just see how male prostitutes are seen by authorities and social services. They’re perceived as exploring their homosexuality, and wanting to do so out of their own will. While the women are perceived as being exploited and not wanting it at all.

    Just to flesh this out a bit. US statistics from the police (NIBRS) reveal that female juvenile prostitutes are more likely to be referred by the police to social services than male juvenile prostitutes. The flip-side is that more male juvenile prostitutes are more likely to be arrested by the police than female juvenile prostitutes.
    Source: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/203946.pdf

    The bias Schala mention is also apparent in many studies and papers (both qualitative and quantitative) on juvenile prostitutions. I have seen researcher write it out in clear text when speculating how come they found such an (for them) surprising highnumber of young male prostitutes. And so have others:

    “The invisibility of men and boys in scholarly discussions of the global sex trade was analyzed through a sample of 166 recent articles published in social science journals. Most failed to acknowledge the existence of male sex workers at all. When male sex workers were discussed, they were assigned considerably more agency than female sex workers, the chief danger ascribed to them was HIV rather than violence, and the question of their sexual orientation was always addressed, whereas female sex workers were always assumed heterosexual. The results are discussed in the context of world system theory, Orientalism, and heteronormativity.”

    This is from Dennis, J. (2008). Women are Victims, Men Make Choices: The Invisibility of Men and Boys in
    the Global Sex Trade. Gender Issues, 25(1)

    And was referrenced in this report titled And Boys Too by ECPAT-USA.

  1. 68

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