This post is based on some notes I contributed to a social media discussion about whether class is relevant to a feminist analysis of the sex trade. Someone suggested I make them more widely available, so I’m posting them here. They are a bit rough – but hopefully they might be of some interest.
Traditionally women’s class was determined by her father’s class, unless she was married and then it was determined by her husband’s. Of course it has changed somewhat now but not entirely. There are still those household surveys that more or less assume that if there’s a man in the household, his position determines the entire household’s economic and social class. This has been institutionalised by Universal Credit, which is paid to the highest wage earner – almost always the man in a straight household with children. This represents a profound defeat for women.
Another thing that is often overlooked is the enormous, huge, mountainous, decades-long workstream performed by the vast majority of women that is unrecognised and unpaid: bearing and raising kids.
Continue reading “On women, class and feminism”
Personal reflections on the theme of women’s internalised oppression in response to Sonia Johnson’s brilliant and important book, “Going Out of Our Minds: The Metaphysics of Liberation.”
“I heard you’re running a sleep deprivation cult,” a leader of the US National Organisation of Women (NOW) said to Sonia Johnson when she visited their offices shortly after helping to organise a feminist retreat, where women – of their own volition – had stayed up late talking and singing.
I laughed when I read that. It reminded me of the many things that have been claimed about me – for example, being compared to Donald Trump, accused of bullying, of concealing important information that I had in fact shared appropriately, of being on an ego trip, of not speaking to survivors, of being “difficult” and “as mad as a box of frogs,” of having a personality disorder, and of using my own history of surviving incest and CSE, and my hearing disability, to “get my own way” in some unspecified way. Rumours have been spread that I did something (exactly what is never specified) that was so terrible in the past that several high-profile women (who barely know me) refused to sit in a room with me. And thus my years of quiet (unpaid) contribution to the feminist and abolitionist movement is disappeared. Continue reading “Women for or against women?”
The UK Home Affairs Parliamentary Committee is currently undertaking an inquiry into prostitution. Preparing a written submission to that inquiry led me to look at the existing legislation against punters, pimps, and trafficking. The more I looked into it, the more it seemed to me that the legislation is deeply flawed, ineffective, and does not meet our binding obligations under international treaties. In this article I reflect on the legislation and how it suggests that there never was an intention to make it an effective tool for tackling these appalling crimes. As women who see prostitution as both a cause and consequence of women’s subordination, we need to work much harder.
Note: The legislation varies between the different countries in the UK. This article focuses on the English legislation.
Continue reading “UK Puntering, Pimping & Trafficking Laws”
This is a slightly edited version of the email I sent to Jeremy Corbyn on Friday, 4th March, in response to the report that he supports the full decriminalisation of the sex industry. If you also want to write to Jeremy about this issue, the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear Jeremy Corbyn
I support what you are doing in many ways, so I was devastated to learn in the Guardian today that you support the full decriminalisation of the sex industry. You are reported as saying, “I am in favour of decriminalising the sex industry. I don’t want people to be criminalised. I want to be [in] a society where we don’t automatically criminalise people. Let’s do things a bit differently and in a bit more civilised way.”
Does this mean that you think murderers should not be criminalised? What about rapists? What about people who smoke in pubs?
Continue reading “Do You Want to Decriminalise Murder Too, Dear Jeremy?”
In this essay I argue that male pattern violence, and the patriarchal system it serves to uphold, cause severe pain and suffering to vast numbers of women and children and that this takes place within plain view of the state. And I argue that therefore male pattern violence is a form of state sanctioned torture of women and children. I also critique the analysis of the Persons Against Non-State Torture organisation.
I refer to male violence against women and children as male pattern violence in an attempt to depersonalise it and sidestep all the circular objections that inevitably arise when women attempt to name male violence, such as Not All Men Are Like That and Some Women Are Violent Too.
Continue reading “On Torture and Male Pattern Violence”
It has recently been announced that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has issued new guidelines that transgender athletes should be allowed to compete in the Olympics and other international sporting events in their reassigned “gender” without undergoing sex reassignment surgery.
The main physical restriction the new guidelines place on males who transgender will be that their testosterone level must be below a certain level for one year prior to the event they are competing in.
This means that transwomen who retain their male sex organs (testes and penis) but who have some hormone treatment to reduce their testosterone level for a year will be able to compete with women (by which I mean biological females who were raised as girls).
Continue reading “Sex-Segregated Sports & the New IOC Guidelines”
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 15,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
Click here to see the complete report.
This article is about connections between child abuse and prostitution – about how the sex industry eats (mostly) women and children who have been damaged by child abuse and how prostitution conditions men to abuse children. I draw on personal stories that you may find upsetting. You should find them upsetting. This stuff affects real people. It is happening all around us. Today. This minute. As Rebecca Mott said in her moving speech at Feminism in London 2015, shutting your eyes doesn’t make the bad stuff disappear.
This is how Willow* told me her story.
“When I was nine, I was sexually abused by an adolescent neighbour. Let’s call him Jake. It wasn’t the first time I’d been abused. Three adults had been there before him. But what was different with Jake was that it went on for nearly two years and sometimes I initiated it. Looking back, I can see that I went to him because I was so deprived of love and healthy attention that that shameful contact seemed better than no contact, better than never being touched, never being treated with affection. From the outside, it would have looked like consent. But what does that mean? I wanted love and affection. I wanted to be held by safe arms. I had no wish for genital contact. It was several years before I even began puberty.
Continue reading “The Child Abuse – Prostitution Continuum”
This was my speech in the closing session at Feminism in London on 23 October 2010.
I am here as the chair of the committee who organised this day to thank all those who have helped to make it happen.
A year ago when we started to plan this event, we faced the choice of booking Conway Hall again in the knowledge that it was too small even last year or of taking a leap and booking this bigger and significantly more expensive venue.
We decided to take that leap and soon realised we needed to build a bigger and stronger committee, which has now grown to about 15 women. And I don’t think you could find 15 more resourceful and generous and passionate women if you tried. We range in age from early 20s to late 50s, we are lesbian and we are straight, we are black and we are white. Some of us are mothers and some of us are not or not yet; one of us gave birth this summer. All of us have fitted this work around day jobs, families and personal crises. Rather than list all their names, I thought I would randomly tell you about a few of us. Continue reading “My Speech at Feminism in London 2010”