More news and views

// 16 November 2008

Jacqui Smith has clarified the proposed law on men who buy sex. It will be criminal to purchase sex with a woman who is controlled for anothers profit – that is women who are pimped and trafficked. Of course this doesn’t tackle some of the criticisms about whether this will continue the racist application – as the law stands the “immoral earnings” statutes have differentially been used against the sons, husbands and boyfriends of women of colour who engage in sex work. It is considered controversial because it criminalises the demand for prostitution.

Smith said it was ‘not mine or the government’s responsibility to ensure that the demand is satisfied’, adding: ‘Is this something about which people have a choice with respect to their demands? Yes, they do. Basically, if it means fewer people are able to go out and pay for sex I think that would be a good thing.’

But it’s a step forward, perhaps, in acknowledging that some women do actively choose sex work which is the case that the ECP (amongst others) has very vocally put forward. Jacqui Smith has now said that the government will not enact a universal ban on paid sex because it’s not appropriate to criminalise how some women choose to earn a living however she has also admitted that she did not believe that was true of most sex workers. Even the ECPs own evidential statements include women talking about their “active choice” in terms of the need solely to escape poverty and demanding that ‘If the government is offended by the work we do, then give us the financial means to get out.’

Viviene Westwood should, maybe, stick to clothing rather than misrepresenting feminism. Or maybe her point is feminists tend to be less naively drawn into spending thousands on designer clothing and that just ruins her balance sheet. ‘Cos apparently feminists:

consider women to be superior beings. And in the end, they just want to be men anyway. They want to do men’s work.”

Well I guess that’d be like, y’know, fighting against women’s equality and the like. Well done Ms Westwood according to your own definition, you’re a feminist. Shame the definition’s vastly, vastly wrong. (Hat tip to Hoyden About Town)

There’s a short but interesting piece here about men challenging men’s sexual violence. And in other good news a British scientist, Athene Donald, has just won a major science prize for her work on cell adherence which has major applications in joint replacement materials and on brain proteins which may help diagnostic tests for Alzheimers and other conditions.

This should give pause for thought to anyone making any sort of defence for lynch-mob violence (you know those people who say it’s “cultural” for example and therefore should be protected). A make a Guy (for Guy Fawkes) competition entrant made a Guy with a CCTV camera for a head to capture those last moments. It’s pretty wierd watching – you know it’s some newspaper and an old leotard and a camera. And at the same time you can’t help but think about those women who experience group violence like Asha Ibrahim Dhuhulow and Taslim Solangi and others.

Comments From You

sianmarie // Posted 17 November 2008 at 2:34 pm

thanks for pickin up on the vivienne westwood – i was shocked by her views, really shocked as she has always been a woman i have respected. another perfect example of a woman slagging off feminism without which she may not have been able to enjoy the success she had. such a shame.

Shea // Posted 17 November 2008 at 9:10 pm

Vivienne Westwood’s remarks whilst stupid, are nothing on Helen Mirren’s recent contribution. A sharp slap in the face of logic, Mirren reasons that women jurors let off male rapists because of “sexual jealously”. Just what they are supposed to be jealous of I’m not sure, but it defies all reasonable analysis.

So now women are responsible for rape, not just because they don’t dress/act/behave/exist accordingly, don’t report it (because lets face it, they will not be believed) but also because they let off rapists when they are on the jury panel–supposedly. I thought the F word would have picked this up.

I have completely lost all respect for Mirren, I really think she should stick to acting because she hasn’t got a f*cking clue about anything else.

p.s Sorry for the profanity– I’m seething.

sarahcl // Posted 19 November 2008 at 9:33 pm

“Even the ECPs own evidential statements include women talking about their “active choice” in terms of the need solely to escape poverty and demanding that ‘If the government is offended by the work we do, then give us the financial means to get out.’”

Yes, criminalising (or partially criminalising) demand has to be the start point, not the end point. Ensuring women are not coerced into the sex industry through poverty, and providing real, appropriate, accessible and non-judgmental exit services for women in the sex industry (whether they are there through poverty, drug addiction or trafficking) is just as important, if not more so.

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