Weekly Round-Up And Open Thread, 19 October 2010

// 19 October 2010

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Better late than punctual, here’s this week’s open thread for discussion and our regular round-up of some of the articles and blogs we’ve noticed but not had time to post about over the last week or so.

If you have a link or comment that doesn’€™t fit anywhere else and would like to share it, feel free to drop it in the comments here.

I can’t let this post go by without mentioning that The F-Word has been listed in Master’s Degree website’s 50 Best Blogs for Following Women’s Rights Issues

And finally, continuing my break with tradition, I’ll finish this round-up with a music video. This pulls together a couple of thoughts I’ve had reading Sian Norris’ review of Click: Young Women On The Moments They Knew They Were Feminists and Cazz Blase’s latest instalment in her Women In Punk series.

To be contrary: I don’t know if I’ve ever had a single click moment around feminism; it’s more of an ongoing process for me – and not just for my feminist awakening, for want of a better term, but in many areas of my life. For example, punk pretty much passed me by first time round, although I did have something of a click moment with reggae music, which I doubt I’d have had if not for punk. Hearing The Clash’s cover of Police And Thieves on their first album opened up a whole world of amazing music to me – and I must admit I’m kind of hoping that Cazz writes a further article examining the impact of reggae on punk (anyone remember The Selecter?). So while I go for a wander down memory lane, here’s the original 1976 version of Police And Thieves, sung by Junior Murvin and produced by the musical genius Lee “Scratch” Perry:

Comments From You

sianushka // Posted 19 October 2010 at 9:45 am

Hooters opened this week.

Our local paper has written 22 articles and letters about it.

the latest came out today – you can read about its problems here:

http://nohootersinbristol.blogspot.com/2010/10/22nd-letter-and-article-about-hooters.html

please don’t comment on the evening post – it just encourages them!

glassie // Posted 19 October 2010 at 3:46 pm

Hooray for sex workers rights to work in safe indoor environments!

coldharbour // Posted 19 October 2010 at 3:47 pm

@Helen

I’ve been listening to the Upsetters ‘Super Ape’ album all week, Lee Perry is indeed a genius.

Hannah // Posted 19 October 2010 at 4:52 pm

I really enjoyed the Ceasefire article, thanks for linking to it.

It absolutely captured the sense of exclusion I sometimes feel at ‘activist’ events as someone who likes to dress up smart and follow fashion to some extent. I often feel like people assume based on my preference for red lipstick over dreadlocks that I couldn’t discuss ‘serious’ politics, or that I’m not sufficiently committed to the cause.

Interestingly I don’t find this happens at feminist events, contrary to what people often claim about the second wave being anti-glamour, anti-femininity (although it obviously did have elements of this, see the fuss over Showalter writing for Vogue). Still, I agree with the writer of the article in that I think activism has become more diffuse and open to different interpretations as the green movement has mainstreamed (and overcome its own macho mountain man tendencies, embodied in people like Dave Foreman of Earth First!). So some cause for celebration, at least!

The article seems very relevant to the recent debates on the f word about whether you would call yourself a feminist, in that it’s advocating a form of activism that isn’t all or nothing, but allows for different interpretations and levels of commitment. I recommend that all those who’ve been following the debates take a look!

crystal // Posted 19 October 2010 at 5:27 pm

i cannot believe how patronizing the article about iphone apps in the daily mail. i am not one to get easily offended but that is beyond stupid.

sam // Posted 19 October 2010 at 6:21 pm

i dd not get the female v woman aricle. so now it is sexist to call a woman a female.

coldharbour // Posted 19 October 2010 at 7:00 pm

Also I would like to remind everyone that the London Anarchist Bookfair will be taking place in Mile End Rd. this Saturday (the 23th of October). The details are here:

http://www.anarchistbookfair.org.uk/index.html

Theres lots of awesome meetings taking place including a talk from John Pilger and a talk involving anarcha-feminists.

Shinila // Posted 19 October 2010 at 8:24 pm

Regarding the ceasefire article, the tone of ‘Ur doing feminism wrong – Stop embarrassing us normal women’ always offends. It seems to be becoming more and more popular within the movement to call other women out. Which makes me wonder whether grouping together in activist/ feminist unity is a bad idea. We should address issues as women with the women that agree with us. Rather than unite under an out-dated facade that seems to frustrate so many.

I seem to encounter more subtle anti-feminism on this site than on comment is free. And i’m more and more monitoring every word I say. Being a feminist is just another thing that invites women in before giving them new resentful standards – be uber liberal, be nice, smile, don’t embarrass us.

I’d sometimes rather speak about women’s issues, without my ‘sisters’ who want to legalise prostitution, who openly hate activist-women. I’m not related to these women and would rather lick batteries all day than be in the same room with them discussing feminism.

Sometimes being without a label and moving forward without activism is fine. But discussing female activists like they’re scum on the Earth, and holding this article up for praise on the f word is yet another joke. Just like last week’s angry ‘why feminism sucks and some of us have a right to hate the label’ thread. Is this a parody? If so, it’s funny.

KJ // Posted 20 October 2010 at 1:26 am

Ceasefire article is excellent – unfortunately the long discussion below it has engrossed me to the point where my work is now seriously overdue

Lindsey // Posted 20 October 2010 at 9:07 am

@sam

I think what the female vs woman article was trying to say is that “female” in the scientific sense means “uterus owning animal” and while that technically does describe me it ignores my humanity and existence as a person. If you are ok with being called female then go ahead, claim it and be proud, but it doesn’t work for everybody (and as we’ve seen recently, it’s really hard to find anything that everybody can agree on).

coldharbour // Posted 20 October 2010 at 11:57 am

@Shinila

“I’d sometimes rather speak about women’s issues, without my ‘sisters’ who want to legalise prostitution, who openly hate activist-women.”

A rather perverse conflation considering the activists groups who represent sex workers are those who are in favor of the non-criminalization of women and fight to ensure their autonomy and safety. If you think they deserve less respect that people who dance around in pajamas chanting childish slogans putting little pieces of paper in front of childish ‘mens magazines’ in Tesco you are seriously deluding yourself.

Hannah // Posted 20 October 2010 at 1:35 pm

Lindsay and sam: I’ve always been uncomfortable somehow with people using the word ‘female’ to describe a woman, rather than simply saying ‘women’, but had never had a proper think about why exactly that was. The article really hit the nail on the head for me: we’d never call a group of men ‘males’ the way we would talk about ‘females’ because we’re used to describing women in a dehumanising way, assessing their characteristics, pathologising their perceived faults and making them into objects to be acted upon, rather than women with full human agency.

I thought the comparison with calling black men ‘boys’ was particularly apt, in that it gave black men a status that was less than fully human. I can understand why some (many) people think there are perhaps more pressing problems for feminists than linguistic reform, but as someone who’s studied linguistics, I’m painfully aware of how the language we use impacts our structures of thought (Dale Spender is excellent for this but I can’t recall whether she talks about ‘female’ vs ‘woman’)

Tab // Posted 20 October 2010 at 7:01 pm

Sam – ‘female’ is an adjective, not a noun. Using adjectives as nouns is both grammatically incorrect and makes it sound like you’re referring to people as things, defining them by a single quality.

You don’t call someone ‘a left-handed’ or ‘a talkative’ – and you certainly don’t (or shouldn’t) call someone ‘a black’ or ‘a gay’ or ‘a disabled’. Or, indeed, ‘a female’.

Also, calling people ‘males’ and ‘females’ rather than ‘men’ and ‘women’ rather makes you sound like you’re narrating a wildlife documentary.

Shinila // Posted 20 October 2010 at 9:15 pm

“If you think they deserve less respect that people who dance around in pajamas chanting childish slogans putting little pieces of paper in front of childish ‘mens magazines’ in Tesco you are seriously deluding yourself.”

Not less respect. But why do totally different groups all have to pretend we get along just for the sake of uniting under the term feminist? We know we’re at completely opposite odd ends of the spectrum and it’s often tedious and painful to put up with so-called ‘debate’ -why do Object’s antics bother you so much if you’re not a blatant anti-feminist? Why not just ignore and get on with your ‘prostitution is a liberating experience!’ activism. Pay per rape makes pure liberating sense, I’m sure a lot of the sisters are sure to follow in due time!

I seriously don’t get the big issue people have with women who have a problem with the onslaught of their objectification. Why can’t they be left alone to find their objectification an issue? *How* would you understand as a bloke?

That’s why I love what object are doing – they’re against objectification before being feminists. Which is honest and should get them away from the ‘Ur not doin it right!!’ attacks. But it doesn’t, cos anti-feminists will moan whenever women, proclaimed feminists or not, are getting progress somewhere. It’s ridiculous.

Girls in their pajamas always bothered you then? Or is it the *actual* threat to the system protests against objectification poses? As opposed to the *non-existant* threat to the system shouting about how liberating boobs are?

Oh but wait, we don’t actually like threats to the system…. Activists are scummy according to the new cool feminist.

As for whether those in favour of legalising prostitution *care* about women really and are on the same page, let’s not drag us all into the same boat just because we care about women. Aside from the obvious, we’re at completely different ends – I see rape as rape (so f word feminist bashing queue to the right please). We shouldn’t be uniting under ‘feminist’, or having the right to tell each other we’re doin it wrong. I don’t get the faux unity.

Kristin // Posted 21 October 2010 at 11:30 am

Shinila, SO well said. Thank you. Hannah, I like your comment too.

I also wish some people here could disagree with one another without finding it necessary to write things like ‘you’re seriously deluding yourself’.

coldharbour // Posted 21 October 2010 at 11:51 am

@Shinila

“That’s why I love what object are doing – they’re against objectification before being feminists.”

I think you’ve answered you own question with that quote. As an Anarcho-Feminist I view the way Tesco treats it’s female employees in terms of wages and conditions far more oppressive and anti-feminist than its selling childish men’s magazines, it’s the private control of resources that ultimately enslaves women (and everyone else for that matter), until the issue of private tyranny and wage-slavery is addressed publications that include soft pornography are not going to really hold my attention that much. I doubt whether anyone in Object actually thinks outside the narrow box of childish soft porn mags but thats not really surprising considering the intellectual currency of the literature on their website. Object are a single issue party, they oppose sexual imagery they personally find uncomfortable, they have no interest putting their efforts into in creating an egalitarian society for all classes of people including women, thats why I have a problem with them. But ultimately I agree with you Shinila, I don’t want to be in the same boat as narrow minded, bourgeois, transphobic dogmatists who only view the world in terms of how it affects them. I’ll be doing my best to reclaim the word feminist from people like that and no ones going to stop me.

Qubit // Posted 21 October 2010 at 1:31 pm

I never quite get this

Object: We’d quite like this magazine containing porn to be treated like porn and not have sexually explicit images visible in the supermarket.

Response: How dare you suggest such a thing! You are taking away my rights! What about free speech! Shut up in the name of free speech! If the magazines were on the top shelf short men couldn’t reach them so you are being heightest and what about disabled people (it doesn’t matter they can’t reach a lot of food products in the supermarket because that isn’t porn). You are being a prude and are against women’s rights! This is empowering for the women involved and you are just jealous. Stop being a bitch. It is my right to buy these magazines they shoudn’t be banned (not that you are calling for a ban but if I pretend you are my point is more reasonable).

Anyway women’s magazines are just as bad. If I break the plastic cover, open the magazine and flip through several pages I will come across a sexually explicit picture of a man so they should be banned first! Also women’s magazines do more damage to body image because the women in men’s mags have big boobs so weight more. This makes them healthy, while the women in women’s mags don’t have boobs so they are unhealthy.

Elena // Posted 21 October 2010 at 1:43 pm

Shinila wrote:

“Sometimes being without a label and moving forward without activism is fine. But discussing female activists like they’re scum on the Earth, and holding this article up for praise on the f word is yet another joke.”

I didn’t agree with everything in the Ceasefire article, but one thing in there did strike a chord with me. That is, when activism becomes a subculture it can be very alienating to people who do not share that subculture, and that can be counterproductive.

There have been times when I have been interested in getting involved in things but have been put off because I worry I will not be welcome. It’s simple cowardice I know, but like a lot of people I do get anxious in unfamiliar social situations, and some of the activists I have met have reinforced that feeling.

I think we need to separate “activism” from “being an activist”. Anyone can get involved in activism because it’s about what you do; even the smallest involvement can lead to bigger and better things for the person and for the cause. Being an activist though often seems to be much more than that, it’s an identity above and beyond “one who does activism”, it’s about having the right lifestyle and having read the right books and being able to use the jargon correctly and nodding the head in the right places and eating the right food.

No-one who pitches in (however big or small their contribution) should be made to feel second-class or inauthentic.

Besides, I think diverse opinions and debate are good things. I wouldn’t want to be involved in a group where I was censured if I questioned something. It would feel too much like the “shut up and be a good girl” most women have grown up with. It’s not about “shut up, you’re doing feminism wrong”, or it shouldn’t be, because that’s, well, kyriarchy.

Maria // Posted 21 October 2010 at 2:28 pm

Coldharbour, no one can fight all the battles. What is wrong with some groups/organisations choosing to focus on one particular issue? And don’t you think what Object are doing is contributing towards an egalitarian society? To say they’re seeing the world only in terms of what affects them seems short-sighted to me. And unfair.

Those ‘childish’ lads mags you so casually dismiss have done and continue to do a lot of damage to women and girls. Why the hell shouldn’t women be upset and angry about them? It’s not so long ago, for instance, that an ‘agony uncle’ in one of them advised a reader to cut his girlfriend’s face so that no one would want her. Childish? Bit more than that, I’d think.

Good luck with all your ‘reclaiming’, but I think you’re the one who is expressing narrow-minded attitudes here. I’m angry about objectification and lads mags and no one’s going tell me I shouldn’t feel that way.

coldharbour // Posted 21 October 2010 at 2:29 pm

@Qubit

“What about free speech!”

Well what about it then? So who is to be the arbitrator of what constitutes pornography? You? The Nation State? The Police? There are lots of countries in the world that have a very nasty and authoritarian attitude towards sexual imagery, if you want to analyse the statistical data I doubt you will find many if any of them have a decent record with regards to gender equality. If you want to think that’s a coincidence thats up to you, the academic anthropologist in me begs to differ.

Shinila // Posted 21 October 2010 at 2:44 pm

Mind boggingly I’m transphobic now! These silly guilt trips aimed at activists are hilarious. And thank you for the feminist-friendly string of insults.

I’m afraid you addressed my point with your guilt trip. Object is productive and taken seriously as a single issue party. You’re trying to alter it’s productiveness by attacking them as ”feminists who don’t care about this this and that.’ Why *should* young women feel ashamed, made to feel guilty about tesco workers – why do they have to be an all-round olympic ‘feminist’, this word increasingly claimed by uber-liberals, whenever they want to stand against their objectification.

You see this is why the label feminist is a bad idea – it’s ‘claimed’ by people who want to impose yet more standards on women. So that to be a feminist you now have to hate activists, be open to the liberating aspects of pay per rape, be made to feel concerned about everything except the hatred of women in our culture. I very much would love to see the term feminist to be abolihed because sharing it with anti-feminist guilt tripping pro- prostitution activists is the opposite of productive. A single issue approach is much more effective than pretending, like some like to, that feminism is anything more than an excuse for many to say ‘you’re doin it wrong you scummy activists.’ And, ‘you don’t care about tesco workers!’

They are not silly pointless mags. You not being a woman saying this frankly, chaps my hide. Being concerned about objectification isn’t pointless because of the onslaught, the way objectification is 24/7, thrown in faces even as soon as women walk in their local or uni shop. It’s the onslaught, not the boobs, which make women uncomfortable. It’s the mockery – no one is asking women if they mind being objectified in every advert, newsagent, Tv show.

As a single issue, others shouldn’t have the right to say women against objectification are doin it wrong.. if it’s not saying that, then it’s, ‘they don’t care about tesco workers’. Cliche after cliche.

Eleanor –

Funny thing about activism ‘as a sub-culture’. No one has a problem with the ‘indie’ sub-culture, the ‘fashion-girl’ sub-culture. Suddenly when people are doing good as their primary goal, the sub-culture is harsh, alienating, scummy. I don’t buy it, but people argue this much better in the ceasefire article comments. I particularly admire Tim and Andy’s scarily intelligent insightful responses.

Depressed // Posted 21 October 2010 at 2:45 pm

When someone on a feminist website is attacking an organisation which fights objectification of women….

Do I need to finish the sentence?

‘oppose sexual imagery they personally find uncomfortable’. There’s me thinking this ‘personally find uncomfortable’ thing was a seriously dopey old patriarchal silencing tactic, and it pops its fugly head up here!

sianushka // Posted 21 October 2010 at 2:46 pm

coldharbour

Object are a single issue party, they oppose sexual imagery they personally find uncomfortable,

I’m sorry but that is a stupid statement. it isn’t about being ‘uncomfortable’ and you are using that term because it is loaded with an idea that women who are opposed to the sex industry are because they find it distasteful or ‘disgusting’.

object/some feminists oppose to soft porn, hardcore porn etc because it is damaging to women and men. because it portrays women as only and always sex objects, not as full citizens of the world. it portrays vawg as something sexy or desirable. it fuels the sex trafficking industry. it isn’t about finding it uncomfortable but about objecting to the idea that women are disposable sex objects to be consumed by a (primarily male) audience.

i am sick to death of pro sex industry feminists portraying women who don’t agree with them as outraged mary whitehouse types. and i am endlessly curious as to why anarcha and socialist feminists support an industry that is so blatantly a product of unbridled capitalism, an industry that sees everything as a market with a market value, even a woman’s body. how can you be against tesco, an industry that puts a price on a woman and man’s body for labour, and not be against an industry that puts a price on a person’s sexuality? it doesn’t make sense to be against one and not the other, and yet it happens all the time!

i am against lad’s mags and the sex industry because it is damaging to men and women not because it makes me uncomfortable.

Helen G // Posted 21 October 2010 at 2:49 pm

Mod’s note:

OK, I’m calling time out on this thread. It’s starting to drift into the land of passive-aggressive personal attacks and I, for one, have seen enough of those lately in too many places.

So I’m closing comments for about 24 hours so we can all just cool down a bit.

Anything that does get submitted in the meantime is just going to sit in the mod queue until approx 3pm tomorrow (Friday 22 October) so please think twice before hitting ‘Send’.

Thanks

Helen

Qubit // Posted 21 October 2010 at 2:56 pm

@ Coldhabour so putting the magazines slightly higher up is against free speech. Is it also against free speech that I have to walk to a particular isle in the supermarket to find my pizza?

Suzanna // Posted 21 October 2010 at 2:56 pm

If anyone wonders why so many girls and women don’t want to identify as feminists and/or assume they wouldn’t be accepted or judged bone fide feminists, all they have to do is read coldharbour’s comments.

Mystery solved.

sianushka // Posted 21 October 2010 at 3:05 pm

coldharbour – qubit wasn’t saying to ban or have the ‘nation’ regulate porn. in fact, she made that point quite clearly in her post.

88% of internet porn portrays violence against women and girls, according to stats quoted in the equality illusion. it is often disgustingly racist. it should be ok for women to stand up and say that they have had enough of being portrayed as objects that can be and enjoy being violated and abused.

perhaps you don’t care about how the culture of lad’s mags and porn is effecting young teen women – the levels of violence in teen relationships, the levels of sexual bullying and the levels of mental disorders in young women. perhaps you think caring about this is childish and there are bigger issues. fine, that is your choice. but i do care and i will continue to fight the culture that tells young women they are only worth as much as the size of their breasts and waist.

and i can do that, and i can still care about tescos and their labour practises. i live on stokes croft which have been fighting tescos from opening on the road for months precisely because of those issues.

i hate it when people criticise feminists under the stupid assumption that they can only care about one thing at a time, that if you care about objectification you can’t possibly care about anything else. yes, object is single issue, but many of its supporters are capable of being active on more than one issue.

what’s more – these issues are linked. treating women as disposable objects, as an ‘other’ encourages the view that women aren’t full citizens of the world worthy of being treated with respect.

Lizzie // Posted 21 October 2010 at 6:49 pm

Really pleased to see that the cancellation of Exeter’s Reclaim the Night march is being publicised on here.

As one of the organisers it was heartbreaking after all our hard work to hear that police were refusing to support us when they spend so much time claiming to care about women’s safety at night – especially when there have been several attacks on women on the streets of Exeter at night in the past year.

Hopefully if their own consciences won’t lead them to support us then public shaming will.

Here is the petition link – please sign it: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/reclaim/

Jen // Posted 21 October 2010 at 6:59 pm

Hurm okay, first of all, just wanted to say Helen seriously rocked the whole ’round-up thread’ concept with the inclusion of Junior Murvin and all.

Secondly, I want to address some of the other points being raised here just so Coldharbour isn’t left on her own to struggle against accusations of hating activists or whatever. I thought the Ceasefire article was good, and it contains a lot of points that I have been making for a long time.

It’s not in any way condemning people who act on the basis of their politics, but expressing some quite legitimate concerns about the subculture of activism, as a kind of fetishisation of certain methods of activism. I think the term I used to use was ‘re-enactment society’, and I think that was quite accurate, especially when you get to ways of dressing and so on – and especially when groups start actually dressing up as suffragettes or chartists and that kind of stuff.

As for Object, I’m okay with them being single-issue, and I would actually be okay with them doing their thing if that was all they did, if they had any idea what ‘objectification’ actually meant cause they hell of misapply that idea… and in general I find their politics pretty abhorrent. But that’s true of a number of groups that I never bother to criticise. However, two things – aside from their politics which I think Coldharbour has correctly assessed – bother me about them. One is that they’re one of maybe two or three tops feminist groups that always get cited as representative of feminist activism throughout the UK. And two, they seem okay with that.

The other irritating thing is that they’re one organisation whose work we’re constantly called upon to feel grateful for or else we support horrible things happening to women. And, really, I don’t think they do any good. I do think they’re pretty childish and reactionary. And I don’t think criticising them constitutes ‘attacking’ them. Then there is the problem that through their work they position themselves as arbiters of what people might get off on, and what they shouldn’t.

Other than that, really, I don’t think it’s fair to accuse Coldharbour of laying some kind of guilt trip on women as a group because she gives a damn about the labour rights of women who work for Tesco. Really, if you’re complaining about having to think about women’s labour rights, fucking screw you [note to Helen, feel free to delete the insult, I just had to get it off my chest].

I also have a bit of a massive problem with referring to sex work as ‘pay per rape’. Lots of women bare their bodies in the course of paid employment for various reasons, and one thing that makes me uncomfortable around feminists is that they can often make you feel disgusting for having one of those (a body, I mean) to a far greater extent than any porn, through uses of phrases like ‘pay per rape’. And really, with the type of activism Object do and others like them, it really feels like women’s rights can’t be violated until an erect cock is involved, so in the end, they’re the ones reducing women to fuckholes. At least the lads’ mags ask their models if they have hobbies, you know – more than Object do.

Elena // Posted 21 October 2010 at 7:05 pm

Shinila:

The problem is not with any particular subculture being “harsh, alienating, scummy”. It’s the very nature of subcultures to be exclusionary – those with the right attributes are “in” and everyone else is “out”. There’s nothing wrong or evil with this as such, it’s just that when you are trying to get as many people as possible to get involved in something in order to get things done, it’s not helpful.

That’s not to say that anyone should change their lifestyle or apologise for the way they are, just that they may need to be aware of the need to reach out and make it clear that they are welcoming to those who are not already “in” if they want to achieve their goals. This is one of the things the trade union movement, to give an example, has had to become very good at.

earwicga // Posted 21 October 2010 at 7:43 pm

‘A Ugandan newspaper published a story featuring a list of the nation’s “top” gays and lesbians with their photos and addresses, angering activists who say the already marginalized group risks facing further attacks’

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/africa/10/20/uganda.gay.list/index.html?hpt=T1

Chloe Anne Lacey took her own life a week before her 19th birthday. Her death isn’t being publicised in the same way as the other sad deaths of LGBT youth in America.

http://www.northcoastjournal.com/news/2010/10/14/chloes-legacy/

(probably not a good idea to read at work as it made me weep)

Shinila // Posted 21 October 2010 at 8:53 pm

Coldharbour –

You just brought up the only other anti-feminist cliche remaining *It could be worse.* So we’re to be grateful we’re not women under Sharia Law – that’s where slightly lessening women’s continual objectification will get us!

The only trouble with ‘freedom to do everything’ is some people’s ‘freedom’ leads to the oppression of those with much smaller voices. The ‘freedom’ (do-what- i- wantism disguised under a liberal shrowd) of certain establishments, leads to oppressed masses of people. I think the term ‘freedom’ should only be a term used to those lower down in the hierarchy. For those at the top like lads mag execs it’s ‘Do what I wantism’.

Do what I wantism leads to ruined lives. This freedom we speak of is sure ironic. As a poor abstract concept at best it’s the reason the media gets away with so much, why women are objectified on a daily basis. All praise ‘do what I wantism’!

Jen // Posted 21 October 2010 at 9:15 pm

Shinila,

I can’t leave this without responding:

“As a single issue, others shouldn’t have the right to say women against objectification are doin it wrong.. if it’s not saying that, then it’s, ‘they don’t care about tesco workers’. Cliche after cliche.”

Actually, if Object are doing something wrong then of course they’re not above criticism just because they’re against objectification, whatever that means. If it’s true that they don’t give a fuck about Tesco workers, many of whom are women, then I think it would be legitimate to say that they’re not a women’s rights organisation, since a lot of Tesco workers are women, probably the majority. A lot of those women will even be on the receiving end of their activism, if they’re fucking up magazine stands in Tesco shops.

“Funny thing about activism ‘as a sub-culture’. No one has a problem with the ‘indie’ sub-culture, the ‘fashion-girl’ sub-culture. Suddenly when people are doing good as their primary goal, the sub-culture is harsh, alienating, scummy. I don’t buy it, but people argue this much better in the ceasefire article comments. I particularly admire Tim and Andy’s scarily intelligent insightful responses.”

Actually, you can’t back up the fact that ‘nobody cares about indie and fashion girl’ subcultures. For instance, I have a problem with the whole idea of subcultures. But indie kids and fashion girls aren’t really doing anyone any harm – and importantly, they’re not claiming to be doing the world a service. What that article is against is turning activism into a subculture. See, when it’s indie kids or fashion girls it doesn’t especially matter that it’s exclusive or they all dress a certain way. But if you think politics and action are important – seeing yourself cut off from them because you don’t fulfill the criteria for the subculture is a huge problem. Having it co-opted by a bunch of people who see it as an identity rather than something you do is a problem. Having the whole idea of political action reduced to a fashion statement is – and surely you can see this – a massive problem.

No one is complaining about people who act against things. I was in an activist group for, what, two years, and we hardly did fuck all – and to be honest I was strongly against many suggestions because we were an activist group – folks would have just pointed and said ‘look, they’re activists’ and it would have been an excuse to ignore us. Whereas living in France now, regular people are taking to the streets in millions against an unacceptable law. That’s action – it’s effective, it gets stuff done. It protects women’s rights, among other things. Unlike in an activist group, you won’t have folks staring to see if you’ve shaved your legs and telling you how much more they deserve to be there than you. These things count.

See, the thing about those subcultures you mention is that, yeah, subcultures can be fucked-up. They are also self-contained and by and large don’t do any harm. The very nature of activism is that it fails if you can contain it in one place and attach it to a certain identity. Being a subculture marginalises it. You won’t get Louis Theroux popping up making a programme about you because you’re doing something very weird – he’ll appear because it’s in the nature of subcultures to be marginal and whacky. That’s why protest should not be a subculture. End of story.

Lindsey // Posted 22 October 2010 at 9:08 am

@Hannah

I read Dale Spender’s Man Made Language about 6 months ago and I don’t remember women/female being discussed in there, but I might be forgetting. I do love that book though, I learned so much about how gender bias has been deliberately worked in to the English language, it didn’t just happen that way and that means it doesn’t have to stay that way either.

coldharbour // Posted 22 October 2010 at 4:56 pm

@Shinila

I was not accusing you of being transphobic, I was pointing out that Object’s political philosophy is directly derived from extremely conservative and reactionary transphobic academics namely Shelia Jeffreys, Andrea Dworkin, Mary Daly and Janice Raymond, I would suggest you read their literature if you have not done so already. Unfortunately these academics remain at the core of the larger pressure groups idealogical thinking such as the London Feminist Network and Object. I actually questioned one of the most prominent member of Object on this site after promoting Shelia Jeffreys views, needless to say she did not feel the need to respond.

“Why *should* young women feel ashamed, made to feel guilty about tesco workers – why do they have to be an all-round olympic ‘feminist’, this word increasingly claimed by uber-liberals, whenever they want to stand against their objectification.”

I would refer you to a quote from the Feminist Fightback site:

“We’re inspired by the politics of a range of anti-capitalist feminist struggles, and believe that no single oppression can be challenged in isolation from all other forms of exploitation that intersect with it. We are also committed to fighting for a feminist perspective and awareness of gender issues everywhere in our movement – not marginalising ‘women’s rights’ as a separate issue. ”

The idea that caring about anything other that gender equality is some herculean task is the kind of arrogant attitude that has alienated working-class women, women of colour and every other minority group that has been routinely excluded from the white middle-class academic world of feminism. Feminism is about understanding every struggle is as important as the next whether it directly affect you or not.

“You just brought up the only other anti-feminist cliche remaining *It could be worse.* So we’re to be grateful we’re not women under Sharia Law – that’s where slightly lessening women’s continual objectification will get us!”

I’m afraid that quote is so unrelated to anything I’ve stated I can’t even find what quote you are referring to.

@Jen

“I also have a bit of a massive problem with referring to sex work as ‘pay per rape’. Lots of women bare their bodies in the course of paid employment for various reasons, and one thing that makes me uncomfortable around feminists is that they can often make you feel disgusting for having one of those (a body, I mean) to a far greater extent than any porn, through uses of phrases like ‘pay per rape’. And really, with the type of activism Object do and others like them, it really feels like women’s rights can’t be violated until an erect cock is involved, so in the end, they’re the ones reducing women to fuckholes. At least the lads’ mags ask their models if they have hobbies, you know – more than Object do.”

I agree with this wholeheartedly and to be honest I find describing sex work as ‘pay per rape’ extremely misogynistic and offensive, as is using sexist pejorative terms for sex-workers.

” seriously don’t get the big issue people have with women who have a problem with the onslaught of their objectification. Why can’t they be left alone to find their objectification an issue? *How* would you understand as a bloke? ”

I’m not a self-identified male (I presume thats what you were inferring), I’ve never stated that I was, I really don’t know why you ever made that assumption. Time and time again I’ve asked different people to outline the objective paradigms of what constitutes objectification and pornography and yet I’ve never had a philosophically satisfying answer, the reason being is that one ostensibly does not exist. I would probably argue that what constitutes pornography is inter-subjective based on socio-cultural factors such as acceptable levels of nudity, orientation and media context but that’s about as far as it goes, to argue for an objective criteria is just folly. Most of my social circle in London are queer dudes so I probably see far more incidental cocks these days than anything else, I’ve never been that fused about nudity personally anyway, just kinda washes over me, maybe I’m just getting old.

“Fear? If I have gained anything by damning myself, it is that I no longer have anything to fear.”

Jean-Paul Sartre

Claire // Posted 22 October 2010 at 6:28 pm

Sianushka and Shinila, exactly! Brilliantly put.

Denise // Posted 22 October 2010 at 7:30 pm

Pornography is not intrinsically bad or harmful, humans are sexual beings. I think you can objectively state that it becomes harmful, however, when it involves people with superior economic, legal and political power using their dominance to dehumanise, subjugate, injure and exploit others with less power. If everyone participating in pornography was a fully consenting individual with equal rights and options, there would be no problem. Unfortunately this is not the case. Most porn is exploitation. That is a fact.

By dehumanised, I mean that a person’s status as a human being with rights, sexual desires, feelings and a pain threshold is not taken into account, because more powerful people treat them as objects, the means to an end to satisfy their own perceived sexual entitlement.

earwicga // Posted 22 October 2010 at 8:04 pm

More on Uganda and the crusade against LGBT people http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/10/ugandan-gays-attack-outed-newspaper/

coldharbour // Posted 22 October 2010 at 8:18 pm

“Pornography is not intrinsically bad or harmful, humans are sexual beings. I think you can objectively state that it becomes harmful, however, when it involves people with superior economic, legal and political power using their dominance to dehumanise, subjugate, injure and exploit others with less power. If everyone participating in pornography was a fully consenting individual with equal rights and options, there would be no problem. Unfortunately this is not the case. Most porn is exploitation. That is a fact.”

This however is not the argument Object are employing, they argue that the imagery and sexual content of what they perceive to be pornography to be inherently degrading to women regardless of the socio-economic factors that lead to women being involved in the industry. They relationship you described is one that is universal to near all forms of labor under capitalism regardless of whether that employment is in the adult industry or not. Why do you think other forms of wage slavery that exists under economic coercion are any better of morally justifiable? In an anarchist society consisting of free association Object would still opposed pornography even if economic coercion did not exist.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oztdRo9GLLk

Denise // Posted 23 October 2010 at 12:32 pm

Hi Coldharbour,

I absolutely don’t think any other forms of wage slavery are better or morally justifiable.

And if Object would still oppose porn even if everyone participating in it was freely expressing their sexuality and not being coerced in any way whatever, then I would have a massive problem with that.

Catherine // Posted 23 October 2010 at 4:08 pm

I do take coldharbour’s points about women’s rights/freedoms being part of a bigger, general struggle, or how they should be. The problem is that it doesn’t and has never quite worked out that way. The movement for universal suffrage was universal only to men. The first anarchist and socialist women were probably utterly dismayed to find the rights and freedoms they were hoping for being swept aside because of the bigger, more ‘important’ struggle, expected to just shut up and not make a fuss. When the trade unions first formed, they excluded women and continued to do so for a very long time. The only thing women could do was to form their own movement. That is still the case to a large extent. The majority of men are not going to lobby for their privileges and entitlements to be taken from them. To a lot of men that privilege still includes being able to go into any newsagent or supermarket and buy magazines which treat women like just another commodity. Until that stops, organisations like Object will continue to be relevant. To be told not to make a fuss about women being degraded and treated like commodities because there are bigger things to worry about is a particularly nasty silencing tactic.

coldharbour // Posted 23 October 2010 at 8:47 pm

“To be told not to make a fuss about women being degraded and treated like commodities because there are bigger things to worry about is a particularly nasty silencing tactic.”

I find this statement extremely ironic. My entire point was to have a intellectually and philosophically credible debate regarding the paradigms of what constitutes pornography/objectification and Objects disproportionate attention to certain issues in relation to others. I *want* to know what people think about these issues and their political and philosophical bases for them. Whenever I ask these questions however I am usually met with accusations of being ‘anti-feminist’ or accused of ‘silencing’. So asking someone for their opinion is ‘silencing’? I don’t mind anyone asking me to justify my views, I think its a good thing, dogmatic rigidity is the enemy of truth so they say. I don’t think my opinions are self-qualifying and being beyond questioning unlike some. But there is a simple moral point here; We are moral responsible for our own actions not other peoples, it’s very easy therefore to look at movements that have excluded your demographic rather that look at your own movement and analyse how it has excluded people in the past. Also Catherine, your post totally ignores the issue of intersectionality and how men within minorities are without power in relation to the kyriarchy, society is not a binary power struggle solely between men and woman although I’m sure it suits the capitalist for people to be oblivious to the class system. The problem is not myself ignoring gender equality in favour of other forms of struggle, the problem is you ignoring other forms of struggle in favour of issues that specifically affect you, you are guilty of the very idea you accuse me off.

“We do not deny that ordinary men may gain from women’s oppresion in the sense that men may have a feeling of ‘superiority’over women, or have a slightly lower rate of unemployment or better-paid jobs. But at the same time womens oppression has disastrous results for working class and poor men. It divides workers struggles. It results in lower overall family incomes and lower job security for all. It creates personal unhappiness. Therefore, it is not in the real interests of men to have women oppressed. On the contrary, women’s freedom is a prerequisite for men’s freedom because only if women’s oppression is challenged will men themselves be in a position to improve their own lives, to fight for better conditions and more control over their own lives.”

LonerGrrrl // Posted 23 October 2010 at 11:06 pm

I liked the Ceasefire article, raised some very good points.

And I second Helen in wanting to see some gender analysis of punk’s crossover with reggae/ska in the ’70s/’80s. The Selecter were great, (though not as good as The Specials!), but do look up The Bodysnatchers – an all-female ska/rocksteady band from the same era – they were pretty good too, but noticeably absent from lists of feminist rock ‘n’ roll groups.

Sheila // Posted 24 October 2010 at 10:36 am

I think you are all missing the point about porn – as if it were solely about the women who take part in its production. I am ambivalent about whether the women who take part in the production of porn do so through their own free choice without objectification or whether they do so through coersion and feeling objectified. I’m sure that proponents of both view points would be able to produce anecdotes which demonstrate their point, without proving their principle. The fact is however, and again, you might say this is anecdotal, but this is where it matters, is that porn is not a private activity which engages only those people who produce it, it engages unwilling victims. It is used by paedophiles to groom children. It is used by men in abusive relationships to pressurise their partners into sexual acts they otherwise wouldn’t agree to engage in. The first time I saw a pornographic image was when I was 7 years old and being sexually abused by a family member. He used it to show me what position he wanted me to take and to assure me that grown women would want to do this. It was one of the most devasting, effective and disempowering psychological tools ever used against me. Later on, on another occasion, I was made to pose “like a porn star” for my abuser’s friends. I hold everybody in the porn industry responsible for the terrible and long-lasting effect exposure to porn had on me because there are no safeguards that they can effectively put in place which will prevent even consensually produced porn from falling into the wrong hands and being used in the way it was used against me.

coldharbour // Posted 24 October 2010 at 1:41 pm

Just to say on a positive note the London Anarchist Bookfair was great, so many good stalls and seeing John Pilger speak was amazing. Most af all though it really awesome to see stalls by the London Anarcha Feminist Kolektiv, Feminist Fightback and the (Dublin) Revolutionary Anarcha-Feminist Group, the volume of independent D.I.Y. literature was so inspiring, it just shows what can be produced outside the system with hard work and dedication. I would definitely recommend The Rag no.5 zine, read it from front to cover in one go.

http://ragdublin.blogspot.com/

Catherine // Posted 24 October 2010 at 1:51 pm

Coldharbour, you say that men within minorities are also absolutely without power in relation to the kyriarchy. Yes! Exactly! Then why don’t they band with women who are in the same situation, and all fight together? As you point out, it would be to their own advantage if they did this. The fact is they don’t and never have, certainly not in large enough numbers to make a difference. Many powerless men continue to take out their powerlessness on women. Why can’t they stop doing that and see the bigger picture? Women have not ignored other forms of struggle, they have become involved in other struggles and bigger pictures and ultimately it got them nowhere. Until the majority of men in the world start to see women as human beings with equal rights, the human race cannot move forward.

Btw, I wasn’t accusing you personally of silencing tactics, or didn’t mean to. Sorry.

Catherine // Posted 24 October 2010 at 2:00 pm

P.S. Also, Coldharbour – and after this I’ll shut up! – what about the points I made in the first paragraph of my comment? Isn’t it true that women were excluded from the suffrage, socialist and anarchist movements? Isn’t it true that the trade unions excluded women and continued to do for a very long time? That’s why they formed their own movement, because they were excluded everywhere else. Why couldn’t the men involved in those struggles see the bigger picture?

Andie // Posted 24 October 2010 at 2:12 pm

Sheila, I don’t think you’ve read the comments properly. At least two commenters have said that there would be no problem IF everyone involved in porn was fully consenting and participating in it without ANY kind of coercion. Of course that doesn’t happen, which is the big problem.

Kristin // Posted 24 October 2010 at 2:29 pm

Sheila, I’ve read through all the comments and nowhere can I find any which say porn is a private activity engaging only those who produce it. Several people have said there would be no problem IF this were the case! Which obviously it isn’t.

coldharbour // Posted 24 October 2010 at 2:45 pm

“Many powerless men continue to take out their powerlessness on women.”

I’ve always aggressively encouraged all the men I know to read feminist literature and make them understand it’s their responsibility to actively engage in promoting gender equality in the same way I ask my feminist allies to think about other forms of oppression. You are entirely correct about your critique of the struggles you mentioned. I was involved in the CWU for ten years, they were one of the most male dominated organizations I have ever been involved in, as a member I constantly challenged them on this. I think progress has been made in the struggles you mentioned by women being actively involved within them and every movement should always constantly be held to account with their record on gender equality.

“Why couldn’t the men involved in those struggles see the bigger picture?”

The same reason the early feminists couldn’t see the big picture in terms of race, class ect., I guess maybe it’s an facet of all single issue movements to an extent, ignoring other demographics struggles is an inevitable corollary of focusing on a single struggle if one is not checked about other issues. I think thats why I refer to myself as an anarcho-feminist as I see it as an all encompassing ideology, everyone is encouraged to look at the big picture.

@Catherine

I would apologize for sounding antagonistic, I think the best thing for everyone is to read the literature about anarcho-feminism and make their judgments rather than listening to what I say. I think the best thing for women and feminism is to understand and align with other oppressed groups and not to alienate and marginalize each other. No pasarán!

Sheila // Posted 24 October 2010 at 6:35 pm

@Andie and Kristin

I don’t think I have misread the thread. The thread talks about the economy of the “sex industry” equating it to prostitution “pay per rape” type industries and to the exploitation of low paid work carried out by women in Tescos. In this industry, there are people who commission the porn, people who get paid to be photographed and people who pay to look at it. I am not part of that industry. As a childhood sexual abuse survivor exposed to porn, I’m about as willing a participant in the sex industry as a seagull caught up in the BP oil spill is a participant in the oil industry. People who participate in the production, distribution and promotion of porn are complicit in the suffering it caused me and causes many others. That includes all the women, some of whom identify themselves as feminists entitled to use their bodies as they choose for profit, who engage in this industry. Guilty. Simple as that. You can call it exercise of your human right to walk over other people if you like.

A J // Posted 25 October 2010 at 12:21 am

@ Andie

“At least two commenters have said that there would be no problem IF everyone involved in porn was fully consenting and participating in it without ANY kind of coercion. Of course that doesn’t happen, which is the big problem.”

It’s a bit odd, though, to judge all of porn – or all of anything – as if it’s one indivisible whole. You could apply those criteria to just about anything and find a reason to object to it. I’m sure you could find someone who was ‘coerced’ in some way into taking part in some feminist activity – would that be a reason to object to all of feminism???

The notion that economic need should automatically amount to coercion also always seems a pretty bizarre approach to take, given economic need is the sole reason almost all low-paid jobs in any capitalist economy are ever filled. Most toilet cleaners, for example, ain’t doing it for their love of bleach and poo. If you object to forces at work in a capitalist society as a whole then that’s fine enough, but there are an awful lot of much lower paying activities to be starting with before bothering about pornography (and even if you’re approaching it from an financial equality point of view, porn would be an curious place to start, as one of the few occupations where women are paid considerably more than men).

There does seem to be a presumption that porn should be treated by different standards to most other activities. If I didn’t know better it might almost look like people were attempting to construct analyses to fit their preconceived prejudices and moral disgusts… But I’m sure that’s not the case…!

Which is not to say that porn can’t sometimes be problematic, but it just always strikes me as pretty lazy to treat all of porn as one thing, and by particularly harsh standards, when like most human activities in comes in all sorts of forms, so of which might be objectionable, but equally, some of which might not.

Jen // Posted 25 October 2010 at 6:51 am

Pornography is not intrinsically bad or harmful, humans are sexual beings. I think you can objectively state that it becomes harmful, however, when it involves people with superior economic, legal and political power using their dominance to dehumanise, subjugate, injure and exploit others with less power. If everyone participating in pornography was a fully consenting individual with equal rights and options, there would be no problem. Unfortunately this is not the case. Most porn is exploitation. That is a fact.

This is also true of things not involving explicit descriptions of sex however. Sandwiches, for instance, and food in general, look at the food industry. In the case of food it makes no sense to campaign against it. Why would it make sense with pornography?

Sheila, I’ve read through all the comments and nowhere can I find any which say porn is a private activity engaging only those who produce it. Several people have said there would be no problem IF this were the case! Which obviously it isn’t.

Oh I don’t know, nationalised porn would be pretty good! On the NHS for instance. Oh wait, that would still mean you’d have to pay for it these days wouldn’t it?

Coldharbour, you say that men within minorities are also absolutely without power in relation to the kyriarchy. Yes! Exactly! Then why don’t they band with women who are in the same situation, and all fight together? As you point out, it would be to their own advantage if they did this.

Er yeah, shame the Civil Rights movement, Algerians demonstrating against French occupation, and any number of other examples of this were actually a figment of everyone’s imagination.

I think the thing we’re missing here about ‘oppression’ and ‘domination’ is that it’s as much a sickness for those exerting it, particularly if they have little power themselves, as it is for someone suffering from it. It’s not a privilege for a soldier to have to kill fellow humans for instance.

That said, it’s too easy to oversimplify also.

Plus I had a comment that didn’t get through, even though it wasn’t that incendiary, hmmmm.

Helen G // Posted 25 October 2010 at 7:28 am

Jen:

Plus I had a comment that didn’t get through, even though it wasn’t that incendiary, hmmmm.

I’ve checked the comments queue and can see nothing from you on this thread that has not been published. Indeed, to the best of my knowledge, every single comment received in connection with this post has been published.

If you’d be kind enough to let me know when you submitted the comment in question, I will make further enquiries and see if I can locate it.

Thank you.

Helen

sianushka // Posted 25 October 2010 at 9:54 am

we had a talk from a woman who worked at our local rape crisis, who says that porn being used for grooming happens in nearly every case she has come across, as describe by sheila. thank you for sharing your experience.

is it that we need to consider a split between porn and erotica? humans are sexual beings, but to me, porn is not about sex, it is about degradation. 88% of online porn depicts violence against women, according to a survey quoted in the equality illusion. 88%! and i don’t mean consensual BDSM or rough sex, but actual degrading and harmful acts… porn that depicts incest as sexy, violence as desirable, ATM etc. it has nothing to do with sex and pleasure and everything to do with women not having control over their sexuality – having things ‘done’ to them, ‘taking it’ from someone else. i’d really recommend the interview with zoe margolis on this site about this difference. add to this the extreme racism we also often see in porn – it is horrifying.

i find it worrying that porn and sex or erotica have become so confused so that if you are against porn, you are also seen to be against sex. i have a problem with porn because i love sex and celebrate sexuality.

Helen G // Posted 25 October 2010 at 11:47 am

Jen:

Thank you for contacting me offlist regarding your missing comment.

I confirm that I have looked back through the list of comments on my entries for the past seven days – nearly 60 of them – and can find nothing from you that has not been published.

Likewise, I have looked back through the list of comments flagged as spam for the past seven days – 750 of them – and can find nothing from you that has been labelled as spam.

I’m absolutely baffled as to why it was not received and can only suggest that you resubmit it so that we can try to work out what the problem is.

Thanks

Helen

coldharbour // Posted 25 October 2010 at 1:20 pm

“i find it worrying that porn and sex or erotica have become so confused”

The idea the there is an objective point of demarcation is totally false.

“88% of online porn depicts violence against women, according to a survey quoted in the equality illusion.”

I would be interested in seeing that, is there a PDF online I can access?

Qubit // Posted 25 October 2010 at 2:10 pm

I don’t know where I stand on the issue of porn in general as it is a complex issue. I agree with Object being a single issue group because that means people aren’t joining an organisation where they are forced to compromise on one belief because they hold another.

What I do find alarming is that Object’s campaigns have fairly low goals yet still they are talked about like they are trying to ban free speech as we know it. They aren’t trying to ban lads mags they are trying to put them in an area of the supermarket, where they aren’t on eye level as soon as you get in. Similarly with their strip club campaign they were trying to get people to identify something as what it was. (To argue strip clubs have no sexual element is just weird)

The fact there is such a backlash (see the comments in the article linked to) against putting magazines on a top shelf so you have a CHOICE whether to see a naked body (an alternative would be to have a non-explicit front cover) worries me. It seems to come from the same mentality as the meat eaters who deliberately hide meat in their vegetarian friends food because they feel people should eat meat.

In this way I agree with Object’s campaign. I don’t want to see a blanket ban on the material just for viewing it to be a choice. It is worth noting here though that I’m not attractive and linking to this /features/2008/12/i_was_saddened I might feel differently if the magazines had this effect on my life.

I am not sure where I stand on the exploited Tesco workers. I have never felt that exploited doing a shop job, nor has anyone I know. The biggest problem was customers who assumed you were too stupid to know what you were doing. I would hesitate to campaign against such an issue without evidence that these workers felt they were exploited. I know you will argue they have been bought up in a culture to be ignorant of their own exploitation and I can’t argue against it, just disagree with it. That doesn’t mean I don’t think supermarkets have problems with the way they are run, I just don’t think the main problems are with home country shop workers (as opposed to the suppliers and people making clothes etc).

Catherine // Posted 25 October 2010 at 2:40 pm

coldharbour, re. your earlier point to me; no need to apologize. I find your comments interesting and informative and they have definitely made me think outside me boxes! which is always a good thing. So thank you for that.

sianushka // Posted 25 October 2010 at 4:34 pm

Qubit:

‘The biggest problem was customers who assumed you were too stupid to know what you were doing.’

this made me laugh – reminded me of when i was a waitress. these two customers were talking whilst i served them about seeing the tempest. i said ‘oh, i love the tempest, it’s one of my favourite plays’

they looked at me in horror and asked (i kid you not) ‘how do you know about the tempest?’

this was a few weeks after i got my first class degree from UCL which included a 6 hour exam on shakespeare.

know it is off topic but your comment made me nod in recognition!

coldharbour // Posted 25 October 2010 at 4:52 pm

@Qubit

So capitalist wage-slavery that reduces people to unlivable rates of pay, anti-social hours and inhumane overcrowded housing that leaves society a shattered, violent, poverty-ridden dysfunctional hell is acceptable, but porn mags really get on your goat?

sianushka // Posted 25 October 2010 at 5:13 pm

coldharbour – how can you be anti the capitalism of tesco, but be supportive of the sex industry, which exists because of rampant capitalism? that not only puts a price on human labour, but on human’s sexuality?

Qubit // Posted 25 October 2010 at 6:32 pm

@coldhabour – Have you ever worked in a shop? I find your attitude to shop workers almost insulting. Of the permanent people I worked with 2 were single parents and the rest providing a second income. The single parents had a tight budget but where not living in squalor. A reasonable proportion of the permanent staff enjoyed their job. There was a reasonable chance of promotion even for uneducated employees and in general hours were fairly flexible if things came up. Some of the parents working had contracts which gave them the school holidays off. The low level of the minimum wage is a problem but there are also industries that treat employees far worse than shops. Your attitude is very similar to the customers who sneer at shop workers. While I agree there are issues that need to change I think your focus on this is slightly odd. It makes me feel you think of these people as brow beaten idiots who are not allowed to do anything but work 24/7.

coldharbour // Posted 25 October 2010 at 7:05 pm

“coldharbour – how can you be anti the capitalism of tesco, but be supportive of the sex industry, which exists because of rampant capitalism? that not only puts a price on human labour, but on human’s sexuality?”

It’s not about supporting the sex industry it’s about supporting employee’s rights within the industry (that has never been abolished anywhere under any political system in the modern industrial word by state prohibition); the right to to collectively bargain, the right not to have have your body criminalised by the state, the right to have a safer space to work and a specialized health-care system. Supporting workers rights is the antithesis of supporting the industries ability to exploit to the maximum, it’s about having checks and balances that don’t exist in industries outside the law to counter exploitation. I can actually see a lot of parallels in attitude to my previous employment in industry. Did I think I was being expoited? Yes. Did I think I was treated unfairly by the management? Yes. Did I have low-job satisfaction? Yes. Did I want everyone to boycott the entire industry so I would be out of a job and soon into a probably even worse one? No. Did I want anyone to take I right away from me to unionise? No. Did I want people to stop me from fighting to make the job better by collective pressure from the workforce? No. Did I want the job illegalised? No. I don’t think wage-slavery should exist at all, but while it exist people should have the right to work and not be criminalized. But I think the most important thing is what sex-workers want themselves, groups like Object pull random individuals out a hat and universalize their experiences to suit their own self-serving agenda that has nothing to do with improving the lives of sex-workers. All the groups who actually do represent sex-workers are in favour of decriminalization and regulation, thats the most important point, thats why supporting sex-workers rights is the only feminist option in my opinion.

Sheila // Posted 25 October 2010 at 7:46 pm

I still think many of you are missing the point when you describe the porn industry as an industry. By equating it to working in Tescos, all you are seeing is the exploitation (or not) of people who work in it. You are not considering the social implications of the industry. If you followed the same analogy, you’d be looking at the social impact of supermarkets on local economies, fairtrade etc – you wouldn’t be looking at low paid check-out staff.

Thanks Sianuschka for your comment which I think is very on-message.

Look coldharbour, you make your choice. If you want to piss on victims, carry on as you are. For as long as you think, “But I think the most important thing is what sex-workers want themselves, groups like Object pull random individuals out a hat and universalize their experiences to suit their own self-serving agenda that has nothing to do with improving the lives of sex-workers. All the groups who actually do represent sex-workers are in favour of decriminalization and regulation, thats the most important point, thats why supporting sex-workers rights is the only feminist option in my opinion” that the most important thing in all this is about people who make money out of porn being the sex workers then you and I will disagree and I will think your stance is morally reprehensible. You are supporting an industry which is frequently used for criminal purposes and you are giving more weight to the women who work in that industry than the victims of that industry. At least supermarkets are trying things like fairtrade now (although it’s just lip service). When sex workers donate 20% of their wages to Rape Crisis maybe there’ll be a pragmatic solution. Porn kills. People involved in producing it are responsible.

A J // Posted 25 October 2010 at 9:06 pm

@ Qubit

Much as I’m sure not everyone working in a supermarket hates their job (I did though, I’m afraid – had a thoroughly miserable time!), I can’t imagine many of them would be there if they weren’t getting paid! They’re there out of economic necessity. And that’s – in a capitalist society – why most people, especially in low paid jobs, do their work. It’s not because it’s particularly fulfilling or life-enhancing. It’s because it pays the rent. And in that sense, pornography isn’t really so different (other than that the hourly rate is rather better than Tesco, perhaps…) I can’t say I’d love to take a job in either, but I understand why people do. Both can be seen as exploitation if you want – in so much as you view doing something for money as being inherently exploitative. But it doesn’t make sense to judge one by different standards to the other.

If conditions for workers in supermarkets are poor, then that’s an argument for improving conditions for workers in supermarkets. Not banning them. And likewise in porn. If Object were campaigning for a ‘fair-trade’ style scheme to help people identify and switch to ethically produced and responsibly marketed pornography, then I’d certainly wholeheartedly support them!

@ Sheila

“Porn kills. People involved in producing it are responsible.”

People kill. And the people who kill are responsible. I understand your position, but really, trying to hold women working in pornography for the killings perpetrated by some idiot they’ve never even met is pretty seriously unjust.

The evidence of links between viewing mainstream porn and the commission of violent criminality is in any case tenuous in the extreme.

Unfortunately, lots of industries and services are sometimes used in the commission of crime. Terrorists buy equipment at B&Q, organised criminals launder money at banks, bank robbers buy getaway cars at car dealers. It’s terrible that these crimes take place, but that’s not usually a particularly good reason to ban something used during it which also has another perfectly legitimate purpose for which it is far more frequently used.

Shinila // Posted 25 October 2010 at 10:17 pm

‘Feminism is about understanding every struggle is as important as the next whether it directly affect you or not.’

This is feminism being completely claimed and dominated, and the reason women don’t want to be feminists. Telling women they just *can’t* find their objectification an issue, because your other issues are *more important* is entirely obstructionist and domineering actually. It happens so often along with other cliche tactics.

Prostitution is pay per rape, pay to access the unaccessible, the forensic reason rape naturally occurs. I’ve even heard an *anti- feminist* say we need prostitution because otherwise there would be more rape! Sex workers are those that agree to be raped for payment. Whether they enjoy it or not, want their rights, it’s paying for rape, and should be against the law and is.

I’ve relayed the fact coldharbour thinks pay per rape is better work than a tesco job to feminists I know, and they think it’s terrible.

Coldharbour –

I don’t particularly enjoy debating with people I entirely disagree with. Because that’s fighting not debating, and I have better things that occupy my life. I wouldn’t debate with people who are for smacking children. Neither do I debate with people who are pro- sex work. I think there’s a stigma to being anti-sex work anyway that can mean, those that argue the case come against some intimidation to follow certain majority views.

Sorry, but end of discussion. I’m not an angry person, and don’t believe heated debate is the best way to arrive at sound moral conclusions – private reading and deep thinking, empathising, privately connecting the dots is more my thing.

polly // Posted 25 October 2010 at 10:47 pm

Everyone does seem to be rather missing the point about what Object’s position, as I understand it, is.

They are not objecting to porn because people working in it are treated badly. They are objecting to the sale in supermarkets of magazines showing women being objectified, next to tins of beans. (ok not literally next to tins of beans before anyone starts, they’re in a different aisle).

So the question of how people in porn are treated is irrelevant (and I don’t think Tesco sells hard porn anyway). What is being challenged is the depiction of the objectification of women as an everyday routine activity – like grocery shopping!

And if you believe porn objectifies women who DON’T work in porn, and contributes to their oppression does it matter if people in porn are earning a mint and have the best working conditions ever?

If you don’t believe that, then obviously you just have a different point of view, so why not let people get on with what they’re doing, and you get on with what you’re doing?

If you believe that it’s worse to work in Tesco’s then go and protest against people working in Tesco’s, nothing’s stopping you. And if the staff come out and say they’re quite happy working there, then I hope you’ll stop, in accordance with your own logic.

Oh and by the way, I would assume the pyjamas bit is a dig at tesco banning shoppers in pyjamas! (very classist of them actually)

Qubit // Posted 25 October 2010 at 10:52 pm

In the article Object stated they wanted Lad’s mags either covered or put on a high shelf out of eye level.

Is this the most important issue in the world? Almost certainly not.

Is this incredibly easy to achieve with very little inconvenience to anyone? Yes

Does this involve banning the entire sex industry? Not really, there would be nothing to put on the top shelf if it did.

What I think gets me about the issue is it is something easy to change which doesn’t really disadvantage anyone but it is talked about as the worst thing ever. I don’t think it is the most important campaign in the world but I think the backlash against it is significant and worrying because it shows a lack of respect for other people. Even in replies to my comments I have people arguing against me by saying that the porn industry isn’t fundamentally exploitative but I have never argued it was, nor have I argued for its banning. How to best regulate the industry is far too complex for me to solve. The same comes with how to make supermarket work less exploitative. I just don’t understand why a small change that harms nobody and benefits a reasonably sized minority gets such a backlash.

I think you could even argue that the readers would benefit, since the magazine could no longer rely on impulse purchases they’d have to up their game to attract loyalty and continue in a market with greater competition (since they’d now be competing with main stream porn). It would also mean readers became aware of other titles on offer (they may have previously ignored actual top shelf magazines) and may find porn more to their individual taste.

Jen // Posted 26 October 2010 at 6:56 am

Helen,

Thanks for your transparency in this matter, I can confirm what I said to you offlist, which is that it’s no big deal, it wasn’t that great a comment anyway, and I think I’ve since made my points more clearly, except for one which on reflexion is probably not a conversation it’s a good idea to have in the same thread as The Porn Conversation.

There was one other point, addressed I think to Sian, where I brought up this:

“Dita von Teese, with her white skin, large breasts and tiny waist, conforms to the mainstream stereotype of the sexual woman, the dominant cultural image that leaves ordinary women with low self-esteem and anxiety, reaching for the cosmetic surgeon’s knife. The burlesque performance at the gallery’s opening becomes an explicit celebration of this porn culture that will overshadow the critique presented in the art itself.” (which was from here)

as an example of the kind of thing I find disturbing coming from anti-porn folks. As it happens, I fit the description they make of Dita Von Teese. Your physical appearance is what you have the least control over, so to say you ‘conform’ to standards that make women want to cut their bodies is something very violent. It made me shudder a bit – I mean, at the time I first read it, I’d just lost a load of weight and was having issues actually recognising what I saw in the mirror as mine, as well as a whole new bunch of male attention, most of it a little bit sordid. To read somewhere – thankfully from a source I have no respect for – that the only way my very appearance could stop making women want to cut themselves. I can’t help the basic shape I am, the only thing I could do is eat twenty burgers a day with the obvious health implications and have some extensive cutting done myself. I see my body shape constantly described as ‘unrealistic’ in a lot of anti-porn literature. If it was slightly shudder-inducing to me, considering I’m pretty tough and, as I said, don’t respect that particular source, then think of how exploitative it is of women with deep-seated body issues.

With regards to porn, what is being said by people with regards to industry is quite true, but it is true of anything that gets turned into an industry. Nothing fares well after being turned into a commodity. Looking at sexy pictures is not tantamount to being complicit in abuse, neither is posing for them. Obviously, there needs to be a legal framework to allow this to happen that involves no one being abused.

Also with abuse, you can use anything to abuse people with. The reason to use sex is because it’s such a huge part of life, I mean it’s one of the big appetites. You can hurt people with a number of other things. You could beat someone up pretty badly using a frozen leg of lamb, but that is no reason to call for the banning of frozen legs of lamb. Obviously, pornography is going to seem pretty horrific to someone who has had it used as a tool of abuse towards her. But that tool could be anything – just that someone was particularly cruel and decided to destroy that young woman’s (or child’s) entire relationship to sex, which is a horrific thing to do. But it doesn’t mean that someone who enjoys posing for or looking at booby pictures is complicit in that abuse, any more than meatpacker plant workers are complicit in someone being beaten up with their produce.

Actually, I’m seeing in this thread also that unacceptable working conditions and the horrific life consequences of poverty are being trivialised precisely because they’re mundane and day-to-day, and more importantly, don’t have any cocks or boobs involved.

In general, I find anti-porn activism very exploitative, because there are a few – very few – women making a name for themselves, being quoted in the Guardian and putting books out and so on (looking at Kat Banyard here among others), and their base of support is made up of some of the most vulnerable people in society, i.e. abuse victims, who are going to find it extremely upsetting to argue a lot of these points and, to be honest, shouldn’t be made to. They’re also going to be one of the most invested audiences you could possibly hope for. But here they’re being used as cannon fodder for a few women to be praised for doing loads for the cause of women when they’re doing very little besides selling books and organising conferences where ‘feminism’ is purely presented as the anti-porn variety. And these big name anti-porn feminists are actually okay with that. To me that’s a lot more despicable than making a movie of people fucking. Turning such movies into an exploitative industry and making a load of profit off people’s sex urges with little regards for working conditions or the quality of your product – sure, that’s pretty immoral. But once again, you could say the same about ham sandwiches, or chocolate cake (which, unlike what a certain columnist said, it’s just as abusive to have force-fed to you). The feminist movement seems to be generally very pro-chocolate cake. Then what is the logic behind being anti-porn? Well of course, there isn’t one.

polly // Posted 26 October 2010 at 7:25 am

And coldharbour, can you please explain (I have asked this question before) who exactly is taking away sex workers right to unionise? Since there is such a thing as the IUSW.

As I’ve pointed out before though (when you made the same completely untrue point), a lot of sex workers, such as lapdancers are self employed. Therefore there isn’t much point them being in a union. That’s why clubs prefer it that way.

Sheila // Posted 26 October 2010 at 9:00 am

Jen

If you are seriously arguing that being forced fed chocolate cake is as bad as being sexually abused then you need to do some wising up and reading. That’s about as trivialising of a victim’s suffering as I have ever heard.

angercanbepower // Posted 26 October 2010 at 10:39 am

The feminist movement seems to be generally very pro-chocolate cake. Then what is the logic behind being anti-porn? Well of course, there isn’t one.

lol.

I’m a staunchly sex-positive feminist, and even I can’t take this seriously.

sianushka // Posted 26 October 2010 at 11:26 am

Jen – no one in that description was criticising white women with big boobs and small waists. that would be stupid. it was more a comment that we are told to feel empowered by DVT’s performance, that she is somehow subversive, but she deliberately changed her body to fit in to an industry that rewards women for filling a stereotype of male defined sexuality. she is the opposite of subversive. and the message is there – to be sexy, to be empowered, you must conform to this ideal. i don’t have a problem with women – im a feminist! i have a problem with an industry that tries to control, define and profit from women’s bodies and sexualities, and silences women’s bodies and sexualities.

coldharbour – you say that object pick and choose testimonials to suit their agenda – what and the IUSW don’t? because, in terms of media exposure, it is the narratives that fit the IUSW version of events that are shouted loudest.

Jen // Posted 26 October 2010 at 11:49 am

Sheila, I don’t want to argue with you cause it’s not fair and it’s probably upsetting to you. However, I want to assure you that the last thing I want to do is trivialise your, or anyone’s, experience of abuse.

Then again, I am not trivialising anything. I don’t even want to start comparing what’s as bad as or worse than something else. But, it is possible to harm someone quite badly by force-feeding. People are force fed as a method of torture, and they get physically fucked-up for life. I could mention the suffragettes, many of whom suffered serious lifelong health problems due to force-feeding in prison. I don’t even need to go into the more trivial force-feeding that happens on a daily basis, where the vast majority are deprived of healthy food and forced to eat what is basically poison, with devastating consequences on their health and even their lifespan. Believe me, it’s just as possible to abuse people with food as it is with anything else.

It’s not by chance that I mentioned chocolate cake instead of a more serious-sounding food, because there was that guy who mentioned that forcing sex on a woman was as unenjoyable for her as force-feeding her chocolate cake (the implication being to him that she shouldn’t complain). Force feeding is not something trivial. It sounds trivial, because I mentioned a kind of frivolous food that symbolises gratuitous consumption and isn’t all that nutritious, and it’s quite a childish food also. Then again, the problems people have mentioned with porn is that it’s turned into this slightly sordid frivolous consumer good. Same with chocolate cake. I don’t think it’s an issue of the tool that’s used for abuse, but an issue of vital things that are part of everyday life being turned into consumer goods, with all the attendant cycles of abuse and exploitation.

I mentioned another example of being beaten to death with a frozen leg of lamb which seems comical, but it probably wouldn’t be if it was happening to you, and I think it was pertinent. Being force-fed chocolate cake seems trivial (or even pleasurable if you’re a complete wanker). I didn’t even mention what would happen if you did this to a diabetic or someone with an eating disorder. But you could slowly and very painfully kill someone that way. Doesn’t this say something about our attitudes to what are vital functions to human beings – to the point where they can easily be used, ans have very often been used, as methods of abuse or torture – that one is scary to us, and the other trivial and even comical – just because they are both mundane and everyday, but the one is done very much in private whereas the other is completely public?

I don’t think anything I have said was particularly trivialising or despicable. And I’m still seeing sexuality being considered tantamount to abuse (which I don’t find that funny in my position, frankly) and force-feeding considered trivial.

Then again, we’re not arguing, here. People are making a lot of noise to try and cover up things they find uncomfortable.

Juliet // Posted 26 October 2010 at 11:50 am

Jen and Sheila, I find your comments totally illogical and incoherent. You have not read other comments properly. This WAS an interesting debate.

Kristin // Posted 26 October 2010 at 12:29 pm

Jen, your comments have messed up what was a really good debate. When you just want to jump in with long-winded rants and can’t even take the time to read other comments properly, it just spoils everything. I’m not attacking you as a person, I’m challenging your commenting. And the ham sandwiches-chocolate cake analogy, well, words just fail.

Polly, I totally agree with what you say.

Pattie // Posted 26 October 2010 at 12:38 pm

Dear Jen, I think you’ve had too much of a sugar rush from all the chocolate cake! And don’t worry, I’m sure there aren’t loads of women who take one look at you (or Dita von Teese) and head for their nearest grinning plastic surgeon sharpening his ever-ready knife. Some people have minds of their own and don’t buy all the bullshit thrown at them.

Jen // Posted 26 October 2010 at 12:55 pm

Sian,

“it was more a comment that we are told to feel empowered by DVT’s performance, that she is somehow subversive, but she deliberately changed her body to fit in to an industry that rewards women for filling a stereotype of male defined sexuality. she is the opposite of subversive.”

Well, that I agree with, but it’s not at all what the article said.

My comments are not long-winded rants. They’re perfectly logical, if you read them. As for Sheila, she is not illogical or incoherent either, I found her position perfectly logical, I just don’t agree with her. I would question the sensitivity of accusing someone sharing her experience of abuse of being incoherent and illogical, in any case.

Jen // Posted 26 October 2010 at 2:32 pm

Actually, you know, I’d like to add that I compared two forms of torture and abuse to each other, that are both recognised by war crimes tribunals and so on. So I don’t think it’s illogical or irrational to compare them.

I’m actually finding it quite disturbing, (a) that people are finding one to be horrifying but the other trivial and somewhat comedic, and (b) that this isn’t surprising me as much as it perhaps should be.

Feminist Avatar // Posted 26 October 2010 at 2:34 pm

I tend to see this as a debate about individual freedoms versus harms. So UK society (theoretically) allows people the freedom to make choices about their life as long as it does not cause harm to someone else. In most modern models of governance, this is how we determine whether a freedom should be removed from the peope.

So, sex workers have a right to sell their bodies to make pornographic material; this is their right, just as it is the right of non-sex workers to sell their bodies to perform other types of labour. (Whether it is exploitation or free choice is another question- a question which arises in regard to pretty much any choice we make in a patriarchal society).

This is only a problem if their choice to sell their bodies causes harm to other people (and to an extent to themselves- society generally allows you a wider freedom in regard to selfharm). Object’s position is that promulgation of pornographic material is harmful to women. Therefore, if we believe that this is the case, pornography should be banned. If you don’t believe that pornography is harmful to women, then you will argue that it should not be banned.

So, it seems to me the debate should really be over whether pornography is harmful to women.

Jen suggests that pornography is not the problem- the objectification of women is. ANd, so objectification should be banned and not pornography (just like chocolate cake is not the problem, torture is the problem and it is banned).

This is very similar to the ‘guns don’t kill people, rappers, er, people do’ idea. Yet, in the UK, we have banned most gun ownership, because there are very few legitimate reason for guns to exist other than to hurt people.

So, the question would be- what is the justification for pornography- what is it’s purpose- and does the social need to fulfil that purpose outweigh the harm it causes.

Anchoredwunderlust // Posted 26 October 2010 at 2:43 pm

Just want to say for anyone who doesn’t know, that it’s referring to this /blog/2008/04/london_assembly and the link highlighted in ‘exactly why’ just to give some perspective on crossed wires

A J // Posted 26 October 2010 at 3:18 pm

@ Feminist Avatar

“Jen suggests that pornography is not the problem- the objectification of women is. ANd, so objectification should be banned and not pornography (just like chocolate cake is not the problem, torture is the problem and it is banned).”

Surely if anything it’s the rape, assualt, killing etc that’s the problem and should banned, not the ‘objectification’? And to the best of my knowledge those already are, at least in law!

I’m not sure how’d you’d ban objectification anyway, given it’s ultimately about what’s going on in somebody’s mind. (To be honest I never find objectification a particularly clear, helpful or useful concept in any case. It just seems to be a word people leap to as a cover-all whenever they want to try to win an argument…)

I agree though that this all basically comes down to individual freedoms versus harms. But I think it’s for those trying to ban things to make their case, not the other way round. Freedom of expression and sexuality need to apply unless there’s a pretty compelling case otherwise.

Ultimately I think trying to legislate against consensual aspects of people’s autonomous sexual activities is a pretty dismal road to go down – even setting aside the fact that it would be pretty impossible to do with any precision, and would almost certainly be completely ineffective.

Jen // Posted 26 October 2010 at 3:18 pm

Feminist Avatar,

“Jen suggests that pornography is not the problem- the objectification of women is. ANd, so objectification should be banned and not pornography (just like chocolate cake is not the problem, torture is the problem and it is banned).

This is very similar to the ‘guns don’t kill people, rappers, er, people do’ idea. Yet, in the UK, we have banned most gun ownership, because there are very few legitimate reason for guns to exist other than to hurt people.

So, the question would be- what is the justification for pornography- what is it’s purpose- and does the social need to fulfil that purpose outweigh the harm it causes.”

Nope, that’s not it at all, I’m quite offended you would attribute such twaddle to me, as you know, saying ‘objectification should be banned’ is like saying taking photos or constructing sentences should be banned.

In fact if you read what I said earlier, I don’t even think ‘the objectification of women’ means anything in the way Object use it.

I’m finding it strange that you are comparing porn to guns, in that guns are built specifically to kill people, whereas porn is built to represent the human body and have people get off on it. Those are surely two completely different aims.

I was merely arguing that porn, like food, is something basically harmless and even quite basic, if not necessary for survival, then it has a function, and I don’t think that erotic representations of people are going to go away anytime soon, or that they should. They’re both harmless, but when you place them in a capitalist context of commodification, exploitation and systemic oppression, then anything in that context can be made harmful. Children’s toys can be harmful, adults’ toys can be harmful, anything can.

So the issue around porn is not based around the material itself being harmful. It’s a question of the rights of the people involved in making it, and there’s a question of the psychological and social issues surrounding it, but they don’t come from the porn itself, they come from its exploitation in a capitalist context, its trivialisation and the fact that people’s desires are cheapened and exploited for profit. In fact, a lot of the problem *is* that these things are considered to be totally individualistic personal choices. Obviously, it’s a huge problem in the current climate if you start telling sex workers ‘you chose to work there, now stfu about your rights and exert your personal choice of doing your damn work’, but it would be as much of a problem to say the same to a single mother on benefits trying to feed her family with minimal bullshit, or a woman working on a blueberry farm in dubiously legal conditions for far less than minimum wage.

I brought up food because the issues surrounding it somewhat mirror the issues around porn. It’s a body issue, but you would certainly never compare a sandwich to a gun: it seems hilarious, I was able to get comic effect from comparing food to weapons. Yet, it didn’t seem ridiculous to you at all to compare porn to guns. And as I said, it’s quite possible to torture people using both food and sex as weapons.

The mainstream feminist reactions to both of these issues consist in going ‘LALALALALA’ really loudly and ignoring the real issues at stake. But in completely opposite ways: you have to be anti-porn, but you have to be fiercely pro-cake and (go on, let’s make this jollier than it already is) loudly deny any connection between fat and ill health, or you’re a bad feminist, but it doesn’t go beyond that.

I was actually only half joking when I said we should nationalise porn and have it on the NHS. It’s not something that should be in the hands of private concerns, neither should the legislation surrounding it.

And I mean, fucking hell, don’t even suggest I said rappers kill people. Racism certainly isn’t funny. Quite hilarious really that, while pornography is extremely serious business in these parts, force feeding and racism is cause for chuckling and dismissive reactions. And I’m the one trivialising stuff, sure.

gadgetgal // Posted 26 October 2010 at 3:22 pm

I’ve been following this whole comment thread and finding it really interesting. I’ve yet to come to any firm conclusions over porn and sex work, I tend to think of myself as sex positive in the “yay, sex and fun porn, but not bad porn that hurts people” kind of way, but I like Feminist Avatar’s comments about self-determination versus public harm. It’s definitely something I want to think about.

I think with regards to Object’s campaign, I’ll say again I’m not anti-porn particularly, but I do see the problems with having lads mags on wide display alongside tins of beans – it IS moving into the realms of objectification then, so if they want to get it moved then what’s the problem? Of course there are more important things in this world, but to just say to someone to whom it’s important that that’s a reason they should stop what they’re doing is just trivialising how they feel. I would never say to someone who, for example, just got dumped that their problem was unimportant because it’s not as debilitating as world hunger – world hunger may be worse but not right at that second to the person who got dumped! And also I think single-interest campaigns are as important as larger more all-encompassing ones, if only because people tend to see more immediate on-the-ground results if they have groups that just stick to one issue rather than fighting lots and spreading themselves thin. Unless you have a lot of money for publicity to get massive amounts of donations a lot of organisations simply HAVE to stay fairly single-minded otherwise they’d be useless.

Anyway, good discussion, thanks for making me think! :)

Feminist Avatar // Posted 26 October 2010 at 5:03 pm

Clearly, I am showing my age here- for Jen’s benefit:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJ83KXUloP8

gadgetgal // Posted 26 October 2010 at 7:53 pm

No, Feminist Avatar, don’t worry, you’re not showing your age…

polly // Posted 26 October 2010 at 9:55 pm

Jen said.

“”In general, I find anti-porn activism very exploitative, because there are a few – very few – women making a name for themselves, being quoted in the Guardian and putting books out and so on (looking at Kat Banyard here among others), and their base of support is made up of some of the most vulnerable people in society, i.e. abuse victims, who are going to find it extremely upsetting to argue a lot of these points and, to be honest, shouldn’t be made to.””

A couple of questions in response to that;

a) how do you know that these women (Kat Banyard etc) aren’t abuse ‘victims’ themselves?

b)Why do you assume abuse ‘victims’ are ‘vulnerable’ and incapable of making judgements or decisions for themselves?

This is exactly the kind of thing that would be criticised as patronising and infantilising if it came from an anti porn activist, but it’s ok coming from the other side apparently.

I do have problems with ‘celebrity’ feminists, but I have a lot more problems with the likes of Ellie Levenson than Kat Banyard. As one of those mythical abuse ‘victims’ (like a huge number of women) I AM capable of thinking for myself Jen! I am neither vulnerable nor stupid.

What I am though is angry about seeing violence against women presented as entertainment.

What I’m NOT is about to ‘support’ anyone in a sheep like manner just because they’re speaking out about something. I support causes (not people)that I agree with after careful thought in most cases.

polly // Posted 26 October 2010 at 11:25 pm

“””Actually, I’m seeing in this thread also that unacceptable working conditions and the horrific life consequences of poverty are being trivialised precisely because they’re mundane and day-to-day, and more importantly, don’t have any cocks or boobs involved. “”

Where exactly has this happened Jen? And what gives you the right to decide that working conditions in Tesco are ‘unacceptable’? I presume they abide by relevant legislation.

I dare say a lot of people wouldn’t enjoy working in Tesco, the same could be said of any job, but AGAIN you are looking down on and infantilising people who do work there!

Such jobs also have fairly low rates of pay, but actually it looks to me like Tesco have a lot of benefits, more than other low paid jobs, maybe.

http://www.tesco-careers.com/home/working/rewards-and-benefits/supporting-your-lifestyle

There are a lot of problems with people not earning a living wage, enough to pay for housing etc, and central government should be addressing them – everyone should have enough money to live on. But what gives you the right to look down on people who work in Tesco? It seems like simple snobbery to me.

coldharbour // Posted 27 October 2010 at 12:20 am

@gadgetgal

I think my lineage be must into account.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfAufV-RRtc&feature=player_embedded

Jen // Posted 27 October 2010 at 6:56 am

Feminist Avatar,

Yes, I was aware you made a funny, but you still completely misunderstood what the fuck I was talking about. I also don’t see how a bunch of white guys rapping about rappers killing people is less racist, but anyway, it just proves my point here: racism and torture methods not involving cock are hilarious.

Which comes down to: women’s rights being denied in a way that doesn’t involve cock is no cause for concern.

A J

“Surely if anything it’s the rape, assualt, killing etc that’s the problem and should banned, not the ‘objectification’? And to the best of my knowledge those already are, at least in law!”

WELL DUH.

What I’m saying is the societal causes of violence against women should be addressed, which by the way is not what Object are doing, they’re reducing the societal causes of violence to women’s bodies and what the sight of them causes people to do. They’re not situating them in the fact that people’s lives become shitty under capitalism and in the commodification and exploitation of people’s vital needs for profit.

“I do see the problems with having lads mags on wide display alongside tins of beans – it IS moving into the realms of objectification then, so if they want to get it moved then what’s the problem?”

I don’t see the problem with having the tinned sex next to the tinned foods, but (a) it’s a huge waste of time to move them and (b) the ways in which they do so are pretty objectionable. And they’re the whole point. If magazines do get moved, Object don’t have any other reason to do their stuff.

I do see a problem with the fact that most people are reduced to having poor quality versions of both because of poverty.

I’m starting to think the label ‘feminist’ is just an excuse to absolve yourself of deep-seated misogyny rather than addressing it. Interesting, for instance, Sian, that you would mention that you’re not against women and couldn’t possibly have said anything misogynist cause you’re a feminist, when the title really didn’t prevent you from being a party to that particular post (you’re the same Sian, right?). That Dita Von Teese quote didn’t upset me that much at the time, it made me go ‘now hang on a minute’ more than anything else. But if I’d been 19 with a lot more body insecurities it would have upset me a great deal. The interesting thing is when involved in feminism you never read about women with those kinds of dimensions not having been surgically enhanced. They’ve always done it on purpose to conform to the fact that men want to put their grubby hands all over them. The result is that if you do somehow end up that shape – and for me it was more that I can’t afford to eat at the end of the month, I lost a lot of weight because I don’t get more than about 400 calories a day for roughly the last week of the month, because there’s no money – you feel like it’s something you’ve ‘done’ to yourself, and you know, both the anti-porn feminist movement and random arseholes on the street agree that you got that wonderful waist-chest ration for the benefit of dong-handed men everywhere.

It’s no fun, really, and I find it crap that people would take the piss out of someone who talks about their experience with this particular problem. Once again: I’m 33 and emotionally armour-plated, so it’s not a problem for me, but if I was 19 and with body image problems, both that blog post about Von Teese and this whole comment thread could have been very upsetting.

In fact I think a lot about the anti-porn feminist movement would be upsetting in that case – maybe it would be an upset that would make me feel like an unworthy feminist and join up to try and better myself, either way it’s fucking exploitative of women’s insecurities for little reason other than to self-propagate. Anti-porn feminism, I would say, isn’t single-issue at all: in fact it doesn’t address any issues at all, just this kind of big dark vague scary thing that remains undefined. And what if a woman did get plastic surgery to look that way? You don’t know why she did it. She still has to live with looking like that afterwards. How do you think she feels being told that her body is an advert for the exploitation of women? It’s like she wouldn’t be welcome to join until she repented and changed her ways, kind of like joining a convent.

Dear Pattie:

“Dear Jen, I think you’ve had too much of a sugar rush from all the chocolate cake!”

I think you’ve had too much of a sodium overdose from all that salty cock! As for the rest of that lovely comment, tell it to Sian, since I wasn’t the one saying that when women’s bodies have the required dimensions they can send young girls into a self-cutting frenzy all by themselves.

Helen G // Posted 27 October 2010 at 9:28 am

Moderator’s note:

Okay, a quick note to ask if we may stop the personal attacks, please? Despite being possibly the biggest threadjack I have seen in a long time (was Object even mentioned in my original post?) – it’s actually turned into a very interesting discussion.

Now, I realise that people have strong feelings, on all sides of the debate, but if we could please stop the personal stuff and focus on the arguments that are being made and discussed, that would be great.

Thanks

Helen

Feminist Avatar // Posted 27 October 2010 at 11:18 am

Well, the reason I thought that Goldie Lookin Chain was both funny and relevant was that they are raising similar questions about rap, as we are having about porn.

They were engaging in a discussion about whether rap and rap culture promoted violence in the sub-cultures who were thought to listen to it- most notably amongst black, urban youths- and whether it should be limited or banned or age restricted (a question that was around at the time this song came out). That GLC were white, Welsh (and so rural), and if you watch the video, lived in a middle-class housing scheme, but still rapped, disrupted the link between rap and violence by suggesting that rap was just a form of music and that ‘rappers’ were not limited to black, urban or violent youths. Given the currently popularity and ubiquity of rap music now, this is now an out-dated discussion.

However, if the implication is that rap- which can contain violent lyrics and be performed by violent people- does not in and of itself cause violence – then an analogous argument can be raised for porn.

Which is why, I think, this needs to be a discussion about porn’s functions and purpose.

(Plus, guns are a great metaphor for sex- think of all the references to penises as guns, while death is a common euphamism for orgasm. And, given these metaphors, we might also ask why sex is conceived in such violent terms and how that shapes the meanings of sex in society more broadly and in porn. Is sex in a patriarchal society embued with connotations of violence, and can we get away from that as feminists to have patriarchy-free sex lives? If sex is popularly conceived or discussed in violent terms, what is porn conveying? And, finally, even is violence is implicit to the sexual act, does this mean that it is porn that is the problem or social attitudes more broadly?)

sianushka // Posted 27 October 2010 at 11:22 am

jen, what about the young women who have body issues, and look at the media and are told that their bodies are wrong because they don’t look like the women’s bodies on display? that their sexuality is wrong because it doesn’t look like the performance of sexuality on display? how do you think that effects women’s self esteem, their relationships with their bodies? what about the young women growing up with ‘silent bodies’ because they grow up being told that sex is something to perform, not to actively take pleasure in? what about the girl who nervously phoned a radio show to ask if she had been raped, because what the men had done to her was what she had seen on porn, so she wasn’t sure, couldn’t name what happened to her? what about the women surveyed by the APA about how media images of women have effected their mental health – or the schoolgirls surveyed by sweeting and west, where the effects of the mainstreaming of pornified images included anhedonia, the inability to feel pleasure.

‘ tell it to Sian, since I wasn’t the one saying that when women’s bodies have the required dimensions they can send young girls into a self-cutting frenzy all by themselves.’

needless to say, that wasn’t what i said. it is facile to ignore the effect of idealised images of women’s bodies. it is well documented, as is the link between increased sexual objectification and violence against teen girls (nspcc, bristol uni).

you might disagree with me but there’s no need to be rude!

of course some women naturally have DVT’s figure – are not ‘surgically enhanced’ and i never said there weren’t! maybe i didn’t make myself clear or maybe you are misunderstanding me but the ISSUE IS NOT WITH WOMEN’S BODIES it is the commodification of women’s bodies, the capitalist mindset that puts a value on women’s bodies and decides whether that value is high or low, depending on how closely they fit an ideal that is constantly changing and evolving – whether it is the size 0 model or the daily mail drooling over christina hendricks. the mindset that says women are worth nothing more than their bodyshape. the mindset that says that if women fail to meet the ideal body shape, then they are ‘wrong’.

in terms of force feeding someone choc cake – i think you got your wires crossed? the initial quote came from a bnp member, who was thrown out the bnp as a result, saying that [TRIGGER WARNING] rape was like force feeding a woman chocolate cake so isn’t a bad thing, as women like chocolate cake (so would like to be force fed it) and women like sex (so wouldn’t mind being raped.) it was an absolutely horrific thing to say. i remember reading about it on this blog – has anyone got a link?

Jen // Posted 27 October 2010 at 11:37 am

I was also wondering how we got to porn actually, I guess it’s just a sensitive topic that comes up easily. I have some memories of feminist nights down the pub where the word ‘porn!’ ended up being shouted across the whole room as the discussion got more heated. If you give it half a chance, it will crop up. Maybe we should just watch more of it, since, as the man said, writing about porn is like dancing about architecture.

I’m happy to stop getting personal though, and hasten to add that my comment to Pattie was mainly to illustrate a point about what she said to me (which was also a little bit narky), and really isn’t meant to be taken personally, since I can’t possibly have anything against her as I don’t know her.

Personally, I didn’t much appreciate being derided for the points I made, not because I’m wounded in my pride or anything, but because it kinda gets in the way of conversation.

I think it all goes to show as well what happens when an activist cause becomes a subculture, in which I guess, in spite of the massive threadjacking, illustrates that Ceasfire Magazine article quite well.

Er, Polly, needed to address this:

“There are a lot of problems with people not earning a living wage, enough to pay for housing etc, and central government should be addressing them – everyone should have enough money to live on. But what gives you the right to look down on people who work in Tesco? It seems like simple snobbery to me.”

Since when does concern for people’s labour rights equal snobbery and looking down on people? You’re assuming I’ve never worked in retail myself and am speaking from a lofty middle-class position at the moment, neither of which are true: I work for almost minimum wage myself and was in fact at minimum wage this time last year in a retail job, so not in a position to look *down* on people who work in Tescos in any way whatsoever.

I can say that we had hundreds of complaints to respond to every day (it was a call centre attached to a shop) and so would not really have appreciated the extra work of dealing with feminist activists defacing our displays with witty stickers or sending extra angry emails or making extra phone calls for us to deal with, that the bosses would have either laughed at or ignored, had such a thing happened, although I actually found a better job and left before the big boss decided to consider stocking sex toys so didn’t have that particular problem to contend with. Our bigger problem is that we’d just gone international but management hadn’t bothered to look into after sales legislation and procedures overseas, so we had a lot of *legitimate* complaints to deal with from people speaking all sorts of languages. Also, at this time of year, lots of people screaming down the phone at us for ruining Christmas, and lots of people assuming call centre employees don’t have families to go home to on the 24th of December at four in the afternoon, and a few bosses who thought you were a big jessie ann potato if you didn’t do horrendous overtime.

French labour law is actually particularly secure from that point of view. I imagine the UK Tory government has covered people’s labour rights to some extent, sure. Does that mean you don’t campaign to protect people’s rights further? I recall working in the UK was far more insecure than working in France, it was generally a lot easier to get laid off. What the two countries have in common was somewhat sexist expectations of women in the workplace: that we’ll be these compliant unambitious housewives who are okay to work more hours for less and not spend time with putative kids or family.

Sexist expectations in the workplace need not involve any gigantic engorged peni. I know it’s more exciting that way, for feminist activists and the like, but really you should just start a fucking movie club or swingers’ party circle or something.

Which I guess is more or less what you’ve got already, you just have intercourse via passive aggression rather than the usual channels.

Maeve // Posted 27 October 2010 at 1:38 pm

“..the mindset that says women are worth nothing more than their bodyshape”.

Exactly. This, the commodification of women’s bodies, reducing them to just another item you can buy, is for me one of the biggest issues in feminism. How are things ever going to improve until this mindset no longer has such a grip?

I really wish that there was no need for a women’s movement, so to speak, and that struggles for better working conditions and more social/economic etc rights and freedoms would have automatically meant that women were included. Unfortunately women’s rights always seemed to get dropped from the agenda, if they were ever on it.

What did give me a flicker of hope was seeing on the news how the government would like to give everyone the same amount of basic pension even if they hadn’t built up enough contributions. As the report said, this would certainly help a lot of women. A lot of whom have done and continue to do unpaid work, which underpins society. But there is already an outcry against it, so I’m not holding my breath that it will be implemented.

Anchoredwunderlust // Posted 27 October 2010 at 2:30 pm

@sianushka -already did ^

Jen // Posted 27 October 2010 at 2:55 pm

Sian,

“of course some women naturally have DVT’s figure – are not ‘surgically enhanced’ and i never said there weren’t! maybe i didn’t make myself clear or maybe you are misunderstanding me but the ISSUE IS NOT WITH WOMEN’S BODIES it is the commodification of women’s bodies, the capitalist mindset that puts a value on women’s bodies and decides whether that value is high or low, depending on how closely they fit an ideal that is constantly changing and evolving – whether it is the size 0 model or the daily mail drooling over christina hendricks. the mindset that says women are worth nothing more than their bodyshape. the mindset that says that if women fail to meet the ideal body shape, then they are ‘wrong’.”

Well I don’t disagree with your concerns at all. I just think they’re more complicated than you make them out to be, and I definitely agree that there’s something very disturbing about the way women’s bodies are portrayed, how they’re presented in both lads’ mags and in ladies’ mags, and a lot of the more top-shelf materials. But I don’t think ‘porn’ is the reason that this is disturbing, I think it’s down to commodification (not objectification). And I think getting rid of them amounts to getting rid of the symptom and leaving the problem intact.

What I mentioned in the comment that got lost as well – and this is personal experience and doesn’t really prove anything, but it’s useful to note anyway – was that in various jobs I’ve had – cleaning, retail, secretarial – they’ve often been specifically feminine jobs (even if there are a few men in them here and there) and the sexism involved in them has had very little about it that was sexual in the porn, cocks and titties sense. On the other hand, when I worked on a production line or as a cleaner in a factory, I know for a fact the guys there read porn, cause I had to clean the men’s toilets and they left it behind sometimes. But I encountered less sexism in those jobs than in offices or in retail where my role was more feminine and the men would have been perhaps more offended by the suggestion that they might look at pornography in the toilets. But they were okay with treating their secretaries like some sort of wife/mother/daughter figure, and the secretaries were expected to pull off the impossible just because ‘boss daddy’ asked for it.

And I mean if you want to make a point about commodification it applies to a lot more than just women’s bodies. I see Strasbourg cathedral every day and it’s a terrifying building – I can’t help thinking of the decades it took to build, and the workers who died building it – I mean, these projects were massive and the people commissioning them definitely gave more of a fuck about having a huge throbbing cathedral than about the lives of the workers building it, these things toppled over halfway through construction quite a lot… and you walk past there now and it’s this tourist trap, completely commodified. The bodies of the workers building it were certainly commodified – not just their bodies, but their time, their entire lives. The history is commodified (plaques on buildings and so on). The people living right up close to it live in a safe area and can walk alone fine pretty much all night, where some areas of town are definitely no-go at night. So a symbol of state and church oppression at the time is now a symbol of gentrification and capitalist oppression. And I mean more than a symbol, really.

That’s why I brought up food as well: because it’s commodified and turned into a personal choice, individualist issue, there’s the whole rhetoric around obesity on the one hand, and the whole feminist rhetoric around eating a whole bunch and being fat as a gesture of defiance on the other hand, where the reality is that capitalism has alienated our relationship to food.

To tell the truth, I knew what you meant by that Dita Von Teese thing as soon as I read it, I understood it as you say. But it wasn’t phrased to say what you meant at all. What you object to is essentially that she wears corsets and so forth to present her body a certain way and pretend that this is ’empowering’, which, I agree, is bullshit. But you didn’t mention corsets or plastic surgery or anything like that, or presentation, you just listed her body characteristics and then went straight into the bit about it encouraging women to get surgery to look like her. It was directly the body shape that had that effect. Of course I knew you meant the presentation, rather than the actual shape, because I’m familiar with the kind of feminism you’re a part of.

But that’s not really what you said, is it? If I’d read that when I was sixteen, well I was pretty fat and also closeted so I might have thought ‘damned skinny bitches with their big tits’ and joined up (I was actually vociferously anti-porn when I was younger because I kind of liked it but couldn’t really let on). I remember reading an article here by Samara Ginsberg, about being a teenager with similar proportions to mine now (I think she said E cups and size 6), and people always commenting on her body shape, and well I can imagine reading something like that Dita Von Teese thing would be quite upsetting for a teenager with those kinds of issues – or not necessarily a teenager even.

I don’t want to be patronising, but if you’re writing pamphlets and so on, if you want to be an effective feminist activist your best – honest – weapon is precision, measuring exactly what you’re saying and making sure you’re saying exactly what you mean. Otherwise, if you’re dishonest about it then the best weapon is guilt and young women’s shame about their bodies. I’m not saying you’re dishonest, but you were imprecise that time, and a lot of well-intentioned people can still add up to a big clusterfuck of dishonesty and it can still be exploitative.

And as I think I made abundantly clear, I find the mainstream feminist movement, particularly the anti-porn side, massively exploitative, precisely because of the number of vulnerable people involved in doing the groundwork and the sheer unsubtlety of the activism.

Jen // Posted 27 October 2010 at 3:45 pm

Polly again (sorry, I’m reading these all out of order):

” do have problems with ‘celebrity’ feminists, but I have a lot more problems with the likes of Ellie Levenson than Kat Banyard. As one of those mythical abuse ‘victims’ (like a huge number of women) I AM capable of thinking for myself Jen! I am neither vulnerable nor stupid.”

Don’t you work with vulnerable adults? Or am I getting my wires crossed?

Anyway, since when is being ‘vulnerable’ an insult? It’s a recognition of the difficulties someone faces, not an insult or an implication that people don’t think for themselves. People are put in a precarious situation because of their position in society – we need to acknowledge that, and I don’t see how acknowledging it is insulting to the people in those difficulties.

coldharbour // Posted 27 October 2010 at 7:39 pm

“At least supermarkets are trying things like fairtrade now (although it’s just lip service). When sex workers donate 20% of their wages to Rape Crisis maybe there’ll be a pragmatic solution. Porn kills. People involved in producing it are responsible.”

So female sex-workers are responsible for men raping women? Thats probably one of the most vile misogynistic comments I’ve ever read on here. But at least you are honest and admit your position is based on a complete contempt for sex-workers and a flat denial of their rights, it’s more respectable than pretending prohibition is in their interests.

polly // Posted 27 October 2010 at 9:31 pm

Jen

“”Don’t you work with vulnerable adults? Or am I getting my wires crossed?””]

No I don’t work with vulnerable adults. I took ‘vulnerable’ in it’s ordinary everyday meaning. Not the meaning of an adult who has needs that mean they require extra assistance from social services etc.

Since quite obviously anyone who has ever experienced sexual abuse is not ‘vulnerable’ in that narrower meaning. And I don’t think that’s the meaning you intended either, so it’s a bit dishonest to imply it was when you said “and their base of support is made up of some of the most vulnerable people in society, i.e. abuse victims,”

Which is why I think it’s an insult to describe abuse ‘victims’ as ‘vulnerable’. Some people who’ve experienced abuse may also be vulnerable, but it’s not always the case. You implied that anyone who had ever experienced abuse of any kind is just going to blindly follow Kat Banyard or whoever. Why would they do that?

You therefore outright said that anyone who is in that position lacks judgement and is open to manipulation. That’s insulting. Very insulting.

My ‘position in society’ is pretty nice actually at the moment, home owner, decent job, reasonable income (until the condems make me redundant anyway). Comfy I’d say. Not materially worse than yours in any way probably.

There is nothing more insulting than labelling absolutely anyone who has ever experienced abuse as a ‘victim’. That is why some people prefer the term ‘survivor’.

I apologise if this seems somewhat heated in light of the request above to avoid personal attacks, but I think your views are insufferable Jen.

polly // Posted 27 October 2010 at 9:51 pm

Jen again

“Since when does concern for people’s labour rights equal snobbery and looking down on people?”

Since you went on about the “terrible working conditions” in Tesco. Admittedly I don’t work there myself, but when I go round my local one, it seems like a pretty safe place to work myself. Certainly safer than say working on a building site, where a large number of people die each year.

http://www.building.co.uk/news/site-deaths-drop-26-to-record-low/3143396.article

And I linked to Tesco’s website, which shows the benefits they offer, yet you seem to have unilaterally decided that everyone who works in Tesco hates it without even asking them! I suppose some of them don’t like it, but perhaps some do? Maybe some enjoy the benefits of flexible working hours, or enjoy spending time with their colleagues, or even – dread thought – interaction with customers?

While I support – as I said – concern for employment rights, and the right to a living wage, some people may actually CHOOSE to work in Tesco. Just as some CHOOSE to work in the sex industry. And some don’t. In both cases. Personally I’d rather work in Tesco than the sex industry. Yes, on the checkout. But that’s just me, I’m not saying everyone else should feel the same.

Again Jen, you seem to think you have superior judgement to everyone else, and to think it’s ok to infantilise people. That’s what I’m objecting to here.

Jen // Posted 28 October 2010 at 6:37 am

Hey Coldharbour, do you have a blog or something? Only I feel if there are other anti-capitalist, (for want of a better word) socialist-leaning feminists out there I should like blogroll them or find some way that we’re not dispersed among random abusive comment threads, each angrily torturing our anthropomorphic snacks in separate locations.

Kristin // Posted 28 October 2010 at 11:02 am

”random, abusive comment threads”…? You mean yours, Jen?

Polly, well said.

Helen G // Posted 28 October 2010 at 11:16 am

I said that’s enough sniping.

I’m beginning to think that this discussion has now served its purpose and I’m seriously considering closing it.

This is my last intervention on this thread; one more snarky remark, I don’t care who it’s from, and I close comments without further notice.

sianushka // Posted 28 October 2010 at 11:19 am

can’t believe i am having this conversation again but i/we didn’t object to DVT i/we objected to the bristol city council normalising the sex industry and normalising the idea that women perform sex rather than actively engage in sex by hosting a strip tease in the bristol museum. a normalisation that contributes to all the issues i cited above.

also, i know the important of precision and that press release was written by a group of women of which i was one (and the only one who didn’t have a phd – story of my life!).

anyway, i am out of here.

Helen G // Posted 28 October 2010 at 11:22 am

And on that note, and given another snarky comment just received – which I’m not publishing – this thread is now closed.

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