Posts Tagged ‘Julie Bindel’

on the one hand this post could be seen as an update to my earlier writing about Swedish sexköpslagen (pdf); however, today i am not going to merely dump on the page quotations, links and/or references but i am going to encourage my readers to conduct their own bindel-style social research into sex markets. however, in doing so i am not going to be particularly inventive and quotations will remain crucial part of my post. nevertheless i can assure any potential reader that this time the quotations are going to be of particularly cheerful nature.

unwilling to waste any more time i would simply refer those who are unfamiliar with the sexköpslagen to aforementioned article or in fact to any other one treating on this particular subject (more detailed examination of the report could be found in “Smoke gets in your eyes: Evaluation of Swedish anti-prostitution law offers ideology, not methodology”, “Evaluating the Swedish Ban on the Purchase of Sexual Services: The Anna Skarhed Reportand “Behind the happy face of the Swedish anti-prostitution law.“)

in this post, however i am going to take a look at “Swedish Sex Law Report: ‘We’re Sorry We Haven’t a Clue’ (or, How to Make the Channel Tunnel Profitable)” from An Anthology of English Pros. apart from many facts and references found in the text and which link to other interesting articles and studies carried out on prostitution within last few years, we could also find some hysterically funny material:

“With a degree of effrontery that had to be heard to be believed, the chair of the inquiry, Anna Skarhed, told a press conference that they started with their conclusions and then worked out a rationale for them: “I think that these are quite obvious conclusions. But the important thing for the inquiry has been to try to, so to speak, get the basis for being able to draw them. And this is how we have worked,” she announced.
Oh, for such refreshing transparency at Westminster!”

i cannot think of any plausible term that could possibly describe such baldness and honesty about own ignorance on the part of government official but it seems quite certain that Ms. Anna Skarhed is not very familiar with “mystical and ancient knowledge” represented in the drawing below:

wpid-science_process_diagram_big-2010-07-20-11-00.gif

in any case, subsequently in his article the author considers the research findings in respect of prostitution on the internet; this part of the text could show to all interested in conducting their own study in what way one should approach methodological issues of social research in a bindel-like manner (it is important to remember that at this point one must forget the ideas presented in the picture above as they are incompatible with bindel-like mode of research). so firstly we read:

“The Swedish evaluation then turns to internet prostitution, saying:
“In the last five years, Internet prostitution has increased in Sweden, Denmark and Norway. However, the scale of this form of prostitution is more extensive in our neighbouring countries, and there is nothing to indicate that a greater increase in prostitution over the Internet has occurred in Sweden…”
“Nothing to indicate” is, of course, another way of saying they haven’t a clue. The report is peppered with such phrases: we do not know very much (about male prostitution); there [is no] information that suggests that (prostitutes formerly on the streets are now involved in indoor prostitution); and there is nothing to indicate that (prostitution in massage parlours, sex clubs, hotels, restaurants and nightclub settings has increased in recent years)…etcetera…”

afterwards, wannabe-bindel-like-researcher is given step by step instructions on how to conduct the actual research, and the description provided bears remarkable resemblance to the methodology used by julie bindel and her gang of “social scientists” in their academically “acclaimed” (for shorter text see here) research report “big brothel”:

“Now let’s try a quick and inexpensive (if unscientific) experiment with a Google search engine.
Iceland: Reykjavík + escort = 77,400 results in 0.21 seconds.
Finland: Helsinki + escort = 136,000 results in 0.35 seconds.
Norway: Oslo + escort = 246,000 results in 0.19 seconds.
Sweden: Stockholm + escort = 491,000 results in 0.16 seconds.
Back in 1999, the official estimate of sex workers in the whole of Sweden was a mere 2,500. Even rabbits, it would seem, could only aspire to multiply as fast.”

and there we have it! now we would have to add more or less plausible “explanation” of our “findings” which necessarily must incorporate some kind of suffering endured by one or another group of individuals and with report prepared in such a manner we might try to approach government officials with a hope to secure monetary grants from government for carrying out further research into this particular area in order to end inequalities and suffering of those in need.

i would be glad to hear from anyone who like our noble star julie bindel would manage to turn bindel-style social research into successful money making scheme.
good luck

Advertisements

i was deeply disappointed when several weeks ago i read (1, 2) about Swedish officials struggling to produce their final evaluation of controversial sexköpslagen. obviously i read earlier reports attempting to assess the impact of the law against buying sex published by swedish and norwegian governments (Kännedom om prostitution 1998–1999, Kännedom om prostitution 2003, Kännedom om prostitution 2007, Purchasing Sexual Services in Sweden and the Nederlands. Legal Regulations and Experiences) and was extremely eager to see the final evaluation. i admit that lecture of earlier reports as well as my broader studies into the available literature on the subject left me feeling that most of the critique of the law presented by academics and sex workers themselves was not wholly unreasonable. which means that in my view most of the pessimistic prognoses as to the impact of this moralistic legislation was sadly true. not to mention that it entrenched my somewhat racist and totally unreasonable beliefs in that people living in northern part of Europe are rather strange folks.

nonetheless, the report was published on 2nd of july and in accompanying press release Swedish Ministry of Justice announced that

“(…) criminalisation has contributed to combating prostitution and human trafficking for sexual purposes.”

also we are told that

“The ban has proved to act as a deterrent to sex purchasers. The Inquiry could find no indication that criminalisation has had a negative effect on people exploited through prostitution.”

the original version of the report can be accessed here (pdf) while the 15 pages long English summary (pages 29-44 of the original report) can be accesed here (pdf). in this entry i hope to shed some light on the report itself however I hope to achieve this by listening to and commenting on some glorious fanfares that immediately announced to the world that the law presents one great and unequivocal success against evil forces of patriarchy and male domination over women. and that’s how we stumble upon the greatest fan of snoop dogg among lesbian-feminists, julie bindel and her commentary “Legalising prostitution is not the answer”.
in the article (which by the way was published by the guardian on the same day as swedish report) our feminist diva provides her fans as well as other casual readers with her invaluable insights into the background and realities of work as a researcher in the context of prostitution and trafficking. so, we learn that:

“It is rare to have academic consensus on controversial areas of study, but currently in the UK it seems that the vast majority of academics studying prostitution and the sex industry are in agreement. It is almost impossible to find even a handful involved in this massively expanding area of study that will deviate from the opinion that the sex industry should be legalised or decriminalised, and that penalising sex buyers has a negative effect on those selling sexual services. Most academic studies produced in the past few years conclude that little harm is caused to those involved in prostitution, despite the thousands of testimonies on record of survivors of this abusive trade.”

without single qualm she then proceeds to mercilessly criticise, mock and sneer at all the pimps, traffickers, punters and at all other kinds of rapists who backed by hordes of ignorant academics dared to reject her holy principles and her sacred quest to crush the patriarchal oppression of women in prostitution. finally the readers are told:

“No one working in or on it [prostitution] is devoid of a view regarding this important topic, which is why it is somewhat frustrating that so many academics seem happy to be selective about the “evidence” supporting their claims that the Swedish model has been a disaster. Similarly, these same academics regularly accuse authors of research that reaches different conclusions from theirs of being biased.”

after cynically listing few of the numerous doubts expressed by opponents of the law she exaltedly shakes above her head 300 pages long copy of the Swedish report (even though she probably read no more than fifteen pages of its English summary) pointing at it as a solid and undeniable proof against all those of small faith and most certainly fable mind who expressed any doubts about the sexköpslagen.

“However, today’s report, a comprehensive evaluation of the Swedish law, conducted by an independent commission appointed by the government, and led by the chancellor of justice (the highest legal officer in Sweden) shows that legislation criminalising demand has been a resounding success. The evaluation concludes that, since the law came in to force in 1999, the number of women involved in street prostitution has halved, whereas neighbouring countries such as Denmark and Norway have seen a sharp rise; that there is no evidence of an increase in off-street prostitution; and that, despite a significant increase in prostitution in the neighbouring countries during the past 10 years, there is no evidence of a similar increase in Sweden.”

in her usual style she is more than happy to dump on her readers buckets of unsubstantiated rhetoric based on misguided analysis of cherry picked factual data. however in this case I have to admit that my own article on the subject would look exactly a like and that’s because dates are the only numbers that can be found in english summary of the report! it’s 15 pages are simply speaking composed of number of loaded and vague statements referring to some data which is never given up for the reader to asses and which often seem to contradict statements made in other places or data published in earlier reports or the very conclusions drawn by the authors. one might wonder whether the report was not written a decade ago together with the law impact of which it purports to evaluate. and it seems that i am not the only one brought to such a conclusion and for example Laura Agustín writes on her blog:

“An astounding absence of objective and unbiased guiding principles, a lack of solid evidence and a confusing methodical picture that could mean outright guesswork.

(…)

‘Sources’ are mentioned, but absolutely nothing is explained about methodology.

(…)

there is nothing about how interviewees were chosen, why they were relevant, what questionnaire was used or how interviews were analysed.

(…)

Sexworkers themselves are listed as sources, but they seem to have been forgotten until quite late. They are called, in a discriminatory manner, ‘exploited persons’ (p. 126-127). A total of 14 persons from two organisations filled out a questionnaire (…).”

indeed, the authors of the report noted on the page 34:

“Even though there are many reports, articles and essays that address these phenomena, knowledge on the scale of prostitution and human trafficking for sexual purposes is consequently limited. This particularly applies to knowledge of people who are active as prostitutes in arenas other than street settings and on the Internet, and knowledge of the prevalence of prostitution outside metropolitan areas.

(…)

The empirical surveys that have been carried out have, in some cases, had limited scope, and different working procedures, methods and purposes have been used. In light of these and other factors, there can at times be reason to interpret the results with caution. However, despite these reservations, we still consider that it is possible to draw conclusions based on the material to which we had access, and the results we are presenting based on this data give, in our view, as clear a picture as is currently possible to produce.”

this of course would not shake julie bindel’s belief in unequivocal character of the report and its undeniable conclusions, so she goes on:

“The commission, which took evidence from women currently in prostitution, those who had left the sex trade, police, social workers and other key stakeholders, also found that the law functioned as a barrier against the establishment of traffickers and pimps in Sweden, and had led to a reduction in organised crime.”

it is worth mentioning that in published in 2007 evaluation, authors expressed their concerns about this methodology:

‘The people involved may have had vested interests in promoting certain information based on their mission, ideological grounds, orientation, experience, need for funding, etc’

but julie bindel continues her tirade and states:

“No doubt critics of this law will soon be arguing that the research that formed the basis of this evaluation is flawed and biased. But the commission was careful to include a wide range of views, including Pye Jakobsson, who has worked in the Swedish sex industry for several years and has actively campaigned against the criminalisation of punters, and other pro-prostitution activists.”

this statement is particularly unfortunate because as Laura Agustín points out:

“The report’s claim that sexworkers are not marginalized is bafflingly arrogant, ignoring what many sexworkers say about how the law increases stigma and therefore their marginalization in society. See this video with Pye Jakobsson of Rose Alliance, as an example.”

and in a footnote:

“I asked Pye Jakobsson, president of the Swedish sexworker organisation Rose Alliance, about her contact with the inquiry. She says they were sent a questionnaire last January and put in online, but very few sex workers took an interest in filling it out, because the questions were ‘idiotic’.”

furthermore on pages 129-30 of the report we could find the real gem:

“Those individuals who are being exploited in prostitution say that criminalization has strengthened the social stigma associated with selling sex.  They describe themselves as having chosen to prostitute themselves and don’t see themselves as being involuntarily exposed to anything.  Even if it’s not forbidden to sell sex, they feel hunted by the police.  They feel as if they’ve been declared incapable of managing their own affairs in that their actions are tolerated, but their will and choices are not respected.  Further, they believe it is possible to distinguish between voluntary and forced prostitution…(These) negative effects of the ban that they describe can almost be regarded as positive when viewed from the perspective that the aim of the law is to combat prostitution (SOU 2010:49,129-30).”

(quoted after Bucken-Knapp, G. Evaluating the Swedish Ban on the Purchase of Sexual Services: The Anna Skarhed Report)

the last sentence of this quote is an invaluable display of authors intentions and the purpose of the report and the law itself. but also seem to fit neatly with convictions so often voiced by “j bizzel the gangsta lezzer” in her writings.

there is another interesting point made by the authors of the report; on the page 30 i found this curious remark:

“Our remit has been to evaluate the application of the ban on the purchase of sexual services and the effects that prohibition has had. (…) One starting point of our work has been that the purchase of sexual services is to remain criminalised.”

according to laura augustin “(…) explanation lies probably, and most importantly, in the government’s original directive to Skarhed: the objective was to evaluate whether the law has had any deterrent function, which was the original ambition behind the law, and to recommend how it could be strengthened to meet that ambition. The directive stated that the law is important and that the inquiry could not suggest, or point in any direction other than, that buying of sex should be criminalised.”

however, julie bindel talks about “an independent commission appointed by the government” and i will only add that it is a very interesting view on “independence” of this commission. is such “independence” normal in Sweden?

as for the very scarce claims made on the basis of actual data i will again quote laura augustin:

“(…) on the one hand, they haven’t a clue about how many sexworkers there are in Sweden, and, on the other, that the law has successfully reduced street prostitution by 50%. But she also said the increase of services offered on Internet sites is no different from nearby countries’, from which she concludes fuzzily that this shows that the law has not contributed to any increase in ‘hidden’ prostitution. This is clearly an attempt to head off arguments from the law’s critics. The only actual conclusion is that the decrease of street prostitution in Sweden is a real decrease resulting from the law. Causation by confusion? It is indeed remarkable what conclusions can be drawn based on not having a clue, i.e any figures, a point already noted in another government assessment of prostitution in Sweden in 2007 (Socialstyrelsen-National Board of Health and Welfare).”

in mentioned assessment from 2007, officials noted that:

‘we can discern that street prostitution is slowly returning, after swiftly disappearing in the wake of the law against purchasing sexual services. But as said, that refers to street prostitution, which is the most obvious manifestation. With regard to increases and decreases in other areas of prostitution – the “hidden prostitution” – we are even less able to make any statements.’

in terms of comparisons to other Nordic countries made by the report and their account in julie bindel article i will only say that if she would have waited with her article just one day she would have learned that at least in respect of Denmark the numbers on which the conclusions of the report were based are known to be false:

“The wrong numbers come from Reden in Copenhagen (…).
In the official statistics the number of visitors to Reden has been made equal with the number of sexworkers working on the street. But Reden has misreported how many visitors they have (…)
[which is] documented in a number of answers to Parliament from former Social Minister Karen Ellen [here and here], and this is the background for, why SFI (a national social research institution) has now been asked to start over with a completely new counting.
Reden has claimed that there are more than 1200 sexworkers in the streets of Copenhagen. Estimates from the police and Reden International suggest that the number is only around 200.”

however, could such information really undermine jb’s firm opinion about the report? i don’t think so, julie bindel is not a type of person who could reject her views even if she would be drowning in contradictory information. sometimes i wonder how more delusional can you get?

finally, we are given her musings as to the brighter future:

“This evaluation report will enable those of us in the UK who are campaigning for a blanket ban on the purchase of sexual services and the decriminalisation of those selling sex to refute the claims made by lobbyists for legalisation. It may also lead a few prospective PhD candidates to use their imagination and not follow the current academic line, and to conduct some research that does not begin with the assumption that legalising this vile industry is the answer. I live in hope.”

i would like to make two points in relation to this paragraph. first, that imagination is a good thing for writing fairy tales and not for social research reports and it seems as in her work as researcher jb uses too much of it. secondly, i hope that in the uk the officials and the public might wish turn to more reliable and comprehensive source of information about prostitution than the Swedish report. i would even prefer if they would look for valid information there:

wpid-thumbnail-aspx-2010-07-13-00-15.jpeg

it is indisputable that modern science fails to answer vast number of questions and appropriately explain various observable phenomena. and like with dreams, the circumstances encapsulated in such unanswered questions sometimes turn out to be exciting and sometimes quite terrifying; understandably such emotions could place heavy burden on our conscious understanding of the world. and because this might create various problems, as a form of coping strategy, i designated a special place in my mind for all this yet to be explained phenomena and other anomalies. it is rather obvious that such a place must be a very strange place. and indeed, once there, we would see that the laws of logic are seriously distorted (if this sentence could makes any sense) while mathematical relations are striped of their usual certainty and coherence. furthermore, like some outlandish zoo, the place is inhabited by extraordinary individuals who as a matter of daily practice, effortlessly and with remarkable ease defy otherwise unshakeable laws of physics and natural sciences. one such an interesting specimen goes by the name of julie bindel.

thus, it is no surprise that this name often appears in texts posted on this blog and stars in my recent “on julie bindel’s unhealthy and disturbing fantasies”. i would allow myself to assume that julie bindel as lesbian-feminist diva of national prominence, does not need any introduction and those who for some reason happened to be unfamiliar with her work might want to check wikipedia or read some of her articles published on quite well known website devoted to the promotion of the “often misguided, english middle-class propaganda”, a.k.a. the guardian. i myself would suggest doing the latter for her work is definitely worth looking at due to its undeniable, entertaining if not outright comical qualities.

however, to make sure that the events which are described below could be properly understood and could be considered with due attention i must highlight certain features of her work which determine its specific character and which are most important for my narrative.

so, who is julie bindel? well, she’s a lesbian-feminist of the radical kind and a personal friend of long dead andrea dworkin who famously claimed that sexual intercourse is an act of violence against women and initiated radical anti-porn crusade in the u.s. some thirty years ago. julie bindel herself holds equally strong views in respect of pornography and prostitution which in her view reflect and perpetuate patriarchal oppression of women. she is one of the authors of loathed and strongly criticised by academics paper “big brothel” in which she made numerous fantastical claims in respect of indoor sex work based on phone calls made to agencies by her male colleagues acting as prospective clients and which formed the basis for highly controversial anti-prostitution law passed in 2009 with the blessing from harriet harman and jacquie smith. furthermore, she is a highly vocal supporter of far-reaching and some might say discriminatory measures which supposedly are necessary to meaningfully fight with violence against women in all forms, shapes and sizes. however, it is worth mentioning that the definition of violence in this context is a very broad one and might include acts which most people would consider as normal and definitely not inappropriate aspects of human interactions. nevertheless, the main point to remember for the purpose of this article is her stance on pornography and prostitution.

a week ago i would consider the above text as reasonably well presented summary of complicated and colourful ideas which characterise work of julie bindel. a week ago i would consider her naive, ignorant and infantile attitudes towards serious social issues as quite easily predictable. a week ago i enjoyed feeling of certainty stemming from the belief in julie bindel unshakeable radicalism. but that was a week ago…

as a twitter addict and a great fan of all that is ridiculous, i am a faithful follower of her insights and musings which she might be willing to share on twitter with her devoted fans; and exactly a week ago, on wednesday 23rd of june at 0804 p.m. she wrote:

“On a train listening to Snoop Dogg having interviewed a pimp. Sitting next to Cath Elliott who is reading about rape. Business as usual.”

‘quite right, business as usual … wait a second! julie bindel listening to snoop dogg! is this a part of some new “research” that she is conducting?’

but then a day later she wrote:

“Help! What does a lesbian feminist wear to Glastonbury to meet Snoop Dogg? Is anyone there from Guardian Fashion who can advise!”

‘jeez! lesbian feminist don’t meet snoop dogg! are we talking about the same snoop dogg? the former pimp? who sees pimping as his “natural calling“?’

‘but even supposing that lesbian feminist would decide to meet him they would probably opt for a boiler-suit which can be easily disposed of after extremely violent acts performed on the dogg, followed by prolonged mutilation of his body as a form of pay back for selling women as sex slaves! isn’t that right?!’

well apparently not because radical lesbian feminists had something else in mind:

“Do you think there is any chance Snoop Dogg will ask me to step in as a backing singer?”

‘shit! what is happening to me? does everybody have this?’

i must admit that at this point i was seriously concerned about my sanity and desperately blamed everything on my ipod and on my macbook, purporting that there must be some apple’s conspiracy going on, aimed at discrediting julie bindel! not to mention that i was worried that the picture of her as a backing singer for snoop dogg would probably haunt me every time I’m in bed with my girlfriend, which could have devastating effect on my sex life!

‘jesus! i probably won’t even be able to sue her for this!’

but she just continued mercilessly :

“That puppy dog has no greater feminist fan than me!”

and

“Beside myself with excitement at seeing the Snoopster”

‘my god how far is she prepared to go? soon she will be just “feminist”!’

and while i was feverishly contemplating whether she would cease to be “lesbian” in such particular circumstances, she wrote:

“He has a voice like honey dripping on rose petals, raps like a demon, and is dripping bile about women. What to do?”

‘what do you mean “what to do?”?! what to do with what?!’

in any case, whatever she decided to do after posting this last message it seems as if it was the highest point of this insanity, and some time later she wrote:

“Am writing my piece on Snoop whilst sitting on the grass amongst some very stoned and drunk folk. Ah well, maybe later.”

which made me think that she should rather keep away from any drugs because she might hurt someone and most probably herself. nevertheless, subsequent messages contained something that looked as some form of rationalising of her behaviour:

“That pup Snoop really played it a bit safe today. Took out a couple of mentions of ‘ho, replaced ‘bitch’ with BIRD can you believe one time!”

and finally:

“Maybe he heard I was there and was really scared. What do you reckon? I am J Bizzel the Gangsta Lezzer.”

j bizzel the gangsta lezzer!….?

my god, this was really sad.

besides, i found the whole experience emotionally exhausting. something like seeing the pope during a gay parade, prancing around on some moving platform and making out with the village people.

my conclusion was that if one cannot even trust julie bindel then there must be some truth in all this blabbering about broken societies, decline of moral standards, lack of authoritarian role models, the end of the world, armageddon and so on and so forth.

so, when couple of days ago a friend of mine sent me her article i refused to look at it. does this make me a quasi-religious person refusing to know the truth in order to preserve my shaken beliefs? i guess it does.

i wonder if media will ever make a brake with their tradition to create trafficking hysteria prior to every major sport event? i find it really painful to watch that there are so many morons who are willing to buy into this crap and especially into the 40k figure. in my humble opinion it’s pathetic and seriously disturbing. get a grip folks! if you really think that you are helping to raise awareness about the issue of trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation then think again.

so, with this in mind i would urge every Bindel-like bigot and every other obsessive-maniac throwing tantrums and crying about wooden shacks built around stadiums, where thousands of women are going to be raped by drunk, violent and gushing with testosterone male football fans, to cut the shit; and stop blabbering nonsense which is only a product of some seriously unhealthy fantasies and to start listening instead.

a briefing paper from Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women published in 2009 “Trafficking in Persons and the 2010 Olympics” (pdf) could be a good place to start:

“The link between trafficked persons – particularly trafficking into the sex industry – and large sporting events is not new. The link is based on the assumption that there is “a huge rise in demand for cheap sex around large sporting events”, and while this assumption continues to gain international attention, trafficking for this purpose is largely unfounded. Data from previous sporting events indicates that an increase of trafficking in persons into forced prostitution does not occur around sporting events.”

the report also indicates that:

“A major concern regarding anti-trafficking campaigns that focus on trafficking for forced prostitution during international sporting is that these campaigns can have very harmful effects on the very people they aim to protect.”

but what about Germany? did the German authorities manage to dismantle little Bindel-towns of “wooden “performance boxes” resembling toilets” that have been built for the purpose of exploitation? well, they didn’t have to because according to report by the International Organization for Migration, “Trafficking in Human Beings and the 2006 World Cup Germany” (pdf), published in 2006, even though:

“Prior to the World Cup in Germany in 2006, there was considerable international concern that this event would contribute to a sharp increase in trafficking for sexual exploitation. Media reports suggested that prostitution would increase and that up to 40,000 women might be trafficked.”

(…)

“It is concluded that the 40,000 estimate was unfounded and unrealistic.”

surprise, surprise.

in any case a year later Council of the European Union published two reports in relation to Germany 2006 World Cup. and on the page 5 of the first report (5006/1/07) we can find some more specific numbers:

“Of the 33 investigation cases reported to the Federal Criminal Police Office on the grounds of human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation and/or the promotion of human trafficking and which took place at the time of the 2006 World Cup, only five cases were assumed to have a direct link to the 2006 World Cup. In these five cases, five victims of human trafficking were found, four women and one man. The victims were all between 18 and 21 years of age and came from Bulgaria (2 women, both 20 years old), Hungary (one man, 20 years old), the Czech Republic (one woman, 19 years old) and Germany (one woman, 19 years old).

There were also no reports of any significant increase in the number of illegal stays in connection with the practice of prostitution.”

the second report (5008/7) confirmed these findings and went further to state that:

“In line with the police’s observations also the special counselling centres did not observe an increase in forced prostitution, but a decrease (cf. BMI, Report on Trafficking in Human Beings for the Purpose of Sexual Exploitation in Connection with the FIFA Word Cup 2006 in Germany, 2006).”

hmm, pretty embarrassing isn’t it? how can we possibly be so stupid to buy into this bullshit every single time some major sporting event is being organised? I’ll leave the answer to that question for those more knowledgeable than i could ever possibly be.

however, for those academically perplexed here’s a list of few other informative resources on the subject:

oh sweet irony. just few days after i posted a piece treating about frivolous attitudes towards official statistics and facts in general, among certain advocacy groups and policy making bodies, feminist blog the f-word published an article by Naomi Mc, “Fact is a Feminist Issue”. and even though the title could be reasonably regarded as promising (if not exciting considering where it was published) the article itself is a bit of a disappointment.

in short the author gives her opinions on scientific reporting in the media, which in her own words is … well, “piss poor”; nothing new here i guess. then we hear yet once again this old hackneyed phrase that “science or medical articles rely on the readerships’ preconceived ideas about women and men and feed gender stereotypes that are straight out of the 1950s;” which is followed by similarly overused short list of such stereotypes. subsequently author elaborates to some very limited extent on reporting of biological differences between men and women and provides “a few tips for approaching scientific and medical press stories that tackle biological sex differences”, which pretty much closes her argument about fact as a feminist issue. so much for excitement.

without paying to much attention to the tedious content of the article i was curious about the authors opinions on reporting of facts by more or less mainstream media outlets in relation to issues which are preoccupying feminist agenda and which on many occasions would have to be described as undesirable, damaging or prejudicial and most definitely as “piss poor”.

i wrote a comment under the article, at first agreeing with the author’s main point that “fact is a feminist issue”; however in order to show my somewhat different take on the subject i quoted Fawcett Society’s “Equal pay, where next? Changing Hearts and Minds” (pdf) with it’s poor treatment of official statistics; together with two quotes referring to publications from Eaves; and which could be best described as a forms of “creative writing” rather than social research. so, first of the two quotes was taken from article by Julie Bindel entitled “Why men use prostitutes” in which Ms. Bindel proudly proclaimed that “the reasons why many men pay for sex [were] revealed in the interviews that make up a major new piece of research; Read the research project’s report on men who buy sex (pdf). the second quote was taken from “Sexual violence fact-sheet” (pdf) published on Eaves website, containing examples of intentional misrepresentation of official statistics by this advocacy group, which was clearly aimed at strengthening misconceptions about the issue of trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

overall, my comment was fairly short and in my opinion could hardly be regarded as provocative for it was mainly composed of quotations from feminist publications and this i suppose is a fact perfectly suitable for discussion on feminist blog. nevertheless, comments submitted to f-word are subject to some very general rules which are neatly explained under every article published on the website. among other things the rules state that the f-word:

“… is a safe and friendly space for feminists and feminist allies. Debate and critique are welcome where it is constructive and deepens analysis or understanding. Anti-feminist comments will not be approved. We get to decide what’s anti-feminist.”

so far, it seems that i am neither a feminist nor a feminist ally; and apparently quotations submitted in my comment in order to shed some light on “fact as a feminist issue” were not constructive enough; and elaborating on them could not possibly deepen analysis or understanding of the issue.

it’s hard for me to say whether my comment was anti-feminist. i would say it was not but then again it is them who get to decide what is and what is not anti-feminist. but i must admit that the f-word did inform me about means of appeal to the decision made by the moderator and the rules on commenting are very clear about this:

“We do not seek to censor debate: the beauty of the internet is that anyone can set up their own blog or website to express their views.”

which i duly did.

ironically, even though i was unable to find out what would be Naomi Mc’s (or other f-word readers) opinion on my approach to the issue represented in the title, one thing seems to be quite certain: FACT IS A FEMINIST ISSUE.