Posts Tagged ‘society’

still circling around the Swedish law against buying sex, together with its self-congratulatory evaluation published by Swedish government this post might allow to take a somewhat different view on the issue of prostitution and its regulation. the entry was prompted by two remarkable images posted on the blog An Anthology of English Pros in an article Swedish Justice Minister to the pillory! by Helena von Schantz (link to her blog in Swedish).

(Photos of sex worker executions in Ghanzi Province, Afghanistan, by Rahmatullah Naikzad, AP Photos)

apart from the pictures and author’s insights that go with them the post begins with yet another shocking (at least for me) piece of information which is worth reporting. according to von Schantz, on the 18th of March during the seminar on prostitution, Swedish Minister of Justice Beatrice Ask said:

“I want to send garish envelopes to the sex buyers, because I think the worst thing that can happen to a sex buyer is that somebody in their surroundings finds out what they have done, the wife or the neighbour… We should have purple envelopes, it should be clear that you’re suspected of having bought sex.”

however shocking this may seem, von Schantz proceeds:

“When confronted with the question, what if a child finds the envelope, she answered thus: “The daughter might just as well find out what kind of father she has. You have to remember not to protect the wrong factor (just as abstruse in Swedish). If the daughter has been abused by her father the letter may give her the courage to come forward.””

and i though that duo bindel and harman were lunatics!

“Naturally there was a lot of outrage and also demands for Beatrice Ask’s resignation. In the beginning she stuck to her guns, but six days later she made a half-hearted apology that allowed her to remain in office.”

one might wonder were do they find these people?

subsequently, we are referred to the evaluation report and in this respect von Schantz mercifully points out lack of any data that could warrant the conclusions reached by the author of the report; and while addressing these few figures that are presented in the report she mentions shambles with numbers of Danish prostitutes used by Swedish officials in their evaluation, which turned out to be false and inflated (i reported on that story in one of my earlier posts).

“If you consider the purple envelope debacle in March, things become a bit clearer. What can you expect from an Attorney General who suggests that men suspected of buying sex should be paraded in the square? Convicted murderers, bank robbers, smugglers and rapists do not need coloured envelopes and public condemnation, prison suffices for them. Men suspected of having paid for sex, however, they should be tarred and feathered. From this follows that being suspected of buying sex is worse than being a convicted rapist. What happens to rape statistics when the authorities send out that kind of signal?

The European Council has recommended that prostitutes should have their say in decisions that affect them, but that advice falls on deaf ears in Sweden. Beatrice Ask’s starting point is a zero vision. We are supposed to heap shame and disgrace on sex buyers until the market is dead, because sex is not a commodity.’”

and that’s how we arrive at the pictures of afghan prostitutes before and after execution; von Schantz writes:

“(…) There are prostitutes of both sexes in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Iran, although the penalty is death – usually a painful and disgraceful death at that. Have none of the pro sexlaw people watched the documentary ”Prostitution behind the veil” by Nahid Persson? Do they really think that the Swedish sex law will succeed where Sharia laws have failed? Are they under the illusion that buying or selling sex without getting caught is hard in Sweden? I could probably not steal a car or rob a bank without going to prison, but I could definitely buy and/or sell sexual favours morning, noon and night without anyone being the wiser.

Consequently there were all of 69 poor sods prosecuted for buying sex in Sweden in 2009. I’m thinking that they were either drunk, incredibly stupid or had really nasty enemies, because this is a “crime” any fool should be able to perpetrate without being caught. You would have to have an advanced system of informants or police with Orwellian rights for us to keep track of whether people are paid for sex or not.”

it seems disturbing but at the same time hard to deny that the purpose of the Swedish law is not to aid sex workers nor is it related in any way to the notion of equality between the sexes; it seems clear that the primary goal of the law is to impose on every individual one particular, obtrusive and highly questionable kind of morality with the full force of the state.

one might wonder what century are we living in? public executions and shaming practices for those merely accused of minor and by all means questionable offences? which were concocted by governmental officials who seem to regard some dubious moral standards as being superior to factual data? which is further entrenched by these officials complete disregard or maybe even ignorance of scientific method of enquiry? aren’t these the main characteristics of inquisition tribunals? it seems like it; maybe the next step of Minister of Justice Beatrice Ask and Swedish government will be to publish fit for XXI century’s social ills new version of once renowned and highly regarded Malleus Maleficarum.

and indeed, doesn’t the reasoning behind the Swedish report and official news-releases resemble the kind of “logic” brilliantly depicted in this unforgettable scene:

i would say it does.

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.

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.

the text below was copied from Sickipedia for iPhone where it was posted by Barty93. i don’t know who is the original author but i assume it’s Barty93 and i hope he doesn’t mind me re-posting it here. the text is hilarious so i decided to paste it in its entirety. it also goes nicely with my recent mood for rants on “broken society thing”, so here goes:

“THIS IS LABOUR GOVERNMENT REST OF THE WORLD VERSION:

The squirrel works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building and improving his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks he’s a fool, and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the squirrel is warm and well fed. The shivering grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.

THE END

————————————————————————

LABOUR GOVERNMENT THE UK VERSION:

The squirrel works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks he’s a fool, and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the squirrel is warm and well fed. A social worker finds the shivering grasshopper, calls a press conference and demands to know why the squirrel should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others less fortunate, like the grasshopper, are cold and starving. The BBC shows up to provide live coverage of the shivering grasshopper; with cuts to a video of the squirrel in his comfortable warm home with a table laden with food. The British press inform people that they should be ashamed that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so, while others have plenty. The Labour Party, Greenpeace, Animal Rights and The Grasshopper Council of GB demonstrate in front of the squirrel’s house. The BBC, interrupting a cultural festival special from Notting Hill with breaking news, broadcasts a multi-cultural choir singing ‘We shall overcome’. Ken Livingstone rants in an interview with Trevor McDonald that the squirrel got rich off the backs of grasshoppers, and calls for an immediate tax hike on the squirrel to make him pay his ‘fair share’ and increases the charge for squirrels to enter inner London . In response to pressure from the media, the Government drafts the Economic Equity and Grasshopper anti Discrimination Act, retroactive to the beginning of the summer. The squirrel’s taxes are reassessed. He is taken to court and fined for failing to hire grasshoppers as builders for the work he was doing on his home and an additional fine for contempt when he told the court the grasshopper did not want to work. The grasshopper is provided with a council house, financial aid to furnish it and an account with a local taxi firm to ensure he can be socially mobile. The squirrel’s food is seized and re distributed to the more needy members of society, in this case the grasshopper. Without enough money to buy more food, to pay the fine and his newly imposed retroactive taxes, the squirrel has to downsize and start building a new home. The local authority takes over his old home and utilises it as a temporary home for asylum seeking cats who had hijacked a plane to get to Britain as they had to share their country of origin with mice. On arrival they tried to blow up the airport because of Britain ‘s apparent love of dogs. The cats had been arrested for the international offence of hijacking and attempted bombing but were immediately released because the police fed them pilchards instead of salmon whilst in custody. Initial moves to return them to their own country were abandoned, because it was feared they would face death by the mice. The cats devise and start a scam to obtain money from people’s credit cards. A Panorama special shows the grasshopper finishing up the last of the squirrel’s food, though spring is still months away, while the council house he is in, crumbles around him because he hasn’t bothered to maintain the house. He is shown to be taking drugs. Inadequate government funding is blamed for the grasshoppers’ drug ‘illness’. The cats seek recompense in the British courts for their treatment since arrival in UK . The grasshopper gets arrested for stabbing an old dog during a burglary to get money for his drugs habit. He is imprisoned but released immediately because he has been in custody for a few weeks. He is placed in the care of the probation service to monitor and supervise him.. Within a few weeks he has killed a guinea pig in a botched robbery. A commission of enquiry, that will eventually cost £10,000,000 and state the obvious, is set up. Additional money is put into funding a drug rehabilitation scheme for grasshoppers and legal aid for lawyers representing asylum seekers is increased. The government praises the asylum-seeking cats for enriching Britain ‘s multicultural diversity, and dogs are criticised by the government for failing to befriend the cats. The grasshopper dies of a drug overdose. The usual sections of the press blame it on the obvious failure of government to address the root causes of despair arising from social inequity and his traumatic experience of prison. They call for the resignation of a government minister. The cats are paid a million pounds each because their rights were infringed when the government failed to inform them there were mice in the United Kingdom . The squirrel, the dogs and the victims of the hijacking, the bombing, the burglaries and robberies have to pay an additional percentage on their credit cards to cover losses. Their taxes are increased to pay for law and order, and they are told that they will have to work beyond 65 because of a shortfall in government funds.

THE END”