Why isn’t legalized prostitution safer?

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Ah yes. Pity the poor john who got the short end of that stick, eh? He came hoping to pay for the illusion that she was really into the “mutual pleasure” of his escapist fantasies, only to be left cockadroop by the hard realities of her life (complete with “biker boyfriend”!) Instead of “an hour or two” of (poorly) paid schtupping, he left frustrated, and she came away empty-handed. I guess it could have gone a lot worse, though. She could have been raped and/or killed, as well as robbed off whatever paltry few bucks she happened to have lying around. She is at the mercy of guys like him and the “biker boyfriend” — who, for all we know, could have been her pimp. Which is why I don’t feel so bad for this particular entitled — oh sorry, “hard-working” — specimen of manhood. Nor do I feel inclined to praise him for being “merciful” and just walking out without paying. He could have done to her what johns have done to prostitutes since time immemorial. And he could have gotten away with it, too.

And if anyone thinks that legalization of the “oldest profession” (oldest crappy joe job, more like it) would have made a positive difference to that poor woman, maybe you should read all about what’s happened in Germany since exactly that:

Again and again, defenders of legalized prostitution assert that prostitution serves a kind of “channeling” function for society; that all the presumably uncontrollable urges of men can be acted out there, and so women can be protected from rape. Aside from the fact that this attitude makes men into urge-driven idiots who, due to the gladly-invented concept of “blocked urges” then go on to commit crimes — who wants to live with such men, really? — this argument also most profoundly robs prostitutes themselves of dignity, making them into “dumpsters” for that which men cannot act out at home because, we all know, that in the eyes of prostitution-defenders, all wives are per se prudish and frigid and thus drive their husbands into the arms of prostitution. But how do prostitutes defend themselves from this “acting out” by men, which has always come with a potential threat of force? The sex-worker lobby claims that it’s part of the professionalism of prostitutes to recognize dangerous johns and prevent them from doing violence. Should this fail, the prostitute has acted unprofessionally — the man, with all his “blocked urges”, naturally is not at fault.

Since 1988, there have been 51 murders and attempted murders of prostitutes. These are only the incidents that abolitionists have so far been able to research. The list is by no means complete and will be expanded in future. In 1988, a dermatologist from Frankfurt committed one murder and three attempted murders on prostitutes. He was sentenced. In 1993, 16-year-old Mandy of Hamburg was brutally murdered; her killer was only arrested years later. The papers wrote of a “Murder in the Milieu” instead of the murder of a minor. In 1999, 20-year-old Sandy of Chemnitz was brutally mistreated and killed over debts. The list goes on and on, and shows that no type of prostitution is safe, whether on the street, or in a “lovemobile”, or in rental housing, or a bordello. Absolute protection from violent johns cannot exist.

The Wiki “Sex Industry Kills” has collected all known instances of murders, attempted murders, and crimes against prostitutes. It is a gallery of horrors. Murder and rape are among the “occupational hazards” of prostitution.

Prostitution is legal in Germany since 2002. Again and again it gets argued that only legalized prostitution makes it safer for those who practice it. We can see that the number of violent acts against prostitutes has actually increased — which is no wonder, because the number of prostituted persons has also increased. Woman as merchandise — since 2002, she is available everywhere, visible everywhere. Whoever ascribes “blocked urges” to men, must also now acknowledge that they can’t resist this “offer”, and also use force. The cynicism of the “blocked urges” and “channeling” arguments is profoundly inhumane — and also stems from the 19th century. It has nothing to do with “freedom” and “self-determination”; it turns prostitutes into a usable vessel, and men into idiots. The latest attempted murder, of a prostitute in Köln, was just a few weeks ago.

Since the fall of last year, as well, those who fight against prostitution are being blamed for violence against prostitutes — because they point out the risks of prostitution, some people get “ideas”, according to one forum. Again, here there is no responsibility for the doers of the deed; instead, it’s everyone else’s fault. It is in the interests of all those who defend prostitution to make johns out to be friendly customers. The reality shows that many of them are potential violent offenders.

How closely violence and prostitution are intertwined, we can see in reports on crimes against prostitutes. Media reports on the matter teach fear. The Stuttgarter Merkur newspaper wrote, of the murder of 31-year-old Alina Gruso, in 2009: “The motive is completely unknown. Could there be a relationship problem behind it? Because the murder doesn’t follow the usual way prostitutes become victims: No fight about unsatisfactory sexual services, nor over the payment. Even robbery is ruled out. And Alina had no enemies. What then could have driven the killer?” So robbery-murder is a commonly accepted form of violence against prostitutes, as well as rape, which many don’t even regard as a crime.

Countless other crimes took place in the same time frame against prostitutes throughout Germany. Rapes, arson, armed robberies. These crimes didn’t even merit a mention of the victims’ names in the media, for the most part. It’s just “a prostitute”, whereas the entire focus is on the offender. These are almost exclusively johns. Their motive is not just sexual violence, but also extortion and robbery. In January of 2008, three men attacked a woman in Wiesbaden, raped her, robbed her and threatened to come back again. When the woman, who worked in a rented flat, went to police, she was criticized by her colleagues; she had made “too big a deal out of it”. For these men, women who work as prostitutes are just objects that they can mistreat and rob as they please, even up to sadistic torture. In Fürth, a man subjected a prostitute to electric shocks, beat her with cables, stabbed her and eventually cut off one of her finger joints. The man managed to escape unnoticed, but was apprehended shortly thereafter, because there was a security camera in the bordello. In 2010, a john in Mainz-Marienborn raped a prostitute four times and recorded it on video — he wanted to film a successful home porno, and for that he needed “real panic” in the eyes of his victim.

Johns always get violent towards women because they aren’t happy with the “service” they get for their money. One unbelievable case is that of a 51-year-old Stuttgarter, who held a prostitute prisoner in his home and abused her because he was not satisfied with her service. He ordered his mother to call the police because he felt he was in the right. In 2012, a paramedic, a family man, raped a prostitute for hours until she lost consciousness, and threatened her with “real problems” if she went to police.

Even those who defend prostitution know how dangerous it is. Their “safety tips” speak volumes about what prostitution means for those who practice it:

– Women shouldn’t wear long earrings, because they could get ripped out. Also no scarves or necklaces, because these could get used to strangle them.

– No tight skirts or dresses, so they can run away more easily.

– They should carry whistles to call for help.

– Keep defensive weapons close at hand.

– There are also concrete tips: If a woman is being held by the back of the neck, she should kick him in the balls rather than try to pry his hands off.

These and other tips can be found here.

Prostitution kills, that much is clear. The above violent incidents are not “coincidences” or “exceptions”, they are the consequences of a kind of thinking and acting that turns women into merchandise that can be bought and used. Prostitution dehumanizes, and dehumanization is the first step to gruesomeness and violence. Men who attack prostitutes see themselves as customers who have a “right” to this stranger’s body and power over it, and in the event of an emergency, they can use force. A prostitute is a preferred victim for all those who want to grab a couple of euros — because who believes a prostitute? And to square the deal for the offenders, they rape the woman too — taking “for free” what would otherwise cost. Others use prostitutes for their perverse little games, duplicating the oh-so-beloved violent pornos with “real panic in the eyes”, or sadistically abuse them.

Prostitution doesn’t channel any drives, it doesn’t protect anyone from rape. It kills and opens opportunities for offenders to take out their perversions, their misogyny and their violent fantasies where they have the least to fear. Further legalization of prostitution would only lead to women and their lacking “professionalization strategies” being made even more responsible for any violence against them. Because if prostitution is to be a “job like any other”, then the dangers can’t be acknowledged. And above all, the focus cannot be turned on the johns, who must continue to be legal clients and not potential lawbreakers. Prostitution without violence doesn’t exist. Without the degradation of women into objects, sex-buying isn’t possible. This degradation contains dehumanization, and leads to violence, whether out of greed or “blocked urges”, in just one small step. The answer is to ban sex-buying. The day before yesterday, preferably.

Translation mine. Linkage as in original

So you can see that legalization hasn’t made prostitution safer in Germany. Prostitutes are still being attacked, robbed, raped and killed there. If anything, it’s become more common, because the number of prostitutes has shot up so dramatically since legalization.

And crimes against them have been given a gloss of bizarre legitimacy. The murder of a 16-year-old can be written off as a “murder in the milieu” because she was a prostitute; the fact that she was also a minor gets conveniently swept under the rug. If she were NOT prostituted, the story would have been reported so differently; the killer would have been made out to be a heinous, pederastic pervert who must be caught soon, before he does it again. But since she was turning tricks, who the hell cares that he’s a menace to public safety? Even if she WAS under-age, she was still one of Those Women. Nobody gives an under-age prostitute the consideration that would otherwise apply to girls of her tender years. Being prostituted is considered as conferring “agency”, and hence maturity. And if you don’t exercise your “agency” properly, you end up in a world of hurt. Or dead. And the killer might not ever be caught, because you were only a prostitute. Too bad for you!

But hey, that’s the way the “free market” of sex capitalism works, right? Personal Responsibility with a vengeance. Demand drives the market, not supply. Which is why all this “sex-positive” talk of “agency” just makes me laugh sardonically. In case you haven’t twigged to this yet, it’s obvious that prostitution has nothing to do with female sexuality at all. It’s not about what SHE wants, it’s all about what HE wants. If demand drives the market, then those who exercise demand exert control. And since supply doesn’t drive it, those who provide sex don’t actually control the terms of the transaction. No matter how hard the privileged few who run the “sex worker” lobby try to make out that they do. The old adage of paying the piper and calling the tune holds truest of all in prostitution. And if the “tune” isn’t sweet enough, then…well…

See, this is why I can’t buy into the libertarian-capitalist exception that so many of my peers here on the left seem all too happy to expound. It boggles my mind that anyone could be a socialist (and/or anarchist) and not see the contradiction here. How can you be in favor of workers seizing the means of production when you also think it should be perfectly legal for a man to buy a woman and get her to do “sex work” for whatever price he deems fitting — oh sorry, “whatever the market will bear”? How can you be all “no lords, no gods, no masters” on the one hand, and perfectly okay with a man lording it over a woman in such a crassly capitalistic way on the other? How can one talk of breaking the grip of the “Invisible Hand” while turning a blind eye to the death-grip it exerts on the necks of women? Does one need to identify as female in order to see this contradiction clearly?

And conversely: Does one need a penis in order to think there is no contradiction here? Boner, Boner, über alles?

Yeah, I guess that must be it. My ladybits and ladybrain are getting in the way of the complex slew of rationalizations needed to arrive at such preposterous conclusions. Again. Why else would I insist on taking my anarcho-socialism to its logical ends even in the murky area marked S-E-X? Since I don’t have the kind of little head that drains blood (and thinking capacity) away from the big one so efficiently, I just can’t wrap my big head around the way a guy’s little one just seems to take the whole thing over and turn him from a rational, intelligent human being into a sex-crazed rabid baboon.

Antifeminists constantly accuse radical women like me of “misandry”. And yet they fail to see that when they posit men as being led by their dicks, they’re committing a much more real and profound form of man-hating than anything, actual or imagined, that they could ever accuse us feminists of.

Call me a cock-eyed optimist, but I prefer to think of men as coming, like women, from Earth. None of that “Venus and Mars” shit for me. And I prefer to credit them with rationality and intelligence, like us, instead of just a crazy chemical stew of ill-defined and dangerous “urges”.

Above all, I insist that we be allowed to approach sex on an equal footing. Turning it into a pay-for-play transaction destroys the equilibrium, to say nothing of female desire. Money not only can’t buy love, it can’t even buy a half-hearted ladyboner.

But then again, who needs ladyboners when you’re only paying to get your own rocks off? And if you get off on the inequality of it all, why shouldn’t you be allowed to pay for it? After all, inequality is only to be expected when one sex/class is naturally superior, and the other naturally inferior. So goes the sex-capitalist line of reasoning.

And if that line of reasoning seems a bit too crass for you, hey, there’s always prude-shaming. It’s the go-to strategy of the modern “leftist” man who wants to have his capitalism and eat it, too. Or the “empowered” woman who hasn’t fully digested the concept of self-determination. Yeah sure, go ahead and call me “Victorian” because I take an abolitionist stance. Bluster your big head off about my so-called 19th-century morality if it makes you feel better. But here’s the kicker: If you believe that buying sex is the answer to rape and female poverty both, you’re the real Victorian. Because back in the 19th century, there was another mindset that ran parallel to that of enforced prudery for wives and virgins; namely, that of the Necessity of Prostitution. To keep the wives and virgins “safe” and “virtuous”, natch. How else were men supposed to “channel” all those “dangerous urges”? By taking them out on a certain class of women made conveniently available for the purpose.

And that class of women was denigrated and degraded not only in terms of the social discourse of the day, but in the eyes of their own clientele. They were thus easy targets for all kinds of male violence. Remember Jack the Ripper? His killing spree began and ended right at the zenith of Victorian England. During the height of a time of extreme prudery, in other words. And his victims were all street prostitutes from the down-at-heel London district of Whitechapel. “Jack”, whoever he was, was the quintessential Victorian man. He saw prostitutes as a class that was conveniently available for him to use…and abuse. Even to the death. He was smug in his taunting of the authorities, daring him to try to catch him. He was never brought to trial, at least not as the Ripper. For all anybody knew, he remained at large. And no doubt there was a certain smugness in the way the yellow press of the day reported on that, too: with overt sensationalism on the one hand, and a tacit “thank God it’s only them and not nice ladies” on the other. True, prostitution wasn’t legal…but it wasn’t abolished, either. The laws and mores of the day saw fit to ghettoize and exploit it instead of eradicating it. How do we know? Because they only criminalized the women, and not the men who bought, sold and used them. Remember, demand drives the market…and the Victorian authorities weren’t interested in dealing with the demand side. They often WERE the demand side. Why would they act against their own interests? That would have been not just taking prudery too far, but also doing capitalism wrong.

Early anarchists and socialists both opposed prostitution, recognizing it as part and parcel of the hypocrisy of the Victorian-capitalist bourgeois mindset, and their reasoning was not prudish. Read Emma Goldman if you don’t believe me. Or Alexandra Kollontai. And if you don’t have time for that, just remember: It’s not the sex that makes prostitution dirty. It’s the CAPITALISM, stupid!

Prostituted women in Germany are no longer criminalized, as they were in the “good old days” of Kaiser Wilhelm. But are they empowered? No! They still can’t count on the police to protect them. Because the johns have always been legal and legitimate, even when prostitution was not. The legal status of the women may have changed (ever so slightly!), but for the johns it’s the same as it ever was. Those guys could always “discreetly” take out their unsavory “urges” on a certain class of women. The fact that the women are now “legal” doesn’t change a thing, except to make sex capitalism more readily profitable for those running the show. Capitalism wins out over feminism. If the police are not allowed to bust bordello owners and shut the business down, they are also not allowed to arrest johns who don’t play by the official rules…at least not so long as those men are still on the premises. Because when a bordello charges a cheap flat rate for “unlimited sex”, why would they want the cops in there, banging down the doors? That’s bad for business. Makes it look like a House of Ill Repute, nicht wahr? And worse, it scares the johns into realizing that maybe “unlimited sex” has its limits, after all. What a boner-wilter!

Laws are inherently limiting, and that’s just what the sex-capitalists who run the prostitution and human-trafficking networks don’t want. Why else would they throw so much money behind their extensive lobbying efforts to remove all legal limits from prostitution in Germany — including the perfectly reasonable compromises like minimum ages, the right of police to inspect brothels, etc.?

They’re certainly not doing it to protect the women, or else we’d have seen not a single one murdered since prostitution was legalized there in 2002.

Cops Behaving Badly: Back to School Bathroom Bomb Scare Edition

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The front page of an official Texas website promoting abstinence. Think it will work?

Ugh, Texas…what the fuck is wrong with you? Whatever it is, even your police are suffering from it now:

Parents in Texas are upset after police reportedly “swarmed” a Texas high school because a girl may have had a miscarriage in one of the bathrooms.

KDFW reported that a school custodian notified the principal at Woodrow Wilson High School after finding a “possible fetus” in one of the bathroom stalls on Friday.

The principal contacted police, who “swarmed” the school, according to KTVT.

They even sent a helicopter to buzz the skies overhead. Yup, miscarrying in the school washroom is now being treated exactly like a full-fledged terrorist attack. One would think it was a bomb, not blood, in the toilets.

And oh yeah: How about a little religious slut-shaming with that, too?

Dallas Police Department’s Child Abuse Unit detectives were investigating to find out who may have abandoned the fetus. The person involved was being considered a “suspect.”

“We’re reviewing video, talking to the teachers, trying to determine if anybody has any knowledge of any student that may have had something going on in their life, and pray,” Dallas Police Major John Lawton said.

Yeah, that’s right…instead of trying to find the girl and make sure she’s all right, they’re just gonna pray. Pray for that young heathen jezebel who just couldn’t wait until she was married before getting knocked up. She’s being treated as a “suspect”, rather than a girl who may be in need of medical attention.

And the local religious slut-shaming brigade also just HAD to chime in…

Alan Elliott of Baby Moses Dallas explained to KDFW that the mother could have avoided any criminal charges if she had taken advantage of Baby Moses laws by carrying the child to term, and then dropping it off at a safe baby site like a fire station.

“And that’s a happy ending when that happens, because the baby is safe, the mother is protected from any sort of prosecution, so it’s a win-win for both of them,” Elliot noted.

However, it was not immediately clear how far along the pregnancy was, and the cause of the possible miscarriage was not known.

…even though it’s not clear that it was a deliberate abortion. What if it turns out to be an accident?

And why all this horrible talk of prosecuting what must, by now, be one terribly frightened girl?

Well, maybe because Texas is an abstinence-only state. And that’s not going so well for them:

Texas has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the country. Although the teen birth rate has been declining over the past decade, the Lone Star State still has the highest rate of repeat teen births, as an estimated 22 percent of teens who give birth have already had at least one child.

In light of those statistics, how is Texas’ Department of Health hoping to help prevent future unintended pregnancies among young women? By spending $1.2 million to build an abstinence-only website that doesn’t include any mention of contraception.

Yes, I’m sure that will help a lot. In fact, I bet the girl in question was already a beneficiary of just such a paucity of information. Not to mention deathly afraid of seeking birth control, because if anyone found out, the slut-shame brigade would turn out in force and swarm her, just like those stupid cops and their helicopter. Girls who conceal pregnancies tend to be afraid of things like that. Even just telling their own mothers could be the hardest thing in the world to do — especially if Mom is another of those religious freaks who would rather pray for her daughter’s soul than take her to the doctor and make sure her body is all right.

And really — since when is it the police’s duty to play Morally Judgmental Parent?

With a “win-win” framework like that in place, more bathroom miscarriages are all but inevitable.

The German sex trade’s leading lobbyists, unmasked

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Johanna Weber and Fabienne Freymadl, two leading “spokespersons” for the recently-assembled German “sex workers’ movement”. Who are they, and what lies behind them? EMMA investigated, and found the following:

In the middle of the summer, BILD.de came out with the provocative headline: “These Whores are Government Advisors”. And then readers who were so inclined found out that the “whores”, Johanna Weber (46) and Fabienne Freymadl (35) were regarded as “specialists” in conjunction with a proposed change to prostitution laws in the capital city. They took part in “several informative background talks”, “met various political specialists from the CDU/CSU, SPD, Green and Left parties, and telephone regularly with them” (BILD). Apparently they have a particularly good connection with Eva Högl (SPD party representative), Ulrike Bahr (SPD family policy specialist), and the Greens, Volker Beck and Hans-Christian Ströbele.

Johanna Weber, the political spokeswoman of the so-called “Berufsverband erotische und sexuelle Dienstleistungen e.V.” [Trade Union of Erotic and Sexual Services, Inc.], also advised the federal family ministry at their prostitution hearing on June 12, 2014. “The politicians often come to us with supposedly good ideas, but those mostly don’t fit with the realities of the branch,” she reveals. She apparently knows what fits.

But does she fit? Let’s start with the fact that Johanna Weber’s real name is Verena Johannsen. Her specialties as a dominatrix are “Schweinereien” [literally "piggeries"]: “Natursekt” (“natural champagne”, or “golden showers” — urinating on men), “Caviar” (defecating on men, sometimes directly in the mouth), or “Facefarting”.

This sort of job is actually new for Weber/Johannsen herself. The front-woman of the “union” for “sex workers”, founded just last year, has been, by her own account, on the job for just four years. Before that, the professional distance runner taught sports, was an active sports marketer, and organized women’s runs, for example at the Lesbian Beach Festival. Politically, too, the dominatrix seems to be engaged in women’s and leftist causes. By her own account she donates five percent of her income, mostly to “sex worker” organizations like Hydra, but also to ATTAC or Terre des Femmes.

The positions Weber/Johannsen subscribes to regarding prostitution law sound correspondingly politically and movement-experienced. Not from below the belt, but stepping high. Like the 23-page “Position Paper on the ‘Regulation of Prostitution'” for the federal family ministry. The introduction reads:

“We apologize that we did not submit our position paper on the expected deadline date of June 2, 2014. June 2, the International Whores’ Day, is a day of remembrance for the whores’ movement. On that day in 1975, French sex workers went on strike and occupied a church in Lyon, in order to defend themselves against police brutality and lingering discrimination. This event is the watershed of the worldwide whores’ movement. We hereby dedicate our position paper to these brave colleagues.”

Colleagues? The in fact very brave prostitutes of Lyon, unfortunately, can’t defend themselves. Because they don’t know Johanna Weber, and have no idea what is being done in their name. If they knew, they would surely not allow it.

Starting with the label “whore”. “Nous ne sommes pas des putes!” goes their slogan, with which they took to the street at the time, shoulder to shoulder with feminists who had travelled from Paris to accompany and support their protest. “We are not whores!”, but persons. The women of Lyon fought then for their rights — and not those of pimps and brothel owners.

That’s what Weber and her colleagues are doing with their “union”, founded on October 13, 2013. But who are they really?

In a wobbly photo taken at the founding, there are some thirty women, many of them hidden, plus one man. Since then, the same half-dozen people keep popping up on talk shows and at events, saying what fun it is to prostitute oneself, and making the case for the recognition of prostitution as a “profession like any other”.

These women have names like Undine, Amber or Fabienne, and are often current or former dominatrices in the BDSM field. Some are now running BDSM “studios”, in which they work together or have other women working for them.

Across from them are an estimated 400,000 women who work as prostitutes. Some 70 percent (estimated by the pro-prostitution front) to 98 percent (police estimate) are migrants, and as a rule come from the poorest Eastern European countries. The dommes from the “union”, therefore, speak for maybe two percent of German prostitutes. But even among these, many see it differently than these politically-correct “sex workers” do. All the same, this atypical, vanishingly small minority has been the front-row conversation partner of politics, and apparently the only voice for the prostitutes.

But these “specialists” don’t represent in any way the interests of the prostituted, but rather those of pimps and brothel owners — even those of the human traffickers, in that they minimize or cover up their roles in the prostitution industry.

One can read as much in the 23-page position paper for the women’s ministry from June 12, too. It reads like the work of experienced jurists. Here, the legalistic argumentation speaks not of the interests of women in prostitution, but that of the sex industry, which has long been hand-in-glove with organized crime.

The position paper pushes the “decriminalization of sex work”. But for whom? Women and men in prostitution have not been punished in Germany for years. The only ones who are still punishable are those who trade women as wares: the pimps and brothel owners. And the position paper of the “sex workers” contains almost nothing but demands to decriminalize these woman-traders. They speak out against raising the legal prostitution age to 21, against mandatory health checks, and against mandatory condom use. They also demand that the punitive laws against pimping be struck without replacement, as well as those on exploitation of prostitutes, and youth-endangering prostitution. The “sex workers” want the police to stay out of the business altogether. That would be a “disruption of business”. So, free rein for the pimps and human traffickers.

The “union” is calling for state-sponsored “entry counselling” for prostitution, and “development”. What kinds of practices are involved in that “development”, can be seen on the “union” website: The “sex workers” are against abolishing flat-rate prostitution and “gang bangs” (simulated gang rape). It couldn’t get any more cynical.

The “union” is also working toward total deregulation of prostitution in Germany, as well as furthering its spread. So, the lady “sex workers” are, plainly and simply, lobbyists for the prostitution industry. And they are no longer even taking the trouble to hide it.

On June 30, 2014, Johanna Weber wrote in the name of the union to “Dear Madame Minister Schwesig”. In her letter, she congratulated the minister responsible for prostitution on her “political and juristic separation of the subjects of human trafficking and prostitution”, as well as her “participative efforts to include sex workers”.

All of that was already more than enough. But Weber didn’t sign the letter alone. A fellow signatory is Holger Rettig, a representative of the very un-transparent “Unternehmerverbandes Erotikgewerbe Deutschland e.V.” [Erotic Enterprises Chamber of Commerce of Germany, Inc.]. The organization was founded in 2007, and according to Rettig, a former boxing trainer, it has 170 members. But other than himself, none of them has appeared publicly. The brothel-owners’ association and the prostitutes’ “union” are lobbying shoulder-to-shoulder for a convenient law. That would be as if a business association and a workers’ union were to band together. The concept of a “union” label, then, is a pure lie.

At the end of September, these two organizations, along with the BuFAS (Bündnis für Sexarbeiterinnen und Sexarbeiter; in English, “Union for Sex Workers”), will be holding a sex-work congress in Berlin, titled “Sex Work in Movement Times”. The three-day get-together is organized by Johanna Weber, front woman of the “union”, member of the “whores’ project” Hydra, and advisor to BuFAS. According to announcement, at the congress will discuss “concrete measures to improve working conditions” and “the future viability of the field”. Goal: “A basis for political decisions”.

On the first day, one of the model dommes, Undine de Rivière, will take the podium at Humboldt University alongside female politicians of all parties. Says Rivière: “I’ve been a sex worker for 20 years, but I don’t know a single victim.”

The keynote speaker will be Henny Engels, from the German Women’s Ministry, the umbrella organization of all established women’s organizations (from political parties, churches, professional organizations, etc.). To the amazement of all other European umbrella organizations, in December 2012 the German Women’s Ministry was the only women’s organization that did not sign the “Brussels Call” for abolition of prostitution.

And BuFAS? Alice Schwarzer’s book, Prostitution: A German Scandal has analyzed in which measure these state-financed “whores’ projects”, such as Hydra, Madonna and Kassandra, which head up BuFAS, have become lobbyists for the sex trade. The “whores’ projects” campaign overwhelmingly for entry into prostitution, instead of for exit. And this, although some of them are receiving money from the federal women’s ministry’s model project for exit. A look at their websites tells the story. For example, Kassandra’s website is headed with the slogan: “Prostitution was, is and always will be part of our sexual culture.”

Prostitution and human trafficking bring in a lot of money. A whole lot. Not only millions in state monies, but billions of euros change hands; in Germany in 2013 alone, according to the federal statistics agency, some 14.6 billion euros. And the profit rates are up to 1,000 percent. Drug and weapons traffickers can only dream of that.

So the lobbyists are not lacking in power or money for fancy websites, juristically savvy position papers, and congresses. In contrast, there are hundred-thousands of nameless, bitterly poor prostitutes, whose earnings lie below minimum wage and who, in most cases, can’t even speak German.

But oh yes, who is Fabienne Freymadl, the second “whore” advising women politicians in Berlin? The 35-year-old coms from arch-Catholic Freising [a suburb of München, in Bayern], where even the German Pope has long seemed blessed, and is, according to her own statements, a “sadist out of passion”, which often comes up in those circles. Freymadl performs as “Firelilly” at parties, including “burlesque dancing” or “children’s face-painting”. Or she plays the golden angel on stilts at Christmas markets. Cute, eh?

As a domme, the multi-faceted Freymadl is stricter, though. She specializes in pain-infliction (“Your suffering makes my eyes sparkle.”). Her specialty is a “dungeon with authentic atmosphere”. There, her clients can submit to “dungeon rules”, be interrogated, chained up and tortured, sometimes for twelve hours or even longer. Perhaps some ladies and gentlemen politicians from the capital should take a tour there sometime?

Sure, some women might really enjoy torturing men. Usually, something like that is just called man-hating. That these man-haters gladly let men pay them for that is understandable. But that they offer themselves as political lobbyists for the sex trade at the expense of hundred-thousands of women — that goes too far. Someone should put a stop to that. And soon!

Translation mine.

Aside from the “man-hating” bit, which is editorializing on the part of the author (and may or may not in fact be true), the most egregiously humiliating linguistic slams here come from the oh-so-politically-correct “sex workers’ union” leaders themselves. (You’ll notice I put that in quotation marks; there is a reason for that, and if the EMMA article doesn’t article make clear why, then just keep reading.) “Whores”, they “proudly” call themselves? Well, so much for those who claim that prudish feminists are the ones perpetuating the hurtful old “whore stigma” — here, it is none other than the so-called “sex workers” themselves! The prostitutes of Lyon, supported by feminists from Paris, made it clear in their protests that they are NOT “whores”, they are PEOPLE, and deserving of dignified treatment. The ongoing use of that false word (oddly, alongside the vague and whitewashy term, “sex work”), in an ahistoric denial of what the Lyon uprising stood for, is a gross insult to any woman in prostitution who has ever stood up for her own humanity. And it gets grosser.

In the economically depressed lands of Eastern Europe, where most of the women and girls in the brothels were trucked in from, that word is the most humiliating in the entire, extensive vocabulary of misogyny. In Moldova, a leading source point for trafficked prostitutes, poverty is so bad, and patriarchy so deeply entrenched, that the first pimps the girls get are their own male relatives. “Whore, go out and make money!” is the thing they hear when, upon turning a certain age (generally given as 15 or 16), they are turned out to work. Work, that is, in foreign countries, where they are taken by mafiosi with tentacles all over Europe, to German mega-bordellos where clients pay a flat rate for unlimited “sex” (note the quotes; obviously, enthusiastic consent is NOT on the menu). And where the management looks the other way, not only when it comes to the shadowy origins of their supply chain, but also when it comes to the use of condoms, state-mandated health checks, etc. Numerous mega-brothels have been shuttered due to violations of the health and safety code. Which, in Germany, is enforced from time to time, but not nearly often enough to be meaningful to the women who must work the brothels night and day, for what amounts to sub-minimum wages once their room fees and other “expenses” are subtracted. The brothel owners have set up a tidy profit-making enterprise for themselves, so it stands to reason that they will do anything, not only to keep it going, but to make it even more profitable.

And that’s where the hastily-clapped-up “sex workers’ union” comes in.

Now, an actual prostitutes’ union would, one should think, fight the bosses tooth and nail for better working conditions for the employees. It would be headed by those actually working in the field, instead of arcane “specialists” in the decidedly minority ranks of the BDSM dommes. Nobody elected these women, “Johanna Weber” and “Fabienne Freymadl” (the latter’s pseudonymous surname means “free girl” in the Bavarian dialect, and most girls in prostitution are anything but free.) And since nobody elected them, they represent nobody’s interests, as far as the 400,000 prostitutes in Germany are concerned. The “union” leaders are not only not fighting for the “workers”, they are actively sweeping their concerns under the rug, minimizing and whitewashing all the day-to-day horrors and miseries the women and girls must suffer.

And worse, these “whore” lobbyists are all working to abolish even the minimal, inadequate workplace protections the prostitutes receive, in order to protect — whom? Well, considering who they really work for, that’s obvious: the traffickers. Because who else could possibly benefit from prostitutes being completely without protection by the state, the health authorities, and the police? And who else would be so keen to mount such a massive whitewashing campaign?

The johns are already protected by law and social convention, after all. The worst thing they might come away from the brothels with, aside from a vague, nagging sensation of emptiness (and not so much about the wallet, either; remember, those joints are flat-rate, and the rates are dirt cheap), is a dose of some sexually-transmitted disease or other. German society is all too happy to shrug and look the other way; some non-prostituted women even express “relief” that “those women” exist, because then their husbands and boyfriends and bosses won’t pester THEM with sexual demands they can’t or don’t want to fulfill. And there is also the unspoken “relief” that the “whores” act as a kind of “escape valve” for the imaginary “pent-up head of steam” that would otherwise turn a “sexually frustrated” man into a rapist.

All of this is implicit in the idea of the “whores’ project”, that odiously named bit of legalistic chicanery that, quite conveniently, benefits not a single one of the estimated 400,000 women, most of them Eastern European, in Armutsprostitution — that wonderful German word meaning “poverty prostitution”. There are no “Happy Hookers” there; nobody makes that kind of money. What little is left after the brothels extort their “room rent”, most of it goes back to the old country, to support relatives (mostly male) who are out of work thanks to the fall of the socialist bloc. The benefit to the woman is almost nil, and the German economy on the whole sees little of it, either. The tax collectors, like the police, tend to look the other way as long as all the papers are in order and the cheques are sent in on time. The lion’s share of the profits goes to those who run the brothels — and the trafficking networks that supply the “sex workers”.

I’ve long thought that what some call “sex work” should rightly be called SEX CAPITALISM, because in fact, that’s what it is. And these few “specialists”, like the two in the picture above, who speak for far fewer than 1% of women in the sex industry as a whole, should quit calling themselves “workers”, because their “unions” are literally and figuratively in bed with the bosses. (They should call themselves the Point-Zero-Zero-One-Percenters, really.) The only analogous situation that comes to my mind is that of Venezuela just before and during the coup of ’02, when the country’s corrupt trade-union congress, the CTV, actively got in bed with FEDECAMARAS, the umbrella organization of the Venezuelan chambers of commerce, to try to topple a democratically elected president. Real union workers, who were overwhelmingly pro-Chávez, got so upset with the CTV that they ended up ditching it and forming a new organization, the UNT, whose leadership was free of unelected toadies like Carlos Ortega, and which actually represented the workers’ concerns before the state. (Not surprisingly, the crooked CTV was heavily aligned with the interests of another big bunch of shadow-dwelling pimps: USAID, and the CIA.)

I don’t know if Germany’s prostitutes (most of whom are not German, and barely even speak the language) will ever get to doing what the Venezuelan trade unionists did — namely, kick out these corrupt “spokespeople” who speak for no one. Somehow, I doubt they will ever gain the power to do that; their non-citizen status and economic vulnerability keep them in chains. But the German state can do something about it, and as the EMMA article points out, it is high time that they should. Starting, of course, with a purging of “pro-business” elements across the board from the halls of power. Lobbying, after all, is the legalized form of corruption.

The German model for “regulating” prostitution is clearly failing the very women it was ostensibly designed to protect. And if the pimp lobby gets its way, there will soon be no regulations left at all. It is time to replace that defective model with something else that works.

Right next door to Germany, the Dutch are having a lot of second thoughts about their liberal prostitution laws, and this due to precisely the same conditions that prevail in Germany: organized crime running the whole show. What was once the free domain of independent women just making a living, is now the Mafia’s game. And the response is the last thing the liberalization advocates expected: Amsterdam shuttered hundreds of its famous red-light district “windows”, where prostitutes used to sit in their scanty lingerie, waiting for clients, in 2007. The city has also raised its legal age for first-time prostitutes to 21. All this and more because the Dutch are being inundated with cheap, disposable female flesh from Eastern Europe, the very sort of thing that used to plague Sweden. That is, until someone there decided to consult with actual Swedish prostitutes, to find out what they thought and felt. The result of that extensive consultation? The Swedish “sex purchase” law, which has since been adopted also in Norway, Finland and Iceland, making it truly a Nordic model. Now the Dutch, too, are tentatively looking into it. The Europarliament has approved it. And even France has adopted something similar. Why is that model so popular? Because it works. It reduces harm for women in the sex trade. And it enables them to exit at their own chosen moment, too.

What? A prostitution law written, if not literally by prostitutes, then certainly FOR them? By those who actually listened to them, and heard their concerns, and consulted them every step of the way? Police that protect the women, not the pimps, traffickers and johns? Social welfare agencies helping women get out of prostitution, and not into it, as the pimp lobby — oh sorry, “sex workers’ unions” — of Germany would have them do?

Heresy!

And now, for a Very Important Message…

…from a very self-righteously indignant dude:

Uh, dude? That’s not a fedora, that’s a trilby. Get your hats straight! And if you’re that irrationally angry about a silly little hat (which, I note, you’re not wearing very well either — either match it to your suit or GTFO), well…who are you to lecture anyone who makes fun of your “class, not swag” d-bag headgear?

(Also, stop with the frantic in-and-out zooming. You’re making me queasy. Pick a focus and stick to it. And for fuck’s sake, learn to hold your camera horizontally, so you don’t get those idiotic black bars down the side, rookie.)

PS: According to David Futrelle, the above video is comedy. Could have fooled me, but oh well. I was already laughing anyway.

Lebensborn, Israeli style?

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Nazi officers overseeing the baptism of a baby of the Lebensborn program. Germany, 1936. Photographer unknown. Source: German Bundesarchiv, via Wikimedia Commons.

That not-so-fine line between “Never Again” and “It’s not fascism when WE do it!” just got blurred yet again. This time, it’s by Israeli sperm-bank users, who are unconsciously copying a particularly dark chapter in German history:

Whereas the norm for women has usually been to find an intelligent Israeli male who’s also, as our love columnist Andria Kaplan would say, “tall, dark and handsome,” an Israeli sperm bank has noted that the new trend is for sperm donated by Israeli combat soldiers, former or present.

While having been active in the IDF seems to be the requisite, you get bonus points if you’ve served in a combat unit.

Ynet reported the news Sunday, after Rambam Medical Center noted the increase in requests for samples from IDF soldiers from women seeking insemination treatment.

“Women build for themselves an ideal profile and picture of who the future father of their children will be,” said Dina Amnipour, Director at the Ramban sperm bank laboratory.

That’s courtesy of the totally-not-ironically named Shalom Life (shalom means peace in Hebrew, remember?), which also celebrates the IDF’s totally-not-indiscriminate killing of Gaza’s Palestinian civilians, fully a quarter of them children. (I’ve totally not got my tongue planted firmly in cheek, here.)

Now, from the Jewish Virtual Library, a reality check, and a reminder of what this all reminds ME of:

“Lebensborn” translates to “wellspring of life” or “fountain or life.” The Lebensborn project was one of most secret and terrifying Nazi projects. Heinrich Himmler founded the Lebensborn project on December 12, 1935, the same year the Nuremberg Laws outlawed intermarriage with Jews and others who were deemed inferior. For decades, Germany’s birthrate was decreasing. Himmler’s goal was to reverse the decline and increase the Germanic/Nordic population of Germany to 120 million. Himmler encouraged SS and Wermacht officers to have children with Aryan women. He believed Lebensborn children would grow up to lead a Nazi-Aryan nation.

The purpose of this society (Registered Society Lebensborn – Lebensborn Eingetragener Verein) was to offer to young girls who were deemed “racially pure” the possibility to give birth to a child in secret. The child was then given to the SS organization which took charge in the child’s education and adoption. Both mother and father needed to pass a “racial purity” test. Blond hair and blue eyes were preferred, and family lineage had to be traced back at least three generations. Of all the women who applied, only 40 percent passed the racial purity test and were granted admission to the Lebensborn program. The majority of mothers were unmarried, 57.6 percent until 1939, and about 70 percent by 1940.

In the beginning, the Lebensborn were taken to SS nurseries. But in order to create a “super-race,” the SS transformed these nurseries into “meeting places” for “racially pure” German women who wanted to meet and have children with SS officers. The children born in the Lebensborn nurseries were then taken by the SS. Lebensborn provided support for expectant mothers, we or unwed, by providing a home and the means to have their children in safety and comfort.

It’s worth noting that this hush-hush program was condemned, and that it ultimately failed, on the grounds of immorality. Not because eugenics was in and of itself immoral (it would take a few more decades for THAT unsavory truth to finally dawn on the world), but because this program overtly encouraged unmarried women to have sex, typically with married men. The men in question were all selected from the ranks of the Nazi military hierarchy; fanaticism and “correct” physical traits were the selection criteria. The result was a spate of illicit affairs that created embarrassment for the men’s existing families, while leaving the other women and their children in poverty and disgrace, with no place else to turn, when the war ended.

Anni-Frid Lyngstad, better known as Frida of ABBA fame, was one of the unhappy children of that program. Her mother became pregnant by a married German army officer in Norway during the dying days of the war. Frida and her mother faced years of shame, and finally had to move to Sweden, as a result of all the cruel gossip and post-war revanchism. (It’s also worth noting that Frida, with her beautiful dark auburn hair, does NOT fit the Nazi ideal of an “Aryan” Nordic blonde. Nor, for that matter, do most Germans, including myself.)

Sperm banks were not yet a thing in the 1930s, if only because the technology to run them had yet to be developed. But if they had been, then the “immorality” question could have been skirted with ease, all in the interests of developing a super-race of super-soldiers for the Thousand-Year Reich. It probably wouldn’t even have mattered if the mothers were complete virgins. In fact, knowing how purity-obsessed the Nazi ideologues were, those prospective Blessed Virgins would likely have been the most highly prized breeders of all.

Just one more thing to think about when you blindly praise the morality of The Most Moral Army in the World™.

Multiple choice quiz time!

1. Please study this photo of a non-routine traffic stop:

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The above man will survive this encounter because:

a) he’s white

b) the pigs are black

c) the pigs are actual pigs, not cops. And calling cops “pigs” is an insult to actual pigs.

d) all of the above.

The reason I posted this, of course, can be found by simply googling “Ferguson”. Or following this tweeterhash, if you have the stomach.

The “most moral army in world” shits all over Gaza. Literally.

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Israeli troops may have (momentarily) withdrawn from the Gaza Strip, but they haven’t really left it. Traces of them still cling to everything they’ve occupied, and not in a good way:

When Ahmed Owedat returned to his home 18 days after Israeli soldiers took it over in the middle of the night, he was greeted with an overpowering stench.

He picked through the wreckage of his possessions thrown from upstairs windows to find that the departing troops had left a number of messages. One came from piles of faeces on his tiled floors and in wastepaper baskets, and a plastic bottle filled with urine.

If that was not clear enough, the words “Fuck Hamas” had been carved into a concrete wall in the staircase. “Burn Gaza down” and “Good Arab = dead Arab” were engraved on a coffee table. The star of David was drawn in blue in a bedroom.

[...]

A handful of plastic chairs had their seats ripped open, through which the occupying soldiers defecated, he said. Gaping holes had been blown in four ground-floor external walls, and there was damage from shelling to the top floor. There, in the living room, diagrams had been drawn on the walls, showing buildings and palm trees in the village, with figures that Owedat thought represented their distance from the border.

“I have no money to fix this,” he said, claiming that his life savings of $10,000 (£6,000) were missing from his apartment. But at least it could be repaired, he acknowledged, gesturing through the broken glass at a wasteland stretching towards the Israel-Gaza border 3km away. “Every house between here and there has been destroyed.”

Charming. Didn’t any of their mothers toilet-train these little terrorists? Couldn’t they at least find a bathroom to do their business in? Did they wash their hands afterwards, or just wipe them down on the curtains? And where were their superior officers when these bandits robbed Ahmed of his life savings? Sucking hummus made by settlers in the Occupied Territories off their thumbs, no doubt.

Yeah, these guys have all the maturity of a diaper-dragging two-year-old. It’s a wonder they can hold a rifle straight. Doesn’t give me much confidence in their ability to wage “surgical” strikes if they can’t even clean up after themselves. Or be trusted to leave a cash stash where they found it. Land is not the only thing these guys are in the business of stealing, it seems.

And how does this “most moral army in the world” treat the children of Gaza? Like this:

Half an hour’s drive north, a similar picture was found at Beit Hanoun girls’ school, taken over by the IDF following the ground operation. Broken glass and rubble littered the floors and stairs. Tables and desks were covered in the abandoned detritus of an occupying army: hardened bread rolls, empty tins of hummus, desiccated olives, cans of energy drinks, bullet casings. Flies buzzed around the rotting food.

Here too, said the school’s caretaker, Fayez, who didn’t want to give his full name, soldiers had defecated in bins and cardboard boxes, and urinated in water bottles. “You will be fucked here” and “Don’t forget it’s time for you to die” were chalked in English on blackboards.

The Guardian notes that the new school year is slated to begin in a little over two weeks. Not much time to repair the damage and clean up the mess, in other words. Assuming that Israel doesn’t start bombing all over again, and smash that school to rubble this time, those girls will be seeing that those “moral” Israeli soldiers are all slobbering for the chance to rape and kill them. And they’ll also be smelling the lingering stench of their ordure.

The Guardian also notes that “The Israel Defence Forces did not respond to a request for comment.” Could it because they haven’t yet made up a hasbaratic “explanation” for why their brave, brave boys felt compelled to shit all over innocent people’s homes and schools?

Golly, talk about leading by example. Yep, that squeaky-clean “only democracy in the Middle East” is sure adept at persuading those barbarous Arabs of its nobility and virtue!

It was 100 years ago today…

Canada’s part in World War I began at the same time as Britain’s: on August 4, 1914, when the latter declared war on Germany after what was considered an “insufficient” response by Germany to a British order not to violate Belgium’s neutrality by passing through it en route to France, against whom Germany had declared war just the previous day.

Contrary to Sir Robert Borden’s claims that it was a war “not for lust of conquest, not for greed of possessions”, it was very much a clash of imperial interests. One has only to look at how many of the key players in the whole ungodly mess were emperors, and how many of them had recently annexed territory that wasn’t theirs (Austria-Hungary), or were claiming to “defend” the same, with an eye to annexing it themselves (Romanov Russia). And one has only to look at how many key players lost their emperors around the war’s end to realize that imperialism-disguised-as-honor was a load of bullshit that the common folk of those lands were no longer buying.

And Canada? Well, we’re still wrestling with that one. We’re no longer “Children of Empire”, a phrase that fell out of fashion after the end of the second world war — a war made inevitable by the unsettled animosities of the first, and especially by the ruinous conditions of the Treaty of Versailles. But back then, according to official accounts, “our boys” were all gung-ho for king and (distant, overseas) country. There was the usual clichéd appeal to honor and glory on this side of the Atlantic, and Anglo-Canadian enlistees were quick to sign on. (Non-Anglo immigrants and their sons, not so much. Especially not those who happened to be German. Perhaps because theirs was a kind of third-class citizenship to begin with, and because on top of this bigotry, they faced a lot of persecution from snobby twits with English names, and so felt, with justification, that the glorious British imperial cause was not worth dying for? Oh, probably.)

And speaking of clichéd appeals, if you were to have a drinking game based on the use of the word “gallant” (often in conjunction with “little Serbia”) in news and propaganda of the day, you’d have died of alcohol poisoning. The British Empire actually couldn’t have cared less about “gallant little” Serbia back in 1908, when it was first annexed by Kaiser Franz Josef. It was just some barbarous little backwater in the Balkans, its annexation largely ignored for a full five years. And it quickly fell by the wayside in the clash of imperialists, aside from its usefulness as a propagandist’s talking point. After all, you couldn’t sell imperial wars as a “noble cause” if you didn’t have a gallant little thing to squabble over, now, could you?

When I was 18 and obsessively devouring Rilla of Ingleside, a sequel to the Anne of Green Gables books (Rilla being the youngest daughter of Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe), I was blown away by all the noble turns of phrase in the passages describing the war. Those phrases, I now know, were not actually the author’s own, but were simply passed along without analysis or criticism. Although L.M. Montgomery was supportive of the war effort in her capacity as a dutiful Presbyterian minister’s wife, she privately agonized and suffered many doubts. Knowing where those howlers come from might not lessen my enjoyment of the overall story (which is, after all, just that of a teenage girl at home, looking on in helpless frustration and fear as her brothers, school chums and boyfriend get caught up in all this imperial background noise), but it kills my willingness to believe that there was anything at all noble about the war. The hearts of the boys and young men who went, yes, they were noble. As were the hearts of the families, friends and girls they left behind. But the emperor-kings and the countries they squabbled over, with no regard whatsoever for the millions of lives their imperialism would cost? Ugh. The wartime saying “lions led by donkeys” is most applicable here.

And frankly, the sheer brutality of the trenches, the barbed wire, the machine guns and the gas-shells is the very opposite of nobility and gallantry, and the destroyer of both. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) got its first official mentions in those days, when it was known as “shell shock” — a bit of a misnomer, since there was a lot more than just shelling to demoralize and destroy the minds of soldiers and civilian casualties alike.

Propaganda initiatives also played a devastating role in the barbarity, ushering in the modern era of psychological warfare. One of the most ignoble of these was the White Feather campaign, in which the “manhood” of those reluctant to enlist and fight was impugned, and women were brainwashed (by a British admiral, no less) into doing the impugning. (The irony of a big, brave man of the elites sending women to do his warmongering work of calling frightened lower-class boys sissies should not be lost on anyone. Neither should that of upper-class suffragists being man-talked into abandoning their work of campaigning for the vote in order to promote a most undemocratic, sexist and classist imperial war!)

While World War I may have given Canada an opportunity to prove its collective mettle (especially at Vimy Ridge, where Canadians notably triumphed after British and French forces both failed), I tend now to regard it as an opportunity largely lost. This country could have gone the same way as Germany and Russia in throwing off the yoke of royalty and empire, and it still has not. And we have been dragged into every bloody mess our “commonwealth” overlords have made ever since. In that sense, the real fight hasn’t ended yet…even now, 100 years after the first time we got dragooned into one of Britain’s imperial disasters. Our democracy and institutions are poorer for it.

Where our collective mettle has done much more for us, it has tended to be in peacetime, at home, and with challenges to the human-rights abuses of our colonial elites. The patriation of our constitution in 1982, along with the attachment of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, was the real marker of our coming of age. And yet our so-called government will not honor or even recognize it, preferring instead to point back to the myth of Vimy Ridge while trampling human rights here and now. We still have so much work to do on this front, and it won’t be glamorous. No bugles will call us to this battle from “sad shires”, only the increasingly atomized and isolated voices of the powerless. And I fear that they will not be heard.

I am bracing myself for a fresh onslaught of “patriotic” tripe about how we “came into our own” 100 years ago when we answered a distant foreign call to war in the affirmative, instead of standing up in opposition to it, like a country that has truly come of age. Once I used to believe the noble lie; no longer. And I’m not holding my breath for much in the way of serious analysis. If there is one thing that “noble” and “gallant” propaganda does very well, it is to drown out all criticism of empires and the twits who run them.

The ironies of the Venezuelan opposition, part 54

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Behold, a white horse. And a pale rider.

Good morning, and welcome to today’s installment of VenOpIronía. Today, we have a very special guest from Miami, where all the flotsam and jetsam of corrupt and failed Latin American right-wing political hackery has a funny way of washing ashore. Please give it up for yet another failed Venezuelan presidential candidate…this one having the unfortunate honor of being the first man to lose the presidential elections to Chavecito himself:

Henrique Salas Römer, ex-governor of the state of Carabobo and fugitive from Venezuelan justice, stated in an interview on a Miami channel that the “Exit” was a movement dreamed up by Leopoldo López, whom he called erratic and politically hasty.

Salas also confirmed that Henrique Capriles Radonski, if he had won the presidential elections, would not have been able to efficiently govern the country, and relegated the most minimal commentary to María Corina Machado, whom he only referred to as a “special” person. In Salas Römer’s words, political inexperience and bad time management have taken their toll on these three personages.

“Capriles is behind the wave, and it overthrew Leopoldo, and María Corina is a very special being,” was the ex-governor’s observation in describing the current situation of the most renowned directors of the the MUD.

Of Capriles, Salas says that he “was lucky, because he has been very fortunate in political life in not having won”, because he would not have been able to accurately exercise the presidency. That would have provoked the immediate loss of his followers and the confidence of an important sector of the citizenry in the opposition.

Salas Römer explained that the “Exit” was Leopoldo López’s initiative. “He took it because there was something which was called “La Movida” (The Happening)…They [Machado and López] were switching from one day to the next, changing the term “La Movida” to “La Salida” (The Exit), which I consider to have been a bit hasty.”

Finally, the fugitive Salas reiterated that he had no part in “The Exit”, as an extremist and radical movement, although he was in agreement with the protest as a means of opposition to the Bolivarian Revolution.

There is no doubt that Leopoldo López, national director of the terrorist cells of Voluntad Popular (Popular Will) is growing more isolated every day in the Venezuelan political panorama.

Translation mine.

You’ll notice in the picture at that top that Salas is mounted on a white horse. That was taken in 1998, during his flopped presidential campaign against Chavecito. Salas is trying hard to look, if not exactly youthful (to compete with handsome young Chavecito, who was quite the hottie in ’98), then at least macho and still relevant. Unfortunately for him, the gambit didn’t pay off. For one thing, a chubby old man waving his cowboy hat on a white horse is still just a chubby old man on a horse. For another, the horse’s name was Frijolito (Little Bean) — not exactly a dignified name for a great leader’s trusty steed. And last but certainly not least, Frijolito — sorry, Salas — was already tainted by virtue of being a member of the old Venezuelan political establishment. The same that the Bolivarian Revolution was then on the verge of sweeping out for good. But Salas, bless his heart, was blissfully unaware that Venezuelan politics had moved beyond clownish, superficial displays by then. And just as blissfully unaware that being a member of the political establishment was not enough to get the vote anymore. On the contrary, it was working against him, as he found out during his trouncing at the polls later that year.

That’s why it’s ironic and hilarious to hear him criticizing these young whippersnappers. All of them are just as much products of the old Punto Fijo/Fourth Republic political establishment as Salas himself, and all of them, no doubt, want the same things as he: an end to all this pesky socialism, and progress, and rich people like themselves being made to pay their taxes, and so on. Salas isn’t objecting to their silly anti-progressive agenda, but rather to their haste. As though a great leap backward could be accomplished by plodding. He’s totally clueless to the fact that these leaders all failed not just by being “hasty” (or “special”, in the case of that specialest of snowflakes Maricori), but because they are all right-wing, and because Venezuela is sick and tired of their shit. Sick of old-order politics-as-usual, in which votes were bought with cans of paint and bags of groceries in the poor neighborhoods; sicker still of neo-fascist putschism, and 24/7/365 hatemongering, violence and death. And sickest of all when it comes to all these talking heads bla-bla-blathering away, proposing “movements” and “happenings” and “exits” that are never going to get off the ground, no matter how many people have to die on either side. For them, Henrique Salas Römer is just a reanimated political corpse, and one that should have been buried long ago. The fact that he has to go to Miami to be taken seriously by a talk-show host should tell you all you need to know.

Honestly, Frijolito the horse stands a better chance of being taken seriously as an opposition political candidate. If he weren’t already tainted by an unfortunate association with Salas’s ass, that is.

Oh, for the love of muff…

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Portrait of Ms. Ruby May, Standing, by Leena McCall. Medium: Oil on canvas.

Can you see what’s wrong with this picture? I can’t.

I hear that it was deemed “pornographic and disgusting”, which I’m sure would come as a laugh to anyone who’s actually seen disgusting pornography (and I have). I have to wonder at the delicate sensibilities of the fuddy-duddies who thought this was too much, while allowing another portrait — fully nude, but more conventionally posed — to pass. (And by “conventionally posed”, I mean with the woman model as passive object of the male gaze.)

Perhaps the problem with this is that Ms. Ruby May has what appear to be henna tattoos, draped like tendrils over her shoulders and collarbones. Perhaps it’s the fact that she’s half-dressed in turn-of-the-last-century drag. Heavens to Betsy, a woman in a vest and knickers! (And no, British readers, that’s not an undershirt and panties, that’s vest as in gentleman’s waistcoat, and knickers as in bockers.) Perhaps it’s the fact that she’s wearing a watch-chain, another masculine touch underscoring the drag sensibility of the whole. Or maybe it’s that pipe (an obvious prop, since there’s no perfumed smoke curling daintily from its bowl.)

No, no, that can’t be it. What is it, then?

Oh my gawd, her pants are undone. And what is that I see peeking out? Why, the lady has pubes! Oh noes!

As everybody knows by now, female pubes are a terrible scourge and a menace to society. They must be scraped away, torn out at the roots, and the roots killed with fire, lest they ever sprout again. As everybody knows, lady-pubes allowed to run rampant will molest little boys. And kill babies!

The only thing worse than the scourge of lady-pubes is the terrible curse of the Elderly Vagina. And if we allow women to proudly possess pubes, even if we don’t all go around showing them off as Ms. Ruby does here — why, what’s next? Will we also be proud of our nether hairs when they turn silver — or, in the case of us natural redheads, purest snowy white?

Oh, the horror. Female self-esteem! The HORROR.

No, no, we can’t have a woman proudly showing her pubes. Not even if she’s painted by Gustav Klimt himself.

Oh wait, that’s allowed. Klimt was a man! It’s quite all right for men to paint women in a sexual context. Those who did so a century ago to public outrage and opprobrium are now revered as Great Artists. But for another woman to do so, as Leena McCall has done? Dangerous! Why, just look at that thing. The woman isn’t passively subjecting herself (and her unshorn crotch) to the male gaze, but actively looking back out at us! And worse yet, she’s doing so with a challenging glint in her eye. A glint that is equal parts “hey, sailor” and “fuck you”. Or, if you want to get all stuffy about it, a look that says both come-hither and go-thither.

No, we can’t have a woman undressing us with her eyes, and perhaps contemptuously withering us with that same sexy gaze. It’s too much like she’s looking right through us, and finding us lacking. Lacking in courage for not being able to handle the sight of a set of female genitalia not artificially made to resemble those of a harmless, helpless newborn baby girl. Lacking in the wit to understand what we are seeing. Lacking in the visionary guts to realize that women can, and MUST, have sexual agency, the right to say yea or nay, I-want-you or I-want-you-not, as we will. Lacking, in short, the understanding that a woman is more than a body, and that she is not just some consumable object, but a person in her own right, and as much so as any man. She has will. She has desires. And why should she not have the explicit right to express all that?

Why doesn’t she, already?

Well, here’s why: We live in gormless times. We have never seen the virgin/whore dichotomy quite so polarized as it is today. Even the Victorian era has nothing on the present. On the one hand, we have every kind of porn, depicting every depraved thing people can do unto one another, with literally no holds barred (including the death-grip on the throat, usually of a woman). On the other, we have something ickier, creepier, more spiritually deadening, and more depraved still: purity balls, where fathers take on the role of surrogate husband to virginal girls, and pledge to “cover” them until they can pass them off, presumably while still virginal, to a suitable real husband. We have Rush Limbaugh slut-shaming Sandra Fluke because that shameless hussy dared to put in a good word for birth-control pills, between fistfuls of OxyContin and Viagra — and nary a word about himself jetting off to sex tours in the Dominican Republic, where child prostitutes are dirt cheap and nauseously easy to find. These guys are all running around with total impunity, ordering women to do as they say, not as they do. And, under protest, we let them. Be it in porn or in purity culture, women are both infantilized and objectified, passed around like bongs at a party, and above all, NEVER allowed to be sexual on their own terms. It is always at the whim of a man, whether a creepy photographer like Terry Richardson (and a creepy businessman like Dov Charney), or a porn director…or the “priesthood holder” of the house, dear ol’ dad himself.

That may be why Ms. Ruby is dressed in old-fashioned men’s clothing, but only halfway. And why the sight of her standing there with undone trousers and no perceptible shame is so “pornographic” and horrifying in this supposedly so much more open day and age — when all of us, if we are honest, will readily admit that we’ve seen a whole lot worse.