Would you trust these people to teach YOU morality? If the answer is yes, you just might be a Pharisee.
So, this happened. Finally, after years of parading their nauseating Quiverfull sanctimony on the Internets and TV to the tune of big, BIG bucks, the Duggars are off the air. How come?
Well, it seems that their eldest son, Josh, was a very naughty boy. And a very hypocritical man, too, for years after the fact. And they themselves aided and abetted him by sweeping his abuse — much of it downright incestuous — under the rug. And by throwing his victims — their own daughters — under the bus.
So it’s kind of sweet to see them finally reaping a little bit of what they sowed. And no small relief to know that they’ve been denied at least one major media mouthpiece for their despicable views. I’m guessing that ol’ Jim Bob and Michelle might want to put off trying for Sprog #20 indefinitely now, seeing as their gravy train — or clown car, rather — has screeched to a sudden halt.
But hold your hosannas, folks, because there’s not much to cheer about here.
For starters: Josh Duggar never did any time for his crimes. The abuses in question all took place over a decade ago. For a dozen years or more, several girls have been carrying this heavy secret around, effectively covering for their abuser. They don’t dare speak out themselves, because that would call the entire Quiverfull movement (a cult, really) into question. Because its teachings are heavily to blame for both their molestation and its cover-up.
And then there’s the big question of how they were treated following the assaults. Did they get proper counselling and treatment for the traumas they endured? I don’t know, but somehow I doubt it. Did they get slut-shamed by the all-male cult “headship” for “tempting” him with their budding young bodies? I don’t know either, but I certainly wouldn’t doubt it. For a fertility cult, the Quiverfulls sure do rely a lot on female chastity. And they make sure it’s enforced through a strict, home-schooled “purity culture”, heavy on patriarchal dogma and light on useful knowledge. Their overall education is far from comprehensive (or accurate), so I’m guessing that their sexual education is at best sketchy. Knowledge is power, and the fact that the junior Duggars have been brought up on an unholy broth of ignorance and lies doesn’t bode well for their future autonomy. Unless, of course, they do what a growing number of the Phelps clan have done, and exit the family cult. (Run, Jinger, RUN!)
And then there’s the fact that Josh Duggar has actually done quite well for himself and his own Quiverfull brood in the interim, working for an infamous right-wing stink tank, the Family Research Council. He had to resign when this scandal finally grew beyond all hope of damage control, but the real damage he did while in their employ is still being felt by women and queerfolk. After all, those wingnuts he worked for helped keep Arkansas in the transphobic Dark Ages. And they did it by enlisting Josh’s mom, Michelle Duggar, to record a disgusting robocall about evil, wicked trans people out to rape everyone’s sweet, virginal daughters. It worked, too: Arkansas’s proposed anti-discrimination law didn’t pass.
Never mind that the biggest threat to women and girls is not the imaginary man-in-drag claiming to be a woman so he can break into bathrooms to sexually assault little girls, that “queer” variation on the hoary old theme of Stranger Danger. Never mind that actual cases of women or girls being assaulted by such individuals simply don’t exist. No, let’s all go on ignoring the real threat, that smirking dough-ball in a suit, who pushed crapaganda about phantom menaces while keeping his own very real sex crimes hidden in the old family closet.
Even some otherwise intelligent radical feminists have fallen for that lie, which is a testimony to the insidious power of the Duggars and their ilk. It’s also a testimony to the power of dogma and antiquated ideology. Here’s a pro tip, my rad-fem comrades: If you find your views on gender dovetailing inextricably with those of the Religious Reich, you’re not pushing for women’s liberation anymore. You’re pushing against it, and you don’t even know it.
And here’s another, just for good measure: Trans women are not “really men”, they are really WOMEN. And they’re being abused by the same people who are selling you those dirty lies about their gender. When a trans woman is forced to use the men’s room because she doesn’t “pass”, and she gets assaulted for it, that’s abuse. That’s on all of those who pushed to keep trans people’s rights unprotected. And if you joined in that push, congratulations: You’ve made common cause with the enemies of all women.
You want to liberate women from patriarchy? Great! Then recognize your trans sisters as women. Stop fretting over what’s between their legs. Learn their concerns; you’ll find that they mesh nicely with yours. Bigotries tend to cluster, so a unified front — that’s the real meaning of intersectionality — is needed to combat them. Don’t do the bigots’ work for them! Fight the patriarchy and its dogmas, not the trans women who are their victims.
And if you meet a trans woman in the public toilets, don’t panic. Remember, she’s there for the same reasons you are. You didn’t come to perpetrate a sexual assault? Good, because neither did she. Isn’t it a relief to know that she’s only there to relieve herself, same as you?
And if any man is lurking in the vicinity, waiting for victims, I doubt very much that he’d bother to dress in drag first. Unless, of course, his costume is that of the fine, upstanding family man who can do no wrong. That one fools the whole world, every single time.
Yeah, that’s right…even under the watchful eyes of the security guy, these bozos tried to spring a “Fuck her right in the pussy!” on CityTV’s Shauna Hunt as she tried to report from outside a Toronto FC soccer game Sunday night.
Contrary to what the one wank-stain says, though, this is neither “substantial” (nice choice of words, dudebro) nor “fuckin’ hilarious”. It’s old, it’s tired, it’s based on a bullshit hoax, and nobody over the age of 12 with more than two brain cells to rub together finds it funny. Least of all a reporter who has to hear it about a dozen times daily, as Shauna Hunt says she does.
And of course, it invariably gets sprung on female reporters. Because “weaker sex”, and blahblah.
Well, looks like the laugh’s on the wankers, because Shauna not only talked back, she made sure this story went viral:
Ontario’s largest electricity provider, Hydro One, issued a statement today saying it has fired one of its employees in connection with the lewd disruption.
A Hydro One official identified the employee as Shawn Simoes, but spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to name him for privacy reasons.
Simoes is shown in the video using an expletive and calling his friend’s remark hilarious before telling the reporter she is lucky they didn’t have a vibrator.
The men also face a one year-ban from all games of the soccer club and other teams owned by Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, which include the NHL Maple Leafs and NBA Toronto Raptors.
‘We’re appalled that this trend of disrespectful behavior would make its way to our city, let alone anywhere near our stadium,’ MLSE said in a statement.
‘We are working to identify the individuals, and when we do they will be banned from all of our facilities.’
Guess you shouldn’t have had so much to drink before the game, eh fellas?
And yeah…if you’re gonna yell stupid shit into a live TV mike, you should be aware that your boss could be watching. And that the security guy standing right next to the reporter will be remembering your faces and your names, too.
The no-doubt-ironically-named Paradise bordello…just one of several German brothels which were recently raided by police on suspicion of human trafficking.
Think Germany is a paradise for women in prostitution? Think again. A formerly prostituted woman has written to Manuela Schwesig, a government minister in charge of updating German prostitution laws. And what she has to say about the proposed changes is important, but it’s not an easy read:
Dear Madame Minister Schwesig,
I’m writing you today because I can see that the just-unveiled prostitution-law reform proposal has the clear markings of the bordello and pimp lobbies. That’s why I want to ask you to finally confront the reality of the red-light district instead of going on listening to people who keep retelling the fairytale of the self-determined, happy hooker.
I am exited from prostitution, in which I spent ten years. Thus I know well whereof I speak. The reasons for my entry were many: a difficult family origin, in which I was massively and also sexually traumatized by violence against my mother and myself, has had an influence on me, as did the then-widespread fairy tale about the happy prostitute. Also financial need and a lack of social and psychological help played a role.
Yes, if you like, I entered “voluntarily”. I’m one of the oft-cited “voluntary prostitutes”. But what is “voluntary”, Frau Schwesig, when a person traumatized by child abuse comes to this decision? For me, prostitution was a step up, because I had already learned that I, because I was a girl, am so helpless and without rights and am sexually abused. So I could also take money for it right away, and at least secure my own survival.
If you think that I’m a sad isolated case, I must contradict you. In those ten years I met many prostitutes, and there was not a single one among them who was not abused as a child, beaten, or raped as an adult. I have seen a psychic compulsion to keep repeating and repeating the trauma (in prostitution), and self-esteem broken by violence, in so many prostitutes. Of violence in the milieu, of the johns — who do things to us that you don’t even want to think of in your dreams — I don’t even want to start here.
Those are the realities of the milieu, Frau Schwesig, and that’s just the “voluntary” prostitutes. And yes, they too suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, dissociation, drug and alcohol addictions, because they can’t stand it. I really don’t want to talk about the fact that 90 percent of all prostitutes in Germany aren’t even from Germany. Your imagination will suffice to imagine what their life circumstances are.
Last November I wrote an open letter, because I couldn’t stand it anymore that the pro-prostitution lobby tells such fairytales as that of the free, self-determined whore. I’ve linked it for you, in case you’d like to read what it’s really like to prostitute oneself. Why do you hear that so rarely? First off, because the pro-prostitution lobby intimidates us (ever since that letter, I get really nasty e-mails, full of spite and threats), and secondly, because we exited women are too traumatized to speak.
Even non-prostituted women are affected by prostitution, because the johns are their men, and they take what they’ve learned in the brothels — namely, to despise women, to buy them, to torture them — back home to the bedrooms of their own women. Society gets brutalized, Frau Schwesig. It is an endless loop: When prostitution is legalized, the demand grows, because men learn that it’s all right to buy women’s bodies, overstep boundaries, abuse power. Availability grows, which means there is also more forced prostitution. This, again, increases the acceptance of prostitution in society, then demand grows, and so on.
90 percent of all German men have already been in a bordello. Every third one does it regularly. Do you know what goes through their heads, Frau Schwesig? I know, because I lived through it in the whorehouse. The same men, who shake your hands in a friendly way today, will spit in a prostitute’s face tomorrow during the act, get off on her gagging when she has to swallow sperm, and learn to enjoy women’s suffering. Would you like to live in such a society? That can’t be your vision!
There will never be a sexually equal society as long as men buy women and can abuse them. And there is also no “clean” prostitution!
That’s why I’m urging you not to listen to only those in favor of prostitution, who are incidentally mostly being guided by bordello owners. Go a little further into the swamp, and you’ll land among human traffickers and organized criminals. Listen to trauma therapists and exited women, too. The prostitution lobby does NOT speak for us prostitutes and ex-prostitutes! It doesn’t consist of even 100 people, who do not represent us, the 300,000 prostitutes in Germany, but intimidate us and work against our interests!
We don’t want to do this job. We don’t need legalization! We don’t need anyone who claims that we don’t want registration, mandatory condom use, etc.! Yes, we do want those things! And we would like more than anything not to have to do this job anymore. And that the men who abuse(d) us should be punished. We need alternatives, not more entanglement in the destructive, inhumane powers of the milieu!
Dear Frau Schwesig, it’s not so long ago that I left prostitution: three years. I had my first john at 18. Do you know what I would have needed most in the ten years that I was in prostitution, in which I was beaten, raped, retraumatized, despised, dehumanized and sick in body and soul? Help and a sensitized society that don’t expect me to want to “live it up” and even enjoy being abused.
I don’t know any prostitute who does it willingly. I don’t know any ex-prostitute who doesn’t have post-traumatic stress disorder. All the women I know have been wrecked in prostitution.
Please ban this inhuman, undignified prostitution. And if that’s not possible for you, then please rein it in as much as you can. Many thanks for reading my letter.
Translation mine. Linkage as in original.
So there you have it. What’s being sold as a “paradise” is only that for sex capitalists — pimps, human traffickers, brothel owners who charge extortionate daily room rates for the women — and maybe the johns, too, who get to act out all their violent fantasies for increasingly lower flat rates, and maybe take home a whole new bag of ugly tricks to spring on the wifey. Along with a fine dose of the clap, since no one’s stopping them from insisting on condomless intercourse (it’s even advertised on the brothel menu as “AO” — “Alles Ohne”, or “everything without”. The only ones NOT benefiting from all this are, as usual, the women…German and otherwise, prostituted or not. For them, it’s a hellhole. And the government is still not listening.
PS: Huschke Mau’s first open letter is translated here. Scroll down.
Andreas Lubitz: hard-charging macho with a deadly grudge.
By now, it’s no secret that various stripes of misogynists have seized upon the Germanwings crash as evidence that women are evil, as much as claiming that Andreas Lubitz was “driven” to kill, somehow, by some evil female (or females) who crushed his manly spirit. In their feverish effort to justify his crime, they seem to have unwittingly put a finger on a part of the problem, even if it is the wrong part. Yes, gender was a driving cause behind the crash, says EMMA’s Alice Schwarzer. But it wasn’t any woman’s fault. The problem lies with how men are socialized to deal with feelings of hurt, failure and loss of honor…or rather, not to deal with them, but to simply act out their blind, entitled rage:
The shitstorm that raged against EMMA on the Internet on the last weekend of March was violent. “Absurd and fanatical”, “disgusting”, “the height of tastelessness”, posted and twittered the outraged. What happened? After the plane crash in which co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately and, as we now know, after long planning, crashed a Germanwings Airbus in the Alps with 149 passengers aboard, linguist Luise Pusch called for a quota of female pilots. Because: “Rampages and so-called family murders, which are often whitewashed as ‘expanded suicide’ and ‘take-along suicide’, are crimes that are almost exclusively perpetrated by men. For rampage flights, which apparently occur more often than is publicly known, the same holds true.” Pusch’s conclusion: If Lufthansa wants more safety, it should raise the proportion of women pilots from just six percent.
The same thing was called for on the same day by a Swiss psychiatrist, Prof. Gabriela Stoppe, in Schweiz am Sonntag and in the Tagesanzeiger. “It would make sense, not only for diversity, but for safety above all, to have more women employed in human transport,” wrote the vice-president of the umbrella organization for suicide prevention. According to Stoppe, in recent years pilots committed suicide by plane six times already, outside of Europe. Says Stoppe: “It was only a matter of time before a pilot in Europe also committed suicide with a plane.”
But while the Swiss media reported the psychiatrist’s opinion without upset, in Germany the Internet swarmed all over EMMA. And the media quickly followed up: “Is EMMA really instrumentalizing the dead for the quota?” demanded the Süddeutsche Zeitung in tones of outrage. And the Frankfurter Allgemeine moaned over EMMA’s “untroubled tone” in view of the dead.
The question of what role sex plays in a rampage-crime like that of Andreas Lubitz is thus still taboo. But the facts have long spoken for themselves. Rampages, most including the eventual suicide of the killer, are carried out as a rule by men. The list is unfortunately long; here are just a few examples: Montréal, 1989 (14 victims); Colombine, 1999 (13 victims); Erfurt and Eching, 2002 (19 victims); Emsdetten, 2006 (5 victims); Virginia, 2007 (32 victims); Winnenden, 2009 (16 victims); Utöya, 2011 (88 victims); Newtown, 2012 (28 victims); Santa Barbara, 2014 (6 victims).
Female rampagers are, to date, almost nonexistent. Not, by any means, because women are the better people, but because frustration and aggression take a different route in women than in men — namely, more inward than outward, less physical and more psychological, more self-destructive than destructive.
Rampagers often suffer from feelings of humiliation and “wounded pride” — that is, from overblown narcissism. So says a report for the Frankfurter Allgemeine by Heidelberg psychiatrist Reiner M. Holm-Hadulla. He wrote of the Lubitz case: “Much more likely than a depressive illness appears to be a narcissistic personality disorder, characterized by strong self-centredness and a lack of empathy for other people.” And he continues: “Blind rage is the determining mode of reaction for narcissistic individuals in the face of hurt feelings…The grandiose destruction makes Andreas Lubitz’s crime comparable to a terrorist attack. Cold hate can grow so strong that one’s own narcissism can be executed without regard for the individual suffering of hundreds. Andreas Lubitz is responsible for that.”
This motive also applies to the so-called “expanded suicides” of married men. The Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law recently published a study, “Familial Killings With Additional Suicide in European Lands”. Researchers scanned 250,000 newspaper articles about so-called “family dramas”. The result: 1,100 victims in a ten-year space; that is, over 100 a year in Germany alone. 963 of these victims were killed by men; among them, 700 (married) women.
The commonest case is the “murder-suicide”: A man, who kills his wife (and sometimes their children, too), for example after the announcement of a separation, and then himself — but the suicide attempt often notably fails. Central signs of this variant, according to the Max Planck Institute: “Jealousy, possessiveness, control, punishment, restoration of pride.”
So, it’s a fact: Men are more likely than women to “take others along” when they try to kill themselves. That could also hang together with the fact that narcissistic disorders are more common in men than in women. Signs: “Fragile self-esteem, but grandiose sense of self-importance”, together with “lack of empathy”. So says the Network for Psychosocial Health.
And then there’s the notably higher suicide rate for men. Of the 10,000 persons who take their lives in Germany per year, 70 percent are men, according to the German Society for Suicide Prevention. The grounds for all that, obviously, lie not in biological sex — men are not “evil by nature”, and women not “naturally good”. It has something to do with sex roles that men tend to react differently to breakups and hurts.
That goes for the deserted husband who tries to restore his injured “male honor” by murdering his wife. It goes for war veterans, whose cultural indoctrination not to kill was torn down by war and also no longer functions in peacetime. In the US, in the last decades, there have been various cases in which returning soldiers killed their wives or others. The consumption of porn and violent movies can also play a role. Specifically “male” violence can have many causes. But as long as we don’t name these causes, we can’t alleviate them either.
After the Winnenden massacre of 2009, Alice Schwarzer urged people to take note of what until then had been a blind spot: The fact that the killer was male, and the victims in the school class, with one exception, were all female. “Why are even the investigators whitewashing the sex factor in the Winnenden massacre?” asked the EMMA publisher, six years ago.
The storm of outrage that broke out over EMMA’s commentaries on Winnenden didn’t direct itself at the ignorance of the investigators, but at Alice Schwarzer. Tenor: There she goes, harping on gender again! And, just as now, the “instrumentalization of the crime” accusation. Not, as in the current case, over female quotas, but because of EMMA’s PorNo campaign at the time.
Six years after Winnenden, and various killing sprees later, the whole world is discussing the gender aspect of rampages — and the potential risks that insecure masculinity conceals. Only Germany seems to be lagging behind, as is so often the case in questions of gender.
Only in August 2014 did Der Spiegel publish an article on so-called “incels” (involuntary celibates) — the unwillingly womanless (young) men who meet out of frustration in Internet forums, and bloviate about their (woman-)hatred and revenge fantasies. Title: “Male, Single, Deadly”. […]
So it must not only be permissible to ask these questions in the case of Andreas Lubitz, it is urgently necessary! The 27-year-old was apparently — according to all that we know up to now — panicked by fear of failure. He seems to have been afraid, rightly, that he would have to give up his dream of flying for health reasons. An acquaintance of Lubitz told Stern that he believed that the pilot wanted “to drag Germanwings through the mud, because they apparently warned him several times that he would lose his job”. Psychiatrist Holm-Hadulla was right when he wrote: “We can and must learn from this terrible occurrence.”
Let’s just imagine that Andreas Lubitz were Andrea Lubitz. Is it likely that she, too, would have flown the Airbus with 149 people into a mountainside? And not on impulse, but with cool premeditation? The answer would be “Not very likely”. Why the answer, in the case of Andreas Lubitz, should be “Yes, likely”, should interest us. Even if it is disturbing.
Translation mine. Linkage added.
So yeah, score one (own goal) for the misogynists of the Internets. They were right about Andreas Lubitz being wounded in the machismo, at least, and that this was a reason for his deadly rage and his ultimate, premeditated act.
But it wasn’t because the evil females wouldn’t blow him. In fact, he had at least one woman in his life at the time of the crash, so it’s safe to say he wasn’t lacking for female attention, or regular sex of any kind. It was because his job — the one he’d busted his ass to qualify for, because the only thing in the world he wanted to do was fly jets — was on the line. His disturbed, narcissistic personality had caught the attention of airline officials, as had the fact that he’d been treated for suicidal tendencies before. He was in danger of being dismissed on grounds of mental illness and unfitness to fly. And, knowing that, it makes sense — horribly — that he would want to “drag Germanwings through the mud” with one last, terroristic act behind the controls of the plane. His aggrieved pride would demand nothing less than the gruesomest “punishment” possible for those who had “wronged” him (in his own eyes).
That’s why he chose to take along in “suicide” not the girlfriend he was having so much trouble with, but the passengers of the airline. If he couldn’t punish his bosses directly, he could still smear their name as he felt they had done to him.
An uglier act of spite could hardly be imagined. And it could not be imagined at all if he were a woman. Not because women aren’t perfectly capable of flying planes, or of flying into rages either, but because their pattern of socialization makes it unthinkable that a female pilot would have flown that Airbus into an alpine rock wall. We women are socialized to look after others, not regard them as acceptable offerings on the altars of our egos. When we kill ourselves, we generally don’t take anyone else along for the ride.
Note the quotes around “tragedy”; they’re there for a reason. Partly because this mug is a joke. Partly also because a few arrogant dudes’ hurt feelings on the internet don’t add up to nearly as much as 90 million girls’ corpses.
Remember how, back in 2002, progressives from all over the world heralded Germany’s suddenly liberalized prostitution laws? Finally, they said — the “oldest profession” would become a job just like any other! Unionization! Freedom of sexual expression! Workers’ rights for sex workers! Street prostitution will become a thing of the past! Everyone will work independently indoors, where it’s safe! And on and on.
Well, that hasn’t happened. What happened instead is that this well-intended but badly flawed legislation came together with the neocapitalism of Eastern Europe in a perfect storm of open borders, organized crime, and near-total impunity. So what effect has all of that had? The Frankfurter Rundschau news team went on the streets, and what the women there have to say may shock you…
The well-tended, good-looking woman — let’s call her Anna* — knows whereof she speaks. “Ever since the East Bloc arrived, prices are kaputt. Lots of johns are really shameless. Everything’s turned around: once, the ladies named their price. Today, the men tell them what they’ll give. And if I say ‘I won’t do it for 15 euros, and definitely not without a condom’, then he’ll keep on driving. And later he’ll honk going by, to show me that he found a Bulgarian or a Romanian who will do what he wants.”
Anna is prostituting. For 25 years, as she herself says. It’s cold this evening on the street corner of the Theodor-Heuss-Allee in Frankfurt. Anna stands there in an open down jacket, with a low neckline and high boots. It all comes bubbling out of her: “Ever since I started, lots of things have gotten worse. Respect is gone. But it’s all right for me, I have lots of regulars and don’t have to hop into every car. In the end, you just don’t want to do everything.”
Not everyone radiates so much self-assurance. 100 metres away is Anna’s transsexual colleague, Mia*, who’s happy just to have 50 euros in her pocket at the end of the night. “For having sex twice.” Five years earlier, she used to make several hundred euros a night, says the Bulgarian with the big, sad eyes. She earns a little extra with table-dancing. Otherwise, she has to stand on the curb.
“Earning good money fast” — you can still do that, says pretty young Dana*, on the other hand. Seven months ago, she quit her job as head salesclerk in a supermarket in Bulgaria — “badly paid 12-hour days”. Today she earns a lot more (“25 euros for 15 minutes”) and is, so she says, content. If only she weren’t afraid. Above all, of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV.
Dana keeps hearing from the men that they’re married, after all, and she looks quite healthy. “Sometimes they agree when I insist on a condom. And then suddenly, in the middle of sex, they yank the rubber off.” Would a condom requirement help her? Dana smiles bitterly: “Only a few Germans would stick to that, the ones that follow rules. My other customers, probably not.” With those, she often senses their disdain, finds them aggressive.
Dana, who works for her “boyfriend”, also fears the other pimps. “They’ll pull women into their cars, beat them up, and drag them off to someplace. Last year, a woman disappeared from here.” All the same, there’s no question for her of working in a bordello, where it would be less dangerous. She shakes her head energetically. She feels “protected” by her boyfriend, who always waits on one of the side streets. “He’d be here in three to five minutes.” But above all, what she earns matters to her. “In a bordello, the clients pay less.”
Only a few women are still working the streets of Frankfurt, maybe about 30. In any case, fewer than 50, according to chief criminal inspector Jürgen Benz. In total, some 1200 to 1400 prostitutes are offering their services in the city. Benz and his colleagues in the K62 Task Force against human trafficking in the Frankfurt Police Presidium are particularly busy in the brothels. There are 18 of those in Frankfurt, with 750 rooms in all.
Above all, the “East Bloc”, as Anna calls it, has arrived: Since the eastward expansion of the EU in 2007, Bulgarian and Romanian women have been flooding the German sex market. In the brothels of Frankfurt, some 90 percent of the women are Eastern Europeans — poverty prostitutes, who unlike Dana have never had a job they could give up. Uneducated — many can’t even read or write — and often experienced in violence. They come from slums, from conditions that no one here can imagine. And they land in circumstances that no one here would wish.
Brutally and unscrupulously, the pimps take advantage of the precarious situation of the mostly very young migrant women, taking a majority of their already meagre income. “With a woman, a perp can earn 70,000 euros a year,” Jürgen Benz estimates. The brothel owners also cash in big-time; the “business landlords” charge 125 euros per day. “A woman has to sleep with 200 men a month — just for the rent”, says Benz. And even though the officer, who used to work in narcotics, isn’t easily shocked, in his sober words there is an ominous tone: these figures scare even him. “A woman who is out sick for one week would be 1000 euros in debt after that week,” Benz continues. That’s why there’s the great danger that she will continue.
That many prostitutes are “in a pitiable state of health”, Elvira Niesner also emphasizes. She’s the head of the group “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights” (FIM, by its German initials). In Frankfurt, the organization has its offices near the red-light district; from there, in the evenings, street workers fan out to provide women on the streets and in the brothels with condoms, to advise them, and to offer help. The social workers speak the women’s languages, even if they can’t speak German despite years in country.
Niesner describes the changes in the sex market as dramatic also, particularly the degree of exploitation, foreign control, and violence. “Many women don’t even know in which city they currently find themselves,” says the sociologist and shakes her head, as if she herself can’t believe it. Pimps cart the young women from one brothel to the next, in order to offer the johns variety — “Fresh meat”, they call it in the trade. Thus isolated, the women are easier to exploit. “They don’t know that prostitution is legal in Germany, and that they can work without pimps.”
Most Eastern European women aren’t forced prostitutes, in the sense that human traffickers have lured them from a good job in housekeeping or gastronomy with false promises. Not only the former chief supermarket clerk, Dana, has made a conscious choice. As social workers keep reporting, the women knew that they would be working as prostitutes in Germany. However, the boundary between free choice and compulsion is fluid. Because the perps have deliberately left unclear what actually awaits them: a job that will physically and psychically wear them out. And the way out of this destructive dead-end street is blocked off. Because the pimps won’t let them go, because they’re in the debt trap, and above all, because they have no alternatives.
How different is the picture of sex work which the representatives of the prostitutes’ unions paint, the ones who often set the tone in public debate. To work on one’s own terms, to decide for oneself whom to service and how. A lucrative profession, which one can confidently proclaim. One might suspect that this picture is too rosy. But in fact, the daily routine in a nudist “oasis”, a flat or an escort service is a completely different reality. A high priced-part of the sex market. Or — depending on your viewpoint — an antisocial subculture. And pretty please keep politics out of it, say the “whores’ unions”, who dread fresh interference from the prostitute protection law being tabled in Berlin. That would be understandable, if they did not hand-wave away human trafficking, forced prostitution and exploitation in the same breath.
On the other hand, the women of FIM emphasize that “the biggest group are the poverty prostitutes”. They hail the decision of politicians to concern themselves more with the shabbier side of reality. FIM is hoping that the prostitute-protection law will give a boost to protection for victims. Niesner supports, for example, the planned requirement for health checks, which are under heavy dispute. Critics speak of stigmatization. FIM’s women, on the other hand, see more of a chance to reach the sealed-off women and build contacts based on trust. But: “Health checks must be tied in with consultations with qualified social workers, with low thresholds, in the women’s native tongue, and personal. It’s all about strengthening the women.”
Such structures are lacking in many places at the moment. And they will still be lacking, when the law maybe kicks in next year. But Niesner harbors the hope that they will be brought about under pressure of the law.
And what do the women in the Theodor-Heuss-Allee say? Would they find mandatory counselling discriminatory? There are no clear answers to that question. But it’s plain to see that the street workers are welcome among the prostitutes, even when they come, as on this cold March evening, with two politicians and two journalists in tow. Federal representatives Michael Brand (CDU) and Kordula Schulz-Asche (Greens) tell them again and again that they are working on a new law for the trade, and for that reason want to know, how politics can best be of help. Puzzled faces, embarrassed smiles, shrugging shoulders — I can’t be helped, seems to be the message. “A different job,” says Ilona* (41), eventually. But she can only dream about that. The mother of three children, from Hungary, is drug-addicted and homeless.
“Do you regret your decision to come to Germany?” asks Brand of former supermarket clerk Dana. Anger flashes up in her eyes: “I’m not ashamed of what I do,” she replies, defiantly. That’s not how the question was meant. It’s more about finding out whether it’s true that most prostitutes don’t want to exit. In fact, the social workers of FIM have made exactly this finding. Only a few Latinas have exited lately. Encarni Ramírez Vega, who looks after this group, describes them as “self-aware pros” who didn’t want to go along with bargain-basement prices. The others, to her, are captives of a destructive lack of perspective.
Even the fight against human trafficking is in trouble. The number of legal cases has been declining for three years, but human trafficking hasn’t. It used to be that women would seek police protection. “Nowadays they only rarely come to us,” said police commissioner Benz. “We have to go to them.” And repeatedly, so that they lose their fear of the police and learn to trust. Only that way would there be a chance that they could testify against their tormentors. “No testimony, no trial.”
The commissioner is, for that reason, in favor of legislation requiring registration for prostitutes. “Because whenever I speak with a woman who could be the victim of a crime, then she’s already not there anymore the next day. Where the pimps have brought her, I can’t find out without mandatory registration.”
This proceeding, however, is particularly controversial. It is a delicate matter of personal privacy, and many prostitutes oppose it as discriminatory. Above all women in rural regions fear for their anonymity, and dread a “forced outing”. Anna is afraid that her information could end up in the wrong hands, maybe even those of a client. That couldn’t be very possible. But Anna holds firm: “Later one of them will be at my door, harassing me. No, what I’m doing here must remain discreet.”
Translation mine; * denotes a name changed to protect privacy.
So much for the sex-workers’ paradise of liberalization. Not only has it not cleared the streets of streetwalkers, it hasn’t empowered them one whit. It hasn’t even empowered those in the “safety” of the brothels — a relative term, that “safety”, given that cheap flat-rate sex is the new normal, and room rates are extortionate, and there is no guarantee that brothel keepers will protect anything but their own bottom line. The girls get trucked in from all over, and trucked around until they don’t even know where they are anymore, much less how to speak a word of German beyond what it takes to reel off a menu of acts and (low, flat) rates per.
But hey, at least the johns don’t have to duck their heads anymore when they walk in, eh? Their part of the whole exchange, at any rate, is now loud and proud. That of the ladies, not so much. As even Anna, the most self-confident of them says, she fears the johns. All the girls fear those guys. They’ve gotten cocky, and they are spoiled for choice, thanks to the glut of desperate, impoverished girls from Eastern Europe. And some of those even end up on the street, where it’s not only cheaper to buy one, it’s also dead easy to just yoink one into a car, drive off to someplace where no one can see or hear, and do whatever. For a paltry few euros, anything goes…even without condoms, a fact shamelessly advertised by flat-rate brothels all over Germany.
And of course, no health checks, either. A perfect breeding ground for every STD under the Sun, and probably quite a few we haven’t yet heard of. The rationalizations abound: “I’m married, and you don’t look sick.” That’s as good as a condom, isn’t it? And if the long-suffering wife does end up with a case of the clap, you can always pretend it’s the fault of some public toilet seat, even though that is, in fact,never the case. Prophylaxis: what’s that? And why should it matter?
And if a girl goes missing…well, who’s going to notice or care? As long as she’s not registered, and doesn’t want to be, the johns can literally get away with murder.
And that’s not even counting the pimps. You know, those Eastern European mafiosi who truck the girls in, and around and around until they’re dizzy with disorientation, so that the johns can have the eternal illusion that they’re getting fresh meat, and so no girl sticks around in any one place long enough to form a relationship with a potentially sympathetic client…much less local social workers or the police. Who are effectively hamstrung when it comes to helping or protecting them, as it currently stands, and probably will continue to be when the new law passes. Whenever that is.
Yeah, a hell of an improvement that 2002 law has been. And wow, such empowerment for the prostituted. Yay, sex capitalism.
“Happy Women’s Day!” my porn-watching neighbor yelled at me this morning, he who otherwise likes to say that women can’t parallel-park. That he himself hasn’t had a driver’s licence for years doesn’t keep him from grinning snarkily. “Only on March 8: Special offer for women” — my e-mail box is full of messages like that. The sexist shitpile of the Left Party won’t stop handing out carnations to unsuspecting women this year, instead of troubling itself about the deeply misogynistic behavior of its members and representatives. The daily newspaper has a special Women’s Day edition — letting dominatrices tell about their great jobs and invite others to come and “play the whore” while the laughable 30% quota for female employment rings the death-knell of western civilization for many. My boss gives out yellow roses every Women’s Day to his female employees, but doesn’t consider it necessary to pay them the same wages as their male colleagues, much less promote them to leadership positions.
Women’s Day serves as a reminder to all parties, unions and organization do something for women once in a while. A little feminism just looks good nowadays — and can you believe it, women are now allowed to earn their own money and drive cars, so there’s a corresponding marketing strategy. “Women, today it’s all about you,” is the message, which also makes it clear that during the rest of the year it’s not about us anymore. On Women’s Day 2014, feminists were shoved around, yelled at, and sprayed with paint by so-called “sex workers”, johns, and male members of the Pirate Party. Despite more calls for security this year, the stone-cold reply was that there are many forms of violence. Motto: It’s your own fault, you RadFems.
97 percent of board members in Europe are men. Party leader Volker Kauder said in November that female quotas would remain the same, and that family minister Manuela Schwesig could forget about pay equity, and that it was only thinkable for businesses with more than 500 employees. Women earn on average 22% less than their male colleagues; their pensions are 60% lower than those of men thanks to maternity leave and part-time work. That’s how inequality gets cemented — meaning that our own daughters still have to fight for fair pay, even though women still do the lion’s share of the child-care work. Since 2014 there’s a discriminatory caregiver law, that together with an extremely “father-friendly” arrangement of youth offices and judges sees to it that children can even be taken with police force to their fathers, never mind if he beat their mother or otherwise terrorized her. Whereas when it comes to child support, or a fairer tax plan for single mothers, we see just as little action as with trial judges handing down a proper sentence to rapists. The morning-after pill is now prescription-free for German women, but only because the EU has taken it to heart. One in three German women has experienced domestic or sexual violence, but women’s shelters are constantly being closed or charging fees of the victims. The perpetrators have little to fear.
The female portion of city and municipal councils is barely 23%, while 97% of all single-custody parents are women. Germany is “Europe’s bordello”, where women are quite legally auctioned off as wares. The new prostitution law won’t change much there, either.
All of this is no coincidence. And it’s not the fault of women, with their “bad” choices in careers, partners or clothing, but that of the mighty institutions of patriarchy. In a society where the most important decisions are still being made by men, there can be no equality for women. So you can shove your well-wishes, your carnations and your special Women’s Day offers up your ass. In a patriarchal society, all of this is a slap in the face of every woman on Women’s Day. Instead, make this world a fairer place for women. Don’t go to prostitutes, don’t hit or rape women, don’t watch any more porn, don’t harass women on the street anymore, and pay women fairly. Then we won’t need any more Women’s Day.
If we’re not equal yet, it’s certainly not for lack of effort on the part of women. We’ve been “leaning in” until our noses are buried in the dirt, only to have more of it rubbed in our faces by the Menz Rightzers, the latest and “greatest” crop of anti-human-rights activists to be spawned by good ol’ Papa Chauvin. Yay! Just in time for our so-called day.
And now we’re being sold the “agency” lie by the pimp lobby, who claim that peddling our asses for cash is somehow sexually liberating and even “empowering”. Really? If that were true, this world would be run by gigolos, because think about it — who’s more power-hungry (and sex-“positive”) than men?
Porn hasn’t liberated women’s sexuality; it’s just feeding us instructions as to how to satisfy the male gaze better. We don’t even know what our own sexuality looks like anymore, because we’ve never been free of imagery foisted on us by people who don’t care about our pleasure or our satisfaction. Instead, we’re being told that servicing men according to their specs is “a job like any other”. Well, why not? We’re already getting fucked over by capitalism; might as well make it literal, eh ladies?
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: When it comes to store-bought sex, women who sell it are not the empowered party. They never have been. They have always been dependent on the men who pay for the privilege, and those men call the shots, always. Remember the golden rule: He who has the gold, makes the rules.
I note in passing that there are still precious few women out there even contemplating buying sex. “Equality” on those terms is unthinkable for us. Partly because we can’t fucking afford it, yes — but much more the fact that we don’t see ourselves as entitled to it. We don’t lack for libido, that much I’m sure of. No, what we lack is the political power to compel men to service us, as well as the bullshit belief that it’s okay for us to do that in the first place. The fact that the converse is not true for the other side, even among men who call themselves leftists, ought to be proof enough that capitalist patriarchy is not dead, that “girls” don’t rule the world even though we do the vast majority of its grunt-work, and that we sure as hell need more than just one day a year, ostensibly dedicated to women, to get it right. Every day should be women’s day, uncapitalized, everywhere on Earth.
Good lord. I would have thought that teaching kids the facts of life at public school was no longer even a little bit controversial, but apparently it’s become just that. AGAIN. And today, in the Ontario Legislature, the pot boiled over:
Progressive Conservative MPP Monte McNaughton (Lambton-Kent-Essex), a leadership hopeful, attacked Premier Kathleen Wynne on Tuesday for not doing enough to consult parents before implementing the new syllabus that takes effect in September.
McNaughton told the house that the premier should not be imposing views upon mothers and fathers concerned about the revised program designed to protect children by better informing them about sex.
Note that the oh-so-concerned-for-concerned-parents Mr. McNaughton is a Conservative “leadership hopeful”. Hence all his laudable, laudable concern for the unheard voices of parents who don’t want their kids learning anything about sex at school. His leadership hopes took a bit of a trouncing, though, at the hands of the woman whose job he’s eyeballing:
Wynne, Ontario’s first female premier and lone openly lesbian first minister, suggested the Tory MPP was being homophobic when he said Monday “it’s not the premier of Ontario’s job — especially Kathleen Wynne — to tell parents what’s age-appropriate for their children.”
“What is it that especially disqualifies me for the job that I’m doing? Is it that I’m a woman? Is it that I’m a mother? Is it that I have a master’s of education? Is it that I was a school council chair? Is it that I was the minister of education?” she told the house.
“What is it exactly that the member opposite thinks disqualifies me from doing the job that I’m doing? What is that?”
Yeah, Monte, go on going after her job. After all, she’s just a trained schoolteacher with a master’s degree, a former provincial education minister, AND a parent. What the hell would SHE know about age-appropriate sex ed?
Could the real reason he’s so squiffy toward her new curriculum be none other than the simple fact that she’s gay? Or is it something more sinister, namely the anti-intellectual bent that we’ve seen so much of in the Ontario SupposiTories since the bad old days of Mike Harris and his No-Sense Devolution, when he put a high-school drop-out in charge of the provincial education ministry and basically ordered ol’ Snowballs to ransack it and leave no textbook untorn? The same generation that grew up on a starved education system now takes such governmental neglect for not only normal, but a correct course of action. Twenty years of undoing the good work of William B. Davis, the Education Premier?
Yeah, let’s stay the course. That’s still an electable strategy, right? I mean, just look at the peanut gallery these guys are playing to:
McNaughton and one of his rival PC leadership candidates — MP Patrick Brown (Barrie) — met with the raucous protesters, many of whom brandished anti-abortion signs.
Yup, it’s the anti-intellectual brigade, out in full force against anything that might inform their kids more and better than they themselves would! To hear this crowd talk, you’d think that just not telling kids anything about sex at all, other than “don’t do it till you’re married, and only for procreation” would be an effective means of preventing unwanted pregnancy, STDs, and that deadliest of all sins, Teh Ghey. Meanwhile, the precious, protected children of people like these grow into the kind of harassers who stand outside women’s health clinics, baptizing imaginary “murdered” babies.
But what am I saying? Nobody knows better than a parent what’s really good for the kids, right? RIGHT???
“Parents should be the first educators on serious issues like sex education . . . Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals are not respecting parents,” McNaughton told a rally of more than 200 people outside the legislature.
Oh, but of course. Parents are the bestest sex educators a kid could have. And the government has no right to “interfere”! That’s why schools that teach “abstinence only”, in accordance with religious parents’ wishes, have higher pregnancy rates and STD rates than schools that teach comprehensive sex ed. That’s why so many people whose parents “protected” them by withholding all sex information other than “Just Don’t Do It” are parents before their time, perpetuating the vicious cycle faster and faster than ever before. That’s why antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea and syphilis are wreaking havoc on kids whose folks told them condoms were the devil’s toys. That’s why AIDS is still incurable and there’s no vaccine on the market for it yet. The same people who think a few shots of Gardasil will turn their daughters into harlots when those girls haven’t even put down their Barbie dolls yet. The same whose kids are so desperate to learn anything at all about sex that they turn to porn for info. Yeah, those people are the greatest sexperts on Earth, and nothing they say could possibly be fallible.
The new Mexican cardinal, Alberto Suárez Inda, thinks that cases of pedophile priests are not to be published, due to the delicacy of the topic.
“They’re such delicate matters, pardon, that they are not to be published, I think,” Suárez said in a press conference on Saturday in Morelia, Michoacán.
Following the call made by Pope Francis a few days ago for bishops and Catholic religious authorities throughout the world not to cover up cases of pedophilia, the cardinal stated that he had no reason to denounce anyone.
“If you have any information, I beg you to come forward and denounce it, to give news of something you know, but I have no reason to (publicly) denounce anyone.”
This is not to say, he explained, that the church must not follow up on these cases.
“Sadly, pederasty is like a virus, like an epidemic that travels around the world, not only through the Catholic church, but also outside the church. Sometimes even family members and teachers commit that crime,” Suárez declared.
Pope Francis named Suárez Inda as a cardinal on February 14.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Mexico. Just what you always wanted, a cardinal to sweep everything back under the rug. In direct contravention of what the Pope himself has been urging priestly authorities to do.
“No to the eroticization of sexual violence! Boycott Fifty Shades of Grey.”
A sentiment I can heartily get behind. This article from Mira Sigel, of the German radical-anarcho-socialist-feminist blog, Die Störenfriedas, basically says it all for me, too:
It’s February 2015 in Germany, and as a feminist, one wants to pull the covers over one’s head and wait till summer so that the sexist shitcrap that’s currently washing over us from TV and movie screens will at least be made tolerable by sunshine and ice cream.
On Thursday, in Berlin, there was the world premiere of Fifty Shades of Grey. The film version of the book, which is a — yawwwwwn — love story about an emotionally disturbed, violently inclined, rich and dominant man and a woman inferior to him in every way, is creating buzz around the world. There’s talk of “eroticism” and “lust”, and even Germany’s top-ranking feminists are applauding approval, because it has something to do with women’s liberation. That’s right: Getting your ass paddled or playing the choking game is just as sexually liberating as playing the prostitute in a bordello. The eroticization of violence and exploitation is a wonderful instrument of oppression that the patriarchy has just begun to discover. We now think of Playboy Bunnies as kindergartners, and the nonsense of Sex and the City, which for ten years was meant to prepare us for a life as constantly horny luxury queens.
But let’s go on. What’s really upsetting about the story is not that Anastasia sets out to finally find the limits of her sexuality and to cross them, but that she gets “seduced” by a rich, smart, and — naturally — “mysterious” man. What exactly is self-determined about that? It’s the age-old tale of King Bluebeard. Didn’t you know? Well, then, read up. A patriarchal fairytale par excellence. She naturally somehow “senses” that Christian Grey needs emotional rescuing, because hey, why else are we women here, with our bodies, our psyches, and our whole lives, to take care that it goes better for men, insofar as they can take it all out on us? Anastasia isn’t into S/M. She lets him do it to her, because she thinks she’ll get access to Christian’s disturbed emotional world this way. She realizes that he’s overstepping her boundaries, and still keeps going on. As well, she was a virgin before she met him, and has nothing, literally nothing, to compare his sexual experiences to.
Christian likes to hit women because his bad mama neglected him and was also a drug-addicted prostitute. Naturally, the whole wide world of women has nothing but understanding for that, and willingly sticks out its butt, so that the poor boy can take out his feelings on it. In turn we get to see him constantly in the film with his bare chicken breast. Because Anastasia takes his boundary-crossings so self-sacrificingly, eventually he does let his guard down a bit — and makes her his princess. One might laugh about that, because it’s so silly. In reality, though, it’s dangerous. Because it idealize a toxic view of relationships, in which women consequently deny their own needs and boundaries so that they’ll be better off. Women become clumsy twits, who fall so far under the influence of an experienced man’s sexual wishes that they become willing partners for damaging relations. It’s called grooming.
At the Berlin premiere, minors sashayed around with leather whips and other paraphernalia that they presumably consider sexy — because everyone tells them that sexuality is the thing of the hour. A chance to find out for themselves what they like, and to look for a corresponding partner, though, is something that neither our society nor Germany’s leading feminist group will concede to them.
Even the fact that there are also submissive men is no argument. What turns them on is subservience. The fact that a WOMAN is debasing them. Not a man. A woman. A woman who, however, is socially far beneath them. Therein lies the arousal — that is, it comes out of a deeply sexist and misogynous world-view. Sexuality is always to be viewed in the context of social reality. Why else have chambermaids been in the Top Ten list of male sex fantasies for centuries? Why do colonialist world-views express sexual desire in terms of white women and black men, and vice versa? Why are pornos full of racist stereotypes? Why is the horny secretary or nurse a fantasy that gets passed down from generation to generation? Why not a female professor or politician? Because female power — real female power — doesn’t stand for the male dominance of sexuality in a patriarchal society.
Soon, as well, we’ll see the next installment of Germany’s Next Top Model. Heidi ate burgers, döner and sausages in order to shut up the thinness critics. “I’ve been watching the show for ten years,” shrieks an 18-year-old hopeful. “It’s always been my dream to take part.”
Why doesn’t everyone wake up? Shouldn’t girls dream of high-school graduation, university, science, creative heights and successes, instead of making monkeys of themselves with Heidi & Co.?
Society shows young women their place. Either as sex toys for male power fantasies, or as skinny models without dignity.
Hopefully it will be summer soon.
Full disclosure: I’m not a kinkster. I’m not even remotely curious, having read enough already to know quite well what it’s all about. I have no desire to try it for myself; what I’ve read and seen doesn’t resonate with me — at least, not in a titillating way. I will admit to feeling disturbed by a lot of it, though, and for the very reasons Sigel outlines so succinctly here. The overwhelming majority of it plays to the age-old male power fantasy of “owning” a woman. Even the reversed situation derives its power mainly from the temporary inversion of the accepted order of things. But it doesn’t question that order, nor does it seek to subvert it in the real world. What happens in the dungeon, stays in the dungeon. And anyway, even the most submissive of male subs has his safeword, meaning the action stops when he orders it to. So in the end, even he still has power — even if his male privilege is momentarily (and voluntarily) doffed. The same cannot be said for female subs, whose submission is socially encoded as “normal”.
Worse, the ugliest aspects of the male-dominant power dynamic are so egregious in Fifty Shades that even the most ardent kinksters feel the need to dissociate from the franchise. I may not share their proclivities, but I don’t blame them a bit. They say they don’t stand for Christian’s blatantly illegal moves to control Anastasia, for stalking, for isolation, for abuse, and for the actual, slave-master ownership of a person, right down to a ludicrous, legally unenforceable “contract”. I would hope not! Who’d want to be associated with something so conservative, so un-edgy, so damn OLD? Because really, this is indentured servitude, when you get right down to it; good old-fashioned indentured servitude with a side order of medieval torture.
And yet, heterosexual kink* does partake of the same old dynamics, and that’s what makes it so primal and titillating to some, and fraught — and frankly, ripe for abuse. The kink community has always had its Christians, out to exploit a ready and willing pool of inexperienced young women. And every female sub has found herself at least once, it seems, in Anastasia’s unenviable shoes, being sexually assaulted and having her bounds blatantly overstepped by a dom who refuses to hear NO. And has had to warn others away from that freak. Who is not, unfortunately, that much of a freak.
Sometimes, the only thing that separates a kinky abuser from a garden-variety one is the leather costumery. And even Christian, in his “kinky” mode, is not that much of a one for the leather gear. He can play out his “master” role just as well in banker’s grey flannels. (But hey, at least we get to see him shirtless and sweaty. Whoopee!)
The disturbing thing about Fifty Shades is not the boring-ass sex (which has been described in detail elsewhere, and if you want to read about it, just google) — it’s the mental abuse. And the most abusive thing is that it teaches girls that if they submit enough, they’ll be rewarded with the prince and a tiara and, presumably, a whole stable full of sparkly pink Pegacorns with mauve manes and tails, who piss perfume, fart rainbows, and poop marshmallows, and heal all hurts with the magical light of their crystal horns. That sacrificing themselves and having no desires of their own is the way to a man’s heart, and that they’ll cure him of all his demons that way.
In real life, as has been often pointed out, that way leads straight to the women’s shelter, and often the morgue.
Abusive men aren’t for women to cure, and they don’t even want to be cured. They’re as hooked on their violence as a junkie on the needle. The power fantasy has been marketed to them, too, as a drug that they need to score and go on scoring in ever greater hits, for ever higher highs. The fact that they become numb to it eventually is never mentioned. They end up not in control, but in thrall. The fact that they end up in jail or dead in a grisly murder-suicide is the only logical outcome for that power dynamic. And it’s a fact that gets glossed over by the media time and again. When we do hear talk of a guy going to jail for beating his female partner to death, or of one who shoots first her (and/or their kids) before turning the gun on himself, it’s always couched in nonsense phrases about “senseless violence” that “no one could have predicted”.
In fact, the violence makes a lot of sense, and is dead simple to predict, given the dynamics of the patriarchal, capitalist world we live in. This “fantasy” is a big, money-making reality. Every little Joe Schmoe wants to be a Christian, on some level. With access to an Anastasia, who takes every slap, every punch, every rape, without complaint…just as she’s been taught.
Even the stuff you grow up thinking is so “subversive” and “transgressive” really isn’t. The Marquis de Sade? Hardly a libertarian “citizen” of revolutionary France, but an opportunist who took full, gory advantage of the old droit du seigneur. His perversions weren’t even particularly extreme for his day, at least insofar as literature went; there was already plenty of “blasphemous” spanky-spanky erotica kicking around even then. He didn’t invent a libertine tradition; he grew out of one like a fleur-de-lys from shit. Most of what he cut his teeth on was anticlerical, clandestinely published, and meant to shock with its childish defiance. And it shaped his tastes, without a doubt. His contemporaries were blasé about that. But what made him truly grotesque and ultimately a criminal in their eyes was not what he read and wrote, but what he actually did. To powerless underlings who had virtually no rights in pre-revolutionary France. This was no harmless fantasy of consensual role-play. His victims were predominantly young women in poverty and/or prostitution, who had no choice but to submit to whatever he meted out to them, even death. (Oh yes, did I mention that he was most likely a serial killer, one who pre-dated Jack the Ripper by about a century? Plus ça change…)
Even now, the “sadists” of BDSM are slow to wake up to the fact that their cherished fantasies are the products of some mighty banal evils. Not necessarily childhood abuse, or mommy/daddy issues (lots of kinksters have no history of those), but forces from the larger society writ small and personal, marked “private” and for individual sale only. Some, to their credit, are at least distancing themselves from the mad Marquis, recognizing that a man of the upper class, who poisoned, mutilated and flayed young peasant women without pity, is no role model. They stress safety, sanity, consensuality. They take it as a bounden duty to provide aftercare, and laudably tend to the wounds they inflict. They are seeking alternative terms for their kink, words that don’t hark back to droit du seigneur — at least not so blatantly. Bless them for trying. It’s just a pity that those same terms they stress so hard — safe, sane and consensual — are also being used by some, who are far less scrupulous, to gloss over the serious examination of kink’s background forces that is long overdue.
But that, too, is quite understandable, in light of the blinding obvious. People want to have their cake, and their fetishes too. What else is there to do on your own time in this god-awful crapitalist soul-eating world? Why kill the buzz of kinky “transgression” with structural analysis of its deep-down conservatism, with examination of class and privilege, with history, with the nasty inconvenient fact that the playing field is not finally level now, but still every bit as lumpy and unfairly tilted as it’s ever been, even without the old seigneurial class?
Take a wild guess. Take several. Take all the time you need.
*Gay kink — more liberating/liberated than straight? Don’t bet on it. A lot of butch/femme and even racist and homophobic stereotypes are played out there, following problematic templates similar to those of the straights. After all, they all have the class consciousness of a heterosexist society as their biggest (and really, only) role model.
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All opinions here are the brain-wrackings of Sabina C. Becker, unless otherwise credited. If you cite them, please give credit where due.
Fear doesn't travel well; just as it can warp judgment, its absence can diminish memory's truth. What terrifies one generation is likely to bring only a puzzled smile to the next.
--Arthur Miller, "Why I Wrote 'The Crucible'", The New Yorker, October 21, 1996
All opinions here are the brain-wrackings of Sabina C. Becker, unless otherwise credited. If you cite them, please give credit where due.