I had the displeasure of coming across this piece by one Paris Lees who writes regularly for VICE. Paris’ articles are generally the type of porn-brain addled lazy liberalism that passes for a radical critique in modern times. His work is meant as propaganda and this piece is no different. “Dear Slut-Shaming Haters, I Don’t Really Need an Excuse to Suck Dick“. The title says it all. Already the strawwoman has been built. Ready to be teared down. It reminded me of a piece he wrote recently on how he paid his way through uni by selling sex acts, all written in pornographic detail and his piece on “common slags in British politics“. It is not hard to see reading these pieces that these are not written from a female perspective. That the perspective on prostitution and how fun it is to have sex with random strangers and get “bonus money” for it is a distinctly dick-worshipping gay male perspective. Not one any woman, no matter how much she “loves sex” adheres to. This work is meant to titillate and have everyone with a mild libertarian streak (uh pretty much all westerners) nodding their head in bemused agreement. Give the readers a little sexy racy fun and then hit them with some stats about how poor everyone is. Look a man likes to have meaningless sex with strangers for money! A man thinks prostitution is good fun for everyone involved!
I guess his previous post about selling sex acts, despite it’s porny references to men’s ejaculation wasn’t sex positive enough. It probably gave people the impression that its kind of sad so many young people (and let’s remember the majority of these “people” are WOMEN, and not pretend ones either) are having to sell sex acts in order to get by, get ahead because there’s no real jobs available to them. He doesn’t want us to have the impression that this isn’t a fun thing though. Hence this follow up post.
What I found interesting on coming upon it was obviously the title. Those people calling themselves “sex positive feminists” have a very clear and sickening agenda. They want to portray prostitution, despite all evidence to the contrary as a liberating and empowering lifestyle choice that needs to be respected. Now what we all can agree on is that people who are hateful towards, stigmatize and abuse prostituted women are scumbags and that in general we all should make every effort to be kind to the women stuck in this way of life, which any survivor will tell you is utterly horrible. Whats being expected is not kindness or respect, its validation and participation in the normalization of what for the majority of women stuck in prostitution, is abuse.
These are his feelings about it: “As for men telling me not to “use that as an excuse for sucking cock” or to “justify being a hooker”, come on now. I don’t need an excuse. Just drop trou and I’m on it. I no more need to “justify” myself than bin collectors do.”
Because for Lees, like many other gay men. Anytime you can get a bit of cock is a celebration. Is this a female perspective? Why is the perspective of a gay dude that likes having lots of random sex being put out there as if it were the female perspective at all? This is consistently the case with most sex worker activist groups. These gay men who would be fucking tons of random men regardless of whether or not they were paid for it are put forward as THE VOICE of the prostituted class.
The other thing that really got to me with this article was his bit about feeling shamed. Not being shamed. Because any feminist whose been accused of “slut shaming sex workers” knows the accusation is as baseless as anything else they come out with. Now we must all curb our concern for those who are prostituted because they may FEEL shame. “Concern or disapproval never helped me; never made my life better. It just annoyed me and made me feel like I was being judged.” This says it all. Shame is not something anyone can do to you. Shame is an emotion one does to the self. Humiliation is what others do to us. Shame is the feeling we carry within. Deep down anyone who feels shame, feels it because they know on some level what they have done is not in line with what they want. This is one of the myriad of reasons why “slut shaming” as a concept is void.
We must remember that with men like Lees, boundaries are nonexistent. Not only do they have no boundaries for what they will accept in their own lives. It is VIOLATION to them for people to not see the world in the same way they do. To not actively validate his beliefs is tantamount to violating his very boundaries.
He uses this opportunity then to launch into an attack on Julie Bindel, who he slanders as a “concern troll” who opposes “just about anyone doing just about anything with their own bodies”. This is the typical tactic they have to do. Portray someone like Bindel, when there are literally thousands out there appalled by Amnesty International’s recent behavior as a fuddy duddy whose really just “trolling”. Because being concerned with the violation of human rights of the prostituted class is “trolling”. You see Lees, who sees no problem with letting men on the train touch his fake tits and sucking the dicks of random strangers is really the sort of person who can understand where a woman involuntarily involved in prostitution is coming from. Who is the real troll?
We’re then left with the kind of lazy outdated libertarian analysis about how its “wrong to ban prostitution” without acknowledgement of the fact that women like Bindel, like myself, like countless others support the Nordic Model for dealing with prostitution. The public is kept ignorant of the fact that legalizing prostitution has done nothing but increase sex trafficking to legal markets, created larger black markets because of the amount of criminals, oh sorry I mean clients, seeking the kind of sex they want how they want it. Which is hardly ever going to be available in a legal market unless you think the prostituted have no rights to workplace protection. The public is kept ignorant of the fact that the Nordic model is the only one that has proved effective in reducing sexual slavery, by drying up markets entirely.
I guess we have to make a judgement call here. Are the rights of gay men to cruise and get a few bucks afterwards more important than the rights of women not to be sold into a life of constant rape? Are the Belle Du Jours of the world really more important than the teenage girls groomed by pimps to go out and sell themselves on street corners? Are the happy hookers the media shoves in our faces more important than the women who never have a voice? Do we value human rights enough to tell some people that their right to make money doing whatever they want doesn’t come before the good of society in general?
Everywhere we turn in the media we are bombarded with this lowest-common denominator thinking. Lower class women like myself are told it isn’t unjust if we have to be prostitutes in order to get educations where we are unlikely to get a job afterwards and even if we do will be paid less than our male colleagues. We are told by people who are men, who love random sex with strangers, which they face none of the consequences physically that we have to contend with, that this is just what us girls like! The classism and misogyny is so rife in these pieces its nauseating.
And some of these people have the gall to call themselves socialists…