Prostitution means telling women what to do with their own bodies.

This point, I think, is really important and needs to be emphasized. As Jonah Mix points out in this entry, prostitution advocates lie when they say feminists wants to tell women what to do with their bodies. It’s prostitution that does that.

Obviously, a client demanding free sex from a woman in prostitution would be rape, and a man giving her money without requesting sex is no longer a client. So for prostitution to be prostitution, we have to have these two features: A man’s request and a man’s compensation.

This notion of a “request” is important. In almost any transaction, the person initiating the purchase of the service is the one who frames the exchange. When you go to hire that plumber, he doesn’t turn around and say, “You know, I see your toilet is clogged, but I’d rather fix this leaky faucet.” Your French teacher doesn’t get to decide the day’s lesson will be on the Baltic languages whether her class likes it or not. Professionals in the service industry might provide advice to customers or guide them from a position of authority, but they’ll never provide a service that doesn’t at least meet some need or desire on the part of the customer. If they did, the customer wouldn’t pay (why would he?) and the transaction would be over…

Because prostitution is a service, and because men are overwhelmingly the ones requesting that service, it’s reasonable to assume based on the previous paragraphs that men are the ones who define what prostitution is and how it plays out in the global marketplace. Considering that prostitution involves a physical act, that means that prostitution is an industry in which men tell women what they can and can’t do with their bodies.

There are few things stupider than a pro-prostitution Marxist.

Jonah Mix, who always writes great articles on feminist topics, points out the mind-boggling stupidity of so-called communists who advocate for prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation of women.

The misogyny in a claim like theirs is almost hard to fathom. To claim that prostitution of any kind is seizing the means of production would imply that a woman’s hands, mouth, and genitals are themselves means of production capable of being seized. Strip away the communist-speak, and that boils down to a simple set of claims: The female body is a machine for producing sex. Men engage that machine by placing money or resources into it. The sex that results is a product to be consumed. Tell me, what is the difference between this supposedly progressive, radical Marxist vision and any other cut-rate men’s rights activist? The view of any human being as a means of production is fundamentally anti-communist. If anything, it’s the pure distillation of a capitalist logic that seeks to treat humans as resources. The fact that so-called Marxists are aligning with conservative anti-feminists in viewing sex as a resource produced by female bodies for male consumption speaks to the dismal state of a truly revolutionary socialism.

Practically, these so-called communists (they’re really sexual capitalists) are always shy about exactly how prostitution would function in a communist society. And they should be, because any honest answer is horrifying. Some quick background: Socialist nations have centrally planned economies structured to address the needs of the people. While the idea of jobs being handed out mechanically by a shadowy bureau without care for interest or passion is a myth, all countries following Marxist-Leninist structure did control the structure and function of the job market. Schools were often designed to sort students early based on their differing skills, and quotas for engineering students, doctors, carpenters, architects, and others were set at the national level by planning committees. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course – but what does that mean for the existence of prostitution in these societies?

Do pro-prostitution Marxists support a planning committee deciding the number of “sex workers” alongside the number of agricultural workers or construction workers? How would the state gauge exactly how many women need to be available for workers to fuck? Would schools begin tracking female children into prostitution as a career early on if they showed no aptitude for other occupations? If there was a shortage of women in prostitution, could the state reassign others to fill the vacancies? Could women refuse to fuck men and still maintain their status and security inside the worker’s republic? These aren’t “gotcha” questions. They’re not what-ifs. They’re the nuts and bolts of what pro-prostitution communists are arguing for. And if you can’t answer these simple questions without sounding like the manager of an elaborate sex-trafficking organization, ask yourself why.

“You’re just trying to turn everyone into victims.”

For more than a century now, there has been a rising awareness of the need for universal human rights: first for the workers of the world, then for women and people of color, then for many other groups. This has led to many different waves of backlash, all tied to the specific movement they are going against.

In this era of continued growing awareness, it seems to some people that there’s no end to the complaints about subgroups being exploited or mistreated, which is why they use the term “political correctness” derisively. They are trying to reduce these movements to demands about words, when the use of words is only a symptom of the greater problems. Calling a black person a “nigger” is not the root of the problem. It is a symptom of the underlying racism that made that person say it. Wanting white people to stop saying “nigger” is an attempt to get white people to see black people in a more respectful light. People who object to such “correctness” only see the word, not the causes of the use of the word, or they are racists and simply don’t care if people use that word.

But there is a more sophisticated strategy that they can take here. Instead of just objecting to the “correctness,” they sometimes say something like, “so you think [oppressed group] is so fragile that they can’t stand hearing the word [slur]? I think you need to start treating [oppressed group] like adults who can stand up to a simple word.” Here is a real life example of a misogynist commenting on the “ban bossy” campaign:

The biggest level of cognitive dissonance is – this is a campaign that is done in solidarity of young women and girls, yet it is making it sound like they are so fragile that they can’t handle being called a word. I mean, really? Are we really making that argument? Cause if we are, then you are tacitly admitting that they shouldn’t be holding positions of power. Reason – because they can’t take criticism.

This is an insidious tactic because it claims to be on the side of the oppressed, that the oppressed are not weak and can take the abuse, so it’s not really abusive. This particular example is even better because it creates a double bind: either women are too weak to be called “bossy,” in which case they don’t deserve power (as if men can take criticism any better), or they are strong enough to be called “bossy,” in which case we should continue to insult them. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Inevitably this tactic is framed in terms of “fragility” or “weakness.” The implication is that if members of an oppressed group are offended by a certain word, then they must be “fragile” or “weak,” and (at least in the case of the example I quoted) therefore unable to withstand serious human interactions. This is, of course, disingenuous and hypocritical: when people in power are offended, they don’t conclude that they are too “fragile” or “weak” to keep holding power. It is therefore purely a matter of self-interest, and the end goal of the maneuver is to shut people up.

I’m talking about tactics based on arguing that the person defending a given group is trying to turn the people of that group into victims. This particular argument is just a specific instance of that category, since it contends that the people trying to abolish slurs are implying that the oppressed people are weak. In general, though, the rationalization used is not that the oppressed people are “weak,” but rather that they have “agency” or “choice,” which is even more insidious because it seems to “empower” oppressed people with the ability to decide their destiny. The argument goes something like this:

1. You claim that a group of people P is oppressed.
2. But such a statement denies that people P have agency and (have chosen the life situation that you decry/need to choose a better life situation and “life themselves by their bootstraps.”)
3. Therefore you are denying people P agency, portraying them as victims when they actually (are/should be) empowered.

There are two branches to this argument, and they switch from one to the other depending on whether they find the oppression desirable or not. So for instance, homemaking, pornography or prostitution get the “they’ve chosen the life situation that you decry” branch, while poverty or police harassment get the “need to choose a better life situation” branch.

One major problem with this argument, however, is that it does not apply to bigotry, which is the foundation of the oppressions they are trying to rationalize. So for example the following argument makes sense to them:

Women in pornography and prostitution have agency and have chosen the life situation that you decry. Therefore you are denying women in pornography and prostitution their agency, portraying them as victims when they actually are empowered.

But once you start trying to address sexism itself, neither branch of the argument makes sense. While genderists do believe that various parts of sexism are empowering (such as the fuckability mandate or rigid gender roles), sexism itself is still not considered “empowering,” and it makes no sense to say that women who are victim of sexism need to choose a better life situation, since they can’t change being a woman (genderist blathering notwithstanding). The “agency” ploy only works on the oppressed’ reactions to bigotry. It doesn’t work on the bigotry itself.

That’s obvious if you understand what “agency” is really all about, and that’s victim-blaming, more specifically, defending evil institutions by claiming the victims’ participation is justified by “agency.” But obviously victims of bigotry do not participate in it, they only participate to their own reactions to the bigotry.

But this is a major flaw of the argument, as it doesn’t actually explain the oppression itself. Homemaking, pornography, prostitution, poverty and police harassment are effects of misogyny and racism, which are the root causes. The latter cannot be addressed without also addressing the former. Therefore any argument which justifies one without justifying the other is logically flawed. If the existence of those effects is justified by “agency,” then misogyny and racism must also be justified by “agency,” otherwise neither can be justified by “agency.”

Is identifying oppression the same as turning people into victims? Well, I think there is a problem with the question, insofar as a belief in “agency” seems to preclude any victimhood whatsoever. How can anyone be a victim if everyone has the “agency” to “choose” their oppression or to leave it? Take a very clear-cut example of oppression: a mother is beaten by her husband but does not want to leave him because of the children. According to the argument, the mother is not being oppressed because she has the “agency” to leave him, so the fact that she’s not leaving is actually “her choice” (they would never say that last part, but it is implied). Things like financial dependence or fear never factor in “agency” explanations (they never count against prostitution or pornography, for example), so we can’t let them factor in here either.

Such arguments reduce victimhood to a matter of subjectivity, whether a person feels “empowered” or not, whether they are said to have “chosen” where they ended up. This is generally not based on any facts or statistics. Every case is treated as a separate entity, and institutions are portrayed as being somewhat fluid, not quite real. Coercion and exploitation is obscured by the stories of the happy homemakers, the happy hookers, the happy actresses. Poverty and lower social status are portrayed as a sort of laziness, reserved for people who don’t work hard enough to get themselves free of it. There is a great deal of vagueness, of ambiguity, projected upon the whole thing, following the principle of inserting a “shadow of a doubt” in order to secure innocence. If some people aren’t victims, then none really are.

I like to think of this as “eracism.” It’s become fashionable to deny the existence of racism, while hiding it behind codewords and dogwhistles. A racist candidate is now a “law and order” candidate. A racist policy against blacks is now targeting “welfare queens” or “urban crime.” One erases racism by turning victims into miscreants. It is a high priority of anyone who supports the status quo to deny that anyone is being victimized by the system, that it’s all fair and just part of the game.

Eracism is necessarily victim-blaming, and I would include the “you’re turning everyone into victims” argument in that category, because it seeks to cloak oppression with “empowerment.” When people treat victims of sexist or racist oppression as “empowered,” they are hiding the victimhood, and they are also hiding their own role in the process as social agents. By projecting blame on the victims, they exculpate themselves. This is a comforting thought, if you don’t care at all for truth or justice.

There Is No Such Thing as a Lesbian With a Penis!

Body Language & The Male Gaze – Tropes vs Women in Video Games

More things that make you go hmmmm… on the similarities between abusers and MRAs

More quotes from Why Does He Do That, by Lundy Bancroft, which reminds me pretty heavily of MRA behavior…

***
* He has negative attitudes towards women.

A man may claim early in a relationship that he views you in a light different from that in which he sees women in general, but the distinction won’t last. If you are a woman, why be involved with someone who sees women as inferior, stupid, conniving, or only good for sex? He isn’t going to forget for long that you’re a woman.

Stereotyped beliefs about women’s sex roles also contribute to the risk of abuse. His conviction that women should take care of the home, or that a man’s career is more important than a woman’s, can become a serious problem, because he may punish you when you start refusing to live in his box.
***
In a typical abusive inversion, my clients often attempt to convince me that they are the sexual victims in their relationships. As one man said: “My partner uses sex to control me, that’s how women jerk men around. Women are the ones that really have the power over men because they know they have what we want the most, and they have the power to shut us out. My wife wants me to be her little puppy dog, begging and drooling and wagging my tail, that’s the only way I’ll get sex.” The underlying attitude comes bursting out of his words: He believes his wife is keeping something of his away from him when she doesn’t want intimate contact. He sees sexual rights to a woman as akin to mineral rights to land- and he owns them.
***
Over the years I have had many clients use… sociobiological arguments with me, saying that from a genetics standpoint males have reason to desire sex with as many females as possible, while females succeed best- in evolutionary terms- if they choose their partners carefully. You might call this the “human beings are basically baboons” argument. In reality there are plenty of examples of stable monogamy in nature. But these arguments are ultimately beside the point; there is simply no excuse for double standards or for any other aspect of abuse. (I sometimes ask my clients, when they attempt tom lead me into this theoretical quagmire, “Do you cook your meat before you eat it?” When they answer that of course they do, I say “Isn’t that awfully unnatural? I’ve never seen any other animal doing such a peculiar thing.” Human behavior can only be measured by human standards.”
***
Children sometimes see the abuse for what it is and take whatever steps they can to protect themselves, each other, and their mother, including perhaps disclosing the abuser’s treatment of her (or of them) to outsiders. The abusive man’s typical response to this is to claim that the mother is turning the children against him. Some prominent psychologists have, unfortunately, contributed through their writings to the myth that it is unhealthy for children to distance themselves from an abusive father and that the mother is probably the cause of their desire to do so…

I have noticed that charges of “parental alienation” are sometimes leveled against the most competent mothers, because of their strong and supportive bonds with their children- which the abuser terms enmeshment or overdependence- and because the children have learned to see through the abuser’s facade and therefore choose to try to keep away from him…

Abusive men also assert falsely that there is a rampant problem of women’s false allegations of abuse, that child support obligations are unfairly high, that domestic abuse is irrelevant to custody decisions, and that men are abused in relationships just as much as women.
***

Perfect Gentleman Does Not Assault Drunk Woman, by The Onion.

COLUMBUS, OH—Describing the fact that he had not caused her any physical harm as a mark of true gentility, sources confirmed Friday that local man Thomas Lowell had been a “perfect gentleman” the night before by not assaulting 25-year-old Leah Pace while she was inebriated. “Leah had a bit too much to drink, but Tom was an absolute gentleman the whole night,” said Pace’s friend Amber Cohen, bestowing the highest standards of chivalry and honorability upon the man for refraining from endangering Pace’s personal safety or exploiting her drunken state to engage in sexual acts without her consent. “Nothing bad happened at all. He’s a really good guy.” Sources later reported that the man who did not harass Pace with aggressive and lewd text messages the following day was a total sweetheart.

American culture is meanness personified.

Ian Welsh discusses how American culture seems to be mean to a degree that exists in few other Western countries. I think the underlying disease is the widespread nature of competition in American society. Or maybe competition is the result of American meanness?

One of the most striking things about much of American culture is the simple meanness of it. The cruelty.

Most of this seems to come down to three feelings:

* My life sucks. I have to work a terrible job I hate in order to survive. I have to bow and scrape and do shit I don’t want to do. You should have to as well.
* Anyone who doesn’t make it must not be willing to suffer as I do, therefore anyone who doesn’t make it deserves to be homeless, go without food, and so on.
* Anybody who is against us needs to be hurt and humiliated, because that’s how I see my superiors deal with people who go against them.
“Life is shit, therefore your life should be shit.”

“What you’ve got is what you deserve.”

There is also a culture of punching down, as commenter Lisa has observed. America has a high-violence, high-bullying society. As Lisa noted you can have a high-violence society in which it is considered unacceptable to attack the weak (doing so is viewed as cowardice), but that’s not the case in America.

In American culture, the weak are the preferred target. Failure is punishable by homelessness, suffering, and death. Sick people sure don’t deserve proper pain medication. Poor people are poor because they “don’t add value.” If you’re poor, you definitely shouldn’t have good healthcare, because if you don’t have money, you don’t deserve money, and that’s because you’re a waste of space.

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