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My experiences show that a woman doesn’t choose prostitution. She is choosing survival. Prostitution isn’t a choice. It is the absence of choice. Nobody makes the choice to be poor, low caste, or female. Society and individuals take advantage of this lack of choice.

Language is politics. I use the term ‘prostituted woman.’ People wonder, ‘Who prostituted her?’ The system of inequality is what prostitutes women and girls.

–Rachira Gupta

 

Ruchira Gupta is the Founder and President of Apne Aap Women Worldwide – a grassroots organization in India working to end sex trafficking by increasing choices for at-risk girls and women. She has striven over her 25 year career to highlight the link between trafficking and prostitution laws, and to lobby policy makers to shift blame from victims to perpetrators.

 

Read more about our views on prostitution on the Deep Green Resistance News Service.

by Madam Nomad

This post is made up of a few relevant entries from Madam Nomad’s personal journal.

OCTOBER 17TH, 2016

Madam NomadFeeling comfortably detached as I wait here for the end of the world.

I’m in an odd place because I left behind all the guideposts I used to rely on the explain the world and shape my views and behavior. I have gone into the Outer Darkness, far beyond what I leaned from all the philosophers and gurus and I don’t believe ANY of it anymore. I see now that ALL of it was presented from the male point of view, everything I learned, everything I read, except for the work of a few feminist authors and teachers.

The only teaching that has any value is the one that directs me to become aware of my body and my breathing and to work on maintaining my awareness in the present, here and now.

I am keenly aware of just how powerless I am to affect what is happening on this planet. Some moments I desperately want to be released from this disaster, but at others, like right now, I’m just grateful that my own little life makes some sense and has beauty in it.

It would be great to stop taking patriarchy so personally.The whole point of rape culture is to reduce me to an object, a non-agent. My “beingness,” my uniqueness, my personhood is irrelevant.

Men seek revenge on women because men can’t have babies. This is the whole primal truth of the matter. This truth is rabidly suppressed, just like the truth about climate change and the mass die-off of pollinators from industrial petrochemicals, for instance. These are truths that I am never allowed to speak aloud in public. People do not want to hear it. It makes them uncomfortable to hear the truth.

I spoze I need to write another blogpost about this – about Marge Piercy’s conjecture that technology will solve this problem of male jealousy over women’s reproductive capacity by growing babies in artificial wombs and shooting up men with female hormones so they can breastfeed, as she proposed in her book, Woman On The Edge Of Time. Tranzing is the tech solution to inequality between the sexes and this is a problem because medical science and technology are capitalist, masculinist enterprises and as such, don’t particularly care about women and the natural world, which are simply “resources” that exist to make profit from.

I’m coming to accept that I’m not responsible for patriarchy. I didn’t cause it and I can’t cure it, as they say around the 12-step groups that deal with addiction. It seems that my yelling at the delusional masses in online forums (and frantic emails to former women-only spaces like rape crisis centers that now permit men who say they are women into their support groups) is just my attempt to blow off steam in my mind-shattering grief over what is taking place,  over the harm that is being done to women and the very basis of life on earth, and for all the life that is being lost.

The violence that I have been subjected to throughout my life from this rapist culture gave me a distorted sense of responsibility. I am not responsible for patriarchy and it’s brainless, gynocidal, SUICIDAL ecocide.

A patriarchal family is a slave family and is a shame-based family because shame is what molds people into slavery. All of the implied and actual violence is deliberate and intended to produce shame within individuals such that they are unable to stop the violence. The Circle of Death.

I am still coping with the injuries I sustained in my marriage. The man I married is an automaton who acts out a rigid role. I used to explain his behavior by the fact that he grew up with an alcoholic father. I did not exist as a living, autonomous sentient being. I was also only a ROLE, an object, an economic unit, as he actually stated about me and our children. I was a function and a means to his own ends.

About a year ago I was trying to write about addiction and slavery and attachment theory and was unable to find the heart in it…because I was not consciously considering the role of male supremacy and rape culture. Male privilege is always the elephant in the living room. It’s the silent oppressive fog that surrounds all of our social structures. So I wasn’t able to put together the severed parts, I had a jumble of facts, but the essence was missing.

Ten thousand years of female slavery shaped the relations between my ex-husband and me. He was grown the same way that my father and brothers and all males are made, secure in their positions of dominance over women and their right to our labor, our bodies, the products of our wombs, our care and attention.

I could not be a moral agent until I was able to walk away from all of this. I could not be responsible until I was able to separate myself from the constant violence from males that shaped my choices. Instead of being sorrowful I know I need to be grateful that I woke up and that I have this opportunity to come to real life, to the real world, dying as it is. I still have this moment of autonomy and clarity.

muriel“WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF ONE WOMAN TOLD THE TRUTH ABOUT HER LIFE?
THE WORLD WOULD SPLIT OPEN.”

Muriel Rukeyser

Since all indications point to the fact that we are living in a virtually inescapable trap that I have come to call The Patrix , and that this trap, this machine,  is busily in the process of destroying all capacity of the Earth to sustain life, I have decided it is time for me to lay out my own truth.  There is nothing left to lose. It is time to split the world open.

 Deconstructing The Patrix

The Patrix (a Gaia University coinage meaning the ‘patriarchal matrix’ or matrix of oppression) is an ever present, potent and frequently invisible shape-maker of human cultures. It consists of thousands of dysfunctional thought patterns (memes) that function as a mutually supporting complex, interlocking system. These memes are installed in our individual, community, and cultural operating systems sometimes by contagion or by accident, and more often by patterns of oppression.

Silencing

#WhenIWasMy father threatened me over and over that if I told anyone what he was doing to my body that I would lose my family. To a three-year-old child this is nothing less than a death threat, a threat that I would be ostracized out in the wilderness and die of starvation. He was not lying to me. I have lost my entire family, the one I was born into as well as the one that I created from my body, because I would not shut up about being raped and beaten by my father, from early infancy until my mother died of DES-related cervical cancer when I was twelve years old.

When I first began blogging in 2012 it was my hope to be able to post actual entries from my daily journal online. I chose not to do this out of concern for the privacy of family members with whom I still maintained contact. But I have had to separate myself from even these individuals because they continued to be abusive toward me.

I will be placing these entries under their own heading (My Journal) in order to distinguish them from my other work and interests.

So, here goes:

October 8, 2016

My first though upon waking this morning was about the similarity between my daughter’s and my mother’s behavior,  how I cringed in their presence,  how they made me feel inferior and unsafe and unwanted. They both very much wanted me dead.

I woke up this morning with the thought that my parents actually tortured me. I am who and what I am because of the torture I endured throughout  my childhood. This is why I always resonated with stories about what the worldwide androcratic religion has done to women everywhere throughout history – murdering widows in India,  butchering vulvas in Africa and the Near East, burning “witches” during The Enclosure Movement of the Middle Ages. It is because I physically lived this kind of mindbinding torture every day of my childhood.

All of the torture was intended to prepare me for an adulthood of being eaten alive, exploited and then discarded by men and by my children.

It wasn’t persona,  and it wasn’t even particularly conscious – it was reflexive on the part of my caretakers. Because, of course, my mother had,  herself,  been tortured and exploited all through her own life.

ww1-d-533-shame-jpgThe way I see it now we were of the social class known as “cannon-fodder.” Boys were raised to be fighters and soldiers in the endless patriarchal wars of acquisition of land, women and resources, and girls were raised to service the soldiers. This was fairly explicit. I was beaten many times for screwing up household chores and told I would be subject to the same from my future husband if I didn’t straighten up. And I watched my father beat my mother over and over for minor infractions of household service.

That was the pattern. So, of course I blindly married into a military family (my father-in-law was a veteran, both brothers-in-law were lifetime military men,)  even though MY soldier wore a white collar and became a different kind of government functionary. He axed people’s jobs instead of their throats.

All humans are now under a spell brought about by deep conditioning and virtually nobody is awake and aware and able to act freely. My recurring childhood nightmare of being the only one left alive after the bomb falls seems to literally true. It’s as if I am the only one awake in a world full of automatons.

I knew it as a child, I knew it then and I know it now. I have been frantically searching for others who are awake. I see a spark sometimes, but these moments fade quickly and they add to my despair. No-one seems to be able to maintain the fire of truth and PRESENCE. The conditioning we are subjected to all our lives is absolute.

The Target

What I am remembering is always being my mother’s target, never knowing when she would, without warning, reach out and slap me hard across the face. I never knew what behavior would make her hit me. I was always in a heightened state of tension, just waiting for the blows. The cruelty of this was that my anxiety would make me clumsy and that enraged her even more.

And there was the torture of the “medical procedures” I was subjected to, for instance the frequent enemas and  being laid naked on the floor to be swathed in the sulfur laden cotton batting they was supposed to heal the rash between my legs. (I had that rash from my father’s beard as he rubbed my genitals and inner thighs raw, but I was under threat of death not to tell.) The torture of the sexual abuse and being held responsible for this abuse and all of the drudging housework I was forced to do for my father and brothers, because I was female and my mother was dying of cancer from DES exposure (Which was a form of medicalized male violence against women.)

Psychopaths

My father was a psychopath in a culture designed and forcible perpetuated by psychopaths. The worst thing about this for me was that my brutal early conditioning led me to become the victim of these types of individuals throughout my life, from my lovers, my husband, the pill-proffering doctors, my own children. The behavior seems so familiar. I misinterpret the words and actions of these people as care and concern because I was dependent on monsters for food and shelter as a child. The attentions of vampires feel like love.

My ex-husband and my last and only lover after him were both this type of man. They were identical in their beliefs about their natural entitlement and my existence as an object to be exploited for personal gain. I am still not clear about how both of my daughters came to be psychopaths. The closest explanation I can come up with is the dynamic that exists throughout patriarchy whereby daughters witness their mothers being tortured and are tortured BY their mothers in many cases. Girl children react to this by dis-identifying with their mothers and holding rage toward them.

juryI kept trying to force my daughters to look at all of this. But the damage was too deep. They refuse to see the pattern. My daughters are ruined. They will never emerge from the evil enchantment they are under. They will never question who are the actual agents of the destruction. They won’t even face the fact that the destruction has taken place, that it was deliberate and calculated. That is was done by my grandfather, who protected his pedophile son and paid for the doctors and lawyers who testified against me in court when I was nine years old. It was done by my father, by their alcoholic grandfather, by their own narcissistic father, by the cops and the judges and the doctors and the CEO’s and politicians.

Internecine Destruction

Patriarchy has won its internecine battle and all life on Earth is now threatened with extinction.I am now able to make the connection that the abuse and torture that we were all subjected to as schoolkids was directly analogous to what was happening “in private” in my house. We were continually threatened with mass annihilation, we were controlled on the minutest levels by ritual shaming and the threat of humiliation if we stepped out of line.

That’s what the nuke drills were intended to do to the entire population. This was the purpose behind being put in restrictive desk seats in precise rows inside of concrete and brick boxes. Patriarchal terrorism at it’s finest: domestic abuse in the home, psychological torture in the schools.

duck-and-cover-100413736-primary-idge

 

 

Read more about the violence of patriarchy on the Deep Green Resistance News Service.

Rebecca Whisnant / Sexualization, Media, & Society

Rebecca Whisnant

For over two decades now, I have taught, written, and spoken publicly about pornography from a feminist perspective. In the 1990s, the most common critical questions I received involved censorship and the law. In recent years, the focus has changed: when there are critical questions, they most often concern feminist pornography. What about it? Does it exist? Could it exist? Do I, or would I, object to it? What is it like, or what could it be like?

I do not find the ‘‘what-if’’ and ‘‘could-there-be’’ questions particularly illuminating, nor am I skilled at prognosticating what media forms might exist in possible postpatriarchal futures. Furthermore, as in discussions of pornography generally, sometimes people are motivated to defend ‘‘feminist pornography’’ in the abstract while knowing little to nothing about the actual material in question. Thus, it seems more fruitful to bring the discussion down to cases: that is, to investigate what some of those who claim to be making feminist pornography are actually making, and what they are saying about what they are making. People can then judge for themselves whether that material reflects a sexual ethic, and a conception of feminism, that they wish to endorse.

Case Study: Tristan Taormino

This article focuses on one self-described feminist pornographer who looms large in the contemporary ‘‘sex-positive’’ and ‘‘sex radical’’ firmament. Tristan Taormino first came to prominence in the late 1990s and early 2000s as, among other things, editor of the lesbian porn magazine On Our Backs and a sex columnist for the Village Voice. In 1999, she collaborated with mainstream pornographer John Stagliano and fetish porn producer Ernest Greene on The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women, a porn film based on her book of the same title. In more recent years, Taormino’s porn productions have included the Chemistry series, the Rough Sex series, and Tristan Taormino’s Expert Guides to various sexual acts.

Author, speaker, educator, editor, TV host, filmmaker, and more: when it comes to the various self-styled sex-positive movements, venues, and endeavors of roughly the last twenty years, Taormino has done it all, and she has been at the center of much of it. The variety and reach of Taormino’s work illustrates that, as Comella (2013) observes, ‘‘Feminist pornography is not a series of stand-alone texts that exist outside of a much wider cultural context—and history—of sex-positive feminist cultural production and commerce’’ (p. 91).

In addition to being prominent, Taormino is intelligent, reflective, and articulate about the choices she has made and about the politics and assumptions underlying those choices. Furthermore, her body of work exemplifies themes and commitments that are largely consistent among those who produce, perform in, and/or support feminist pornography.

My discussion is based partly on Taormino’s published writings and interviews as well as on an admittedly small selection of her films—one full-length and several extended clips. While I see no reason to believe that the selections I viewed are unrepresentative of her film work as a whole, readers should take into account that my critique is based on a limited sampling of that work.

As will quickly become evident, Taormino’s feminist politics are different from my own, and my take on her work is a critical one. My aim is not to write a hit piece, however, but rather to articulate clearly the political and ethical worldview that underlies Taormino’s body of work—thus, again, enabling more informed discussions of feminist pornography and related issues.

‘‘An Industry Within an Industry’’

Feminist critics of pornography frequently emphasize that, whatever else it may be, contemporary pornography is above all an industry within a capitalist marketplace. As Jensen (2007) points out, ‘‘the DVDs and internet sites to which men are masturbating are not being made by struggling artists who work in lonely garrets, tirelessly working to help us understand the mysteries of sexuality’’ (p. 79). Even once we understand that mainstream pornography is driven by profit, we may tend to assume that feminist pornography emerges from utopian enclaves, where people produce exactly what they want to
produce based on their own unique, creative, and egalitarian visions of sex.

Of course, no such enclaves exist, or if they do, then few people will ever see whatever erotic materials are created therein. As Taormino, Parreñas-Shimuzu, Penley, and Miller-Young (2013) write in their introduction to The Feminist Porn Book,

feminist porn is not only an emergent social movement and an alternative cultural production: it is a genre of media made for profit. Part of a multibillion dollar business in adult entertainment media, feminist porn is an industry within an industry. (pp. 15–16)

In a 2014 interview, Taormino comments further that

In the United States there is not necessarily a clear, discrete division between ‘‘feminist/queer/indie porn’’ and ‘‘mainstream porn’’… . I situate my own work in both worlds: I make feminist pornography that is funded and distributed by mainstream companies and features primarily mainstream performers. (Voss, 2014, p. 204)

In fact, perhaps more than any other figure, Taormino has occupied and helped to shape both mainstream and alternative spaces within the sex industry—as evidenced by, among other things, her having repeatedly won both Adult Video News awards and Feminist Porn awards.

Taormino is well aware of the trade-offs attendant on working with mainstream porn companies and reaching mainstream audiences. As she puts it in the 2003 documentary Hot and Bothered, ‘‘Funding is always an issue… . people always ask why isn’t there more feminist porn, why there isn’t more lesbian porn, and the truth is, you need money’’ (Goldberg, 2003). She continues,

I basically had two different ways to go. I could try the feminist way, which is that you beg, borrow, and steal, you do it on a shoestring, you ask all your friends to do stuff for free, and then you try to distribute it yourself. Or, I could go directly to the man and sell out, and go to a mainstream adult company, where I would have to compromise some of my, like, artistic integrity. (Goldberg, 2003)

Indeed, one can only be so critical of mainstream porn if that is the venue within which one works and within which one hopes to maintain friendly ties and funding sources. Similarly, one can only diverge so far from the tropes of mainstream porn while still appealing to any reasonable subset of its consumer base.

Like all pornography, and indeed all media, feminist pornography can be analyzed in terms of its production, its content, and its consumption (Jensen, 2007); and when media is produced and sold within a capitalist marketplace, such analysis must keep a clear eye on how each dimension is shaped by the
imperatives of profit.

Porn is violence against women

References

Comella, L. (2013). From text to context: Feminist porn and the making
of a market. In T. Taormino, C. Parren˜as-Shimuzu, C. Penley, & M.
Miller-Young (Eds.), The feminist porn book: The politics of producing
pleasure (pp. 79–93). New York, NY: The Feminist Press.

Goldberg, B. (Director). (2003). Hot and bothered: Feminist pornography
[Film]. U.S.: National Film Network.

Jensen, R. (2007). Getting off: Pornography and the end of masculinity.
Cambridge, MA: South End Press.

Taormino, T., Parreñas-Shimuzu, C., Penley, C., & Miller-Young, M.
(2013). Introduction: The politics of producing pleasure. The feminist
porn book: The politics of producing pleasure (pp. 9–20).
New York, NY: Feminist Press.

 

(Excerpted from ‘‘But What About Feminist Porn?’’: Examining the Work of Tristan Taormino)

by Purple Sage

A friend of mine went to an event recently and found the washrooms like this:

gender-neutral-washroom

The women’s washroom has been turned into a gender neutral washroom, and a sign on the door indicates women, men and in-between. The men’s washroom remains unchanged. Note: these are not single stall washrooms, they are group washrooms.

It’s starting to become a noticeable pattern that when one washroom is made into a gender neutral one, it’s the women’s that gets converted. This means that men can go anywhere but women cannot have any space just for ourselves. If you enter an establishment and find the women’s washroom taken away, please complain to the manager and stop using the business until they provide a washroom for women. Any male allies out there? You can do the same thing. Complain to management that there should be a women’s washroom and do not give them your business until they give it back.

Women, please document this whenever it happens. Take a photo and put it on social media. We need to keep records of our spaces being taken away.

Transgender activism works to remove women’s right to safety and privacy and does not allow us to set boundaries. We need to oppose it with full force.

I wish that you could raise the dead. That is what I’d like to see. One of the reasons that the Right reaches so many women is that the Right has a transcendent god who says I will heal all your hurt and all your pain and all your wounds: “I died for you. I will heal you.” Feminists do not have a transcendent god who can heal that way. We have ideas about fairness and justice and equality. And we have to find ways to make them real. We don’t have magic. We don’t have supernatural powers. And we can’t keep sticking together women who have been broken into little pieces. Fighting back is as close to healing as we are going to come. It is important to understand that we will live with a fair amount of pain for most of our lives. If your first priority is to live a painless life, you will not be able to help yourself or other women. What matters is to be a warrior. Having a sense of honor about political power is healing. Discipline is necessary. Actions against men who hurt women must be real. We need to win. We are in a war. We need a political resistance. We need it above ground. We need it with our lawmakers. with our government officials. We need it with our professional women. We need it above ground. We need it underground too.

— Andrea Dworkin, Life and Death

life-and-death

My understanding of masculinity is that it refers to behaviour that is constructed by and serves to maintain male dominance.  Masculinity is not just that which pertains to men, since men can be seen, and consider themselves, to be insufficiently masculine… Masculinity is not, then, a biological fact, something connected with particular hormones or genes.  Masculine behaviour or appearance or artifacts, and design, signify ‘manhood’ as a political, not a biological, category.  In this understanding masculinity cannot exist without its supposed opposite, femininity, which pertains to female subordination. Neither masculinity nor femininity make sense or can exist without the other as a reference point.

–Sheila Jeffreys, Unpacking Queer Politics

queerpolitics

Abusive Men Make the Choice for Prostituted Women

Excerpt from Prostitution Narratives pages 82 to 83:

I was a prostitute for three years. No one actually forced me physically into prostitution, but I also didn’t choose to grow up in a family with a drunken and violent stepfather. I didn’t choose to be sexually molested when I was 10 years old by a man in his fifties, touching my body, putting his hands under my skirt and between my legs. Neither did I choose, when I was 11, for a man to follow me up an apartment stairway and put his hands up my skirt, touching me between my legs. I didn’t choose to be raped by a boyfriend two years older than me when I was 12 years old. I didn’t choose to be sexually molested when I was 13 by a man on a train or in a public toilet, I didn’t choose it when I was 14, or when I was 17 years old. All those choices were made by different abusive men.

Growing up in a world where, as a girl or a young woman, you can’t feel secure, because so many men think they have the right to abuse children and young women, degrades you as a human being. You are brainwashed into thinking that you don’t have the right to say no, that you don’t have the right to your own sexuality, that your sexuality belongs to men whenever they feel the need for it. My ‘free choice’ in going into prostitution was actually not that free, because I didn’t feel like I owned myself or my own sexuality. Abusive men made that choice for me, leading me to think that I was just an object for their satisfaction.

Every time a man came into the brothel, paying me to satisfy him, I felt that I was worth something. Not because of him, not because of what was going on, but because of the money. The money seduced me for a long time. Feeling that I was actually worth something.

My story is not unique. In Denmark we have a lot of former prostitutes who have been telling stories just like mine. Most of them ‘chose’ to go into prostitution because of sexual abuse in their childhood. Other women in Denmark were sold by their fathers or stepfathers as children.

When you are a child, you have dreams, lots of dreams. You want to be an actress, a singer, you want to work in a candy shop, you want to work in a zoo, in a toy store or maybe you want to be an astronaut and go into space, maybe you want to work in a circus, or be a writer, a dancer or a policewoman. None of those dreams include sexual behaviour. Growing up in a careful, loving and reliable family gives you healthy opportunities. It gives you self-esteem; it teaches you that you have the right to say no, and that you can choose to be whatever you want to be. No healthy family teaches their children to give away their sexuality unless it is equal and pleasurable.

No one wants to be a prostitute because of the prostitution. When people choose prostitution it’s either because of the fact of no other opportunities to choose from, because of low self-esteem, an inability to say no, poverty, abuse or because of different psychiatric disorders. When people see prostitution as a choice, or as sexual liberation, or think that women actually like being prostitutes, they see prostitution through a lens of fake illusions.

For decades, the discussion about prostitution has been about the prostitutes. But the only reason why prostitution exists is because men are buying them. Men are the ones who are sneaking around brothels. Men are the ones harming and violating the prostitutes. Men’s demands are fueling trafficking. But it is never about these men. Only rarely does a man admit that he is one of those who buy sex. But a report from Denmark shows that 15.5 per cent of Danish men aged 18-65 years have bought sex. A high number of these didn’t care if the woman they bought had been forced into prostitution.

–Tanja Rahm, Prostitution Narratives page 84

prostitution-narratives

How would the criminalization of sex buyers help women?

People always ask me how the criminalisation of buyers would have helped me while I was in prostitution. My answer is this: If it had been a crime to buy women for sexual pleasure then I would have known that what these men were doing was wrong. For a long time I blamed myself, thinking that it was my own fault. I chose to be a prostitute. I gave them the opportunity to buy me. I took their money. How could I blame them? How could I blame anyone else but myself? But I am sure I would have left prostitution much earlier if the law had been on my side. Because then I would have known that what these men were doing was wrong. I took the blame for their numerous attacks. I felt that I had set up myself in this situation and therefore couldn’t blame them. There was no support or help to get out. I’m absolutely sure that a ban on buying sex would have helped me by sending a clear signal that the buyer’s actions were wrong. It is no use thinking liberally about prostitution if we want to help women out of prostitution. Because how are prostitutes ever able to open their eyes to the violent structure of prostitution when there is no social or political support for recognising prostitution as being violent and harmful?

–Tanja Rahm, Prostitution Narratives page 81-82

 

Deep Green Resistance supports the Nordic model regarding prostitution.

Prostitution Is Violence

When you are in prostitution you internalise the violence. You hear the same repulsive things over and over when you are being called a slut, a whore, stupid or disgusting. But still, you defend your ‘free choice’ and say that prostitution is just ordinary work, because realising the truth is so depleting. You dissociate yourself from the men and their actions, because no one has the psyche to be present in the acts of violence in prostitution.

–Tanja Rahm, Prostitution Narratives page 80-81