The accounts of rape, wife beating, forced childbearing, medical butchering, sex-motivated murder, forced prostitution, physical mutilation, sadistic psychological abuse, and other commonplaces of female experience that are excavated from the past or given by contemporary survivors should leave the heart seared, the mind in anguish, the conscience in upheaval. But they do not. No matter how often these stories are told, with whatever clarity or eloquence, bitterness or sorrow, they might as well have been whispered in wind or written in sand: they disappear, as if they were nothing. The tellers and the stories are ignored or ridiculed, threatened back into silence or destroyed, and the experience of female suffering is buried in cultural invisibility and contempt. Because women’s testimony is not and cannot be validated by the witness of men who have experienced the same events and given them the same value, the very reality of abuse sustained by women, despite its overwhelming pervasiveness and constancy, is negated. It is negated in the transactions of everyday life, and it is negated in the history books, left out, and it is negated by those who claim to care about suffering but are blind to this suffering.
(Quote from Right Wing Woman page 20)
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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