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Pre-2008 Posts

A Letter About the Stoning of a Prostituted Mother; About White American Christians Who Would Stone Prostituted Mothers

Victims of Stoning

I have been meaning to blog about this since I read this post in Azadah Pourzand’s blog last August.

The above, from the post I am referring to, depicts stonings. The circled portion is of a woman, dressed in pink, in all likelihood veiled, stoned to death in a pit.

Azadah Pourzand’s mother, Mehrangiz Kar, who blogs in Farsi, had written about stonings and, in response, received a letter from a man who is now 40 whose mother was stoned to death before his eyes when he was 14. She had been forced into prostitution to support her family– it had been her only option. For this “crime” she was stoned to death. Her male customers, of course, walked. Maybe some participated in stoning her.

From this man’s e-mail:

Have you ever held a bloody tool in your hands with which they have murdered your mother?

Have you ever touched the bloody skin and hair of your mother who has just been killed in a deep hole?

Have you ever followed the line of your mother’s blood in order to find her corpse thrown at the back of a truck?

Have you ever seen the fresh grave of that dearest being with a small piece of paper on which they have written her name wrapped around a small branch of tree?

Has anyone ever said a word about the children of the people who have been stoned to death?

Do you even understand what it means to be the child of a person who has been shamefully stoned to death?

Seriously who would want to sell her body, to sell her sex to anonymous men except for those women who have no other way of feeding their children?…

Women like my mother who was eventually stoned to death need your help. They need the world’s help and support. Their forgotten families, too, need the world’s help. Help them!

Tell me how many people have been executed and stoned to death since the beginning of the Islamic Revolution in Iran…What is the result of all of this violence other than the fact that the evil is now truly dominating our society?
I never forget the last words of my mother’s Islamic judge:

“I issued a verdict for stoning this woman to death so that other individuals learn a lesson from her doomed fate and to avoid sins of such nature. To execute by shooting would not have made her suffer enough!”

Alas. Twenty six years ago my mother was stoned to death before my eyes. Has these women’s tragic fate helped our society improve? Statistics show that the rates of prostitution and corruption have increased exponentially.

When Western feminists, the fun kind*, write, talk about prostitution as a “choice” for women — whether for themselves, women they know, feminists in general — do they think about all the ways that their “choice” participates in, and shores up, all of the systems, mechanisms and structures which ensure that women like this man’s mother have no meaningful choice? Do they think about how useful their arguments are to male supremacists? Do they ever really consider that everything is connected. It’s all connected. They cannot advocate for what they advocate for, do what they do, without ultimately participating in all of the mechanisms which allow for women like this mother in the pink dress to be stoned.

I know what some of them do, say, because I’ve heard them. They say we shouldn’t discuss this, lest we be accused of cultural imperalism. They say, “There are cultural issues…” (this in a discussion of prostituted 10 year old girls.) They say that the fact that these women have no meaningful choice should not mean that they, as Western feminists, limit their own “choices.”

They say a lot of things that are so many empty, meaningless words, in view of that photo up there, and those words up there.

Well, there is one thread in the fabric of that soiled and tattered rag of an argument which I intend to pull, which sorely needs to be pulled, and I am the one to pull it.

One problem with focusing on stonings in Islamic countries is it provides so much grist for the Western, and increasingly Eastern, (to wit: China), colonialist, imperialist propaganda mill. Islamic cultures, the Muslim religion, are cultures, religious beliefs which many fear and live to hate. Islamic people, themselves, are hence people who are targeted for racism, found guilty by association, by proxy, easy to scapegoat. In all of that focus, which is so very necessary to the propping up of the Bush war machine, something is very much lost: Bush, himself, panders to certain Christian men who, if they are successful in accomplishing their goals of creating a theonomy in the United States, would and will also stone women. Just as that woman in the photo was stoned. Bush not only panders to them, he has been in their pocket, responsible for the enacting of legislation and the instigation of movement in the direction of a society which would look very much like what Islamic fundamentalist societies look like.

The men Bush has pandered too, more indirectly than directly — they are at the edges of the group of men, always men, he’s pandered to directly — are all white. They are all Americans. Many are highly-respected professionals, writers, educators with advanced degrees. There is no need to demonize or villainize Islamic men and Islamic cultures for the way women are forced into prostitution, then stoned for it. We can find this kind of man, this kind of belief, this kind of politics and agenda, right here, in the United States. As Melissa sings:

We all gasp this can’t happen here
We’re all much too civilized
Where can these monsters hide

But they are knocking on our front door
They’re rocking in our cradles
They’re preaching in our churches
And eating at our tables*

I will be posting about this now. Pray for me, or light a candle for me, or just think warm thoughts in my direction. These are scary men. They are capable of much, much harm, and will feel no pangs of consciousness in the carrying out of the harm of which they are capable. I’m going to name them and call them out and let them know via trackbacks that I’m engaged in the important work of outing them, not only for my people, the people of women, but for all people of conscience, all people who love, who care and who work for a better world.
__________

*For my purposes, the “fun” kind of feminists are feminists who endorse pornography and prostitution as matters of “choice” for women

*From Scarecrow, by Melissa Etheridge

Heart

Discussion

62 thoughts on “A Letter About the Stoning of a Prostituted Mother; About White American Christians Who Would Stone Prostituted Mothers

  1. Heart, I am praying for you. x

    Posted by jo22 | October 16, 2006, 5:22 pm
  2. I admire you and a candle is lit on my goddess alter x

    Posted by sparklematrix | October 16, 2006, 6:12 pm
  3. For my purposes, the “fun” kind of feminists are feminists who endorse pornography and prostitution as matters of “choice” for women

    Heart, as I’ve said elsewhere (and maybe even here) I really appreciate all your hard work and dedication, and respect the community you’ve built here as a result of all your hard work and dedication, and admire your committment and resolve – even if we disagree on whether water is wet, I will not stop appreciating/respecting/admiring you for that.

    However – how much “fun” do you think I’m having over here, reading this? do you really think I’ve got ice water in my veins instead of blood? Do you think there’s some kind of joyful celebration racing jubilantly through the so-called sex-positive community?

    Although I respect and admire you, it bothers me that you seem to think that supporting women’s autonomy (even unto accepting money for sex) causes these sorts of stoning deaths.

    I hate the fact that a woman was forced into prostitution. but it’s the FORCED that bothers me, not the prostitution.

    if she was fortunate enough to have the privilege to choose, and she chose prostitution, and she was stoned to death, would you even have reported the story?

    There’s plenty in this story for everyone to deplore, not just the feminists you like and approve of.

    But no one deplores like you deplore – so rock on.

    Posted by antiprincess | October 16, 2006, 6:31 pm
  4. Although I respect and admire you, it bothers me that you seem to think that supporting women’s autonomy (even unto accepting money for sex) causes these sorts of stoning deaths.

    Yeah, how many do you know who “autonomously” chose “sex work”?

    The fact is, by supporting “sex work” as you define it, you support the men who use the women in “sex work”. I mean, if it’s okay that she chooses, it must be okay that he chooses it. After all, it’s just another form of work, right?

    Your real problem is that your arguments are too shallow to bear any real scrutiny. So you come over here and act all wounded, “oooh, you’re maligning us!”

    But you know what? I really don’t give a damn about your wounded feelings. Don’t like it? Change your freaking politics to something that helps women, not hurts them.

    Posted by Char | October 16, 2006, 6:52 pm
  5. Very convenient self-talk antiprincess.

    However, one cannot even partially support any kind of industry like that whilst harm is being done on such a massive scale.

    Why the hell else would 90% of prostituted women want to get out of ‘the business’.

    Posted by stormcloud | October 16, 2006, 7:18 pm
  6. maligned, shmaligned. I’m speaking up where I see a need. just like heart does, just like all-a-y’all do.

    lest we lose sight of the topic of the article – a woman died.

    because…because why?

    because prostitution is a capital offense where she’s from?

    because she was forced to do something illegal and dangerous?

    because men are evil worldwide?

    because certain men, who have the law on their side, are evil?

    because I think that taking money for sex is not tantamount to gender treason in all cases in all places?

    credit where it’s due – y’all are right in this case. sometimes, in some places, the most dangerous thing a woman can do is to trade money for sex. I’m not going to argue that.

    But lay the blame where it belongs.

    I’m not exactly crying, Char. There exists a difference of opinion, that’s all.

    Posted by antiprincess | October 16, 2006, 7:39 pm
  7. if she was fortunate enough to have the privilege to choose, and she chose prostitution, and she was stoned to death, would you even have reported the story?

    Of course I would have. Leaving aside the discussion I really don’t feel like having right now, which is around what it means to “choose” to be prostituted, if a woman “chose” it (again, assuming women can meaningfully make that choice) and was stoned for it, you BET I’d report it! JUST like I reported it here. In fact, that’s kind of what I’m getting ready to report. There are powerful, rich, connected religious men in the United States who are hoping the day will come, working to make it come, in which prostituted women in the U.S. who believe they have chosen what they are doing or who defend women’s right to “choose” will *be* stoned. I am sounding that alarm because to stone a woman for prostitution, whether she chooses it or not, and no matter the nature of that choice, is beyond horrifying.

    The judge who ordered the woman in that photo stoned believed she “chose” to be prostituted, you know? That’s why he ordered that she be stoned. Where were her customers? Nowhere to be found. Why did she, why would any woman, find herself in a position in which she might “choose” to sexually service men for money in the first place? Why do men buy sex from women? Why is it not punishable when they do, but women are punished for death when they sell what men will readily line up to buy? The reasons have to do with what and who women are made to be in this world, and what and who men are made to be, and so long as in every culture, some women must “choose” to be prostituted, and men will pay her for her services, women will not be free, whether they are stoned for what they do, or tormented to psychic or spiritual or emotional or physical death in some less obvious, less visible way.

    I did not say and would not say that feminists who support porn and prostitution as “choices” cause the death of women like the woman in the picture. What I said was, the arguments which they use shore up the structures, mechanisms, systems which allow for horrors like this to take place. And the justifications they use are so much grist for the pornstitution mill. I *know* that all feminists are horrified by that photo. My experience is, and my fear is, that they are refusing to take a look at the part their own views and ideas and politics might play in making it harder for all of us who do care to eliminate the systems and mechanisms and structures which resulted in this woman being stoned.

    Well, thanks for your kind words anyway, AntiPrincess.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | October 16, 2006, 9:30 pm
  8. sometimes, in some places, the most dangerous thing a woman can do is to trade money for sex. I’m not going to argue that.

    See, that’s why I think you’re a dumbass. She’s not trading sex for money. She’s being serially raped by the men prostituting her. One does not “trade sex” — it’s not a car or a coffee cup or other consumer good. Sex is not a thing separate from a woman’s body. So, if anything is being sold it’s a woman’s body — or more accurately, access to it is being rented. By men. Through men, because most women aren’t just prostitued by johns, they’re pimped by pimps. Who then take the money for the rental.

    By all means, “lay the blame where it belongs.” You just seem to have a hard time putting the john and the pimp in the picture.

    I’m not exactly crying, Char. No, you’re whining about how nobody believes you care about women or takes you seriously. Guess what? You’re not a serious person and you don’t seem to care very much about women.

    Posted by Char | October 16, 2006, 10:06 pm
  9. And, frankly, I’d like to know what little nirvana you live in where being prostituted and pimped is somehow ever less than dangerous.

    http://www.prostitutionresearch.com

    Posted by Char | October 16, 2006, 10:10 pm
  10. Wow! I just discovered this blog. Wonderful article!

    As to “They say, “There are cultural issues…” ” I can’t help but notice that cultural issues in these circumstances are usually used to justfy a system of oppression of one more powerful group against another. I recently saw an interview with a journalist who slipped into N. Korea with an eye surgeon who was there to perform much needed cataract surgery with an NGO. She was shocked that when the people were able to see again they immediately thanked their Dear Leader and their Great Leader. They were able to film them as they cried and praised their leader…it was strange to see – it was as if an entire nation has been brain washed. Is this because of cultural differences? No of course not, it is because they have been oppressed by a cruel, calculating dictator. I see similarities every time the ‘culture’ argument comes up – with female genital mutilation women are oppressed and brain washed from birth to believe it is religious and right – culture or oppression? Stoning – fair, just, cultural differences or oppression? Obvious I know – what about prostitution? In this article obviously oppression but what is it when women think that prostitution should be a choice? Is choice always and only the perfect option? Can choice be oppression too? Choice for women in the sex industry funds a multi-billion dollar industry of pimps, porn producers and internet porn sites. The big money in the sex trade goes to men – is that really our choice? What is it we want – money and power in the sex industry? An industry that makes a living at degrading women and girls? Let’s be honest – the big money is in sexual degradation… It just doesn’t seem like a choice that anyone who really cares about women would ever make…it seems like a choice that someone who had no choice would make and that brings us back to the article. I’m with Heart.

    Posted by div4gold | October 16, 2006, 10:17 pm
  11. “There are powerful, rich, connected religious men in the United States who are hoping the day will come, working to make it come, in which prostituted women in the U.S. who believe they have chosen what they are doing or who defend women’s right to “choose” will *be* stoned.
    …The judge who ordered the woman in that photo stoned believed she “chose” to be prostituted..”

    I agree Heart. And part of this *choice* and *liberation* that women think they are doing (after being brainwashed for years) is playing into the hands of those who control. Currently we have *liberal* feminists helping them, by supporting pornstitution, saying that it is a legitimate *choice* for women (when the majority want to get out of it, and are only in it because of few other choices for financial survival).

    Most people will/do believe that women *choose* prostitution, as some sort of legitimate career alternative. I admit, I bought the spin many (25) years ago, that if women *chose* prostitution, then I had no right to be against it. But when it became evident to me that most did NOT in fact *choose* it, but did it out of lack of economic choices, and that most wanted to get out of it, then I saw the reality, and no longer believed the patriarchical spin.

    The ones who benefit the most from pornstitution are NOT the ones on their backs. They are the men. The johns, the pimps, the pornographers – by and large, a male controlled industry. The women are used like disposable kleenex.

    And in that photo, I see mainly/all men doing this stoning. I wonder how many were actually former ‘clients’ of the murdered woman? Lots of them, I bet.

    The women get punished for doing exactly what men what them to do. The men (like this judge) say the woman *chose* to be a prostitute, and should be punished.

    Why on earth would any woman, in a country where the punishment for prostitution is death by stoning, ever *choose* it? Who tells us that women *choose* it? Men again.

    Men hate prostitutes. Prostitutes are never held in high status within society. And yet, they are doing what they have been forced to do, because men want a supply of them and their services. Prostitutes would not have a ‘business’ if not for men using them. Perhaps men hate prostitutes because men feel entitled to women’s bodies without payment.

    I don’t believe in this *choice*. It is a *choice* when there are no other alternatives. That is not *choice*. And I certainly will not believe the spin of *choice*. Supporting this notion, is supporting patriarchy. That certainly does NOT sound like feminism to me.

    Heart has highlighted the spin of *choice* – it is the same spin – just a different landscape in the background.

    Posted by stormcloud | October 16, 2006, 11:26 pm
  12. hey char – you forgot lazy, ugly and disrespectful…😉

    Stormcoming, I appreciate your take on it. food for thought.

    Posted by antiprincess | October 16, 2006, 11:55 pm
  13. stormcloud – beg pardon.

    Posted by antiprincess | October 16, 2006, 11:55 pm
  14. because prostitution is a capital offense where she’s from?

    Maybe this is the most immediate problem. But not necessarily the root problem.

    Posted by Professor Zero | October 17, 2006, 6:11 am
  15. Antiprincess – are you being sincere, or sarcastic?

    Posted by stormcloud | October 17, 2006, 9:08 am
  16. I always knew you were brave, but to take on two goblins- the “sex industry” position taken by the “fun kind” of feminists gone wild, and outing the nasty white christian men who always have some stones and a few cloak holders (perhaps the aforementioned feminists) ready.

    Posted by Macha | October 17, 2006, 10:12 am
  17. Heart, warm thoughts and prayers are coming your way from me.

    Posted by Branjor | October 17, 2006, 11:59 am
  18. sincere, stormcloud.

    Posted by antiprincess | October 17, 2006, 12:44 pm
  19. you forgot lazy and disrespectful…

    My bad, since you’re both. What’s the point of coming in here and defending prostitution? It’s both lazy and disrespectful

    I tell you what — if you think prostitution can be “reformed” to be all about choice, then start doing it. Try ending forced prostitution. Try that one thing. Stop putting defenses of prostitution out there and start attacking the prostitution you believe to be bad. Try ending just that, and see what happens. I have no quarrel with ending forced prostitution.

    But what you seem to want to do is come in here and force your ridiculous defenses of “chosen” prostitution on other feminists. To what end? I don’t understand what it is you get from that. Maybe it makes you feel virtuous. I don’t know. But it’s pathetic.

    What do you want to do? Protect and defend prostitution? Or end forced prostitution? Because so far, all you’ve ever managed to do is protect and defend prostitution.

    Posted by Char | October 17, 2006, 2:34 pm
  20. I mean, what exactly do you think is going to happen AP? Do you think feminists critiques and activism against prostitution is really going to put women who “choose” it out of a job?

    Given that that’s not likely to happen, and hasn’t happened yet, don’t you think your efforts would be better spent trying to end forced prostitution and giving all those millions of women who don’t choose it a way out?

    I mean, on one side, we have actual women being pimped and prostituted who don’t want to be pimped and prostituted but have no other choice and then are stoned to death, murdered, raped, commit suicide, die from ODs and on and on and on.

    On the other side, we have — what? A theoretical debate about what women would choose in a perfectly free society.

    Well, we’re never going to know what women would choose in a perfectly free society until we have one. And the only way we’ll ever have one is if no one, anywhere, is ever forced into prostitution. We’re not anywhere close to that happening.

    But you’re more interested in a theory debate about what *you*, personally, really, really believe and whether that’s being “respected” than you are in anything else. So, yeah, un-serious, lazy, and disrespectful.

    Posted by Char | October 17, 2006, 2:42 pm
  21. Points taken, Char.

    Posted by antiprincess | October 17, 2006, 3:53 pm
  22. Thank you antiprincess. It was a bit hard to tell when you rebranded me stormcoming (sounded a bit pornie to me).

    What I said above, is fundamental to being anti-porn. It’s not about being prudish, anti-sex, religious, or any of the common slurs flung at us.

    Being an anti-porn radfem, is (or should be) the natural progression from Feminism-101. Because in addition to being against because of the harm done to women, directly and indirectly, the fact that pornstitution exists because most women are forced into it by circumstance, not choice, and the majority wish to leave it, but cannot. And that men are the ones receiving the benefits – most of the money ends up in male pockets, not female hands. (There is of course, more to this, but I’m keeping it short.)

    A true (to the principles of no harm to women) feminist cannot defend selective parts of pornstitution (the nice parts where no harm is done, and choice) because the majority is in fact bad. By supporting pornstitution in general, and hoping it will get better (somehow!), is continuing to aid the bad. You are, by proxy, aiding in the subjugation of these women (and indirectly all women).

    That’s why I will ‘attack’ pro-pornies, because of the sabotage they (unknowingly) do.

    The ‘oldest profession’ has had a few thousand years to clean up its act. It hasn’t. It is unlikely to.

    Posted by stormcloud | October 17, 2006, 4:13 pm
  23. I also wanted to add regarding the practice of stoning people (almost always, women) to death.

    It must be a slow and agonising death. I am sure that her executioners would be well versed in the art of ‘making it last’, by aiming for the body first, and to ensure maximum pain and suffering. If she ‘is lucky’ she may quickly receive blows to the head either to knock her out, or more quickly bring about death. That is doubtful, the instinctive human response would be to cover the head with one’s arms.

    Also imagine what this woman (and others like her) must be thinking and feeling as they see, probably many, of their former ‘clients’ with rocks in their hands.

    And what she thought at the trial, after being told, she *chose* to be a prostitute, when all she wanted to do was eat, and feed her kids.

    Posted by stormcloud | October 17, 2006, 4:22 pm
  24. A friend who lived in Saudi Arabia told me they have recently changed the law there, such that it is not even ALLOWED for any of the stoners to hit her in the head first. AND her father or someone like this has to throw the first stone.

    …And–very interesting and enlightening discussion here, I’m learning a lot…

    Posted by profacero | October 18, 2006, 12:02 am
  25. stormcoming = internet handle of very important person in my life.

    slip of the fingers, is all.

    Posted by antiprincess | October 18, 2006, 12:24 am
  26. Profacero
    Interesting that you confirm my suspicion of an ‘unofficial guideline’ being enshrined into law.
    The male family member business would be because women are first ‘owned’ by the father, then by the husband. If neither of these is available as owner, then another male relative would take the place of ‘owner’ of the woman.
    The so-called honour killings that happen in the UK are usually done by the father or brother, and occasionally cousin or uncle.

    Posted by stormcloud | October 18, 2006, 8:11 am
  27. I remember reading something about an ancient tribe in which if a man presumed to “own” a woman, boss her around or get violent with her, the women of the tribe would take him and stuff him in a hollow tree trunk. End of him. Needless to say, it didn’t happen very often and the tribe was matriarchal. Just to remind everyone that women weren’t ALWAYS nobodies, “owned” by men who could do whatever they wanted with them. I would like to see these present day “owners” of women stuffed in hollow tree trunks.

    Posted by Branjor | October 18, 2006, 3:20 pm
  28. I thought there were two major ethnic groups in Iran, and the one ruling was not Arabic. Or am I thinking of another middle eastern country?

    Posted by Pony | October 18, 2006, 4:20 pm
  29. my take on a fascinating discussion:

    I don’t see any antiporn feminists not supporting prostitutes– to say so, which I hear repeatedly, is as much a red herring as to say that being against the war in Iraq suggests you don’t “support the troops” .

    I see antiporn feminists questioning very critically what factors drive a woman to end up in this “work” in the first place, and why after doing this “work”, women are then punished for it. (yet men are not punished as much across cultures, and in some places not at all). How can prostitution be “OK” for men, and not for women? How can this kind of imbalance in the equation allow for any kind of true “choice” or worse, “empowerment” for women? And yet.

    I don’t see Nevada, where prostitution is legal, as a bastion of free choice for women. Most of the women I know who have gone to Nevada to work in, say, strip clubs because the “money’s better” than in other states find themselves increasingly pressured to whore due to competition in the market. I use the word “whore” here not pejoratively towards the woman but towards the act which she is pressured to take part in. It’s so much more graphic -and more real- than that phrase “sex work” , which I despise.

    And…. who creates the competition? Take a wild guess.

    When one group is pressuring another group to take part in a financial competition against other members of the same group, (a competition which is stacked against half the players in the first place) there’s no “choice” about it. let alone nations that punish women for being raped, while the men who raped them then stone them to death.

    Posted by Txfeminist | October 18, 2006, 5:04 pm
  30. Give it up women. I mean it, stop fighting against the daily buying and selling of women’s and girl’s bodies for fun and profit. Admit that stripping and sucking dick for money is probably the most pro-woman, self-esteem building action you could do this weekend.

    All the sexiest feminists agree that hoeing rulz.

    http://www.myspace.com/waveybabies

    Whoring heals. Whoring liberates. Whoring is feminist. Bust and Bitch and Venus agree. Clamor and Utne and Salon agree. Hustler and Playboy and Maxim agree. Sex sells. Stop fighting it. Get with the new feminist world order and get a Craig’s List post up so you too can experience the healing joys of spreading your legs for everyman’s cash. $pread’emism rulz, feminism drools.

    Posted by Sam | October 18, 2006, 6:25 pm
  31. Hey, Heart…that’s a big thing you’re about to do. I know. And I know you can do it.

    Posted by Sophia | October 18, 2006, 6:27 pm
  32. Branjor, I think stuffing “johns” in hollow tree trunks is a great idea.

    Sam, you’ve illustrated the anti-prostitution argument well.

    The research into the legalisation of prostitution in Victoria, where I live, concludes that legalised prostitution is the exploitation and abuse of women and children for profit.

    On second thoughts, how about stoning “johns”?

    Posted by Crowlie | October 21, 2006, 6:35 am
  33. Crowlie
    Do you have any links for the Victorian studies?

    I left Melbourne only a few years after the legalisation, so really out of the loop. But not surprised.

    Castration for johns may make the industry disappear overnight!

    Posted by stormcloud | October 22, 2006, 9:35 am
  34. Actually, strike that last request, found a good site with articles from Sheila Jeffreys:
    http://mc2.vicnet.net.au/home/catwaust/web/myfiles/leginvic.htm

    Posted by stormcloud | October 22, 2006, 6:51 pm
  35. >How can prostitution be “OK” for men, and not for women?

    What makes you think it is?

    Oh, right–men as johns, of course, not as prostitutes. Silly me.

    And yay, okay, castration! Now we’re talking! w00t

    who’s the last person I heard talking that line? oh, right, i think it was Wally George, proto-Limbaugh.

    and Hothead Paisan, who’s a lot more fun; then again, she is a cartoon. also deigns to hang around with actual prostitutes without constantly lecturing them about how they’re enabling the patriarchy, last i checked.

    but then, for an actual cartoon, she’s a lot more three-dimensional than certain people…

    Posted by belledame222 | October 24, 2006, 3:48 pm
  36. Hey, belledame. You know, there’s a place for anger. That talk about castration was about that woman’s anger over rape and the prostituting of women. We’re not, as women, exactly in a position societally in which we have the power to make decrees or issue edicts or fatwas as to how crimes and terrorism against women ought to be dealt with, you know? At the moment, what we have is words and whatever activism we can manage. But, you know that.

    As to hanging around with actual prostitutes, watch it. There are women in this thread, women who post to this blog, women who post to all of the radical feminist blogs, who have been prostituted women and who continue to “hang around with” “actual prostitutes,” lecturing optional.  I think that in general, radical feminists love women, love hanging out with women, all kinds of women, including women like you (although being lectured about the evils of radical feminism might not really go over so well if you decide you wanted to hang out with us. :-P)

    As to three dimensional, here’s what I see. I see some of you women (and men) on the blogosphere, knocking yourselves out to paint us, depict us, as radical feminists, as less than the three-dimensional women our words and lives  indicate that we clearly are. So, you should stop doing that. Then we can hang out and work on our differences, maybe.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | October 24, 2006, 4:05 pm
  37. Fair enough, Heart. But here’s something else I also see. I see women’s voices being silenced by other women, simply for disagreeing. Antiprincess was open to listening to the differing opinions of other women who post here (as should be obvious from her comments), and explained her point of view clearly and without accusation, and asked some legitimate questions. Here’s what she got in response:

    “Very convenient self-talk antiprincess.”
    “I think you’re a dumbass.”
    “All the sexiest feminists agree that hoeing rulz.”

    And so on.

    And, again to be fair, Heart, none of this was from you. Yet, there it is, and there it stands.

    Posted by Amber | October 24, 2006, 4:30 pm
  38. Amber, what I see is, here you are, responding to comments you found objectionable here, here belledame is, commenting as well, here Anti-Princess was, adding her comments. I was glad she came, I often enjoy what Anti-Princess has to say, and I’m glad belledame came and I’m glad you came. Those comments you posted were, it’s true, angry, intense and unkind. From my perspective, defenses of prostitution, in a thread in which at the very top, there is the depiction of a dead woman, who has been stoned to death, followed by a letter from a man who watched his mother stoned to death for prostitution, are unkind and inappropriate. They will call forth responses that are unkind, inappropriate and immoderate.

    There is a woman up there. She is stoned in a pit, mostly by men. There is a man up there who wrote a letter. He watched his mother stoned to death for prostituting herself to feed him and care for him. And here, in this thread, someone wants to discuss the pros and cons of prostitution? Okay, I guess so, I’ve approved your comments. But I have also approved responses to those comments.

    I do not see you or Anti-Princess or belledame silenced in any way. I see you posting all over the internet, sometimes in ways which are extraordinarily hostile and unfair to the positions and work of committed radical feminist women. I see you getting a very friendly reception from all sorts of progressives and feminists who have set themselves against the politics of radical feminism and the women who hold them. That’s not what I would call “silenced.” If you come here, though, to where we are talking about women being stoned in pits, or having their heads cut off by “boyfriends,” or being cut into pieces, seasoned, and cooked in the oven by “boyfriends,” where we are talking about male terrorism of all kinds, and you want to defend the prostituting of women, well, there will be a fairly intense response to defenses like that. There’s a war on women in the world. I am here to talk about it. The prostituting of women is central to that war.

    Do I think it’s right for radical feminists to be rude and less than courteous in their discussions about prostitution? No, I think they should not be rude. I think they should be courteous. But I also think that — as has been said before here and in many places — the supreme and ultimate value in discussions of the war on women is not that everyone be courteous. The supreme and ultimate value in discussions of the war on women is to make sure — make very sure — that the lives of women, especially murdered women, are *valued*. To allow rude comments to pass is not to silence anyone. To allow rude comments to pass is to understand that women get angry over male terrorism and over comments which seem to evidence that that male terrorism is not being seen for what it is.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | October 24, 2006, 5:02 pm
  39. Heart,

    Thanks for your response. I agree that this thread is not an appropriate locale for discussing (not defending) the complexities of prostitution. I hope my previous comment didn’t come off as me wanting to turn the discussion that way, because that was not my intent.

    Additionally, though, I didn’t see Antiprincess’s initial comment as trying to turn this thread into a defense of prostitution. She responded to a specific part of your original post – not about prostitution, or the woman who was stoned to death, but about so-called ‘fun feminists’ – and asked a question based on what you said. I think it was a legitimate question, posed in a legitimate and respectful way. She further stated: “Although I respect and admire you, it bothers me that you seem to think that supporting women’s autonomy (even unto accepting money for sex) causes these sorts of stoning deaths.” You wrote somewhat derisively about feminists who defend “choice” (using quotation marks because you did so in your original post), and AP identified w/ what you wrote and responded to it. You obviously have the right to hold that opinion; AP also has the right to speak up when she feels that a viewpoint she identifies with is being misrepresented.

    I don’t want to derail the conversation in this thread away from its original topic, but on the other hand we all know that blog threads evolve very organically. I am not trying to be a troll, so I hope it doesn’t appear that way. I’m just trying to state what I perceive going on here specifically, and in the blogosphere at large.

    Also, as an aside, I am unfamiliar w/ where I have been “hostile,” aside from instances in which I was personally attacked or insulted, or my words were misconstrued. I don’t expect you to provide examples, because that is not your job; although I am, in general, curious as to where this has happened. I have several examples of it happening on radical feminist blogs, directed at non-radical feminists. But I don’t want to turn this into some kind of “contest.” Anyway, I’d better stop writing now… hope this comment made sense.

    Posted by Amber | October 24, 2006, 6:11 pm
  40. Heart, you know, perhaps this is unfair, as this wasn’t you, personally. But I was witness to at least one of the radical feminists whom i -believe- is a regular in this space, certainly is in at least one other radical feminist space, and is rarely if ever as I notice it taken to task for this sort of behavior by other radical/anti-porn feminists, launch some extremely nasty attacks indeed on a -current- sex worker; i.e. one who is not actively trying to get out of the business, was, in fact, defending her chosen profession. As in, suggesting that she, the sex worker in question, was only participating in a given thread because she was trolling for more johns; later, she suggested that the sex worker was physically ugly (“she’d be barking;”). later she came over to the woman’s website and did it again.

    That’s one of the more extreme examples of what i’ve seen as utterly gratutious nastiness launched on women -who were not attacking first.- It comes from both directions.

    And while I appreciate your concern for the stoned woman, I’m really just not seeing at all, I’m afraid, how this sort of thing -helps-. “Courtesy” (or lack thereof) doesn’t really cover it. Personally I’ve never been much concerned about playing nicely in the sandbox; I do however want to know -why- the scuffles break out, and how they’re operating. Over and over, I keep getting the impression that some people think, like, I don’t know, if they just throw -enough- shaming tactics at a woman who doesn’t see it their way, eventually it’ll win her over. I mean, that’s honestly the best spin I can put on it.

    Or for that matter, I don’t suppose I’ll ever quite see how “fun feminism” is somehow -responsible- for the death of this woman; which was the strong suggestion, at least, that I came away with. At best, that it is somehow mutually exclusive to support -any- form of sex work or…well, “porn,” again, peoples’ definitions on that vary a lot…anyway, if one I don’t know owns or willingly participates in the odd indie pr0n flick, one is somehow incapable of seeing the problem with women. being. stoned. to death.

    or something.

    From my perspective, it’s a bit like, I don’t know, someone were posting an impassioned description of the horrific abuses associated with the garment industry–Abramoff’s own little dereuglated private island, say– and concluded with a slam at high-profile independent fashion designers who enjoy their work as somehow enabling or at least tacitly accepting these horrors (more so than anyone else).

    I realize that this sort of comparison is probably anathema from your perspective (one of these things is not like the other, nor never will be); what can I tell you. In this regard I suspect we’re not only not on the same page, we’re not even in the same library. I am familiar with the theory, I think; I don’t happen to agree with it. and, as i’ve said, my experiential frame’s a bit different as well.

    anyway, you know, I’m actually more than half serious about the castration business. I mean, it’s a -possibility.- I expect I’m at least psychologically capable of doing such a thing, given the right circumstances; and quite probably physically as well. And enjoying it, for that matter. Do you think you are? Serious question.

    Because, while it’s quite true that “we’re” -not- in a position, by and large, to exercise that level of institutional oppression, that doesn’t really answer the question of whether we’re -capable- of such…behaviors. I know you’ve said that you’re not an essentialist, Heart; but it seems to me that there’s something else here that you’re not really addressing.

    Posted by belledame222 | October 24, 2006, 6:48 pm
  41. “Although I respect and admire you, it bothers me that you seem to think that supporting women’s autonomy (even unto accepting money for sex) causes these sorts of stoning deaths.” You wrote somewhat derisively about feminists who defend “choice” (using quotation marks because you did so in your original post), and AP identified w/ what you wrote and responded to it. You obviously have the right to hold that opinion; AP also has the right to speak up when she feels that a viewpoint she identifies with is being misrepresented.

    Amber, I clarified my position in response to what Anti-Princess posted as follows:

    I did not say and would not say that feminists who support porn and prostitution as “choices” cause the death of women like the woman in the picture. What I said was, the arguments which they use shore up the structures, mechanisms, systems which allow for horrors like this to take place. And the justifications they use are so much grist for the pornstitution mill. I *know* that all feminists are horrified by that photo. My experience is, and my fear is, that they are refusing to take a look at the part their own views and ideas and politics might play in making it harder for all of us who do care to eliminate the systems and mechanisms and structures which resulted in this woman being stoned.Well, thanks for your kind words anyway, AntiPrincess.

    As you see, I also thanked her for her kind words– I wasn’t rude or discourteous or in any way disparaging.

    As to hostilities, yeah, I had been posting about belledame and Anti-Princess and I was thinking of things I’ve seen that they’ve written in the past about radfems. I haven’t come across anything you’ve written that was hostile, that I recall and don’t mean to lump you in where you shouldn’t be lumped in.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | October 24, 2006, 7:15 pm
  42. Belledame, Whether or not your example of a radfem calling a hooker “ugly” is true, it smacks of the same strategy behind accusing anti-war demonstrators of spitting on returning veterans.

    It is an easy accusation to make, and one that sticks due to the superficial appearance of animosity between radical feminism and sex workers. But just as many veterans joined the antiwar movement, so too many ex-hookers are rejecting the values which create a market for women’s bodies.

    If you find an actual incident in which an igorant peace demonstrator spit on a veteran, it doesn’t change the fact that it is a myth. It’s a myth because it says that such an act is reflective of the peace movement.

    Posted by saltyC | October 24, 2006, 7:39 pm
  43. belledame, here’s what I have to say.

    First, radfems are not some sort of Borg. We are not the Rad Fem Hive Mind. I do not follow the radfems all over the blogosphere and internet and universe and cosmos in order to monitor how nicely they may or may not be playing wherever they are posting, and even though I joked about Ms. Jared being in my head this morning, in point of fact, she wasn’t actually in there, just as I am not in her head, or any other radfem’s head. I do my best to keep up with what’s going on in the feminist blogosphere as much as I can, because I think that’s important if I’m going to be a member of the feminist blogging community, but I don’t see everything, I don’t read all comments threads, and I did miss what you described.

    Having said all that, honestly, you are talking to the wrong radfem here. I have been in the doghouse with some members of the radfem community consistently, for a long time now, either because I have defended prostituted women from attacks similar to the ones you’ve described, or because I have continued to be friends with, to respect, and/or to link to, feminist women who aren’t as anti-pornography, anti-prostitution as I am, or as they are. Some of these radfems don’t link to me for this reason. Some have excluded me from certain inner circle kinds of venues we have going (that only we know about, but still). There is disagreement in the radfem community as to how we, as radical feminists, ought to be responding to women who are prostituted or who are involved in pornography, and particularly if they defend these latter publicly in any way. Some radfems hold women like this severely accountable and will denounce and attack them just as you’ve described because they see them as having sold out and as choosing to be part of the problem, and they’re pissed off and feel betrayed. I have a little different view which boils down to this: that we can’t shut a woman up to anything she believes or is involved in at a particular moment of her life. She’s always more than that. At one time, I defended pornography myself as a feminist. *I* was the fun kind of feminist. Then, I changed my mind. It wasn’t feminists who attacked me for defending pornography who caused me to change my mind; it was feminists who engaged me intelligently and with respect, who could see that I hadn’t completely thought things through. So, in general, I do not attack women involved in sex work or pornography. If they say something publicly that I think is really rotten, I might respond appropriately, and yeah, I might get pissed and show it, but I try not to personally attack women for their choices. Call me naive, call me foolish, but I always hold out hope that women will change their minds about these things, and that being so, I don’t like to burn my bridges to them from my side if I can help it. My experience is, too, that it is often women who were, themselves, prostituted or involved in pornography, who lash out at feminists who defend prostitution in the ways you’ve described. That’s a whole post in itself, for another day, another time. Remember that Andrea Dworkin was a prostituted woman when she was young. There isn’t a radfem I know who doesn’t have the highest respect for Andrea Dworkin. I try to respond to prostituted women, women involved in porn, as AD did, with respect, understanding, hope and compassion. I don’t always manage it, and AD slipped up herself a time or two, but that’s my goal. So– I don’t like to see radfems targeting prostituted women or women in pornography. I don’t like to see them attacking those women. I just think that’s the wrong way to go about addressing the problem. But you know, that’s not up to me. I am not the Queen Bee of the Radfem Hive Mind and able to get anybody to see things the way I do, let alone do things the way I think they should do them. Damn. The stories I could tell about THAT would curl your hair, I shit you not.

    As to the fun kind of feminist being responsible for prostituted women being stoned, I think I covered that in response to Anti-Princess.

    From my perspective, it’s a bit like, I don’t know, someone were posting an impassioned description of the horrific abuses associated with the garment industry–Abramoff’s own little dereuglated private island, say– and concluded with a slam at high-profile independent fashion designers who enjoy their work as somehow enabling or at least tacitly accepting these horrors (more so than anyone else). I realize that this sort of comparison is probably anathema from your perspective (one of these things is not like the other, nor never will be); what can I tell you. In this regard I suspect we’re not only not on the same page, we’re not even in the same library. I am familiar with the theory, I think; I don’t happen to agree with it. and, as i’ve said, my experiential frame’s a bit different as well.

    I think high profile independent fashion designers had better *totally* be all about ending abuses in the fashion industry, vocally, outspokenly, with their bucks, with their politics, and if they aren’t, I think they ought to be boycotted, called out, and nailed every which way. I think those things *are* like the other. And I get it that you think we’re not on the same page/library, but I think that’s because you have made a whole lot of assumptions about what page and library I might be on and in, and you’ve read me all wrong in some ways. I was reading Andrea Dworkin last night, a collection of her speeches/essays, can’t recall the name right now, mine is hardback with a blue cover, it’s a small book with a colorful picture on the front, and I was reading about a third of the way through :), where AD was saying that feminism, bottom line, is a human rights movement. It is about human rights for all people — women first, because feminism is a woman’s movement, but for men, too, ultimately. The abuses in the garment industry are an atrocity, and anybody — anybody — who is making big money as part of that industry, anybody who is visible, if they are any sort of caring person at all, had *best* be knocking themselves out, if not to end the abuses in any way they can, to speak up, speak out, be very large and in charge and loud about bringing these abuses to a severe end.

    anyway, you know, I’m actually more than half serious about the castration business. I mean, it’s a -possibility.- I expect I’m at least psychologically capable of doing such a thing, given the right circumstances; and quite probably physically as well. And enjoying it, for that matter. Do you think you are? Serious question.

    Nope. I am not capable of doing anything like that. The reason I know is, I have been in situations more than once in which I was being severely beaten, was raped, or was facing down a gun, some with men, including my first husband, and once I walked in on an armed robbery of a sporting goods store.  I’ve also been attacked by police/National Guardsmen in demonstrations.  And I’ve been in situations in which I was in a position to wield power over men who had hurt me. My instinct, practice, politics, values in these situations resulted in my either running away, trying to escape (when being beaten), being nonresisting (when facing down a gun), or walking away, although I did, in fact, bring a civil lawsuit against the Religious Right, which I won.  I would not count that as retribution or violence, though. Those are my values. I have been a pacifist and nonviolent for all of my life, since I was a small child.

    Having said all of that, I don’t fault anyone or judge anyone who feels like she could castrate someone and enjoy it. That’s not me, but I can imagine it. I once spent some time with an old school radical feminist,  a Second Waver, who told me that she was once groped in the subway in New York and she stabbed the guy with a knife she carried and he bled like crazy.  And she enjoyed it. Never got in trouble for it either. See, that’s just *not* me. I’m not strung together like that. But I understand why and how other women might be. I understand why Aileen Wuornos did what Aileen Wuornos did. I couldn’t/wouldn’t do it, but I understand it. And again, this is where radical feminists have historically been split for a long time. There have always been radical feminists who believed violence might be a good strategy, especially in dealing with rapists or who were capable of it. Others disagreed and weren’t.

    Because, while it’s quite true that “we’re” -not- in a position, by and large, to exercise that level of institutional oppression, that doesn’t really answer the question of whether we’re -capable- of such…behaviors. I know you’ve said that you’re not an essentialist, Heart; but it seems to me that there’s something else here that you’re not really addressing.

    I think I’ve responded to that. I know I’m not capable of it because I got the shit beat out of me regularly for years and never even considered fighting back, let alone responding violently, have been raped, etc.   That’s just me.

    So anyway. I’m not sure what you’re getting at with your comment about essentialism, I guess something like that I think women are naturally peaceful. I do not. Neither do I think we are by nature more moral, virtuous, righteous, loving, warm and fuzzy than men are. I think, as I said somewhere else about something else, women are as yet uncorrupted by power.

    I think we are completely capable of being corrupted by power, of course. When the day comes that women actually have enough power that we can be corrupted by it, well, then we’ll have to figure out how we are going to deal with rapists, etc. My thinking is, if we build/create a new world that looks like the old one in terms of human relationships, then that will suck. Women on top of an intentional dominance heirarchy isn’t any better in my mind than men on top of an intentional dominance heirarchy. I think the dominance heirarchies have to go; ergo, I think violence of all kinds has to go, including violence intended as vengeance, justice or in retribution. But again, that’s me. I’m speaking only for myself.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | October 24, 2006, 8:01 pm
  44. Heart,

    First, thanks for re-posting your response to AP; I had seen it the first time I read the thread and should have included it in my comment. My mistake.

    Not to nit-pick, but, regarding this:

    My experience is, and my fear is, that they are refusing to take a look at the part their own views and ideas and politics might play in making it harder for all of us who do care to eliminate the systems and mechanisms and structures which resulted in this woman being stoned.

    I think where the “silenced” part comes in is that AP and others may feel that they are backed into a corner. I know I have felt that way sometimes. The implication in your statement, Heart, whether intentional or not, is that non radical feminists don’t want to eliminate the systems and mechanisms and structures which resulted in a woman being stoned to death.

    I constantly examine my views and ideas – introspection is my favorite passtime! – and I am well aware that nothing exists in a vaccuum. However, the ideas I have for how to get rid of these problems are different from those of many radical feminists. I think there is room for all of us to work together, but unfortunately I don’t see it happening.

    Posted by Amber | October 24, 2006, 8:58 pm
  45. And once again the conversation gets turned to radical feminists having to defend themselves from the charge of being big meanies.

    I’m not keen on calling pro-pornstitution “fun” feminists firstly because it’s a bit rude and secondly, and more importantly, the term itself doesn’t make clear what the problem is with their positions. It also gives them the chance to get defensive instead of sticking to the topic in hand. You asked good questions in your first post, Heart, and they got ignored. I’d really like to hear Belledame’s, Amber’s and antiprincess’s answers to this –

    “do they think about all the ways that their “choice” participates in, and shores up, all of the systems, mechanisms and structures which ensure that women like this man’s mother have no meaningful choice? Do they think about how useful their arguments are to male supremacists? Do they ever really consider that everything is connected. It’s all connected.”

    Maybe that’s the cause of the differences between radical feminists and pro-pornsitution feminists – the latter refuse to see the connections.

    Posted by delphyne | October 24, 2006, 11:38 pm
  46. Yeah, belledame, Anti-Princess and Amber, how about it. 🙂

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | October 25, 2006, 2:40 am
  47. I don’t know what happened to my comment from earlier… it’s not showing up as “awaiting moderation” for me, but when I tried to repost, WordPress said it was a duplicate. Oh well.

    Posted by Amber | October 25, 2006, 2:43 am
  48. “do they think about all the ways that their “choice” participates in, and shores up, all of the systems, mechanisms and structures which ensure that women like this man’s mother have no meaningful choice? Do they think about how useful their arguments are to male supremacists? Do they ever really consider that everything is connected. It’s all connected.”

    I answered this in an earlier comment, but it seems to have disappeared into the vapor of the internet.

    Posted by Amber | October 25, 2006, 2:53 am
  49. Amber, for some reason your earlier comment ended up in the spam queue. I’ve had that problem lately myself, posting something and having it ending up classified as spam. No worries, I de-spammed you.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | October 25, 2006, 3:22 am
  50. “do I think about all the ways that my “choice” participates in, and shores up, all of the systems, mechanisms and structures which ensure that women like this man’s mother have no meaningful choice?”

    what exactly do you think I’m personally choosing, that makes a man pick up rocks and throw them at someone until she’s dead?

    blaming me lets a guilty man walk. Guilty men, in this case.

    and using this sad-beyond-words story as an excuse to trash “fun feminists” is distasteful, at the very least.

    A man, this woman’s husband, forced her to have sex for money. Several other men threw rocks at her for hours until she died an excruciating death, tortured her until she died – because she had sex for money.

    The men who sentenced her to death by stoning thought having sex for money was wrong. You also think having sex for money is wrong. I think the condemnation of sex-for-money contributes more to the end result of such cruel and unusual punishment, than does a more accepting view of sex-for-money.

    maybe you’d save your rocks for the men she fucked, or for the man who forced her to fuck. Either way, capital punishment for prostitution is an outgrowth of condemning prostitution, not accepting it.

    “Do I think about how useful my arguments are to male supremacists?”

    Do you?

    arguments against prostitution based on womankind’s innate virtue, or inviolable selfhood as symbolized by sexual gatekeeping, or any other reasoning based on innate qualities of womanhood, also bolsters the arguments of male supremacists.

    “Do I think about how useful my arguments are to male supremacists?”

    sometimes. but as was pointed out in the great Unholy Alliance debate vis-a-vis the link between evangelical christianity and the antiporn movement, it’s okay not to care about that.

    “Do I ever really consider that everything is connected. It’s all connected.”

    Yes. of course. But I don’t see how accepting prostitution connects to the death penalty for prostitution.

    Posted by antiprincess | October 25, 2006, 1:39 pm
  51. *applauds* Antiprincess

    Well said. Especially this:

    using this sad-beyond-words story as an excuse to trash “fun feminists” is distasteful, at the very least.

    You conveyed it much better than I could have.

    Also, as a side note, I don’t like the term “fun feminists”… I detest it only a little less than “choice feminists.”

    Posted by Amber | October 25, 2006, 5:40 pm
  52. “do I think about all the ways that my “choice” participates in, and shores up, all of the systems, mechanisms and structures which ensure that women like this man’s mother have no meaningful choice?” what exactly do you think I’m personally choosing, that makes a man pick up rocks and throw them at someone until she’s dead?

    Antiprincess, we can have this discussion, but only if you don’t mischaracterize what I or anyone else has posted already– and I’ve posted it twice now. This is the third time.

    Me, Heart, up there a ways:I did not say and would not say that feminists who support porn and prostitution as “choices” cause the death of women like the woman in the picture. What I said was, the arguments which they use shore up the structures, mechanisms, systems which allow for horrors like this to take place. And the justifications they use are so much grist for the pornstitution mill. I *know* that all feminists are horrified by that photo. My experience is, and my fear is, that they are refusing to take a look at the part their own views and ideas and politics might play in making it harder for all of us who do care to eliminate the systems and mechanisms and structures which resulted in this woman being stoned.

    Defenses of prostitution and pornography as “choices” for women allow:

    (1) Men to continue to defend prostituting women, using prostituted women, raping them, in some cases, as with the mother of the man whose letter was posted in my post, using the justification that prostitution is what women “choose.”

    (2) Men to continue to justify punishing women for being prostituted because women “chose” it.

    (3) People to pretend that for gigantic, humongous, inexcusable numbers of girls, boys, and women who are trafficked for sex throughout the world, being prostituted is a “choice”.

    (4) People to evade and ignore the deeper, more complex and important issues around all of these supposed “choices” subjugated, subordinated, impoverished, disenfranchised women and children are said to be making under male heterosupremacy. What does it mean to say a woman “chooses” her own degradation and an occupation which could get her stoned, tortured, murdered in a thousand ways? What does it mean to say a woman “wants” to be prostituted? What does that wanting actually consist of?

    blaming me lets a guilty man walk. Guilty men, in this case.

    Nobody blamed you (see above) for letting guilty men walk.  Come on.  We can, again, have this discussion only so long as you do not mischaracterize what has been posted here.  Guilty men walk because men using women’s bodies as fuckholes is not a crime, even though women whose bodies have been used as fuckholes can be stoned for it or otherwise punished for it as a crime in many places throughout the world.  Defending prostitution as a “choice” shores up the mechanisms which are in place by way of which buying a woman is not a crime, while a woman selling herself *is*.  Because after all, she chose it.  That’s not his fault.  If she wouldn’t have chosen to be a prostitute, he wouldn’t have bought her for sex.  Problem of prostitution solved.  It’s all women’s fault, stupid whores.  They wanted it.

    and using this sad-beyond-words story as an excuse to trash “fun feminists” is distasteful, at the very least.

    See, anti-princess, the above isn’t an argument. I guess I could now say, “well, coming in here and defending prostitution or pornography, or making excuses or defenses of those who do, in light of that photo and that story up there, is distasteful at the very least.”

    Where would that get us? Nowhere. So let’s not. Let’s carefully and intelligently discuss this, or let’s not discuss it at all.

    I don’t agree with Delphyne that calling feminists the “fun kind” is insulting. I think it’s accurate. Just check it out for yourself: wherever there is a feminist woman writing in defense of pornography and prostitution, she will be surrounded by throngs of adoring male fans, progressive and not, who will think she’s the coolest woman ever and who will waste no opportunity to do what you’re inching towards doing: joining with her in demonizing anyone who stands between men and their whack off material, between men and their being able to buy women as a set of three fuckholes. Men do not like anybody to get in the way of that nice, convenient sexual universe they have created for themselves. They hate us for calling that out, challenging that, and working to see that it END. They *love* feminists who will join them in hating us because in the end, what matters to them is their whack-off material and their unfettered access to the bodies of women, no matter WHY those bodies are available to them, even if those bodies are available to them because otherwise, a woman’s children would not eat. They could give a shit about that when it all comes down, most of them. Well, they will give lip service to caring, but only so long as nobody suggests no woman should be prostituted. In the meantime, feminist women defending prostitution as a “choice” is just good times, that’s a fun kind of a woman. Why not call that what it is, is my position.

    The men who sentenced her to death by stoning thought having sex for money was wrong.

    No, they did not. Those men didn’t necessarily think having sex for money was wrong. Some of them were probably her customers. Most of them probably participate in sex for money via the institution of marriage, and all undoubtedly approve that institution. Laws forbidding prostitution and allowing judges like this to make examples out of prostituted woman allow men to have their cake and eat it too: to punish women for providing what men will readily buy, to make men’s use and abuse of women’s bodies *women’s responsibility.* So long as there is a whore to stone, the men can walk away feeling good about themselves. See there? That’ll teach those whores. If they didn’t want to be fucked for cash, they shouldn’t have become whores. Subtext: so long as they’re selling, we’re buying — and blaming them for it.

    You also think having sex for money is wrong.

    No, I don’t think it’s “wrong.” It’s not about morality for me, or values, or ethics or anything like that. It’s not about “bad” and “good”. It’s about *power*, and who has it and who doesn’t, and what the having of power, or not, does to people in the world who don’t have power or have much less power. I am against it because it subordinates women, commodifies our bodies for sex, and in so doing, ensures that we’re the bought and men are the buyers. That is a power issue and so it is an equality issue. The ones who buy have the power over the ones who are bought. All the ones who are bought can do is hope to get bought by those who have the power to buy.

    I think the condemnation of sex-for-money contributes more to the end result of such cruel and unusual punishment, than does a more accepting view of sex-for-money.

    I am condemning sex for money, but not because it is immoral or wrong per se, or something like that. I am condemning a system in which women are made to be the sellers of sex to men, in which women are bought as fuckholes for men, in which women are made to be things, objects, so much kleenex for men to buy, use and discard.

    maybe you’d save your rocks for the men she fucked, or for the man who forced her to fuck. Either way, capital punishment for prostitution is an outgrowth of condemning prostitution, not accepting it.

    Capital punishment for prostitution is the mechanism by way of which men, having enslaved an entire class of human beings — women — having commodified our bodies and forced us into sexual servitude may then *blame* us for having been so subordinated and justify their subordination on the basis that it is what we want. See? You prostituted yourself. You must have wanted it. You knew there was a law against it, and yet you did it anyway. So we’re going to stone you (even though we may have been your customers) in order to communicate to one and all that although we are going to pay you for sex, we really are against it, and you are to blame for the fact that we can buy sex in the first place. In this, it is actually those who prostitute women, and those who forbid prostitution (religious men), who walk hand in hand, who have each others’ backs. By punishing women for doing what men have forced women to do, nothing ever has to change. Men remain on top. Women remain on the bottom.

    Do I think about how useful my arguments are to male supremacists?”Do you?My arguments are absolutely not useful to male supremacists. That is something I know very well. My arguments and activism are a threat to their control, as a class, over sexual access to the bodies of women.arguments against prostitution based on womankind’s innate virtue, or inviolable selfhood as symbolized by sexual gatekeeping, or any other reasoning based on innate qualities of womanhood, also bolsters the arguments of male supremacists.

    So what? Who is making those arguments? Not only is that not my argument, or the argument of any woman in this thread, or the argument of radical feminists, not even fundies believe in something like “women’s innate virtue”. I don’t know any group that believes in women’s innate virtue with the exception of possibly some ancient goddess-worshipping cultures. Christian fundies believe that women are weak, subject to temptation and sexual profligacy if they aren’t under male control, likely to become lesbians, susceptible to deception, and unrecalcitrant temptresses. Their answer to those problems is to force women to (1) marry; (2) stay under male “headship”, i.e., the control of father, or church, all of which bear much in common with being prostituted in the more common ways we all agree are prostitution.

    Neither do fundies believe women have some sort of “inviolable selfhood.” They don’t believe there is anything at all “inviolable” about women’s selfhood; women exist, in their worldviews, to serve men and male deities. As to “sexual gatekeeping,” it is male power, period, that calls prostituted women, and women, just in general, “sexual gatekeepers.” That’s not an argument against prostituting of women or pornography, or any argument any woman has made here, that’s the argument men use to justify the violation of women, whether by rape, or by prostituting them, or by subordinating women in other ways. That is men making sex to be something women “have” that men want to “get” from them, or “buy” from them in the first place– something which is at the very heart of feminist opposition to prostitution, pornography, and civil marriage, for that matter. Here again, fundie men and prostituting men and all who buy sex from women, whether via marriage or pornography or prostitution, walk hand in hand in this system they’ve created, having each others backs, making sure that it is always the women who are to be blamed, whether for being prostituted and then punished for it, or dying from it, for being in porn and then punished for it, or dying from it, whether being married and possibly dying from it, whether being raped and possibly dying from it. The women wanted it, they asked for it, they sold themselves, they “chose” it. If they hadn’t, then men wouldn’t have bought/married/raped them.

    …as was pointed out in the great Unholy Alliance debate vis-a-vis the link between evangelical christianity and the antiporn movement, it’s okay not to care about that.

    I think the link is between evangelical/conservative Christianity and the porn movement and the prostituting of women. I think those groups aid and abet one another and form the fabric of male heterosupremacy as I’ve already described.

    “Do I ever really consider that everything is connected. It’s all connected.”Yes. of course. But I don’t see how accepting prostitution connects to the death penalty for prostitution.

    I have written what I have to write about this, and I have also several times asked that you not mischaracterize what I and others have posted. From here on out, I will approve only comments which are thoughtful, reasoned and actually responsive to what has been posted here. I will not approve comments which are flip, which amount to nothing more than a series of retorts, or which mischaracterize what women have spent good and valuable time posting.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | October 25, 2006, 5:52 pm
  53. your blog, your rules. I can respect that.

    you asked for an answer to those specific questions. I took some GOOD AND VALUABLE TIME to think about it, and that’s what I came up with.

    For a change, I stand by my comment.

    I’d like to be clear that I’m not disagreeing with you because you’re mean and prudish and no fun. I’m sure you’re quite amenable, openminded and fun enough for your own purposes or anyone else’s, most days.

    I’m disagreeing with you because I still feel that capital punishment for prostitution arises from the condemnation of prostitution – that is – the idea that it is wrong to exchange money for sex.

    I mean, there’s no need for me to throw rocks at people until they’re dead, if the people aren’t doing anything objectionable.

    But it’s clear that your objections arise from a different point of view, with which I sympathize, but don’t particularly share.

    I don’t feel I mischaracterized you. I was answering Delphyne’s question the best way I knew how. I really can’t speak for all of the “they, them” in Delphyne’s question – I can only speak for myself. Hence, every time she used a plural pronoun, I had to substitute first person singular if I wanted to say anything true.

    So, if you are at all holding “fun feminists” responsible for this woman’s death on any level, and you consider me a “fun feminist”, then yes, I feel you are blaming me. And since I can only answer for myself, so I did.

    Posted by antiprincess | October 25, 2006, 6:59 pm
  54. Heart:

    Defenses of prostitution and pornography as “choices” for women allow:

    (1) Men to continue to defend prostituting women, using prostituted women, raping them, in some cases, as with the mother of the man whose letter was posted in my post, using the justification that prostitution is what women “choose.”

    (2) Men to continue to justify punishing women for being prostituted because women “chose” it.

    How do defenses of prostitution enable or perpetuate these things? So far I have seen statements about what will happen if feminists “defend” prostitution (which is itself a mischaracterization if the listener assumes that means defending all prostitution). I haven’t seen an explanation of how exactly these effects will be caused.

    Continuing:

    (3) People to pretend that for gigantic, humongous, inexcusable numbers of girls, boys, and women who are trafficked for sex throughout the world, being prostituted is a “choice”.

    If people believe that, then they are ignorant. I don’t see how arguments like the one AP posed could in any way facilitate this belief. Ignorance is ignorance, and there will always be ignorant people, regarldess of what I or you or AP or anyone else believes. We can do our best to educate. But we cannot cause someone else’s ignorance through making a well-thought-out analysis.

    More later. Gotta run for now.

    Posted by Amber | October 25, 2006, 7:10 pm
  55. Amber, what I wrote there about capital punishment was in response to your suggestion that I believe selling sex for money is “wrong” just like fundie religionists believe selling sex for money is “wrong”. That’s not accurate, and the distinctions I made were important. I carefully responded already to what you had to say and don’t want to repeat myself.

    If people believe that, then they are ignorant.

    It isn’t a matter of anybody being ignorant. It’s a matter of what excuses and defenses will *fly* in order that prostitution and pornography continue and flourish, which is a prime male imperative and central to men maintaining power over women in the world.

    I think that when you defend prostitution and pornography, you… defend prostitution and pornography. Then those who want to prostitute women and girls are able to say, “See? Even feminists agree that prostitution and pornography are a valid (and liberating) choice for women.”

    It’s not all that complicated. If we defend Wal-Mart, then that makes it easier for Wal-Mart to exist. Our choosing to shop at Wal-Mart ensures that those who have no choice BUT to shop there will, which ensures that those who have no choice BUT to work there will work there and barely make survive and be exploited and so on. And management will say, “See? People choose to work/shop there. They love it!” For one of many examples I could use.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | October 25, 2006, 9:29 pm
  56. If we defend Wal-Mart, then that makes it easier for Wal-Mart to exist.

    I think that is far too simplistic, just like I think the “defend prostitution” line is far to simplistic. What does “defending Wal-Mart” mean? It’s possible to challenge Wal-Mart’s business practices, its total disregard for its workers, the ways in which it perpetuates the cycle of poverty, etc., without attacking those who shop there because they have no other choice. And you mentioned this yourself. But, what you didn’t address is, if Wal-Mart goes away, what, then, fills the gap, and where will the people who previously shopped there out of necessity (ie, low-income folks) shop? Don’t get me wrong, I am no fan of Wal-Mart and I’ve been to more than a few Wal-Mart protests. But I think over-simplifying the issue doesn’t help anyone. (I hope I am not construed as “defending Wal-Mart” after writing this comment.)

    Also, real quick, wrt your earlier comment:

    wherever there is a feminist woman writing in defense of pornography and prostitution, she will be surrounded by throngs of adoring male fans, progressive and not, who will think she’s the coolest woman ever and who will waste no opportunity to do what you’re inching towards doing: joining with her in demonizing anyone who stands between men and their whack off material, between men and their being able to buy women as a set of three fuckholes.

    Really? Have you been to my blog? There are plenty of men who come to my blog and respond to my posts about porn, sex, etc… but they’re not singing my praises. In fact, I can’t think of any occassions on which some man has shown up to tell me how “cool” I am. But I can point you to MANY occassions on which the opposite has happened.

    Posted by Amber | October 25, 2006, 9:36 pm
  57. wherever there is a feminist woman writing in defense of pornography and prostitution, she will be surrounded by throngs of adoring male fans,

    yeah – all due respect: I got no throng, either

    I have a small but noisy group of regular commenters, some male and some female and though I suppose they more-or-less dig being there, I’d hardly call them a throng of adoring fans. And to their credit, they keep the comment circle jerk action to a minimum.

    Posted by antiprincess | October 25, 2006, 10:03 pm
  58. Hey, Amber, nobody has attacked those who shop at Wal-Mart or work there who need to, just as I don’t like to see prostituted women attacked for what they do when they need to do it.

    I have been talking about defenses of systems, institutions, politics, which make Wal-Mart and prostitution possible and the only options available to struggling, disenfranchised, and poor people, and which serve, in so doing, to keep some on top (the rich in the case of Wal-Mart, men in the case of prostitution) and some on bottom (the poor, women, children). Those who defend Wal-Mart, who don’t HAVE to shop at or work at Wal-Mart, participate in those systems, institutions and politics which allow Wal-Mart to exist, exploit and oppress the poor. Just as those who defend prostitution and pornography, who do NOT have to be prostituted or participate in porn to survive, participate in those systems, institutions and politics which allow prostitution to continue in areas where women HAVE no choice but to be prostituted (taking the risks of being stoned for it or otherwise killed.) I think for exploitive systems and institutions to come to an end, we begin with calling them what they are: exploitive. Subordinating. The fact that some have no choice but to work at Wal-Mart, be prostitutes, doesn’t justify *defending* these institutions. How does anything ever change if we defend exploitive, subordinating institutions? Calling them what they are is *not* an attack on the people forced to be part of them. Calling them what they are is the way we begin to *free* those forced to be part of these systems.

    The poor may struggle without a Wal-Mart to shop at, that is very true, but no man will struggle without pornography or prostitution. I think we call these institutions what they are and work to free those enslaved by them and deal with those who profit and benefit from the fact of their existence.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | October 25, 2006, 10:17 pm
  59. Well, women, throngs or no, I don’t think it’s a stretch to believe that most men (in that by far most men are pro-porn/pro-prostitution) think feminists who defend prostitution and porn as “choices” for women are a lot more fun than feminists who don’t.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | October 25, 2006, 10:22 pm
  60. Another comparison that might be useful is, most marginalized, impoverished people don’t at all appreciate comparatively affluent people making a choice to slum, which they might refer to as “living simply” — not for any real reasons but just to be virtuous or to empathize with the poor or for kicks or whatever — and who then go on and on glowingly about how much they enjoy living in poverty. Because the poor have no such choice. The very fact of being able to *choose* evidences comparative affluence and its concomitant privilege and talking glowingly about it indicates complete ignorance of the actual plight of the poor, who don’t and wouldn’t choose their impoverishment and who experience it as horrific oppression. Those who choose poverty can return to their wealth whenever they want, making their experience lightyears away from the experience of the truly poor.

    The man who wrote that letter up there says his mother didn’t choose prostitution, that women in his culture don’t choose it. They sure don’t choose to be stoned. That being so, how must all the talk of “choosing” prostitution by Western feminists sound in their ears? Beyond just defending it, how does a woman forced into prostitution and at risk for stoning every day, just to survive, even begin to listen to, let alone trust, Western feminists who say they care but who advocate prostitution as a matter of “choice?”

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | October 25, 2006, 11:25 pm
  61. Hey, Amber, nobody has attacked those who shop at Wal-Mart or work there who need to

    I know nobody has done that here… didn’t mean my comment to imply that anyone had. Sorry if it sounded that way.

    Posted by Amber | October 26, 2006, 4:30 pm

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