Addressing the European Parliament this week

Labour Party

At lunchtime today the European Parliament votes on my prostitution report. The report recommends the Swedish Model – whereby it is the buyer of sex who is prosecuted – and was supported this week by nearly eighty academics and world experts on the issue.

On Monday I addressed the full parliament In Strasbourg calling on them to back it. The footage can be seen below:

9 thoughts on “Addressing the European Parliament this week

  1. Good luck Mary, prostitution harms all of us as females, and transition from a state where women are prosecuted for sex to one where buyers are prosecuted is always going to lead to people whose livelihoods depend on selling themselves as hugely difficult. But if you want to end the ivory trade and the impact it has on elephants as a whole, you have to ban the demand as well the supply. We took the same approach with drug taking, drinking, why not the supply and demand of sexual services where they drive a market in slavery. It cannot be just about the individuals rights when it is also supporting slavery.

  2. I want to re-iterate what I said re your post about Amnesty International’s stand on prostitution: I cannot comment until I have seen a proper evaluation of the NZ regulatory approach, not even from feminist Kiwis.
    If it doesn’t work in NZ, why do we not hear?

    Some people might say that the difference between Women’s Lib and feminism is that Women’s Lib fought for the RIGHT to have a liberated life-style, while feminiism is about the OBLIGATION to.

    There is an authoriatrian attitude that permitting something implies everyone should do it. Nobody thinks that Mr Universe implies that all men should be hunks. To my mind true liberation comes when the false connection for women is broken. I don’t think beauty contests treat women as objects, but in the old days they treated them as sweetie-pies: it’s that that creates the false connection, not the contests themselves..

    1. To be honest Martin I think the only person making a distinction between women’s liberation and feminism is yourself. Men lecturing women on sexism is like white men lecturing black men on racism – sure you can have an opinion, but some of us have an opinion grounded in experience. Women’s liberation was largely fought about the right to have control of their own bodies and liberation from shaming around sex and gendered physical attributes such as periods. There was also a significant lobby about sexist violence in the home towards women and children and sexist violence in the media such as pornography. I have yet to see a feminist demand that women do anything – they are usually too busy demanding the right to be treated equally by the law in cases of sexist violence in the home or within mens media such as porn which promotes sexist hatred via its use of contemptuous language about women and children such as whore, slut and suchlike. Lining women up and measuring their value with a set of body measurements is not treating them as sweetie pies, whatever the hell that might mean?!!

  3. I see in the Independent report, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/mps-call-for-prostitution-to-be-legalised-but-demand-tough-new-penalties-on-pimps-9164069.html , that at the bottom ‘Gemma’ says:
    “What sex workers want is the removal of sanctions around sex work, like in New Zealand. Sex workers want decriminalisation; they do not want legalisation.
    “Legalisation means the regulation of sex work. It punishes those vulnerable women who are not able to jump through the necessary hoops, for example refugees and mothers. It’s a backdoor process of criminalisation.”

    In fact NZ does have regulation, and I think this is necessary to fight trafficking. I notice that Gemma finishes by saying:
    “When a client is made to be a criminal, he isn’t going to call the police to report suspected people trafficking. It is just driving it underground.”

    This is consistent with my skepticism that the Nordic model will reduce trafficking. However I am only moderately confident of my perception (and hers).

    1. Its touching that people think that a government that openly colludes and covers up paedophiles within its own ranks whilst a police force that has some of the highest rates of sexist violence when off duty will be a force to have any confidence in regarding the legislation around the sex industry. This is a government that bans racist and homophobic media as inciting racial or homophobic violence but regards violent sexism within male media (porn) as freedom of speech … hypocrisy around human rights anyone?

  4. Derrington…
    I think my general views can be summed up in the following article…
    http://www.thephilosophytakeaway.com/2012/10/sexism-logic-and-intuition-by-martin.html
    It probably needs improvement and the comments on post-feminism were [rightly] sardonic/sarcastic.

    When I said that under feminism women are obliged to conform to a feminist life-style, I mean banning the activities of sex-workers and beauty contestants. My view is that the sex industry should be regulated and probably that these contests should be run by women for women.

    Treating people as sweetie-pies… I meant patronising and otherwise disrespectful treatment. Which is why women should run these shows and show when focusing on looks is disrespectful and when it isn’t.

    The distinction between Women’s Lib and feminists was mine, which I suggested for the basis of discussion, and indeed I very much appreciate your comments. In fact I think people should label themselves as they wish: it captures their gut feeling, and as I said in my article gut feeling or intuition is very important, though trying to rationalise it might be tricky and counter-productive.

    As for lecturing, all progressive groups can be simplistic, logically flawed in their arguments, and in particular fail to pick out the strands of a complex situation. It is very difficult to pick out say five strands until one has encountered five reasonably different situations, and pursuing progressive policies cannot always wait. If I see flawed arguments I think I am entitled, almost obliged, to point them out.

    1. I dont think sexism is any more complex than racism or any other genre based hatred. I read your treatise on feminism and think youve missed the point about objectification. It has nothing to do with physically picking someone up as an object … It is treating them as an object, a thing without feelings that you need as a person need to take care of and respect as another human being. As for gender roles, its fine if i as a woman can choose which roles i assume in my life, not fine if im forced by a boyfriends fist into doing his laundry or not pointing out the flaws in his argument or whatever. Feminism is about being treated as an equal human being, free to choose my life as it best suits me, free to tell of my experiences without censure or threat of violence by men or women or state institutions who wish to maintain a superior male caste.

    2. Vicki …
      First of all I very much appreciate you looking at and commenting on my ‘treatise’.
      > I dont think sexism is any more complex than racism or any other genre based hatred.
      Sexism and racism don’t have to be hatred: it can be patronising or more generally disrespectful; and of course sometimes it relates to supposed innate inferiority. But I think gender relations and therefore sexism is much more complex, though on one level it has to be similar: if a ‘victim’ has the gut feeling something is racist or sexist then it is best to accept that, unless they are trying to rationalise things in a way that seems flawed.
      >… It is treating them as an object, a thing without feelings that you need as a person need to take care of and respect as another human being.
      I am very uneasy about this: when people take part in contests or pose as ‘models’ it is very clear they have feelings. They wouldn’t look attractive otherwise. My own perception on ‘beauty’ is that it reflects intelligence, health and psychological well-being. In the evolution of humanity most people did not have the ability/experience to analyse these things separately in a perfectly rational way, and I think that is still the case. But looks are controllable: moderate cosmetics is a sign of intelligence and excessive cosmetics a sign of lack of it. And I don’t think a man will feel a woman is healthier if she has implants.
      As I said, I don’t think focus on looks part of the time with the consent of people concerned implies focus on looks all the time regardless of their consent. But there are indeed ways of doing this which are disrespectful, and that is where the people involved should speak out, and indeed have done.
      To my mind a very real objectification is ‘geekification’ in traditional boys’ subjects, and that is relevant to your next point.
      > As for gender roles, its fine if i as a woman can choose which roles i assume in my life, not fine if im forced by a boyfriends fist into doing his laundry or not pointing out the flaws in his argument or whatever.
      Nothing in what I said implies disagreement with that. There is a very big challenge in co-ed schools, where I understand girls are more likely to do ‘girls’ subjects’. As it happens, I think English schools specialise far too early, certainly compared with my home country of New Zealand, where nobody at all bats an eyelid if people do both Maths and English at university.
      > Feminism is about being treated as an equal human being, free to choose my life as it best suits me, free to tell of my experiences without censure or threat of violence by men or women or state institutions who wish to maintain a superior male caste.
      Exactly, and that is why ‘post-feminism’ is rubbish, especially in arguing about supposed innate differences, when variation within genders is often greater than between genders.

    3. Sexism can be sexism lite which is patronisng and rudeness, full fat sexism is fatal violence in the home or on the street and all levels in between. All are driven by male culture’s continued wish to promote the idea and belief that males are racially superior to females. This belief and the constant propoganda that promotes this concept to younger generations via porn/lads mags that boys believe are manfacts and act out on their mothers, sisters, daughters and girlfriends are the basis for 2 in 3 girls experiencing gender /sexist abuse at school, 1 in 3 experiencing sexist assault at school, 137 women murdered in their home, 37 children murdered by their fathers in sexist attack, 1.2m cases of sexist violence that end in women in hospital and 80,000 rapes. Thats alot of gender hate crime. I hope one day that we will treat gender hatred and the language used to illustrate this contempt (bitch, who, slut etc) in the same way we do words that used to be used in the same way about different groups of people , nigger, wog, paki and bender. Having just had to move my 6 yr old daughter from her primary school after four months of sexist assaults including touching her genitals which the teachers laughed off as boys being boys whilst putting my daughter in a special needs class to punish her, i think we have a huge way to go before male culture and most men stop using gender based bigotry to make out their racially superior to females and children.

Comments are closed.