Archive for the ‘Pornography’ Category
Another curious reversal in moralizing
Imagine a substance that is relatively new in the public square, but by now so ubiquitous in your society that a great many people find its presence unremarkable. Day in and day out, your own encounters with this substance, whether direct or indirect, are legion. Your exposure is so constant that it rarely even occurs to you to wonder what life might be like without it.
In fact, so common is this substance that you take the status quo for granted, though you’re aware that certain people disagree. A noisy minority of Americans firmly opposes its consumption, and these neo-Puritans try routinely to alert the public to what they claim to be its dangers and risks. Despite this occasional resistance, however, you — like many other people of your time — continue to regard this substance with relative equanimity. You may or may not consume the thing yourself, but even if you don’t, you can’t much see the point of interfering with anyone else’s doing it. Why bother? After all, that particular genie’s out of the bottle.
The scenario sketched in these paragraphs captures two very different moments in recent American history. One is the early 1960s, exactly the moment when tobacco is ubiquitous, roundly defended by interested parties, and widely accepted as an inevitable social fact — and is about to be propelled over the cliff of respectability and down the other side by the surgeon general’s famous 1964 “Report on Smoking and Health.” The resulting social turnaround, though taking decades and unfolding still, has nevertheless been nothing short of remarkable. In 1950, almost half the adult American population smoked; by 2004, just over a fifth did. Though still in common use and still legally available, cigarettes somehow went from being widely consumed and accepted throughout the Western world to nearly universally discouraged and stigmatized — all in the course of a few decades.
Pornography is the single most searched-for item on the internet and also the most profitable.
The other moment in time captured by the opening description is our own, except that the substance under discussion this time around is not tobacco, but pornography — especially internet pornography, which today is just about as ubiquitous, as roundly defended by interested parties, and as widely accepted as an inevitable social fact as smoking was 50-odd years ago.
The ubiquity is plain. Pornography is the single most searched-for item on the internet and also the most profitable. It is referred to knowingly, whether explicitly or with a wink and a nod, in more public venues than one can possibly enumerate — including on phones and in video games and popular music, in comic books and on skateboards, among other areas of juvenile culture. Even the more “serious” quarters of the internet, those devoted to news and politics and general-interest blogs, are riddled with knowing references to pornography. As the protagonist of the recently chic movie Zack and Miri Make a Porno comments, “It’s all mainstream now.”
Today’s prevailing social consensus about pornography is practically identical to the social consensus about tobacco in 1963: i.e., it is characterized by widespread tolerance, tinged with resignation about the notion that things could ever be otherwise. After all, many people reason, pornography’s not going to go away any time soon. Serious people, including experts, either endorse its use or deny its harms or both. Also, it is widely seen as cool, especially among younger people, and this coveted social status further reduces the already low incentive for making a public issue of it. In addition, many people also say that consumers have a “right” to pornography — possibly even a constitutional right. No wonder so many are laissez-faire about this substance. Given the social and political circumstances arrayed in its favor, what would be the point of objecting?
Such is the apparent consensus of the times, and apart from a minority of opponents it appears very nearly bulletproof — every bit as bulletproof, in fact, as the prevailing laissez-faire public view of smoking did in 1963. In fact, just substitute the word “smoking” for that of “pornography” in the paragraph above, and the result works just as well.
And that is exactly the point of our opening thought experiment. Many people today share the notion that today’s unprecedented levels of pornography consumption are somehow fixed, immutable, a natural expression of (largely but not entirely male) human nature. Even people who deplore pornography seem resigned to its exponentially expanded presence in the culture. This is one genie, most people agree, that is out of the bottle for good.1
But this widely held belief, while understandable, overlooks a critical and perhaps potent fact. The example of tobacco shows that one can indeed take a substance to which many people are powerfully drawn and sharply reduce its consumption via a successful revival of social stigma. What might this transformation imply for today’s unprecedented rates of pornography consumption? Perhaps a great deal. For in one realm after another — as a habit, as an industry, as a battleground for competing ideas of the public good — internet pornography today resembles nothing so much as tobacco circa a half-century ago. Let us begin to count the ways.
Introduction to much longer article by Mary Eberstadt – to read go to http://www.hoover.org/publications/policyreview/41599902.html
Stop Porn Culture is planning our next training on how to present our feminist anti-pornography slideshow.
The training will be held at Wheelock College in Boston on June 5-7, 2009. We are asking for a $50 donation to cover our costs, but this can be waived for those who need it. Limited scholarships for travel and expenses are available (see below). The training will start at 5PM on Friday with a pizza and finger food dinner. We’ll finish up at 1PM on Sunday.
Come and get the experience, knowledge, and confidence to talk publicly against pornography in your community. The training will include some in-depth presentations on topics such as:
-background on the economic industry that is pornography
-First Amendment and other free speech issues
-women in the industry
-the question of “alternate” images
We will also have a long session of practicing Q & As in small groups. The training will end with a session on self-care for presenters and activists since, as many of you know, this work can be grueling.
We may have access to the dorms at Wheelock, which would offer an inexpensive lodging option. If you’d be interested in that, we’ll send you further notification when we hear back from the college.
For more information and a registration form email email@example.com
Due to the generosity of an anonymous donor, we are able to offer some scholarship money to participants who otherwise might not be able to come.
We are offering scholarships up to $100, which each participant will be free to apply to whatever expenses (transportation, lodging, etc) she chooses.
Sadly, there will of course be more applicants than scholarships. We are asking applicants to provide the following information so that the registration committee can decide how best to award the scholarships. Please don’t be nervous about grammar and prose; commitment and vision are much more important.
· A history of your activism.
· A list of affiliations and organizations to which you belong.
· A brief statement of what you hope to do with the information gathered at the training.
· The amount you are requesting (up to $100).
Deadline for applications is May 1, 2009. You can expect to hear from us soon after that.
Three-quarters of those exploited as modern-day slaves work in the sex industry.
In a new report, the United Nations says human trafficking for the sex trade or forced labor market appears to be getting worse, not better, because many countries aren’t paying attention to it.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) surveyed 155 countries for its report on modern-day slavery, but didn’t say how many people it believes are victims of human trafficking. Estimates range from 800,000 new victims each year, according to the U.S. State Department, to 2.5 million, according to the International Labor Organization.
UNODC chief Antonio Maria Costa told a news conference at UN headquarters in New York that 40 percent of the countries where the problem exists have not convicted one person of trafficking charges.
A large percentage of the perpetrators of human trafficking are women, UNODC chief Antonio Maria Costa says.Even when there are convictions, Costa said, they’re not as plentiful as convictions for crimes involving far fewer victims. In these countries, he said, authorities either ignore the problem or don’t have the resources to fight trafficking — or both.
“According to the statistics, about 80 percent of these crimes are concentrated on sexual exploitation,” Costa said. “But I warn you. This may be an optical illusion in the sense that it is the most commonly reported [crime], it is the most commonly visible [crime], and it is especially visible in rich countries — Europe, if you wish, [and] North America.”
Overall, the report said, 20 percent of those forced into the sex trade are under 18 years of age. But in Southeast Asia and parts of Africa, it said, minors make up the majority of sex slaves.
But enslaved children aren’t limited to the sex trade, according to the report. Because their hands are small, it says, they’re exploited as cheap labor — to untangle fishing nets, pick delicate berries, or do intricate sewing.
Seventy-nine percent of slavery is for sex, according to the UNODC, while about 18 percent is for forced labor, forced marriages, or forced organ donation. And although the victims of sex trafficking are usually women and girls, those in charge of the trafficking are women, too.
“In this specific case, the specific case of human trafficking, we see a very large presence of women. In some Eastern European countries, some former [Soviet Union] countries, Central Asian countries, even 60, 70, 80 [percent] — 83 percent in one case — of the perpetrators are women,” Costa said. “In some of the African countries, the majority of the perpetrators in this business unfortunately are women.”
Fighting human trafficking might be easier if it were an enterprise that always involved crossing borders. After all, Costa said, well-designed border security might intercept a significant percentage of the victims.
But that isn’t the case.
“It is not only trafficking from Southeast Asia into other parts of Asia or into Western Europe, it’s not only from Latin America to North America — these are the kind of flows which you probably have in mind,” Costa said. “There is a lot of exploitation within countries, large countries like the United States, large countries like some of the African countries, but also in smaller countries.”
There is some good news in the UNODC report.
In 2004, the UN enacted a special protocol to fight human trafficking. Since then, it said, 63 percent of the 155 countries surveyed have enacted laws against the practice.
But there was little else in the report to inspire much optimism. In fact, Costa said, the worldwide economic crisis is driving even more illicit business to the traffickers, particularly for cheap labor.
“The budget situation, the bottom line of so many enterprises, including the multinationals, who have been known in the past to use forced labor, cheap labor, child labor, in their supply chain — their budget, their financial situation, their financial predicament being so much more difficult than it was in the past — may very well induce them to use more than in the past cheap sources of labor,” Costa said. “Namely, the ones stemming from modern slavery.”
For over 25 years I have worked in Australia and overseas to prevent the sexual abuse and exploitation of children. One of the most horrendous developments that we have experienced in the last 15 years is the dramatic explosion in the global trade of child sexual abuse images on the internet.
Critics have argued that ISP filtering will be costly and slow down the internet but based on overseas experience this is not the case, says Child Wise CEO Bernadette McMenamin
The world was relatively unprepared to deal with this unprecedented phenomenon and it took some years for governments, law enforcers and child protection organisations to not only understand the nature of this issue but also how we should combat this trans-national problem.
Understanding why people in their hundreds of thousands around the world want to view images of children being raped is beyond belief to most people; however understanding the demand factor is critical and still a work in progress.
There are many complex reasons why people view child sexual abuse images on the internet. Not all viewers are child sex offenders. Some view these images out of curiosity or because it is taboo. Others seem to believe they will not be caught or do not believe they are harming a child by simply viewing these images. Others are serious child sex offenders who offend against children and use these images to share, trade and justify their abuse and beliefs.
While research is growing in this area, one thing is certain. Viewing child sexual abuse images on the internet can lead to direct contact offences against children. We as a nation must do all we possibly can to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation whether they be Australian children or children from overseas.
This is why I and most other child protection advocates and practitioners support the Federal government’s ISP filtering proposal. I also believe that the majority of Australians given the correct information on what the ISP filtering proposal involves would also agree.
In late 2006 Child Wise commissioned AC Neilson to conduct a survey of 1497 Australian internet users over the age of 18. The key outcomes of the survey were that 83 per cent believe that ISP’s should block all child pornography, 76 per cent would change to an ISP that blocked child pornography and 64 per cent are not confident that home based internet filters are effective.
Surprisingly Child Wise has also received calls from child sex offenders who support mandatory ISP filtering stating that this blocking mechanism would have reduced their desire to abuse children as their access to child sexual abuse images actually facilitated their offending.
The Federal Government’s proposal to block child sexual abuse images at the ISP level is only one strategy amongst many others that should be employed. Clearly we need to provide education to families and children to keep them safe on the internet. Law enforcement and education are also key strategies and prominent in the Federal Government’s Safe internet Policy.
Hundreds of millions of dollars is already being spent on law enforcement which is commendable but this only addresses the problem after the abuse has occurred. Millions of dollars is being spent on internet safety education and this is a critical strategy to keep children safe on the internet to prevent them from viewing illegal and harmful material as well as preventing them from being groomed by online sex offenders.
However ISP filtering of child pornography images would strengthen these current endeavors by blocking child pornography at the internet server level.
Critics of this new scheme have argued that ISP filtering of child sexual abuse images simply will not work. However these filters are actually working very effectively in Scandinavian countries and in the UK as well as in recent trials in New Zealand.
Critics have also argued that ISP filtering will be costly and slow down the internet. Again based on overseas experience this is not the case. The recent NZ study where filters were used to block child sexual abuse images on the internet found that the average cost increase per user would be approximately 4 cents per year.
Critics have also stated that ISP filtering of child sexual abuse images is censorship.
My argument is that how can blocking illegal material (which should not be produced or stored in the first place) be censorship?
Viewing child pornography should not even be considered as freedom of speech.
Another argument against ISP filtering is that most child sex offenders share images of children being sexually abused through networks such as peer to peer and newsgroups which will not be blocked through this new ISP filtering scheme. Out of all the critics’ arguments this is the one I agree with. No, not all images of children being sexually abused on the internet will be blocked but a certain number of these images will be. No one really knows whether the amount of images that will be blocked will be 20, 30, 50+ per cent but surely a reduction in any amount is worth the effort.
Currently the Federal government is conducting a trial into ISP filtering to ensure that it is effective to prevent access to child sexual abuse images. Again I would like to reiterate this is only one strategy amongst a suite of other strategies to prevent the sexual abuse of children on the internet. This trial will last a number of weeks and then after that verdict the results will be independently assessed to decide whether ISP filtering will work.
I believe it can and I hope that the trials will prove that blocking child sexual abuse images can work effectively and efficiently.
Having said that I remain open minded as I hope the critics of the scheme will wait until the trials have been independently conducted to decide on whether Australia should take this leap into ISP filtering.
If these trials do not work then I will accept the results – end of story. I just hope the critics, whatever their beliefs and motivations may be, will take the same attitude and not attempt to derail the trials if at the end ISP filtering of child sexual abuse images will protect the children of the world.
Americans and northern Europeans visiting Italy often comment on the sheer quantity of exposed female flesh in advertising and on TV shows.
That exposure is inversely proportional to the presence of women in the labor force, in management and in politics.
Feminists place a lot of the blame for the commercial use of the female body at the door of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
A recent popular TV show was a contest for two showgirl slots on a top satirical program. More than 5,000 women applied, and the prime requisites were perfect bodies and the ability to dance on tabletops.
Both on public television and on networks owned by Berlusconi, who also is a media tycoon, scantily dressed women can been seen — but rarely heard — on all types of programs, from quizzes to political talk shows.
Showgirl As Role Model
Opinion polls indicate that the showgirl is the No. 1 role model for young Italian women, including 21-year-old student Livia Colarietti.
“If I were a little thinner, I would have joined the contest to become a showgirl,” Colarietti says. “I enjoy those shows. I really like to watch them.”
One very successful showgirl is Mara Carfagna, who left an uncertain singing career for politics. Berlusconi chose her for the slot of minister of equal opportunity — and both denied media reports that they were having an affair.
Satirist Sabina Guzzanti has publicly scorned the former topless calendar girl.
“I took strong position because it is absolutely a scandal,” Guzzanti says. “Here we have more a pinup exactly than a showgirl, someone showing her body, and she became minister of equal opportunities.”
Veteran feminist Grazia Francescato concedes that Carfagna is winning with her ways.
“We have gone from equal opportunities to equal opportunism,” Francescato says. “You try to be very appealing to the other sex, especially to very powerful men. “I am very, very disappointed by women.”
Feminists were powerful in the 1970s, winning universal health care and legalization of divorce and abortion, but then there was a backlash.
Sexism In Italy
Today, Italy has the lowest percentage of working women in Europe. Only 2 percent of top management positions are held by women — that’s even behind Kuwait — and only 17 percent of the members of parliament are women — less than in Rwanda and Burundi.
Television has become women’s prime showcase.
“To sell your body for a calendar, for a career, is not considered now so bad for many young women,” says social scientist Elisa Manna, who has studied this issue’s impact on Italian society. “This kind of attitude is connected to television, because they have this kind of model in every hour of the day.”
With remote in hand, a viewer can zap from game shows with giggling girls in bikinis to prime-time anchorwomen with plunging necklines. All of this sexiness on television began with the birth of Berlusconi’s networks in the 1980s.
The 72-year-old prime minister speaks openly about sex. He recently bragged, “I sleep for three hours, and still have enough energy to make love for another three.”
Female Solidarity Out Of Fashion
The Berlusconi TV model is widely seen as having shaped Italy’s contemporary society, and journalist Lilli Gruber says feminism and solidarity among women are out of fashion.
A former TV anchorwoman who resigned from public television in protest over Berlusconi’s control of the media, Gruber says most women appear unwilling or unable to assert themselves and too weak to fight.
“To fight back against growing sexism, growing violence against women and domestic violence especially, fight back all these politicians who don’t move an inch in order to allow women to be in charge and take on responsibilities,” Gruber says.
She points out, however, that the majority of Italians now studying in universities are women — a generation that she believes won’t be passive and might even succeed in breaking down Italy’s old-boy network.
by Sylvia Poggioli NPR
Islamic parties said the law was needed to protect women and children against exploitation and to curb increasing immorality in Indonesian society.
The law would ban images, gestures or talk deemed to be pornographic.
Artists, women’s groups and non-Muslim minorities said they could be victimised under the law and that traditional practices could be banned.
The law has prompted protests across Indonesia, but particularly on the predominantly Hindu island of Bali – a favourite destination for tourists.
But there have also been demonstrations in favour of the bill by people alarmed at what they see as moral degeneration in Indonesia.
The law has been backed by hardline Islamic groups, says the BBC’s Lucy Williamson in Jakarta, but many moderate Muslims also back greater controls on pornographic materials.
About 90% of Indonesia’s 235 million people are Muslim, but there are Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and other minorities.
An original version of the bill would have banned skimpy clothing at tourist resorts.
Despite a lengthy and exhaustive revision process which watered down the bill, more than 100 legislators walked out of parliament before the vote.
They said the bill’s definition of pornography was too broad and that it went against Indonesia’s tradition of diversity.
Critics also do not like a provision in the bill that would allow members of the public to participate in preventing the spread of obscenity.
“We’re worried it will be used by hard-liners who say they want to control morality,” Baby Jim Aditya, a women’s rights activist, told Associated Press news agency.
“It could be used to divide communities.”
Supporters of the bill said it still leaves room for legitimate artistic expression and that it does not target non-Muslims.
“This law will ensure that Islam is preserved and guaranteed,” said Hakim Sori Muda Borhan, a member of parliament from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party.
“It is also not in the interest of any specific religion. The law is also meant to preserve arts and culture and not destroy them.”
The bill must be signed by the president before it comes into effect.
Violators face up to 12 years in prison and hefty fines.
The anti-pornography bill aims to shield the young from lewd acts, but also contains provisions that could jail people for kissing in public and criminalise many forms of art or traditional culture that hinge on sensuality.
The Islam-based Prosperous Justice Party, known as PKS suddenly announced it hoped the bill would pass this month as a “Ramadan gift” to Indonesia’s muslims.
The Balinese fear the new laws could be used to target the bikini-wearing tourists on which its economy relies.
The bill was expected to be passed next Tuesday but the negative reactions have stalled its progress for now. Critics also say the proper enforcement of existing laws would be a good idea before any more are created.
Interview with Ruth Anne Koenick director of Rutgers’ Department of Sexual Assault Services and Crime Victim Assistance by Robert Jensen
I met Ruth Anne Koenick at a dinner before my talk on the feminist critique of pornography at Rutgers University in 1997. I had been doing public presentations on that issue for several years, but that was the first time an institution had paid my plane fare to give a lecture. As a young professor, I was a bit nervous but also was feeling pretty self-important.
Koenick was seated next to me, and when I introduced myself she said, “I’ve seen a lot of men who’ve figured out how to make money off of women’s pain. Are you one of them?”
I admit that I was taken aback, but the question was important and appropriate. I was getting a modest honorarium for the talk, but as a full-time academic who is paid a reasonable salary by my university, I could live without it. Independent writers and artists typically need the support that comes from speaking fees to survive, but I can easily donate that money to activist groups. So, I asked if she thought it would be appropriate for me to sign over the speaking fee to her center, and Koenick accepted.
I will forever be indebted to her for that in-your-face comment. In my first attempt at being an “expert,” Koenick reminded me of all the wrong ways I could use my privilege as a white guy with a university position to put myself above the feminist anti-violence movement, from which I had learned most of what I knew. Koenick later told me she regretted being inappropriately rude, but I suggested it wasn’t necessary to apologize for asking the right question.
Ever since that night I have stayed in touch with Koenick, continuing to be impressed by (1) the great work she and her staff were doing, and (2) how little she seemed to recognize her own accomplishments. As we have talked about her experience in the feminist anti-violence movement — and as the dominant culture increasingly has pretended to be “post-feminist” — I began to nag her about putting her insights down on paper. Each time she insisted that her life wasn’t interesting enough and that she didn’t have anything insightful to say. Eventually I wore her down, persuading her that women like her from the “second wave” of feminism should not stay silent, and we finally conducted an interview.
The term second-wave feminism is used to mark the U.S. women’s movement that emerged in the 1960s, distinct from the women’s suffrage movement — the first wave — that won the vote in 1920. In the 1990s, the idea of third-wave feminism became popular, though it has never been clear why the crucial insights of the second wave had become irrelevant or why the political work that second-wavers had initiated was somehow magically over. Nowhere is this clearer than in the public-health crisis of epidemic levels of men’s violence against women, where the brutality of patriarchy is so obvious and the analysis and activism of second-wave feminists remains more needed than ever.
The stories of women such as Koenick are more important than ever for all of us — women and men — to hear.
Robert Jensen: Can you recall the first time you understood what feminism meant and identified as a feminist yourself?
Ruth Anne Koenick: I am not sure I can define a specific time and, in truth, I am not sure that I totally understand it now. I am the youngest of four children and I was lucky to be raised to be an independent thinker by both my parents. They taught me to question things and that I could be anything I wanted to be, that there were no barriers — I was as good as anyone else, male or female. Although there were some specific expectations — go to college, get married and have children — I was encouraged to have a career and to make decisions for myself; I never really felt constricted. My mother was an independent woman and, although she did some very traditional things, she also clearly had a mind of her own and was in control of her life in a way that was unique for someone born at the turn of the 20th century. I think some of this came from my father, an immigrant from Russia in 1920 who lived through the revolution, WWI, the pogroms — he really was a hippie before there were hippies. He had overcome a lot to make it in this country, and nothing was going to keep him or his family second class.
RJ: Was there a defining moment as you got older?
RAK: When I was actively involved in the anti-war movement of the 1960s, I had an awakening, almost like the old “click” that feminists talk about, when it became clear to me that issues pertaining to women were so intricately intertwined in what we were doing. It was also clear that the men “in charge” gave only lip service to anything that was of importance to women, that we were always at the bottom of the food chain. Like others, I got tired of “making coffee and not policy” and began to look at that movement, my surroundings, and my life in a very different way.
There were other things, such as hassles my husband and I faced because I didn’t take his last name. A married couple with different names is not unusual today, but in 1973 it presented real challenges — banks not giving us credit or not printing both names on a card, a newspaper printing only his name and not mine in my father-in-law’s obituary. That was all part of a process that got me to look at the broader picture of how our culture encourages and rewards the subordination of women.
RJ: So, in 1970 you were a student at the University of Maryland with this emerging feminist worldview, and you helped start a rape crisis center on campus. How did that come about?
RAK: I was an undergraduate working for residence life, on the cusp of trying to decide what I wanted to do when I grew up. I was living on campus when a student on my floor was abducted and raped. I went to meet her at the police station and then to the hospital, and I felt totally inept, but I knew enough to know that she wasn’t getting what she needed. I wasn’t allowed to talk to her, and we were kept in separate rooms. She was all alone and no matter what I did, I couldn’t talk to her. I realized the system wasn’t working for victims.
Sometime later, there was a series of abductions and rapes that overwhelmed the university, not because people didn’t want to help but because we didn’t know how. It hit the front pages of the Baltimore Sun and Washington Post, and it became an even bigger issue. I teamed up with two friends who also worked for residence life and were in grad school, Chris Courtois and Debby Watts, and worked with folks in student affairs to open a campus rape crisis center. It operated on the beg-borrow-and-steal budget, but we got support from Dan Bratton, the Vice President for Student Affairs, and others in leadership positions, partially because he made them do this and partially because some of them knew it was the right thing to do.
We really didn’t know much but quickly discovered that we knew more than others, and when we started to talk about this publicly, women came out from the woodwork to tell us what had happened to them. Eventually we got space in the health center, developed training, took overnight shifts, and responded to crisis calls. We developed a really good relationship with the university police and, in retrospect, worked as a team. This was 1973-74, just before the first Burgess and Holmstrom book (Rape: Victims of Crisis) came out in 1975 and people began to use the term rape-trauma syndrome.
RJ: Can you remember how you came to a feminist consciousness about the gender politics of this specific issue, of rape? What was that process by which you and your colleagues deepened your understanding of sexual assault?
RAK: I am one of those people teaching in women and gender studies who has never taken a women’s studies course, and I’m still not all that well-read in academic feminist theory. When I was in college, there weren’t any women’s studies courses, although I do vividly remember demonstrating on campus to get them. Most of my knowledge is rooted in experience. In the beginning almost everything I learned came from survivors — their feelings, thoughts, beliefs.
Once we started looking at the issue, it was clear most men don’t rape but, of course, almost all rapists are men. As we started to understand sexism throughout society, we couldn’t help but see the reality of rape and sexism. Over the years I have learned a lot from colleagues and some key writers — (Andrea) Dworkin, (Susan) Brownmiller, (Ann Wolbert) Holmstrom and (Lynda Lytle) Burgess — but really it has been mostly my clients who have helped me understand what they need. When I don’t have a clue, they have helped me help them.
RJ: You pretty consistently underplay what you know and what you’ve done. It doesn’t strike me as just false modesty. Why do you do that?
RAK: As I look back over 38 years, probably like most people in my age group who do this work, we went on our instincts and learned by trial and error, and the research and writings confirmed our inner feelings. My dear friend Chris Courtois was just honored as a distinguished alumni from the University of Maryland, and I just received the Wynona M. Lipman Leadership Award for the state of New Jersey. Chris and I recognized that what we’ve accomplished was born of our passion long before we had any technical knowledge. I like what Drew Gilpin Faust, the president of Harvard University, said: “One of the things that I think characterizes my generation…is that I’ve always been surprised by how my life turned out.” I am continuously surprised that I do what I do and that people see me as having done something special. I think what is special is the people who taught me what to do and how to be helpful, and that has been a process, not a moment in time. I also need to credit my parents who taught me that with privilege comes obligation and that I had an obligation to help “repair the world” and to be actively engaged in my community.
RJ: What have been the costs and rewards for you in this work?
RAK: In retrospect, the rewards have been far more than can fit in this interview — my experiences have helped shape me as a person, a woman, a wife and mother, and a friend. It has shaped how I see the world and how I see myself, and most of the time I feel really good about who I am. But the sacrifices have been many. A crisis isn’t scheduled, and being on call, running a one-person office in the early years, having a commitment to help survivors begin their recovery no matter when that happens — all affected my ability to have more time with my children and husband, led to shorter (if any) vacations, and were a general interruption into my daily life. I remember moving in with my mother during the last days of her life and taking phone calls from work about people in need. It may have been the first time I told people that I had no more to give, that I couldn’t help them while I was experiencing this excruciatingly raw and tragic loss.
At another level, hearing so many painful stories helps me keep my life in perspective, to see my own problems in the bigger scheme of things. But some days, I must admit that I think I can’t bear to hear one more story about abuse and violence without breaking. Many years ago I worked with a young woman who had AIDS and was then raped. Everything I knew about helping someone recover went out the window because she had no sense of future. She was saying, “All I want to do is live to be 25.” Every time she would leave I would close the door and cry. I have moments when I say I can’t do this one more minute, and I weep.
RJ: As you look back at where the feminist movement to confront men’s violence started, and then reflect on where we are today, are you optimistic? Hopeful? Have we made progress or lost ground?
RAK: Answering this almost depends on the day, perhaps hour or even minute that you catch me. I have such mixed feelings about where we are, have been, and need to go. Most days I feel like we are fighting many of the same battles we fought almost 40 years ago: no dependable funding, poorly paid advocates, a culture that is judgmental and victim blaming, a profound fear of the dreaded “f” word as a descriptive term of our values, and an increasing — yes, increasing — acceptability of the desecration and degradation of people in general and women in particular. For example, people who willingly expose their vulnerabilities for a few moments of canned fame, and those who exploit those people for a few dollars, send a clear message about how little we value each other. The increased degradation of women and overt racism in pornography in the past couple of decades is another example.
I think there are some things that are better, but only at a certain level. Yes, there are rape care programs, and there is state and federal funding for a small piece of those programs. Maybe the prosecutor and I know each other well enough to chat and have lunch, but does that mean that the criminal-justice system is any more likely to treat a survivor well, to take her seriously today than years ago? The language has changed — we can say “rape” out loud and teach about it in courses — but has that changed the underlying belief system? People don’t come out of the womb wanting to be rapists nor believing that they are to blame when they are victims, but that’s where so many end up. What does that say about the culture’s belief systems?
Here’s just one example: I watched a youtube piece about the sexism directed at Hillary Clinton, click here and no matter who a person supports for president, this is a reminder of how far we haven’t come. I have to say that, in those moments, I don’t feel very hopeful. I still care about the work, which motivates me to sit through countless boring meetings that come with that work. I also am surrounded by wonderful colleagues, friends and family who make it easier to get through the day. I’m grateful for what I get to do, and at the same time I’m counting the days until retirement.
RJ: Is it possible that all these things are true? We have made enormous strides in forcing the culture to recognize that, after thousands of years of patriarchy, contempt for women is woven deeply into the fabric of the society and that violence against women is a huge public-health problem. And, at the same time, large segments of the population don’t want to face that and so minimize or deny the problem. In that sense, is it the case that the women of your generation pushed the society forward and as a result we see how far we have to go? Could we say the same about racism? Is that just our fate at this point in history?
RAK: One of my favorite people once said, “Rape is illegal, but the sexual ethic that underlies rape is woven into the fabric of our culture.” I just re-read the Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions written in 1848, and I think that great strides have been made, that women have a greater control over their lives and their bodies. When I really think about it, at least at an intellectual level, I know life has changed in countless ways. But in my heart and perhaps in my daily life, I don’t see much progress. Maybe it is because of the world I work in or because I’m so aware of how contempt for women infiltrates so much that we do in this culture. When I was once accused of not having a sense of humor, I responded that I have a great sense of humor about things that are funny. But when people in public life laugh at comedians who refer to women in degrading terms, it demonstrates how little women are valued. When men in leadership positions say they are concerned about equality for women because they have daughters, I say shame on you — how could you be so selfish? Why aren’t you concerned because it is just wrong? The same thing applies to issues of race and sexual orientation — discrimination and degradation are wrong no matter who is in your family, no matter how it affects you personally.
Believing that this is all just our fate and can’t really be changed is a bit on the depressing side. So, I have to find ways to feel good about getting out of bed in the morning, and I do. I find ways to not be brought down by how our culture devalues a majority of the population. It’s a struggle, but I find ways.
RJ’s last word: Koenick’s first reaction to my interest in writing about her work had been disbelief. She asked, “What’s so special about me?” My answer was, “Nothing, and everything.” Koenick is one of thousands of women who have built and sustained the anti-rape movement, which has helped millions of victims and tried to educate the culture. In a time of backlash, when even some women mock feminism, understanding the lives of women such as like Koenick — remembering the history and not turning away from the present struggle — is crucial. Her story reminds us that change is possible, even against deeply rooted systems of oppression, and that the people who propel forward progressive social change are profoundly ordinary and extraordinarily remarkable, all at the same time.
Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center. His latest book, All My Bones Shake: Radical Politics in the Prophetic Voice, will be published in 2009 by Soft Skull Press. He also is the author of Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity (South End Press, 2007); The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege (City Lights, 2005); Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity (City Lights, 2004); and Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream (Peter Lang, 2002). Jensen’s articles can be found online at http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~rjensen/index.html.
Related Pornography contributing to atrocities against women in the Congo say GAD
We saw with painful shock a cartoon in The New Vision(*) issue of September 10, captioned ‘Now Rock Bar will never fall short of supplies again.’
It made us wonder about the editor’s moral standing. That he would need to ‘import’ a whole lot of Rwandan women in exchange for ‘oil’!
We are dismayed! Firstly, by his perverted ignorance as an editor working for what we would dare to want to believe is a ‘credible’ national paper, whose objective is to report fairly with responsibility, on matters social, political and economic.
A misogynistic attitude that goes against the fact that journalism ethics in our modest profession, have since been rescued from the throes of a gutter press, that feeds on the sexualisation of women in our society.
Gone are the days when legs and breasts sold news! The woman and the African woman in particular has gained her place of respectability in our society.
Women are no longer just helpless pawns of insatiable male sexual appetites. Mr. Editor, women are no longer sex objects. Women have legs, breasts and dare I name what else? And so do you have ears, legs and rest of the body anatomy that qualifies you to be a man. Let us not practice journalism that rewards sick minds.
Sick minds that rape minors; are we not the same journalists who report on the rape of helpless little seven-year old girls?
Or the sodomy of helpless little boys? These sick minds know no boundaries. Sadly, your kind of gutter journalism applauds them on, in promoting this kind of sexual violence against women.
You violate fundamental ethos of our profession, to advocate, educate and inform our societies in a manner that fosters positive change, by positively influencing our day to day behavior.
A child’s mind is very impressionable. Its development is affected by many things. Imagine the confusion a child goes through when they see, ‘naked’ women in your paper!
In that respect, we shall not be afraid or let me say Rwandan woman will not be abused into fearing to show her gazelle-like legs, or her dazzling beauty, just because some editor like you will gleefully and wantonly feast on it.
Giving the go ahead for such a cartoon to run leaves no option but such a scenario of you to be conjured up in one’s mind.
Mr. Editor, you have chosen to attack the wrong country or dare I say the wrong woman? The ‘Munyarwandakazi’ has pushed the women’s liberation cause to other heights; she is not seen as a sex object or subject for that.
Heights that even the so called established democracies in our world struggle to match, 49 percent Parliamentary female representation is no easy feat!
The ‘Munyarwandakazi’ has survived rape, torture and murder. Notwithstanding that her victories at representing the dignified face of the African woman; is one which your cartoon insults today.
We will not go into her many achievements in breaking traditional barriers to female success; in what have been traditionally believed to be male domains in both her private and public life. She certainly is not a sex object. We take exception!
Mr. Editor, rather than juxtaposing oil tankers entering Rwanda from Uganda and Rwandan women leaving their country as ‘export’ merchandise, I would rather you used a cartoon of Ugandan ‘men’ seeking Rwandan women.
Not just for past times, as Rwandan women are too proud and way above that, but to seek their hand in marriage! It will only take a real man to accept the law that a woman has a right to land and property.
A Rwandan woman will not tolerate a man who expects to just be a ‘man’ and order her around. It’s no wonder that Rwanda is getting so many accolades, both men and women are working at an equal footing with the aim of uplifting their families and society.
I would like to dare sisters, fellow journalists, not just in Rwanda but the African community too, to come in condemnation of your most distasteful portrayal of a woman who otherwise deserves better.
Let our children not grow up with the wrong mentality picked up from what should be credible national papers, papers that disrespect the girl child and women.
Grace Kwinjeh is a senior journalist who writes in her personal capacity.
(*) The New Vision in Uganda
The media are awash with news of defilement. Defilers traumatise and predispose their victims to the risk of HIV infection. Last year 12,230 defilement cases were reported to the Police, while in 2006, 15,385 cases were reported. Many more cases go unreported for fear of shame.
Much as the Government should be applauded for the Presidential Initiative for AIDS Strategy Communication to Youth programme which has expanded HIV prevention education to primary schools, more needs to be done to eliminate defilement in schools and other predisposing factors like exposure to pornography.
It is cynical that a nation whose motto is For God and my country has its print media flooded with tabloids. Furthermore, the advertising media industry has exposed the nation to unprecedented levels of pornography and obscenity.
Pornography refers to any graphic (pictorial) or any other forms of communication that is intended to incite sexual feelings. It has spread to schools, universities and offices.
In rural areas, video shacks operating battery-controlled equipment show pornographic movies.
With the advent of multichannel television, children have access to this material at the click of a remote button.
Pornography also seems to be the central business on which Internet cafés are thriving. However, the consequences are dire.
Studies indicate that children exposed to pornography are vulnerable and can be affected for life.
The influx of pornography has created a class of people who believe they are ‘sex animals’ and young children have fallen prey to them.
Steven Langa, in his book Pornography in Uganda; The naked truth details some of the devastating consequences of pornography on society.
The book contains many personal testimonies ranging from deviant sexual behaviour, sex orgies in school, rape, and defilement to masturbation and its role in the spread of HIV. The victims suffer fear, guilt and shame for life if they do not get counselling.
Similarly, a survey done in the US revealed that 35% of men who were exposed to pornography on regular basis confessed willingness to rape a woman “If they can get away with it.” This is a lot easier in Africa where a number of women have low self esteem. This could become a breeding ground for rapists.
The majority of Uganda’s population structure is dominated by the youth, many of whom do not have strong moral values. They are, therefore, bound to be influenced by emerging negative moral trends.
This is made worse by the fact there few resources and experts to deal with some of the consequences of pornography.
Where are the moralists of our times? Fans of pornography should be educated that what goes in determines what comes out. If you spend quality time reading newspapers, you will think and talk about news but if you spend time reading pornography, your mind will be preoccupied with it.
To fight HIV and AIDS effectively, Uganda should fight pornography and other pre-disposing factors.
The Media Council and other relevant authorities that barred the staging of the infamous play, Vagina monologues, could use the same mandate to purge this nation of pornography.
Alternatively, they can gazette places where such materials are sold to protect the rest of the public from viewing such obscenities.
If such radical steps are not taken, Uganda could reverse the gains made in reducing the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate.
By Apophia Agiresaasi
The writer is the SPH – CDC HIV/AIDS fellow at Parliament
DISY deputy Tasos Mitsopoulos revealed that the German authorities had informed Cyprus of the production of child pornography on the island, which had been uploaded onto the internet.
The scenes, he added, included sexual depictions of children with animals.
Nothing could be done, however, as all evidence of the crime had been deleted, under internet supply laws, which provide that personal data is kept for six months and then destroyed.
According to Mitsopoulos, by the time the Cyprus authorities were notified, more than six months had elapsed and there was therefore no evidence to bring a criminal offence.
The claims clearly shocked his fellow House Crime Committee members, who had convened to discuss the problem of child pornography in Cyprus.
“The information that was handed over by the German authorities said that child pornography material was being produced in Cyprus, which in fact showed children participating in various scenes with animals,” Mitsopoulos said after the meeting. “But it was not possible to investigate whether this information had any basis or not, as the necessary evidence could not be gathered to start criminal offence procedures, because the supplier invoked the fact that the information had been wiped out. The six months that are provided by the relevant law had already passed.”
The law states that internet subscribers’ personal data can be kept by suppliers for a maximum of six months and then there is an obligation to delete it, unless in the meantime a criminal offence has been spotted.
“In this case, we see exactly that the problem of child pornography has entered our country, our homes,” Mitsopoulos pointed out. “That there is even production of materials in Cyprus and this must be of great concern to us.”
Whether the depictions involved Cypriot children or not could no longer be determined.
The head of the police Internet Crime Office, Markos Nikolettas, did not exclude the possibility of child porn material being produced in Cyprus.
However, he said he was not aware of the specific case as no investigation had taken place and he could therefore not comment further.
Nikolettas did say, however, that the greatest internet danger faced by children today was chat rooms, where adults present themselves as children, aiming to sexually exploit them.
Out of 80,000 CyTA internet subscribers, only 2,000 have so far taken advantage of the authority’s free service that prevents children from accessing sites that have to do with pornography, drugs and other dangers – CyTA representative Sophocles Hadjisophocleous told deputies.
Committee Chairman Stavros Evagorou of AKEL said there was a worrying increase in reported cases involving child pornography. He called for an increase in the time for which personal data is held by internet suppliers to a year.
Evagorou also proposed information campaigns for the public and the preparation of a co-ordinated body to deal with “this scourge”.
Child Commissioner Leda Koursoumba requested the preparation of a national strategy that would examine the issue spherically.
July 8 -11, 2008
We’ve had overwhelming interest in scholarships to the summer institute on Media Madness. In order to accommodate as many people as possible, we are offering a two and a half day training as an alternative to the full institute. This training is free, though if you can give $50 we would appreciate it.
We will start on July 9th at 1PM and go until July 11th at 4PM.We will be covering many of the same things as the full institute but focus more on fighting the porn culture and hands-on training in giving the anti-porn slideshow. Though we will be using space at Wheelock, there is no college credit available for this training. You can sign up to stay at the dorms, which are $45/night for a double and $35/night for a single.
If you are interested in attending this modified version, we need to hear back from you ASAP.
PLEASE NOTE: DO NOT call Wheelock as they are not handling this training. Contact us here are at the SPC email account.
If you want college credit, then you have to register and pay for the full, four-day Media Madness institute through Wheelock. If you want to attend the four-day Media Madness institute without credit, then you will also need to pay and register through Wheelock. There are NO scholarships available for the four-day institute.
Full details at http://www.wheelock.edu/professional/prof_institutes_desc.asp
We hope that one of these options will work for everyone. Feel free to email if you have any questions. http://www.stoppornculture.org/contact.html
I will be racing in the 2008 Coeur D’Alene Ironman, a distinguished athletic event – one day, one race: swim, bike, run, 140.6 miles. I will be racing in an effort to raise money for Stop Porn Culture, a pioneering non-profit organization of which I am a cofounder.
Stop Porn Culture is dedicated to challenging the pornography industry and an increasingly pornographic pop culture by working to end sexual exploitation, sexism, and sexist portrayals of women and girls in the media.
Stop Porn Culture coordinates and presents social research grounded in feminist analyses of sexist, racist, and economic oppression.
Stop Porn Culture affirms a sexuality rooted in equality, free of exploitation, coercion, and violence, and brings attention to the loss of the sacred in real life everywhere.
Stop Porn Culture insists that we face this assault with courage, that we see it, feel it, and live it in such a way that creates transformation.
Corporate drive for profits is damaging girls, women and eroding healthy relationships
College-age women often come to Professor Gail Dines in tears after she lectures about how popular culture has become poisoned with a hyper sexuality that demands women offer themselves to any man who asks.
The young women feel isolated and alone because they refuse to degrade themselves in exchange for male companionship, said the professor of sociology and women’s studies at Wheelock College in Boston and founder of the Stop Porn Culture movement. It’s time to end a corporate-driven effort to promote “slut culture” in the United States, Professor Dines said.
The oppression and misuse of women is not new to America, or American culture, but many see a crisis of misogynistic and racist elements that are damaging the soul of the nation and hurting children, women and men in the process.
Black women, in particular, have historically been portrayed as sexual objects to justify slavery, rape, sexual abuse and denial of respect and opportunity, advocates and scholars say. Negative messages solely concerned with “hotness” and sex appeal are also being pushed on adolescents and younger girls in a dangerous way, advocates warn.
Adolescence is the time when girls form an identity based on messages from society, said Professor Dines. If the messages focus on physical attributes and access to men, the young girls are not growing in a healthy way, she said. Professor Dines will be featured at “The Sexualization of Childhood” symposium, June 13-14, at Point Park University in Pittsburgh.
The American Psychological Association, in a study released last year, reported that girls and young women suffered intellectual, psychological and physical problems as a result of messages that push sexualization, which is defined as a “person’s value coming only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics; a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy; a person is sexually objectified—that is, made into a thing for others’ sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making, and/or; sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person.”
Researchers looked at a wide form of media—television, music videos, music lyrics, magazines, movies, video games and the internet as well as advertising campaigns and found messages in advertising, merchandising and products aimed at girls.
According to the research, the sexualization of girls and young women:
* undermined feelings of confidence and comfort with their own bodies, leading to emotional and self-image problems, such as shame and anxiety;
* was linked with three of the most common mental health problems diagnosed in girls and women—eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression or depressed mood;
* had negative consequences on girls’ ability to develop a healthy sexual self-image.
Marketing sex to children
“A lot of very sexual products are being marketed to very young kids,” said University of Iowa journalism professor Gigi Durham. “I’m criticizing the unhealthy and damaging representations of girls’ sexuality, and how the media present girls’ sexuality in a way that’s tied to their profit motives.”
“The body ideals presented in the media are virtually impossible to attain, but girls don’t always realize that, and they’ll buy an awful lot of products to try to achieve those bodies. There’s endless consumerism built around that,” she said.
When a teen TV sensation was pictured nearly nude in a Vanity Fair magazine controversy erupted. “Although Disney’s ‘Hannah Montana’ franchise was reportedly one of the most prolific in the industry, following Miley Cyrus’ recent photo shoot with Annie Leibovitz in which she is pictured with her bare back, covered only by a piece of fabric, looking sensually at the camera, audiences for the latest episode of the show dropped 14% from the previous fresh episode, which aired just under two months earlier, New York Daily News reported,” according to writer Chris Georg of eFluxMedia.com. The piece was headlined “Miley Covers Up As ‘Hannah Montana’ Ratings Drop.”
“Compared to the first original show of the year, which aired in January, viewership for Sunday’s show was down 26%. An estimated 3.1 million viewers tuned in for ‘Hannah’s’ 7 p.m. Sunday edition, which aired out of the network’s usual pattern for fresh episodes,” wrote Mr. Georg.
Others appear less worried about public opinion and more obsessed with profits from pushing adult-style products on children. According to Ms. Durham, Abercrombie & Fitch sold little girls thong underwear tagged with the phrases “eye candy” and “wink wink.” Young readers of the magazine Seventeen were offered “405 ways to look hot” like Paris Hilton.
The sexualization of ‘tween girls, girls between the ages of 8 and 12, is a growing problem fueled by marketers’ efforts to create cradle-to-grave consumers, Ms. Durham explained.
“The consequences of the sexualization of girls in media today are very real and are likely to be a negative influence on girls’ healthy development,” said Eileen L. Zurbriggen, PhD, chair of the American Psychological Association Task Force and associate professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
“Years ago there used to be separate worlds for children. Now they are exposed to the same things adults experience. Today we have very young parents and we aren’t protecting our children. Popular psychology said that this was OK,” explained Dr. Tarshia Stanley, a Spelman College English professor.
“As a result, we have really high rates of teen pregnancy in the industrialized world, twice that of the U.K. and eight times that of Japan,” added Ms. Durham.
The increased sexualization of young girls coincides with the increase over time in teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and single parent households. According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, Black women have the highest teen pregnancy rate (134 per 1,000 women aged 15-19), followed by Hispanics (131 per 1,000) and non-Hispanic whites (48 per 1,000). Although the pregnancy rate among Black teens has decreased 40 percent between 1990 and 2000, more than the overall U.S. teen pregnancy rate declined during the same period, it still remains the highest in the country.
A March report by the Centers for Disease Control found Black teenage girls had the highest prevalence of sexually transmitted disease at 48 percent compared to 20 percent among both Whites and Mexican Americans. “Moreover, one in four girls in this country have had a sexually transmitted disease. We are not doing it right; we are not giving these girls what they need,” said Dr. Stanley.
Oppression, racism and Black females
La Vida Davis, of the Chicago-based Asha Group, sees the use of sexual and harmful images as part of the historical degradation of Black women and oppression. Her group co-sponsored a Mother’s Day campaign in Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles that gave radio stations an approved playlist of alternative songs to counter corporate driven and sexually-oriented songs. She also quickly points out that music is only one part of the problem.
Historically women across all races have been seen as property, but Black women have been especially debased, she observed. During slavery, the Black woman’s value was connected to how many children she could bear and servicing the sexual needs of slave owners, Ms. Davis said. The current situation is consistent with America’s sad history and a White patriarchal society, she said.
Another problem is Black internalization of oppression, which is borne out in the “pimp and hoe” culture and even support for singer R. Kelly, who is accused of sexual crimes against a child, she said.
Singer Beyonce is talented, but her clothing line, which doesn’t show skin still sells lip gloss and grown folks clothes to children, Ms. Davis said. It’s unsettling that clothes are sold to children that look like clothes made for adults, she said.
“It says you are valuable for how you look,” said the activist and community organizer. Little girls are taught to trade their bodies for benefits and acceptance, Ms. Davis said. Their only value is what they can be used for and for boys the question is how many “hoes” do I have, she added.
“Boys as well as girls are put in boxes to play out this foolishness,” she said.
Professor Dines, of Wheelock College, believes the aggressive sexual culture and negative images of Black men promoted by White corporate execs is undermining Black male and female relationships. The Black community is the most besieged community in America and if you break down and undermine the relationships, just like Whites did in slavery, it allows for control of Blacks, she said.
The hyper sexual image of the Black woman was used to justify raping Black women in slavery, Professor Dines said. The self image of Black girls that traditionally rose during their teen years is being chipped away and all girls are engaging in more indiscriminate sex, she said.
“They are capitulating because they don’t know any alternative,” Professor Dines said.
Overall relationships are suffering as men find it difficult to have healthy relationships with women because of exposure to pornography, she added. These men are often very upset because they are experiencing real problems, Professor Dines added.
“While people protest the images they see on channels like BET, people are rewarded for these images. Girls see that the ones who do this get money, glamour, fame and power. The anti-BET message is just one in a whirlwind of thousands of messages about sex that girls receive,” said Dr. Stanley of Spelman College.
“Music is now all about sex. In order to groove to a beat, the body is moving, but what you are doing is the sex act standing up,” said the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, in a lecture at Mosque Maryam, where he talked about the value of women.
‘Let girls be girls’
In Ms. Durham’s new book, “The Lolita Effect,” she identifies the myths of sexuality that are believed by many in society. Sexual representations of children are getting younger with images of girls as young as 11 or 12, Ms. Durham said.
Chris Richburg, writing on allhiphop.com took on Beyonce and ads for her new House of Dereon kids clothing line, Dereon Girls. “The ads apparently show seven-year-old girls wearing feather boas, leopard hats, full make-up and high heels as they pose in front of the camera. … I know you got to make that money, but having a bunch of mini-yous on display may not be the best way to go. Tone it down and let the girls be girls.”
Black men and women need healthier relationships that are not so focused on looks and appreciate individual gifts everyone has, said Ms. Davis.
Blacks must become conscious consumers and parents must communicate with children about messages in the media, music and society, she said. “We got talk about it, it’s not enough to say this bad and censor it,” she said.
Alternatives in music, books and movies and need to be supported, Ms. Davis continued. Teen actress Raven Symone, who also has a show on the Disney Channel, has had an amazing career, she said.
Issues like sexual assault and domestic violence must also be included into larger Black agendas and not seen as separate, Ms. Davis added. The subjugation of women and girls is connected to failing education, lack of jobs and other oppression, she said. “How sisters go goes the race,” Ms. Davis said.
by Richard Muhammad and Nisa Islam Muhammad (FinalCall.com)
“ … The Final Call Newspaper is the country’s leading source for news and information about issues and events relative to the Black community. … The Final Call Online Edition was initially started as a simple promotional tool developed by Nation of Islam college students for the historic Million Man March in 1995. Receiving millions of visits since its inception, it has grown into the online companion to the Final Call Newspaper. … ”
A ‘rapid expansion’ of lap-dancing clubs across the UK has been allowed by the government despite concerns about links with prostitution and human trafficking, according to an influential report to be issued this week.
A coalition of MPs, peers, government advisers and think-tanks says that lap dancing has exploited the 2005 Licensing Act – a flagship piece of government legislation – allowing hundreds of new clubs to open in the face of opposition from councils, residents and police.
The result is that there are now more than 300 in the UK, with applications to open scores more. The small town of Stourbridge in the West Midlands has five pubs but two lap-dancing clubs. Along Hackney Road in east London there are now five lap-dancing clubs within a mile.
Object, the campaign calling for a change in the law to have lap-dancing clubs reclassified as ‘sex encounter establishments’ and therefore subject to tighter regulation, blames a loophole in the legislation which has put lap-dancing clubs in the same category as cafes, karaoke bars and pubs, making it relatively easy to obtain licences.
This week’s report highlights the link between lap dancing and criminality, citing research that links clubs to prostitution and human trafficking.
The proliferation of lap-dancing clubs, adds the report, has fuelled an ‘increased demand for the purchase of sex’ while encouraging ‘factors driving human trafficking flows’.
A Summer Institute/Training for Educators, Students, Human Service Professionals, Activists and Parents
July 8-11 2008 at Wheelock College, Boston.
For the 14th consecutive year, Wheelock College is offering a very popular summer institute on the role that the media (television, magazines, advertising, pornography, video games and music videos) plays in shaping our gender identity, our intimate relationships, our children’s lives, and ultimately our culture. The institute is taught by Dr Gail Dines, author of Pornography: The Production and Consumption of Inequality, and Dr. Diane Levin, author of the forthcoming So Sexy So Soon.
Participants will learn:
o How media violence affects behavior and contributes to violence in society
o How media images perpetuate and legitimize sexism, racism, consumerism and economic inequality
o How political and economic forces shape the media
o How media affects children’s ideas about sexual behavior and relationships with others
o How to critically deconstruct media images and develop media literacy skills
o How to become active in advocacy, community building and grass roots organizing
As a way to accommodate the needs of the participants, this year two days of the institute will be split into the following tracks:
1. Fighting the porn culture: how to think about and organize against the increasing pornification of our society. Led by Dr. Gail Dines, with guest lectures by feminist educators and activists
2. Combating the hazards of media culture: how to work with children and teachers in a classroom setting.
o Price for non-credit institute: $475 (special rate for organizations sending more than one person)
o Price for three graduate credits: $2,025
o Price for single dorm room at Wheelock: $35 per night/double is $45 per room
o The institute runs from 9am-5pm, Tuesday through Friday, with optional evening events
For fee-paying applicants only, please go to: http://www.wheelock.edu/professional/prof_institutes_desc.asp
If you need to apply for a scholarship(*) to cover cost of the institute/training, don’t click on the link above. Instead, please write a one-paragraph application that includes the following:
o History of your involvement with these issues, if any
o Reasons you want to attend the institute/training
o What you hope to do in the future with the information
Please email your application to firstname.lastname@example.org by May 15.
We will contact you with an answer by May 20th.
For everyone who needs a dorm room at the college, please tell us so we can reserve one for you.
(* Please note we have contacted SPC and they have confirmed that scholarship applications are open to those outside of the US, if you are interested in applying.)
Displaying reporting links to agencies including the police, NSPCC and the Samaritans on social networking websites is one of a range of recommendations for industry and users in new guidance launched today by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, alongside new proposals to make it harder for child sex offenders to meet children online.
Under new plans to monitor sex offenders online, which will be developed and explored in partnership with industry and CEOP on behalf of law enforcement agencies, the email addresses of registered child sex offenders will be passed by police to social networking websites, enabling these websites to stop offenders using their sites. Sex offenders would face up to five years in prison if they fail to give police their email addresses or provide a false email address.
The first UK Social Networking Guidance provides advice for industry, parents and children about how to stay safe online. This has been developed by a Taskforce of representatives from industry, charity and law enforcement agencies including Vodafone, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).
The Home Secretary also launched a new Kitemark to set a standard for filtering software for home computers and strengthen protection of children online. This ensures that parents have confidence that the filtering product they use meets an independent standard.
The Social Networking Guidance contains a number of recommendations for service providers and safety advice for users for the first time including:
* The display of reporting and/or advice links to a range of agencies such as CEOP, NSPCC, Samaritans, and others to allow users to report issues of abuse or seek help;
* Arrangements for industry and law enforcement to share reports of potentially illegal activity and suspicious behaviour;
* To make it more difficult for people registered over the age of 18 to search for users under the age of 18; and
* To encourage children not to provide excessive information about themselves
This good practice document is unique in bringing together the major players in industry, based in different countries, along with law enforcement and children’s charities, to agree a set of principles aimed at protecting children that they will all work towards.
The Kitemark is designed to raise the standard of internet filtering, monitoring and blocking applications for the UK market and will be of particular benefit to parents when selecting suitable products and services.
1. The Home Secretary’s Taskforce on Child Protection on the Internet was formed in 2001, bringing together Government, online technology providers, law enforcement and child protection specialists to work together to tackle issues relating to the protection of children on the internet.
2. The full Social Networking Guidance and the contributors can be found at http://police.homeoffice.gov.uk/operational-policing/crime-disorder/child-protection-taskforce
3. Under the plans to introduce the disclosure of the details of child sex offenders subject to notification requirements to social networking sites, we would require them to notify police of their email addresses. This will be done through secondary legislation, subject to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill receiving Royal Assent later this year.
4. Further details on the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill can be found at http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/criminal-justice-bill.htm
An underage teenager was offered a variety of jobs in the sex industry when she visited her Jobcentre.
The 17-year-old girl, who wishes to remain anonymous, was left shocked and disgusted after the sleazy vacancies appeared on a special machine which searches for jobs in the Wembley branch.
One job was looking for webcam operators for a website, the other as a hostess for a strip club and a third was for a nude model.
Although the vacancies, which also feature on the Jobcentre’s website, state they were not for applicants under the age of 18, the girl was able to print off the details and show it to her older sister who contacted the Times.
The 28-year-old said: “This is absolutely sickening. How could the Jobcentre be advertising vacancies like that? There’s no way this should be allowed.”
The Times visited the website advertising for webcam operators, which we have decided not to name, and its home page contained raunchy images of both men and women.
Users are prompted to click on one of the featured ‘models’ who will strip off and talk explicitly to them live through a webcam costing from a whopping £39-an-hour.
The workers’ hourly rate is £10.
The shocked sister, who also visited the site, said: “I was visibly shocked by what I saw. Once a girl enters that kind of world what happens next? They could end up entering a real seedy world.”
Denise Marshall is the chief executive of Eaves, a charity which supports vulnerable woman. She said: “Jobs in the sex industry are exploitative and damaging and it is unacceptable for a Governmental agency to be offering them.
“Does the Government really want young women to think that the only opportunities open to them in the labour market are those which objectify and exploit them? What is even more shocking is that these vacancies are being offered to 17-year-olds. There is clearly no system for monitoring the age of jobseekers or for blocking vacancies in the sex industry to under-18s. Who knows how many other underage girls have been offered similar vacancies? This young woman’s experience is shocking and I am not surprised that she and her family are upset.”
A Jobcentre spokesman said they were legally bound to advertise the vacancies, providing they were within the law, after a decision by the High Court in 2003. He added: “We have safeguards in place to ensure customers are fully aware of the nature of these jobs.
“We thoroughly investigate complaints about employers including those in the adult entertainment industry a service to specific employers has been withdrawn in the past. Jobcentre Plus customers can choose whether or not to pursue these vacancies.”
Part of a series of seminars organised by CRITICAL SEXOLOGY, a London-based, interdisciplinary seminar series for psychologists, psychoanalysts, medical doctors, literary and cultural studies scholars, philosophers, artists, lawyers and historians with a critical interest in the construction and management of gender and sexuality in the medical, discursive and cultural spheres.
9 April 2008: 2-6pm
Venue: K505/06, Keyworth Centre, London South Bank University.
This seminar Organised and Chaired by Lisa Downing
Julian Petley (Professor of Film and Television Studies, Brunel University)
“The Dangerous Images Act”
Clarissa Smith (Programme Leader, MA in Media & Cultural Studies, University of Sunderland)
“On Being an apologist for porn”
Alexandra Dymock (SM and feminist activist, Backlash)
“Against the Backlash: Pornography, Power and the Pressure Group”
Martin Baggaley (Consultant Psychiatrist, Clinical Lead NHS Connecting for Health London)
“Links between extreme pornography and psychiatric disorder – much conjecture but little evidence”
Adeola Agbebiyi (Film and Video Examiner, British Board of Film Classification)
Fiona Handyside (Lecturer in Film, University of Exeter)
Eleanor Wilkinson (Teaching Assistant in Geography, University of Leeds)
Please note that all Critical Sexology Seminars are free of charge and open to all. There is no need to register your intention to attend with the organiser(s).
Internet porn barons are advertising in a jobcentre for unemployed women to strip and talk dirty on the web for paying perverts. The ad – offering wages of £10 an hour – is on show in the jobcentre in Clapham Common Old Town, where job seekers use touch-screen computers to search for work. It attempts to recruit women to strip off over the internet using webcams that can be set up in their own homes to beam images across the world to clients paying for the privilege. The job description states: “Duties include performing to webcam for clients’ or customers’ fantasies. “Duties involve explicit sexual dialogue which may cause embarrassment to some people.” The job involves women working between 15 and 40 hours a week online and is run by a company based in South Wales called Cybtrader. The ad also says anyone who takes the job may be able to claim tax credits to top up what they earn at work.
A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) said jobcentres had a duty to advertise any legal job. In 2003, the Ann Summers company – which owns a string of adult shops across the UK – won a High Court case after a jobcentre refused to carry an advert for a job at one of its stores. The DWP spokesman said: “We have safeguards in place to ensure customers are fully aware of the nature of these jobs. Our advisers always check on the full details of any vacancies notified to us. Jobcentre Plus customers can choose whether or not to pursue these vacancies. Customers do not receive benefit sanctions if they do not apply for these vacancies.” He added that jobs in the adult entertainment business were clearly marked as unsuitable for under-18s and they were not actively brought to people’s attention. He said: “It would be up to them to express an interest in applying.”
Anti-porn campaigner Jennifer Drew said: “By advertising these jobs we normalise sexual violence against women and normalise the pornography industry. It reduces the sex industry to just another job.”
We contacted Cybtrader for comment but they were unavailable.
Press Release 27 December 2007 – Hain: new checks on employers in the adult entertainment industry
A crackdown on unscrupulous employers advertising jobs in the adult entertainment industry has been introduced by Jobcentre Plus, announced Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Peter Hain.
Employers found to be providing illegal services will have their access to Jobcentre Plus withdrawn and will be reported to the police.
Introducing the crackdown Peter Hain said:
“While we have a duty to advertise all legal vacancies, we must ensure that Jobcentre Plus is not used as a gateway to illegal activities. Jobseekers have a right to expect the jobs advertised in our offices and on our website are above board.
“Jobcentre Plus already has a number of safeguards in place to ensure our customers remain safe, however, the crackdown I’m announcing today will ensure that unscrupulous employers cannot dupe our customers. It’s time we nailed those that are intent on playing the system.”
Harriet Harman, Minister for Women and Equality, welcomed the crackdown and said that these new checks will help protect vulnerable women and men from being misled and exploited.
Under the new measures employers will be required to sign a statement confirming the jobs advertised do not involve any illegal sexual services before Jobcentre Plus advertises its vacancy. Successful applicants will be contacted to ensure that nothing untoward or illegal was subsequently found to be part of the job requirement.
Safeguards already in place require employers to provide a full job description listing duties expected to be undertaken. In addition, JCP already ensure that; vacancies are clearly labelled as unsuitable for under 18s; no one is required to apply for these vacancies; and that a person’s benefit will not be affected should they choose not to apply.
Adult entertainment industry vacancies advertised by Jobcentre Plus represent a very small percentage of total jobs advertised. For example, for the 4 week period from 24 September to 19 October 2007 of the 195,448 jobs advertised by jobcentre plus, 25 were in the adult entertainment industry.
The new checks will apply to all adult entertainment industry vacancies which involve physical contact, such as vacancies for sauna workers, escorts and massage parlour workers. The checks will ensure that where physical contact is required it is not of a sexual nature.
About Jobcentre Plus:
Jobcentre Plus, part of the Department for Work and Pensions, brings together employment and benefit services for people of working age and is a key element in the Government’s objectives to help people based on ‘Work for those who can, support for those who cannot’. It provides a professional and modern service to meet the diverse needs of employers and those seeking work, including:
Personal advisers to provide practical support and advice to help those in need find and keep work, including training provision and benefits guidance
A dedicated service to support employers in filling their vacancies quickly and successfully, including the ability to place jobs online
Ability to search for jobs both online and over the phone through Jobpoints in Jobcentre Plus offices, the Jobseeker Direct phone line and through the website
Swift, secure and professional access to benefits for those entitled to them.
Customers can access Jobcentre Plus services through around 1,000 locations across Great Britain, including over 800 newly refurbished Jobcentre Plus offices. Touch-screen terminals and Customer Access Phones are also available in a further 120 sites such as libraries and local authority premises. Jobcentre Plus works with over 275,000 employers to place 17,000 people into work every week. Over 400,000 vacancies are listed each week on its website and more than 4m job search requests are received, making it the number one UK recruitment website.
For further information on the services that Jobcentre Plus provides employers and people of working age visit http://www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk
DWP Press Office: 020 3267 5144
Out of hours: 07659 108 883
Women in The Congo Need Our Help
Last month, Stop Porn Culture (SPC) was contacted by Groupe d’Action pour le Droit (GAD), a non-profit NGO in the Democratic Republic of Congo that advocates for the human rights of children, youth and women affected by sexual violence. They do counselling for survivors of sexual trauma and community education about the issue. The conditions that GAD is working in are horrendous to say the least. The United Nations characterizes the conflict in the DR Congo as “one of the bloodiest the world has known since World War II.” According to Amnesty International,
“Tens of thousands of women and girls have suffered systematic rape and sexual assault since the devastating conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) began in 1998. Rape, sometimes by groups as large as twenty men, has become a hallmark of the conflict, with armed factions often using it as part of a calculated strategy to destabilize opposition groups, undermine fundamental community values, humiliate the victims and witnesses, and secure control through fear and intimidation. It is not unusual for mothers and daughters to be raped in front of their families and villages, or to be forced to have sex with their sons and brothers. Rapes of girls as young as six and women over 70 have been reported. Young girls are also regularly abducted and held captive for years to be used as sexual slaves by combatants and their leaders.”
You can read more about the rape epidemic in the DRC in this New York Times article from October 2007: “Rape Epidemic Raises Trauma of Congo War“.
GAD has identified pornography as a factor in these atrocities. GAD’s president, Kubuya Elie, has requested the help of Stop Porn Culture. He would like to come to our slideshow training in July (see below). We are deeply moved that GAD believes we can offer them assistance: there are no women anywhere who need our help more.
In order to bring Mr. Elie to Boston, we need your help. Besides the slideshow training, we plan to arrange meetings with human rights groups here that are working against trafficking and have resources for trauma victims. We estimate it will cost at least $4,000 to do this. As you know, SPC is an all-volunteer organization with an annual budget of zero. It can only happen if you make it happen. Please consider donating whatever you can to help us help GAD and the women of the DR Congo. The sooner you can do so, the sooner we will know whether we can make flight arrangements for Mr. Elie. No amount is too small to make a difference for the women enduring these conditions of sexual brutality and slavery. Please make checks out to Feminists Against Pornography, earmarked “for DRC.” And thank you for participating in this important work.
Carol Corgan, Gail Dines, Matt Ezzell, Susan Falupel, Lierre Keith, Robert Jensen, Jesse Pierce, Denyse Snyder, and Rebecca Whisnant for Stop Porn Culture
Stop Porn Culture
PO Box 813 Northampton MA 01061
Stop Porn Culture will be offering our third training for our slideshow this July. The training will be twice as long, more in-depth, and can also be taken for college credit.
* Media Madness: The Impact of Sex, Violence and Commercial Culture on Adults, Children and Society
* A summer Institute for Educators, Students, Human Service Professionals, Activists and Parents
* July 8-11, 2008, Wheelock College, Boston.
For the 14th consecutive year, Wheelock College is offering a very popular summer institute on the role that the media (television, magazines, advertising, pornography, video games and music videos) plays in shaping our gender identity, our intimate relationships, our children’s lives, and ultimately our culture. The institute is taught by Dr Gail Dines, author of Pornography: The Production and Consumption of Inequality, and Dr. Diane Levin, author of the forthcoming So Sexy So Soon
Participants in both tracks will learn:
* How media violence affects behavior and contributes to violence in society
* How media images perpetuate and legitimize sexism, racism, consumerism and economic inequality
* How political and economic forces shape the media
* How media affects children’s ideas about sexual behavior and relationships with others
* How to critically deconstruct media images and develop media literacy skills
* How to become active in advocacy, community building and grass roots organizing
As a way to accommodate the needs of the participants, this year two days of the institute will be split into the following tracks:
1. Fighting the porn culture: how to think about and organize against the increasing pornification of our society. Lead by Dr. Gail Dines with guest lectures by Dr. Rebecca Whisnant, Lierre Keith and Matt Ezell, founding members of Stop Porn Culture.
2. Combating the hazards of media culture with children, families and the community. Lead by Dr. Diane Levin, author of the forthcoming book, So Sexy so Soon
* The institute is available as a 3 credit graduate course or a non-credit course. Scholarships are available.
* Housing is available on the Wheelock campus.
* For more information, please contact Gail Dines (write July Institute in the subject line)
See also earlier posting about SPC Free feminist anti-pornography slide show for group discussions etc.