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Men Favour the Apolitical Discourse on Prostitution

28 janvier 2007

par Ana Popovic, Community Organiser and Carole Lizée, member of the Laval Centre for Women C.A.

Men favour the apolitical discourse on prostitution because it leads the subject of prostitution back to individual choice for prostituted women. Hence, as they have the cash, they pay for raping women, they support and are supported by pimps, by owners of strip joints, by pushers and pornographic film producers. If it looks cooler to say that prostitution is a choice and that it is the radical feminists who do violence to prostitutes, it is because it is to men’s advantage. They support one another in patriarchy. They like to think that "all women are sluts" and that they love it. It is no surprise that in a recent work, co-written by a man, we are told on and on that the right to be sexually abused is every woman’s fight.

The current discourse about the "minimising of damages" with regards to prostitution is to men’s advantage because it aims at the possibility for men to avoid HIV/AIDS, while putting the responsibility on women and without shaking the patriarchal and capitalist structures that allow them to rape our bodies.

The question of prostitution is not a private one. It is profoundly political. Prostitution means that the body of women becomes public. In this industry, we are being considered as public toilets that have been privatised by men and for men. How can a feminist analysis support an individualist vision of prostitution ? How can a feminist analysis support the idea that men have a biological need to have their sexual drives fulfilled by women ? How can a feminist analysis pretend that women can achieve themselves by continuously focusing on men’s sexual needs ? Is it to be a feminist when one minimizes the seriousness of sex trafficking of children and women or when one calls the victims of trafficking "travellers" and organised crime "a humanitarian organisation" ? Hyper sexualisation as well as the growth of the industrialisation of sex and the expanding of the discourse to demystify prostitution makes it all but evident that equality between sexes is far from being acquired.

Not guilty !

Indeed, it does not make us guilty to openly speak out against the sexual exploitation of women.

It does not make us guilty to establish that the sexist socialisation of girls is an ongoing thing. We have always been brought up with the idea that we are intelligent, pretty, available and that we should keep our mouths shut. We have always been shown how to please men. Well, none of this has changed for the best ! A magazine for young women teaches them how to keep their chum regardless of their own needs. These young women learn how to submit to the lust of men. The publicity for the so called esthetical surgery is taking on our streets. The media are full of sexist clichés. Eight year old girls wear lip gloss whereas, not long ago, this image only existed in pornographic movies ! Girls are taught to improve themselves so that their looks will trigger men’s lust. They are taught to submit to the needs of the market and believe that it is their own choice. The community is readying our daughters for prostitution.

Indeed, refusing this life for our daughters does not make us guilty. If we can rebel in the face of sexist publicity which is the first step to pornography, then we can also step up against the entire sex industry.

We are not guilty for listening to survivors of prostitution who tell us that the best thing to do for the cause is to help women extract themselves from prostitution.

Indeed, we are not guilty to wonder : Who benefits from prostitution ? What are the consequences of prostitution for women ? Who controls the main discourse ? And, what must be done ?

Indeed, we are not supportive of the discourse that is in favour of the sex industry. We refuse to feel guilty because a discourse claims that we are responsible for the marginalisation of prostitutes. Since when has marital violence marginalised its victims ? We are proud to fight the patriarchal strategy that introduces a discourse in favour of men inside women’s movement. And we call for resistance and unity.

Indeed, we are not guilty and indeed we are not going to keep our mouths shut. We refuse to be afraid to speak out. We refuse to stay idle in the face of as serious a problem as the trade of women’s body. To stay idle is to let the dominators and their discourse determine what is to happen to our bodies. Courageous women have fought against sexual violence done to women for a long time, and we, at the Laval Centre for Women, follow their steps in complete support. How about you ?

Thanks to all of you who fight against the commercialised rape of women and thank you all for joining us in this fight because it never is too late !


1. Maîtresse Nikita et Thierry Schaffauser, Nous sommes des putes et nous en sommes fières, Éditions L’altiplano, 2007.

Translated for Sisyphe by Sylvie Miller.

On Sisyphe, January 24, 2007.

Ana Popovic, Community Organiser and Carole Lizée, member of the Laval Centre for Women C.A.

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