In this topsy-turvy queer world, words mean anything and nothing. An increasingly common pattern is for queer ideology to take long-established feminist concepts, twist them, and then use them to argue against feminist positions. At a later date, I may explore other situations where this has happened . For this blog post, I am focusing on the word “objectifying”. The dictionary definition of “objectifying” is to treat someone as an object, not a person.
“Objectifying” is the word used by feminists to describe how women are routinely sexually objectified by men to be no more than the sum of our body parts. It does not mean describing a body part, it does not mean naming a body part. It means the ways in which our bodies are re-branded, airbrushed and disembodied to the point that we are no longer recognisably human. Our bodies are detached from our humanity for male consumption. We are so sexualised by a patriarchal society that sub-human is the default position for “woman“. There is a constant onslaught of objectified images in the malestream media which tell us, and men, our real place in this society.
Some transactivists argue that radical feminists are “objectifying” when they point out that women don’t have penis’. They say radical feminists are “objectifying” men who have penis’ and dress as, or perceive themselves to be, women. Radical feminists are analysing gender and biology in relation to trans and queer theory when they make observations like “women don‘t have penis‘”. Distorting the feminist concept of “objectification” for opposing political purposes is a reversal in a long line of reversals.
A campaign was started by @invisiblechoice -The Invisible Men project a few days ago with the launch of her artwork. I am joining in and observing the campaign. It is frustrating to watch how pro-sex industry supporters completely distort the feminist context of “objectifying”. The campaign highlights how @amnestyuk is using the rhetoric of pimps/punters/men in their approach towards the exploitation and abuse of prostituted women. One person distortedly claimed: “Telling sex workers that they’re being bought is objectifying them”. Naming a simple truth is now “objectifying” in queer merry-go-round world.
Yet another, on a discussion thread, in a complete reversal, said: “feminist sex workers are being objectified as victims”
Suddenly, it’s not men who sexually objectify women, it’s feminists. We are “objectifying” by pointing out that women, as a class, are abused and exploited. We are “objectifying” because we condemn a patriarchal society which normalises the displaying, selling and buying of women’s bodies. We are “objectifying” for condemning a multi-million sex industry which uses and abuses the objectification of women to make a profit. All women are oppressed and objectified because this happens. It has nothing to do with “choice”. No woman has a choice. No woman can ignore or escape this mass exploitation and objectification. It is something which we are forced to consider each day, every day, as we attempt to go about our lives.
In a parallel situation with transactivism, the political description of women being bought and sold for sexual slavery and abuse, of our body parts being disembodied, and on display, in all parts of the social media, has been whittled down to a simple matter of an individual’s “rights”. Those with analysis about how society is structured to benefit the male class, are “oppressing” those with “rights” by describing that analysis in the public domain.
Survivors of the sex industry are at the forefront of most campaigns against prostitution. All women are affected by our bodies being used as commodities by the malestream. And, yet, the reversals never let up. Campaigns to end female exploitation “objectify” and “stigmatise” individual women currently caught up in the sex industry. The arguments could not be more different. As feminists, we are constantly having to pull them apart because words have come to mean anything and nothing.
Only feminists and, particularly radical feminists with our structural analysis, have our politics so distorted and manipulated by opponents from all sides of the malestream political spectrum.
In the meantime, @amnestyuk ’s “draft” (?) policy, has failed to grasp the problem and is repeating some of these reversals. This needs to be corrected. Here is what feminists have done so far:
On Friday the 24th of January, an article by Julie Bindel exposed this leaked document from Amnesty International: http://www.scribd.com/doc/202126121/Amnesty-Prostitution-Policy-document You can read Julie’s article here, which points out it is an ‘abject inversion of the principles Amnesty International stands for’: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2544983/JULIE-BINDEL-An-abject-inversion-principles.html
In response to this, a visual campaign was started on Twitter from @invisiblechoice (The Invisible Men project), using the hashtag #QuestionsForAmnesty to draw attention to this leaked document, protesting with an Amnesty re-brand: http://www.protest-resources.tumblr.com. Women, in particular those who are survivors of prostitution, are in force, raising their objections to Amnesty’s language and proposals, and asking them why they see sexual access to women and girls as a male right and inevitability.
The Invisible Men project exposes the men who pay to access the bodies of women and girls in prostitution using their own words. You can read them here: : http://www.the-invisible-men.tumblr.com
Here is a statement from SPACE INTERNATIONAL (Survivors of Prostitution-Abuse Calling for Enlightenment) about Amnesty’s position on prostitution