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Friday, June 23, 2017

Victimless Crime

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Victimless Crime

"'So it's not your position that prostitution as such constitutes an act of violence against women by men'

'I believe it can be classed as being on a continuum of gender based violence, on a continuum of male violence against women because I believe it is a symptom of a patriarchal and unequal society and it follows the fractures of inequality in society along the lines of sex but also class and race'

'But what's your moral justification for wanting to criminalize something where two people perform an act consensually'

'This is not a moral stance. You know my stance is a political stance as I said. Because I believe society is affected by an institution where women are objectified. I think that's dangerous for all of us'

'This being the Moral Maze could you help us there by expressing it in moral terms? What your moral basis for interfering in consensual activity?'

'Well I think we should trouble this notion of consent and choice in a society that is scarred by the masculinization of power and wealth. For example where people find themselves in a context of very very limited options. And I also think that choice doesn't make everything unquestionable'...

'I would like to see lap dancing clubs banned. I don't welcome their move into the High Street. I don't welcome their mainstreaming in society. I don't want to walk down this high street and see women for sale, commodified as goods.'...

'What about women who objectify themselves?'...

'I have a mantra that I'm not going to blame women for playing the game when they never wrote the rules. We live in a society increasingly influenced by the pornography industry. Women are told quite clearly that the most important thing they can do is be sexually attractive and desirable to the opposite sex and told how they have to do that and then they're blamed when they do it.'

'And you really think that in society fifty percent of society - let's say men - wrote the rules and that women have nothing to do with the rules?'

'That's the history of patriarchy, yes'...

'We've also banned homosexuality historically and that many countries still do use the law for that reason. This ambivalence now about perfectly consensual sadomasochistic practices that some people find utterly morally repugnant and then use the law to close down. I'm asking you don't you have nervousness about that kind of moral boundary setting?'

'It is right to have nervousness and cautiousness around giving more power to a state that is inherently capitalist and patriarchal but we have an opportunity here to use the law for good. Not to maintain the status quo like the laws around homosexuality that you are talking about but using the law to challenge and change the status quo and that's what I am interested in'

'But that is an irony isn't it? That you are on the one hand saying that by its very nature women are absolutely victims of, whether they like it or not as you say written by men, rules written by men. But you're perfectly happy to use the male state to actually in the most authoritarian dangerous police state way to ban anything you particularly don't like because you think it might help women. Might you not be the person who is actually following the dictates of the patriarchal state?'

'I live in the real world and until the revolution I want the law to make positive changes for women. I don't want women to be commodified as goods for sale. That's the basic 101'

'That's an interesting point. You want the law to make, you know to free women. But does that not undermine the sense of women taking control of their own lives? In fact the whole way you describe women is as though they determined by these objective forces that destroys women's moral autonomy, the very thing which we are fighting for'

'It's not feminists that have victimized women or turned women into victims. It is those people that chose to buy and sell women that choose to rape and harm women that turn women into victims. I would prefer the term resistance. We are all patriarchy resistors and we have to negotiate our way through a sexist society every day' [Ed: As summarised later, she doesn't think women have any moral agency at all]...

'England before nineteen fourteen was not a notably chaotic place. Yet until nineteen fourteen, until nineteen twenty you could wander into a gun shop without producing any identification, you can buy many guns as you liked. You could wander into a pharmacy, you could buy heroin, you could buy cannabis, you could buy cocaine. Yet in the absence of all the authoritarian laws under which we now live England was not, so far as I can tell, a notably chaotic place'...

'It isn't victimless'

'There's lots of non crimes that have victims too. I don't think everything should be, there's a lot of things that you will do in everyday life that will make someone suffer... if you have an affair somebody's going to get hurt. Lots of victims there. Children. I do not think we should make it against the law to have an affair even though I might morally disapprove'


Feminists are only "pro-choice" when it comes to abortion.
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