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STOP PORNOGRAPHY THAT GLORIFIES PROSTITUTION
Published in Aftonbladet, Scandinavia's largest newspaper, on Nov 26 2000.
Can you imagine what it would be like to enter a food store and be met by the magazine headline "Get rich by selling drugs"? Probably not. The drug trade reaps many victims, and it is criminal in Sweden - making advertisements for it would be unthinkable.
Prostitution is also an illegal trade where an enormous lot of people are harmed and suffer. Still, magazines that portray prostitution as something great are sold, and they practically make commercials for it! In Sweden we have a law that forbids men to use women in this way. How then can we accept open commercials for this thing that we want to get rid of? Now we men in Manliga Nätverket say stop!
It is well documented that most prostitutes live terrible lives. An international study has shown that a large portion of them suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, which can afflict people who have experienced war and other severe traumas. It is characterized by repeated, intrusive and painful memories and nightmares where the traumatic events are re-experienced. Other symptoms are tenseness and irritability, difficulties to concentrate and avoidance of thoughts and activities that remind of the trauma. One loses interest in things which one previously enjoyed, and finds it hard to have warm feelings for relatives and friends. The study showed that prostitutes on the average suffer even more severely from this disorder than do the American Vietnam veterans who seek aid for their problems!
Many women are kidnapped or lured to other countries with false promises of work, and then raped and forced to prostitute by organized criminals. A large part of prostitution worldwide is controlled by pimps who beat "their" prostitutes if they don't make enough money. Out of the women who have chosen prostitution themselves, a large part has first had their self respect broken by being sexually victimized in childhood, and in poor countries many women are forced to prostitute in order to make a living. Most prostitutes worldwide want to get out of prostitution.
It is humiliating to open one's very body to others and be penetrated when one does not want to, and prostitutes have to shut off their feelings and distance themselves from their bodies in order not to break down. Still, Swedish porno magazines repeatedly write "reports" and short stories that are full of lies, telling that prostitutes enjoy their situation tremendously! Tips are given about places to travel where one can have sex with prostitutes. Brothels and individual prostitutes are reviewed enthusiastically, and the readers are promised fantastic experiences if they go there. Writing like this that it's fun and great to exploit others is grotesque!
As men we distance ourselves vigorously from stories that call sites of prostitution "every man's paradise". Not because we're against sex. We think that sex and horniness is great - but not if it's acted out in a way that harms others!
It is also deeply disrespectful towards the prostituted women themselves to write about their humiliation as something fun, and to trivialize and deny their suffering. Apart from being an insult in itself, the effect is also that nothing is done about the situation, since the general public doesn't see how it is exploiting. Furthermore more "customers" are recruited, directly leading to more women being exploited.
Now it is time to put an end to this. We in Manliga Nätverket urge Pressbyrån, gas stations, 7-Eleven and other chains that sell pornography, to stop selling those magazines that glorify prostitution. Demand from the porno magazine publishers that they publicly commit themselves not to portray prostitution and the everyday lives of prostitutes as something positive, and stop selling magazines that don't satisfy this requirement.
Somebody might argue that such articles are OK since not all prostitutes feel humiliated - on the contrary there are individual prostitutes who seriously claim to have a good life. This is true, but it does not justify anything. If the vast majority of a group suffers when treated in a certain way, then it is wrong to write that this group is enjoying it. For example it surely happens now and then that there is some individual woman who likes when a male colleague who puts his hand on her buttock, but in most cases women dislike it, and if one were to write lots of articles about how fun it is to touch women's butts at one's working place and how much women enjoy it when one does it, this would be insulting to women and would probably contribute to lowering some men's inhibitions against doing so themselves.
Imagine if it had been another group who just like prostitutes are subjected to widespread coercion, violence and exploitation in various forms - such as Blacks under Apartheid in South Africa - and Swedish newspapers had written that these people enjoy their situation enormously, and encouraged Swedes to go there and exploit them! There is no way this would have been accepted by the general public. The shops would probably have refused to sell such magazines - then take your responsibility and show the same basic respect towards prostituted women. They are humans as much as you and me.
Henrik Haraldsson, Manliga Nätverket
(Against men's violence and transgressions, for a good masculinity)
[Remarks: For copyright reason, this is a translation of the article as I wrote it, not of the edited article which appeared in Aftonbladet under the title "Swedish sex magazines lie about prostitutes". Since I wrote it, Manliga Nätverket has changed the second half of its motto from "for a good masculinity" to "for an egalitarian society". The original article can be found at http://www.aftonbladet.se/debatt/0011/26/debatt.html. Copyright (C) Henrik Haraldsson 2000.]