Week Of The Anti-Porn Crazaa, Part 3: Taslima Nasreen Puts The “Taz” In Anti-Sex Work/Anti-Porn Hysteria

If you remember my last post, I covered the insanity of Shelley Lubben and Gail Dines on the issue of sex work and porn. But they’ve been mastering the art of propaganda for ages.

The third woman in our trifecta of crazaa, though, might not be known nearly as much as Gail or Shelley…but she might be the craziest of them all.

Taslima Nasreen may not be a household name to people in the West…but go over to places like India or Pakistan, and her name is definitely on almost every person’s lips. In some lips, usually accompanied by curses. You see, Nasreen is a renowned writer who has won numerous awards for her books by prestigous orgs such as PEN American Center…but has also drawn massive social protests and even death threats and fatwas for her unabashed assaults on fundamentalist Muslims and their treatment of women. For the past 18 years, Nasreen has actually lived in exile from her native country due to the very real possibility of death, and she is still considered to be persona non gratia in certain sections of her native country due to her heresy. You might consider her to be the feminist equivalent of Salman Rushdie…except that not even Rushdie encountered this much fervent reaction.

But while Taslima should be rightfully praised for her braveness in confronting the horror of extreme misogyny and mistreatment of women in her native country, it seems that she has, in the process, embraced an only slightly different form of social and political repression.  As in, the extreme fundamentalist wing of “radical feminism” that reduces all male-female relationships to violence and rape, and which seeks to abolish any form of sexual interaction not redeemable to their narrow standards of “egalitarianism” and “intimacy”.

When Taslima Nasreen accepted an invitation to join the weblog network of atheist skeptics known as Freethought Blogs, known for their promotion of not only free and open discussion, but staunch critique of established religion, it seemed initially that she would be a perfect fit for that group, considering her strong stances and commitments. Problem is, they forgot about the other shoe of “radical feminism”…the one that Taslima promptly used to dropkick her extreme theories into action.

The first blow was an essay Nasreen wrote titled “Sex Slavery Must Be Abolished”, which the title suggested was an attack on the illegal and abusive aspects of the underground sex trafficking industry that has devastated many countries. The problem was, though, her essay quickly degenerated and disintegrated into what ultimately became a propaganda piece for the most extreme of what is called the “abolitionist” position on sex work most promoted by activists like Melissa Farley, Donna Hughes, and Andrea Dworkin, and propogated by organizations such as Prostitution Research, the Center Against Trafficking In Women, and Women Against Pornography. (I’ll explain the latter anon.)

Nasreen makes her position pretty much explicitly through a series of button notes, of which I will respond individually.

Lie1. Prostitution is an oldest profession.
Truth1. Prostitution is the oldest form of patriarchal oppression, not oldest profession.

Really?? You mean, older than religion itself??  And what about cultures of goddess worship that predated Christianity and where prostitutes were seen as figures of high regard worthy of respect and admiration?? The same ones that were literally destroyed by….fundamentalist Christians and Muslims??

Lie2. Prostitution is sexual freedom. /Prostitution is sex.
Truth2. Prostitution is sexual exploitation./ Prostitution is not sex, it is sexual violence.

Right. A consensual exchange of money for sex is considered “violence”, not sex. Even when no actual violence takes place. Even when both sides consent. And, even when there is mutual sexual pleasure and mutual respect between both parties.  Plus, no advocate for decriminalizing sex work has ever said the obvious stawman argument that “Prostitution is sex” or “Prostitution is sexual freedom”. That Nasreen seems willing to go there says more about her attitudes about sex than about prostitution itself.

Lie3. Legalizing prostitution gets rid of sex traffickers and pimps.
Truth3. Legalizing prostitution benefits sex traffickers, pimps,clients,sex industries.

Lie4. Men need sex therefore prostitution must exist. Prostitution is a natural
form of human sexuality.
Truth4. The sex of prostitution is not “sex” for women in it. Most men who use women
in prostitution have other sexual partners.

Point #3 is highly debatable, since no one has ever said that decriminalization would get rid totally of “sex traffickers and pimps”, but it is clear and obvious that existing criminalization (both of the conventional conservative and the “Swedish Model” forms) have sure as all hell not removed “sex traffickers” or “pimps” or even placed a dent in illegal and dangerous sex trafficking. But of course, since Taslima has already gone head first into the empty pool of “all prostitution sex is rape”, it would follow that she would reduce all efforts to decriminalize it to supporting “sex industries”, “pimps”, and other assorted male “rapists”.

And…this notion that because most men who seek sex workers for sex happen to have other partners, this translates into “sex with prostitutes isn’t really ‘sex’ but rape”?? Gee, Taslima…are you saying that men should settle for sex only with their significant others, and that any attempt to go beyond their monogamous mates for sexual relief amounts to “using women”?? Sure…because women don’t have sexual urges, right? And this is different from the fundamentalists you decry….HOW??? Simply because you are a “radical feminist” secularist??

Lie5. Women choose to enter prostitution.
Truth5. Prostitution is not an acceptable job for women. They are forced to enter prostitution. Prostitution is an abusive institution and women stay poor in prostitution.  It  is not a vocation choice, it is human rights abuse.

Lie6. Legal prostitution protects women in prostitution.
Truth6. Legal prostitution does not protect women in prostitution from harm. All prostitution , legal or illegal, harm women.

Never mind the fact that countless sex workers have testified that they chose by their own selves to enter the sex trade, and that many women have faced no or little abuse and have even managed to make a decent amount of money and escape their extreme poverty. And, never mind the fact that many women who do say that they were economically coerced into doing sex work nevertheless don’t quite agree with the analysis that they are merely mindless victims of “human rights abuse”, and would much prefer to work to make their profession safer, saner, and more condusive to human rights. In the Utherverse of Taslima Nasreen, those women simply don’t exist…or, they are simply dismissed as either stupid “cumdumpsters” or paid agents of the evil Male Pimp Rapist.

For brevity’s sake, I’ll skip over to one last “bullet point” that says wonders about Nasreen’s insanity.

Lie8. Prostitution is deterrent to sex crimes.
Truth8. Prostitution is associated with increased rate of sex crimes.

Feel free to notice how Nasreen’s arguments are a nice parallel with arguments made against homosexuality or medicinal marijuana or other “victimless crimes”…arguments often put on by the very same fundamentalists whom issue fatwas and death threats against any “infidel” who dares to challenge them??  I guess you can’t completely take the fundamentalism out of some people, right?

Nasreen got plenty of heat from other Freethought readers on her initial foray, but she didn’t budge one inch….in fact, she issued a followup blog (“Do Women Really ‘Choose’ To Be Prostitutes”) where she cited mostly propaganda from Melissa Farley’s Prostitution Research blog to justify her absolutist positions on sex work and prostitution as mass rape.

If there was ever an exchange that encapsulates the dead-headness and total denial of the “abolitionists”, it is this comment reaction Nasreen to a comment by Maggie Mayhem, an active sexworker. 

As a sex worker activist and active sex worker, what I want to say the most is *please listen to our voices.* We want rights, not rescue. Those speaking for us have trampled our voices for far too long.

In the United States and around the globe, sex workers are forming collectives and unions to fight for our rights. Mainstream feminism and patronizing anti-trafficking orgs have continually propagated lies about sex work statistics and have actively shut down our organizing efforts. The sex worker led efforts to decriminalize prostitution in San Francisco, CA were largely opposed by feminist organization and one of the biggest anti-decriminalization donations came from Gloria Steinhem herself.

Please listen to us. We don’t need to be saved, we need to be supported.

Taslima Nasreen’s response:

House slaves did not want the abolition of slavery because they were treated considerably better than field slaves. Would you say slavery should not have been abolished only because some privileged slaves wanted to remain as slaves?

Never mind that “house slaves” in the antebellum US South opposed slavery with the same fervor as the field slaves because in the South, ALL Blacks were mistreated in the same way. To Taslima Nasreen, if you oppose her chosen methods of abolishing sex work (“Swedish Model” legislation shaming the women while jailing and essentially castrating the men merely for having erections), than you are either a “house slave” or a pimp wannabe.

Natually. Nasreen’s invasion of FTB with her sexual fascism has not gone unopposed. Greta Christina, a legitimate sex-positive feminist, and the one who first introduced welcomed Nasreen to the FTB network, has come out with a strong blog essay rebuking all of TN’s hackery and delusionary hyperbole, and offering a much more diverse picture of sex work. Natalie Reed and Richard Carrier have also posted trenchant criticisms of Nasreen in their own network blogs as well. In addition, principled sex worker activists outside of FTB have also felt free to correct the lies of Taslima and question her credibility as a skeptic in light of her endorsement of anti-sexwork/radical feminist theology. See the works of AGodlessStrumpet — aka Divinity33372 — and XXXild, as well as the videos of Feminist Whore, for some genuine education.

—————————————————————————————————————————-

Of course, it would follow that Taslima’s views on that other target of radfem ire, pornography, would parallel her views on prostitution…and she has posted a blog entry recently (“Let’s Eroticize Equality“) expanding her cracked vision of sexuality onto the “porn industry”.

Naturally, she starts out citing the historic motto of antiporn “feminist” Robin Morgan (repeated by antifeminist James Dobson), “Porn is the theory, rape is the practice.”

Then she attempts to mime Gloria Steinem’s classic distortion between “erotica” and “pornography” as a hammer to beat down the latter. She even goes as far as to redefine porn using the definition of radical antiporn activist Diana Russell:

Pornography: Material that combines sex and/or the exposure of genitals with abuse or degradation in a manner that appears to endorse, condone, or encourage such behavior.

Nice open-ended definition, ehhh?  So much better than the traditional definition of “pornography” as “depictions or descriptions of sexual content or other accounts intended strictly for sexual arousal”.

By, contrast, here’s Nasreen’s and Russell’s definition of “erotica”:

Erotica: Sexually suggestive or arousing material that is free of sexism, racism, and homophobia, and respectful of all human beings and animals portrayed.

Of course, there are no examples of explicit hardcore porn that can fit the positive definition of “erotica”, now is there?? Not if you simply refuse to even attempt to locate them.

But the real whackiness of Nasreen’s ideology is exposed near the end when, after providing linkage to sites promoting her treasured theories of “porn addiction” and how porn absolutely destroys regular marital relationships by substituting idealized images for real people, she then attempts to drive her readers to three sites she says are typical of the predominant type of porn that men watch and masturbate to. (Followed, in an typical ideological flourish, by a link to a song to apparently wash the filth off, I guess.)

She embeds the links so that viewers aren’t initially aware of their true content, but from scrolling over each of the links, they lead to three sites threatening labeled, respectively, BrutalVideos[dot]net,  GangRapeVideos[dot]net, and SexRapeVideo[dot]com. (Unlike Taslima, I actually do respect my viewers enough not to ambush them, so I will not embed the links here. They are active in Taslima’s original post.) The problem is, though, that it takes sheer balls to reduce the viewing habits of millions of porn viewers to three sites that would, even collectively, not even come close in viewership to ONE Nina Hartley video.

And even worse…those three sites aren’t even commercial sites, but free video trading/photo trading “tube sites” where people simply upload their privately owned videos for others to view. Not to mention, also, that the videos of such sites are more than likely either outtakes of videos of consensual sex gone somewhat awry, or consenting adults engaging in “acting out” of rape fantasies.  Yes, Taslima, some women do in fact enjoy fantasies of being overpowered against their will. No, Taslima, that is not the same as sexual assault or sexual battery. And no, Taslima, watching such videos do NOT induce most men to fits of lust or desires to rape every woman nearby..in fact, most regular porn viewers would probably be put off by such portrayals, since far less hostile content is so readily available.

This is the agitprop equivalent of the Nazi Party using depictions of “hooked nose Jews” as crooked businessmen, or racist Ku Klux Klansmen using images of Trayvon Martin with a Colt-45, a backwards cap, and half-mast pants giving “gang signs” to justify his death and the targetting of all Black men. And, it’s standard operating procedure for the fundamentalist antiporn radfems (see Gail Dines minting GagMyCock[dot]om and GagFactor[dot]com for similar effect).

The point, though, is that this slandering of men who use porn (or simply whose sexual proclivities don’t fit neatly into radfem dogma) is simply the byproduct of the sexual essentialism that is the heart of the critique of porn and sex work, as well as the mirror imagery of their core beliefs with those of the Religious Right (Dines and Steinem’s distortion and fabrication of “Marxism” notwithstanding).

In the end, though, just as Gail Dines has ceded that nothing she says or writes will change over the views of her critics, I’m sure that Taslima Nasreen will say that nothing she writes will change others’ view of the world. Their point is not to debate, anyway; their mission is to promote their form of sexual conservatism (though personally, I’d say that their vision is closer to sexual FASCISM) as a means of controlling men in the same way that traditional religion has used sexual morality and sex law to control women. You would think that a journal called “Freethought Blogs” would be able to see through such blatancy and call out such bullshit for what it is. Thankfully, there are people there who understand that; maybe, they can mount enough of a challenge to counter the invasion of sexual reaction by the likes of Taslima Nasreen.

Share

One thought on “Week Of The Anti-Porn Crazaa, Part 3: Taslima Nasreen Puts The “Taz” In Anti-Sex Work/Anti-Porn Hysteria

Leave a Reply