Why are pimps and feminists making the same arguments?

A lot of women think the girls are being exploited, and then, when they come to a club night, they realise it is the other way round, that the guys are being exploited. They realise it is a fun thing to do, it’s not slavery, nobody is making anybody do anything they don’t want to do. The girls working at this establishment – I can’t speak for everywhere – enjoy coming to work. They enjoy making themselves look pretty every evening.

Pop quiz! Who said it — pimp or third waver? Hard to tell right?

The Guardian published an article on Friday about one of the oldest lap-dancing clubs in Britain. The owner, Oscar Owide, is about 81, they guess.  writes:

He has what newspapers refer to as a “colourful past”, has been described in court as a “well-known Soho character”, has in the past been banned from running a business, was once described as “Britain’s biggest pimp” and served a prison sentence for VAT fraud.

Owide goes on to complain that “Silly women have said in the past that women are being exploited. They’re not being exploited. You’re not talking about the suffragette years. They are young modern women who don’t find it difficult to undress.”

So tell me, what’s the difference between the pimp’s arguments and the so-called ‘sex-positive feminists’ arguments? What’ the difference between what Owide says and the sex work advocates who claim that prostitution and stripping are all about women making empowered choices? Who argue that anti-prostitution feminists can’t understand the difference between consent and slavery? Who claim that, so long as there is ‘consent’, anything goes?

Here’s your answer: there is no difference. Those who claim to be feminists, who pretend that feminism is all about women making individual choices, who say that prostitution is simply a choice women make, are making the same arguments that the pimps are making.

So what gives? Really? How can you call yourself a feminist and yet be onside with pimps. Do you think Owide is a feminist? Do you think he really, really wants to smash the patriarchy?

Explain this to me, choicey choicey choice feminists. Why call yourselves feminists? Why uphold the exact same arguments the pimps are? Or is it that now the pimps are feminists too?

Explain yourselves.

Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist from Vancouver, BC. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including The Spectator, UnHerd, Quillette, the CBC, New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and is now exiled in Mexico with her very photogenic dog.