Johns are now an oppressed sexual minority

In a last-ditch effort to frame feminists as moralistic neocons and Oppressors of Freedom and Liberty, Alice Klein at NOW Magazine asks: Will johns become the new “fags?”

You knew this was coming, right? Men are the real victims in all of this, after all — their right to have their dicks sucked on a whim is not about entitlement, it’s about freedom and sexual expression and anyone who says different is a bigot. Got it?

I mean, its not all that far off from what’s been pushed by the sex work lobby for years — their incessant efforts to frame feminists as oppressive murderers of both sexy fun and of women is well-documented. Normalizing pimps and johns is important if we want to normalize and sanitize the sex industry. Nonetheless it continues to amaze me how badly those invested in maintaining the status quo are in misunderstanding systems of oppression.

There is no single argument that could in any way legitimize the idea that men who buy sex from vulnerable and desperate women are an oppressed minority akin to gay people. Also, buying sex is not a sexual identity. Men buy sex because they want to have sex with someone who they don’t have to consider, know, or relate to as a human being. They want their needs met beyond all else and, often, they want someone to use and abuse in a way they can’t get away with in their homes and intimate relationships. That desire has little to do with “sex” if we are talking about “sex” as a thing that is desired and enjoyed by all parties involved — you know, not-rape sex.

Klein writes:

Sorry to ruin your WorldPride. Sexual shaming is on the prowl, not just somewhere far away but, sadly, right here, right now. And it is state-sponsored.

I’m talking Bill C-36, officially called the Protection Of Communities And Exploited Persons Act. This is Harper-speak for “ Of course I will devilishly manipulate sexual anxiety, primarily female, to get my next majority.” Sacrificing the lives of sex workers on that unholy ground? Not a problem.

While this whole city celebrates our beauty and our outrageousness, the government is busy unleashing a moral panic across the country designed to keep the shame machine working overtime.

Oh cry me a river of penis tears. Now we’re john-shaming?? Not only that but we are repressing personal sexual choices. That’s right. Buying an impoverished, abused, drug-addicted woman to rape and abuse is just a personal sexual choice and it’s none of our goddamned business.

If the bill becomes law, johns will become the new “fags” – the people fed into the fear factory of career-ending public exposure and the criminal underground because of their personal sexual choices.

It used to be us, my queer brothers and sisters, who were the targets. Now, we can gather like bees into a joyful, porous rainbow buzz that is sexy and soulful and fun. Meanwhile, the government is stepping up its new copulation-monitoring game. Something is deeply wrong here.

How convenient! Johns are now “queer” — just like everyone else who wants to claim a stake in the Oppression Olympics, riding the postmodernist wave of identity politics into the now water-logged, sinking ship that is the new political left.

I don’t say that to deride the struggles that gay and lesbian people have faced and continue to face because they don’t fit the heteronormative mold. I say that because, as you may have noticed, suddenly everyone is “queer” and therefore an oppressed minority — the BDSMers, the polyamourous, the sometimes-likes-to-make-out-with-other-girls-at-the-bar, the kinky, the I-wear-weird-outfits-therefore-am-queer, what have you. It mocks the very real struggles faced by groups of people who have been violently and systemically marginalized and colonized and exploited and abused throughout history and to this day. Your leather doesn’t count. And neither does your desire to pull over and get a blow job on your way home from work.

Men who purchase sexual services are the spanking new category to be targeted for their sexual preferences. They are to be criminalized for what? For seeking and hopefully finding an uncomplicated and pleasurable way to satisfy their sexual hunger?

Just that. That’s it. I mean, who else matters in this simple transaction? Certainly not the woman on the receiving end of it — she’s hardly human after all.

Oh, oh! And by the way, just so you know, there’s just this little tiny issue of NOW Magazine relying on the advertisement of sexual services for their survival.

And that is also one of the reasons why NOW Magazine has always refused to discriminate against adult advertising. Full disclosure: in the new proposed law, advertising sex work is also criminalized. So that is my own stake in this story. But the big issues remain, and they profoundly inform why we publish this body of advertising.

I’m glad they copped to this; it makes sense that they would resort to such an abhorrent and manipulative framing of both the sex industry and of Bill C-36 if they rely so heavily on the industry themselves. But that doesn’t make it acceptable. It doesn’t make erasing women — who make up the vast majority of the industry — from this conversation ok. It certainly doesn’t make it acceptable to present the perpetrators of violence against prostituted women — men — as an oppressed sexual minority. It also doesn’t excuse their framing of feminists or the law as the perpetrators of said violence.

The preamble of the proposed law is even more disturbing than the title, a hybrid of Victorian sensibilities and pretend-feminist jargon. Did you know that the Parliament of Canada might soon recognize the “social harm caused by the objectification of the human body?” Really? Don’t get too excited. The only skin in that game is being peeled off the backs of already marginalized sex workers.

Yeah and you know who is “peeling skin off the backs of marginalized sex workers?” Or literally murdering them? MEN. You want to talk harm? Good. Let’s talk about harm. Let’s talk about who is harmed in prostitution and by whom.

Profound dis-ease with the inherent human reality of our diverse sexual natures (literally nature) has kept the knickers of the planet tied up in knots for – how long? Millennia? Over the last few decades, it is our LGBTQ+ movement that’s done the world wonders by loosening these spirit-killing, life-chilling bonds. And that is a blessed gift to our proud selves and our children. It is a gift to the earth as a whole. We should be proud!

Indeed, those fighting for their right to love who they wish and fighting against the notion that “man and wife” is the only legitimate and relevant relationship in this society should be proud. But those using said fight in order to defend the most privileged, most violent, most powerful class of people in the world, should not. They should be ashamed.

Here we are, able to gather together as a rainbow nation, in delight and full recognition that we all are sexual creatures involved in the uncontrollable magic of life, all in our own unique and astonishing ways. But let’s not be complacent as we rally round our right to love whomever we wish. Let’s not forget to acknowledge that sexual freedom, in whatever mutually consentful way we desire, is at the core of our accomplishments.

Let’s make sure we have a great time expanding the boundaries of our sexual freedom this weekend, and let’s not let those for whom human sexuality is the enemy succeed in taking any of our sisters and brothers back into the closets and back alleys.

Yeah, so long as the humans in question aren’t marginalized women. According to Klein, Pride is only for those who can pay.

For shame.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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