What’s Current: Bridget Perrier says what she did was prostitution, not ‘sex work’

In a report, sociologist Catherine Hakim argues that prostitution is necessary to “lower rates of rape.”

Melody Kramer creates controversy by publicizing secret networking groups for journalists. Did she betray trust or is she simply advocating for open access?

Bridget Perrier on Channel 4 News: “‘I have never met a nice pimp.”

Glosswitch to Amnesty International:

God forbid anyone take a moral position on an industry which, according to one’s own evidence, puts women and girls at a high risk of abuse and even death every single day. God forbid anyone take a moral position on one of the many visible, violent manifestations of male dominance over women. We’re not Mary fucking Whitehouse here, are we? Moral positions are TOTES NOT COOL .

Inquest into the death of a 22-year-old Aboriginal woman who died in custody will be held in November, almost 16 months after she was pronounced dead at a hospital in Western Australia.

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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  • Morag

    Catherine Hakim believes there should be a caste of women whose primary function is to placate and mollify male sexual entitlement and aggression, and to absorb men’s violence. I assume that Ms. Hakim doesn’t want to be raped — that she would prefer it happen to other women. They’re being paid, after all.

    Oh, and concerning men desiring sex twice as much as women do? Why not three times as much, or four or ten or one hundred times? Who gives a fuck? If it will kill them not to have a dedicated supply of women to use as toilets, then the answer is obvious: let them die. Let them drown in a vile vat of their own sexual incontinence.

    • In a similar vein…

      If there are lots of men who believe they ‘need’ certain amounts or types of sex, then an obvious solution would be for such men to come to an arrangement with one another to service each others’ ‘needs’. All kinds of men (but not boys), of various ages, physical abilities and appearances. Surely that would be the best option all around. Why the sexual service giver has to be female and/or young and/or pert-breasted and/or conventionally pretty, etc. makes no sense if all men want is a ‘sensation’ or to ‘feel a connection’ with another human being.

      I’m sure there are some men, somewhere – out of all the millions in the world – who actually do this (purely as a sex exchange arrangement, rather than because they identify as gay). But the fact that Western society in general doesn’t see this as the first, least destructive option, says alot about our unspoken beliefs about men and their sex ‘needs’ and what it is acceptable to take from or inflict upon women in order to assuage those male *wants*.

      • Deist99

        Because straight men don’t want to have sex with men, they want to have sex with women. And men don’t have vaginas, women do.

        • Priscila

          Then why are SO MANY of them so obsessed with anal?

          • What I’m about to say may be a bit disturbing – in referring to specific sex acts men like to perform on women – my apologies if so.

            Exactly! This was part of my point. Anal, blowjobs – just for starters – can be performed by men on men.
            So much of this is stuff that men can help each other out with, if it was really just about the act itself, and not a particular need to degrade or humiliate a (young attractive) woman in order to perform and affirm their masculinity.

            “I want to come in someone’s mouth and have them swallow/I want to have rough anal sex with someone until their rectum prolapses/I want to have sex with someone and know they aren’t enjoying it or are in pain. Not only do I want to do this, I NEED to do this, and in particular I NEED to do it to a WOMAN with particular physical charactertics”.

            If men really think they need to perform these acts, and truly want to act in good conscience and be assured they are not exploiting someone, then they can find another man who wants the same thing and do it to each other. Reciprocity.

          • That ought to have been ‘characteristics’, not ‘characterTICS’

        • “Straight men don’t WANT to…they WANT to…”

          Yes Deist99, that is also part of the point. It is indeed a *want*, as you have identified. Not a *need*. Men do not *need* to put their penis into the vagina of a woman for the sake of their own survival.

          They might want to and might enjoy doing so, but they do not need to, and sexual access to women should not be considered a human right of men.

          • Deist99

            I agree it is a want not a need. No man has died from lack of sex. But it is a very strong biological impulse and men will go to great lengths to fulfill it.

            The flip side of this is that emotional intimacy is not a need but a want. And for the most part women crave emotional intimacy more than men do and men crave sex more than women do.

            I agree that sexual access to women (or to men) is not a human right. I would argue that in a free soceity the pursuit of sex is a right for both men and women. As long as that pursuit does not invovlve the use of force or threat of force.

          • “As long as that pursuit does not invovlve the use of force or threat of force.”

            But other forms of coercion are fine then?

        • Morag

          It’s often not about vaginal or anal intercourse. It’s about screwing, period. Compulsively. A man sticking his dick into women bodies, in any way he can think of, or watching someone else do it to her, is how he defines himself as active and superior. Valerie Solanas offered a wonderful explanation for this:

          “It’s often said that men use women. Use them for what? Surely not pleasure.

          “Eaten up with guilt, shame, fears and insecurities and obtaining, if he’s lucky, a barely perceptible physical feeling, the male is, nonetheless, obsessed with screwing; he’ll swim through a river of snot, wade nostril-deep through a mile of vomit, if he thinks there’ll be a friendly pussy awaiting him. He’ll screw a woman he despises, any snaggletoothed hag, and furthermore, pay for the opportunity. Why? Relieving physical tension isn’t the answer, as masturbation suffices for that. It’s not ego satisfaction; that doesn’t explain screwing corpses and babies.

          “Completely egocentric, unable to relate, empathize or identify, and filled with a vast, pervasive, diffuse sexuality, the male is psychically passive. He hates his passivity, so he projects it onto women, defines the male as active, then sets out to prove that he is (‘prove that he is a Man’). His main means of attempting to prove it is screwing (Big Man with a Big Dick tearing off a Big Piece). Since he’s attempting to prove an error, he must ‘prove’ it again and again. Screwing, then, is a desperate, compulsive attempt to prove he’s not passive, not a woman; but he is passive and does want to be a woman.”

  • Sabine

    Oh my god that fucking woman (arguing against a former prostitute) who has clearly NEVER been at risk of being prostituted herself defending decriminalization…..ARGHHHHHHHHHHH! The fucking ARROGANCE!!!! And talking such bullshit about New Zealand!!! There was only one person talking sense there and it was not the detached-from-reality Brit. I got the impression the interviewer was on Bridget’s side. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!

    • Sabine

      I can’t even bring myself to read the first article about prostitution supposedly being necessary to lower the rates of rape. I actually think I will throw my guts up and go on a murderous rampage! And this is a WOMAN positing this? Yes, let’s condone the creation of a fucking underclass of women to keep us “decent ladies” from being mauled and force-fucked by men, who apparently – due to their “male urges” (poor, helpless lambs) – will literally explode and die if they cannot get their end away on demand. That’s sisterhood for you! Stop the world please, I wanna get off.

    • Meghan Murphy

      So offensive. I’m so impressed that Bridget was able to keep it together while dealing with someone like that!

  • cupcake

    I’m so proud of Bridget Perrier for standing up for the overwhelming majority of prostituted women who are against decriminalization for johns and pimps. The interviewer and Cari Mitchell were disrespectful to her but she stood her ground.

    • Sabine

      Soooooooooo disrespectful. How DARE that clueless twit tell a formerly prostituted woman that she was “moralizing” – what. the. living. FUCK. I would have strangled her. Bridget deserves a round of applause for being so dignified in the face of such breathtaking ignorance.

    • Dogtowner

      What I really hated was the British woman yakking on and on, then INTERRUPTING Bridget Perrier when she began to speak. Hmmm, where have I seen that before?

      • Meghan Murphy

        Right! And completely ignoring the actual arguments Bridget was making, telling her she’s just ‘moralizing’ instead? Like, ok got it. You don’t actually care what women say.

  • Maarten

    I just want to point out that Hakim never claimed that decriminalization is >necessary< to lower rates of rape (that would be a bold and unscientific claim). It's just that the linked article summarized her words that way. She does claim that "decriminalization may even help to reduce sexual crime rates" (such as rape). I think this makes a big difference, and twisting her words like this was probably done to paint her in a bad light.

    http://www.iea.org.uk/sites/default/files/publications/files/DP_Supply%20and%20Desire_61_amended_web.pdf

    • Meghan Murphy

      The implication is the same.

      • Maarten

        I’m surprised you don’t seem bothered by this misrepresentation of her argument (or that you don’t see it as a misrepresentation in the first place), which apparently has lead people to dismiss her report offhand.

        • Morag

          There is no misrepresentation. Her argument is that men not getting enough sex from women (what she calls a “sexual deficit”) helps explain sexism, harassment, rape, and all forms of male sexual violence against women:

          “The sexual deficit among (heterosexual) men (alternatively, the sexual surplus among males) helps to explain many puzzles, including why men are the principal customers for commercial sexual entertainments of all kinds, are most likely to have extra-marital affairs, sometimes rape unwilling partners or complete strangers, and offer other sexual violence against women. The male sexual deficit helps to explain the everyday sexism of male sexual harassment of women in workplaces and public places, even in the 21st century in sexually liberated Western societies (Bates 2014). It must contribute to explaining why sexual coercion and rape are male specialities, displayed especially in war zones (Jukes 1993; Scully and Marolla 1990; Macdowell et al. 2013). Sexual violence is about sex rather than – as many feminists have argued – about power games. A scientific explanation for sexual violence does not constitute a moral justification, of course.”

          • Tim

            The male sexual deficit helps to explain the everyday sexism of male sexual harassment of women in workplaces and public places, even in the 21st century in sexually liberated Western societies.

            That one sentence alone is pretty jaw-droppingly wrong for anyone who’s ever done any research about sexual harassment or even spent time in an actual workplace. A great many, and possibly even most, sexual harassers don’t even want sex with their victims at all; it’s simply the means for humiliating and making them miserable.

            Also, wasn’t it just too cute for words how they dressed the cover of that “discussion paper” up with a porny image?

            “The UK’s original free-market think-tank …” (from the “about” link on the IEA’s website pretty much tells you all you need to know about this “study.”

          • Maarten

            Sorry to go on on this (if I should stop just tell me) but:

            – Hakim never claimed that it was demonstrated that rape will be reduced by decriminalization (only that it >maythat< ground she advocates decriminalization.

            In my opinion, considering the above, it's really not true that Hakim claims that decriminalization is necessary to reduce rape. Maybe you'll think I'm being too fuzzy over the precise meaning of words, or the precise implications of certain arguments, for me this is just part of being fair in judging someone's writing.

          • Maarten

            Hmm, something went wrong in processing my post, it seems that brackets are causing a problem, here is the post again (maybe the failed post can be removed?:

            Sorry to go on on this (if I should stop just tell me) but:

            * Hakim never claimed that it was demonstrated that rape will be reduced by decriminalization (only that it *may* have this effect)

            * Hakim never claimed that without decriminalization you cannot reduce rape (and that therefore decriminalization is necessary)

            * Hakim never claimed that a (possible) reduction of rape is in itself a sufficient reason for decriminalization. She does claim that the overall effect of decriminalization on various problems is a positive one, and on *that* ground she advocates decriminalization.

            In my opinion, considering the above, it’s really not true that Hakim claims that decriminalization is necessary to reduce rape. Maybe you’ll think I’m being too fuzzy over the precise meaning of words, or the precise implications of certain arguments, for me this is just part of being fair in judging someone’s writing.

          • Priscila

            You seem to be the one who’s not getting the point. If she claims that decrim might lower rates of rape, it automatically implies that there are men who might “stop raping” by buying sex (aka stop raping “other” women and rape prostitutes instead). Otherwise how would it “lower rates of rape”?

          • Meghan Murphy

            Maarten, you have no point. The implication is clear to everyone but you. Please move on.

          • Maarten

            I could answer that, but it seems that the kind of “contribution” I’m making here is not appreciated, and that I should move on, so I will.

    • Priscila

      Who the fuck cares???? It’s STILL a bold, unscientific and just PLAIN STUPID claim!

  • lizor

    Bridget Perrier was heroic in that interview. The aggression coming off that lobbyist was palpable even when she was not interrupting or speaking in a haranguing tone AT Ms. Perrier. It was an excellent point she (Perrier) made with the “two percent” line as well as her point about the mythology of benevolent pimps. It was painful to watch a woman being subject to such barely-contained viciousness, but inspiring to see her handle it with such courage and grace. Thank you Bridget Perrier.

  • tinfoil hattie

    They were SO disrespectful and dismissive! As for it being a question of morality, as one of the other women said so sneeringly, of COURSE it is a moral issue! The big huge fucking elephant in the room is: it is IMMORAL to buy women. Period. Why doesn’t this ever come up in a meaningful way in these so-called discussions? This makes me sick.

    Good for Bridget Perrier. She is absolutely in the right.

    • Just Me

      I have noticed in alot of discussion lately, some people act like morality is a dirty word. As if we shouldn’t question things around the morality of them. I don’t get it myself.

  • Kitty Garn

    I’ve just discovered this site and I have been reading it relentlessly for several days; all of it including the comments. I am blown away. I knew I was radical by Midwestern standards but I honestly thought I was all alone. I fucking love you, Meghan Murphy! And the regulars here — won’t name names because there are too many — I love you too. I had no idea that so many people have the same thoughts that I do, and to read so many brilliantly articulated and often hilarious comments in response to the folks who can’t or won’t get a clue has really lifted my flagging spirits. Thank you. All of you.

    • Meghan Murphy

      <3 <3 <3