People of all political stripes are going nuts over audio revealing Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump bragging about sexual assault. While Trump defensively claimed his words were nothing more than “locker room talk,” many have pointed out that not all men talk like this.
While that may be true, there is one industry were all men do talk like this: the sex trade. Revealingly, Trump talks about women exactly the same way sex buyers do. He talks about women — sometimes behind closed doors but not always — the way men who’ve been raised on a steady diet of male entitlement towards the female body talk about women.
Listening to the recording was indeed sickening. I was horrified that millions of fellow victims and survivors had to endure this news, plastered everywhere, often botched up by the media, who referred to Trump’s comments as “raunchy sex talk” and, in the case of Fox News, featured a panelist who dismissively said, “no one was raped, nobody died.” But reading the flood of denunciations from public figures and so-called progressive outlets who were quick to condemn Trump’s misogynistic words but continue to support and promote the sex trade was too much.
Trump statements that have come to light recently certainly are horrifying. But v in line w literally every statement/action.
— vero bayetti flores (@veroconplatanos) October 8, 2016
Stay in your lane: we don’t need rich white actresses’ comments on sex work http://t.co/gbL4UxMIGT by @veroconplatanos
— Feministing (@feministing) July 31, 2015
The connection between Trump and the sex industry is a literal one — Trump himself was a strip club owner until 2014 when the Taj Mahal Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City went bankrupt and Trump transferred ownership to Icahn Enterprises. When it opened in September 2013, Scores was the first strip club in the U.S. to open inside a casino. (Trump Taj Mahal Hotel and Casino closed down earlier this week after a labour dispute.)
Trump’s statement about the ease with which he sexually assaults women, “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything,” references his cultural and economic capital — his power, in other words. Trump’s particular power, aside from being male, is his money — just like a john’s power in the sex trade is his money. Liberal and progressive supporters of the sex trade will often argue that money is synonymous with consent, dismissing the feminist analysis of prostitution as violence against women because, in prostitution, women are paid, fair and square, for access to their bodies, thereby “consenting” to being exploited. But when did progressives (who are supposed to have a stronghold on how capitalism works) forget that money is coercive?
Considering the work feminists have done to popularize the idea that only an enthusiastic and freely given “yes” constitutes consent, when it comes to sex, why do so many leftists see money as providing the exception to this rule?
In Being and Being Bought, Kajsa Ekis Ekman argues:
“Prostitution is sex between two people: one who wants it and another who doesn’t. Since desire is absent, money takes its place.”
Is this the kind of “consent” feminists were talking about?
Coercion is no aberration in porn either. On the contrary, it is its crowning jewel. Porn sites are full of videos that feature sexualized violence against women. Despite its noble declarations, Pornhub (the most visited porn website in the world) profits from pornography that sexualizes domestic violence, racism, and sexual assault — abuses we, as a society, have agreed are never something a person can “consent” to.
Some feminists and progressives sleep better at night by telling themselves that porn is just fantasy. But, as journalist Gabriel Muñoz Herval asks on the Spanish site, El Estado Mental, if it really is “just fantasy,” why must we condone it at all? Why is it that “millions of men get turned on, celebrate, and envy the role of rapists and aggressors that porn grants them?” And why are we ok with that?
Muñoz Herval writes:
“(Porn) asks itself only one question over and over again: what else can be done to women? Or better put, in what other ways can we degrade and humiliate a whore even more? The tiredness, given the limitations of sexual representations, follows this compulsive line: harder, rougher, more extreme. Other paths could be explored but no: the goal, the struggle and the obsession is to advance the destruction of women and celebrate and applaud (and market) occurrences such as using women as urinary (Human Toilets), make them vomit (Gag On My Cock), hit them (Slap Happy), ejaculate inside their eyes (Pink In The Eye), choke them, spit on them, pee in their mouths and an infinite modality of tearing women down, publicize it and offer it as daring, innovative and even humorous.”
Or, as Trump put it, you can do whatever you want to them.
Sex buyers understand what prostitution is and whose pleasure it is designed for. The Invisible Men project collects the words of johns, as written on prostitution review boards. A man who paid £120 for sex says:
“…By then she realized that I was pissed off and just wanted to get it over and done with. I had to literally force myself to cum with her dreary hand job, she said she was surprised that it happened and I replied ‘I wasn’t ready to come as I wanted to fuck some more’, to that she had no reply and went quiet. I didn’t say a word to her until I left, saying thanks and goodbye. To me, she doesn’t like the job, though really, if you are an escort and choose to offer your body on any website then you know what’s coming.”
Another sex buyer who paid £150 wrote:
“So oral sex, sex in two positions for what I assumed to be round one. Wouldn’t really get near me after the massage which I found a bit odd. The reason why soon became more apparent. 25/30 mins into the meeting I indicate I would like another round, to be met with ‘one hour, one fuck.’ Apparently she’d seen six other clients that day and her pussy was sore. I said that’s not my problem but she kept repeating the same phrase.”
The same liberal feminists and faux-progressives who support the existence of a sex trade — a place where men freely talk about women in this way and act out those ideas on women — who believe it is neutral (“just a job like any other”) or even potentially empowering for women now claim to be outraged by Trump’s words. But the jig is up, liberal feminists: you cannot bemoan sexual objectification and male entitlement when Trump does it, while you yourselves endorse an industry that relies on and fosters it, smearing anyone who opposes you.
In supporting prostitution and pornography, you are supporting the very same male entitlement Donald Trump boasts about. How can you be upset about Trump’s words while supporting and promoting an industry where his words are the rule?
Trump may claim, “You can do anything” is just words, but they are the sex trade’s ethos.