Thursday, January 17, 2008

So, yes.

There was a sex work discussion. Again. You can read the whole thread if you want, but mostly it gave me a headache. Really, though, I just wanted to quote this section of this comment by annalouise.
98% of trafficking victims in the United States do not work in the sex industry. The most common industry that trafficking victims are found in is the domestic service industry. Many of them work for wealthy foreign nationals under a particular provision of US immigration law that provides them with very restrictive entry visas and little to no workplace protections. Others work in exploitive circumstances for American citizens who take their passports, underpay them and use the fear of deportation to keep them cowed. The largest growing group of trafficked persons in the US is men being trafficked from South and Central America to work on post-Katrina reconstruction of the Gulf Coast. This is the face of trafficking victims in the US.
Why does it not get press coverage? Because the NYTime wouldn’t be able to publish a titilating cover of a girl in a schoolgirl uniform to accompany their stories on exploited nannies. Because looking at the men being trafficked in New Orleans would shine light onto exactly what a “guest worker” program means and big business doesn’t want that. Because mainstream feminism would have to do some genuine soul-searching about how some women’s liberation has come at the expense of other women. Because we might have to look at global capitalism and that make everybody uncomfortable.
The titillating image of a schoolgirl, especially I think disturbs me. In a Human Rights in Anthropology class I took last semester, someone did their final presentation on forced prostitution and trafficking of sex slaves. And the power point he put together was filled with images of scantily-clad, young Asian women, some with black eyes or other cuts and bruises, posing sexily for the camera.

And it really creeped me out thinking about this guy googling all night long looking for the most disturbing, most twisted images to put to his descriptions of the ultimate victims. These women, who will never know he used their faces in this way, without asking, are not humans to him. They are concepts. He was using them as concepts, the Ultimate Helpless Victims, look at them in their tawdry clothes and cheap makeup, look at how they are beaten up for money!

It was, needless to say, quite gross.

Likewise when the mainstream media tries to talk about trafficking of humans, or when feminists talk like they did in that thread, or for a more extreme example, here.

It doesn't help. It makes it worse.

And, on a related note, I've always wondered if say, appearing in a porn movie contributes directly to more suffering than, say, shopping at Wal-Mart. (Or Starbuck's, for that matter, you corporate sheep!) i mean, I shop at Wal-Mart, mostly because I have to. How many people have I directly injured by doing so? Maybe I'm making assumptions based purely on liberal guilt, but I think the tally would be much much higher.


Renegade Evolution said...

Um, yes. I think folk know how I feel about anti-sex industry people using the images of sex workers/prostituted women without their consent and other such shock tactics...way to objectify them, you people fighting agaist the ojectification of women!

Amber said...

Everything we do in this society is going to eventually, indirectly, harm *someone*. For people to pretend they live outside society and can live their entire lives without negatively impacting anyone else is a pathetic pipe dream. Their focusing on that kind of thing prevents real work from getting done.

FWIW I am not down with hating on a company just bc it's a corporation... Starbucks pays its workers higher wages than most other comparable jobs and offers health insurance to part time workers. My mom is about to start working their part time to get health insurance coverage.

Vanessa said...

Amber: well, yeah, they're better to their employees than Wal-Mart, for sure, unless you happen to work at a cool, locally-owned coffee shop. I just bristle at the idea that every coffee shop in every neighborhood in every city is going to be exactly the same when we finally become the United Starbucks of America, paying six bucks for something you could easily get at Dunkin Donuts for two.

But that's a much smaller issue, and probably a rant for a different post lol.

But yes, in America we feed off of the lives of most of the rest of the world. I'm much more concerned with changing that, if it's even possible.

Amber said...

But yes, in America we feed off of the lives of most of the rest of the world. I'm much more concerned with changing that, if it's even possible.

Likewise. I think it's possible, but it won't happen overnight (obviously), and it certainly won't happen if people can't get past finger-pointing and name-calling with stuff like, "You're hurting women!!"