Action For Men

On Thurs June 17th OBJECT organised an ‘Action For Men’ in London. http://www.ukfeminista.org.uk/blog/2010/06/16/54-actionformeninlondonthurs17th.html They didn’t advertise it on their own website. The action involved distributing leaflets to men in pub toilets, which were made to look like Court summons, telling them the consequences of paying for sex. I emailed them about this tactic:

Hi.

My name is Elly.

I saw your ‘action for men’ advertised yesterday. I was very disappointed to see OBJECT taking this action.

I am a committed feminist. I disagree with your action for the following reasons:

1)The leaflets were inaccurate. It is NOT illegal to pay for sex. It is illegal to pay for sex with coerced/trafficked sex workers

2) It  assumed men would be likely to be clients of sex workers (in fact it is only a small minority of the population who are)

3) it assumed that men would always be clients when some men are sex workers themselves

4) It ignored the rights and voices of women sex workers

5) it highlighted the element of shame in paying for sex: e.g. your friends and family could find out

6) It made no reference to information/support/sexual health for people in the industry as clients or workers

7) It was sensationalist and scaremongering

I would be very interested to see a report on how the action went. I know I probably won’t now. But you really should publish details of how actions go, unless you see yourselves as a secret organisation (you arent you receive public funds).

If you would like any information from people supporting sex workers both men and women, and their clients, to give the other side of the story. Please get in touch.

Yours sincerely, etc

I did not receive a reply to my email. But the scanned image of the leaflet got taken down from the UK Feminista website within hours of my email being sent. I have not heard how the action went. If anybody knows, please do get in touch. And if you are a bloke who was going for a piss in the pub that night, did you get accosted by some people with these leaflets? We’d love to  hear from you!

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10 Responses to Action For Men

  1. Dave Weeden says:

    OBJECT challenges ‘sex object culture’ – the ever increasing sexual objectification of women in the media and popular culture through lads’ mags, advertising or lap dancing clubs.

    But if we were to date this “ever increasing sexual objectification…” from say when the Sun started publishing Page 3 (about 1968, IIRC), we’d also see that this period saw our only female Prime Minister, a female deputy PM (or whatever Harman’s job was), women generally being more successful professionally than at any time in history. It’s very hard to measure, but I think violence against women has decreased in the same period. Domestic violence used to be ignored by the police; however, everyone knows that it existed. (Patrick Stewart wrote a very good piece in the Guardian a few months ago.) At best, I’d say that the harm isn’t proven, at worst, OBJECT are making a lot of fuss over nothing.

  2. Thanks for your comment Dave.

    I do not know if gender violence has gone down or not in recent years. It most certainly has become less acceptable publicly and in the eyes of the law.

    I don’t think they are making a fuss over nothing though: I think this kind of feminist discourse is very much to do with holding on to a version of femininity and masculinity that is valuable to certain groups in society, esp middle class women. I will write more on this anon.

  3. Just seen on the OBJECT site that the action for men put leaflets in men’s toilets in 35 pubs in Old St, Liverpool St, Spitalfields areas. If anyone sees these leaflets I would love to see a photo! It obviously was targeting the ‘hipster Johns’ .

  4. leaflet is here:
    The leaflet says: pay or attempt to pay for sex from ist April 2010 and you risk:
    a court summons
    a criminal record
    a letter through your door
    a fine
    your name in the paper

    You partner, employer, family or friends could find out. Don’t risk it.
    Don’t pay for sex!
    http://www.ukfeminista.org.uk/blog/14-dcnewlawcrimbuyers.html

  5. sianushka says:

    hi elly

    it says’ you risk’

    the risk is that you might end up paying for sex with a trafficked woman/man. it’s a risk that you might be breaking the law. not that paying for sex will end you up in jail.

    unless the man asks the sex worker beforehand ‘are you trafficked or are you here from your own free will’ he is risking breaking the law. and i doubt anyone visiting a sex worker is going to ask that question.

    have you read any of the comments on punternet? i wouldn’t recommend it if you want to hold down your breakfast, but some of the ‘reviews’ suggest that they are buying trafficked women with no care for the law/the woman’s welfare.

    i know we disagree on the sex worker debate but i do agree with you that sex workers voices need to be heard and that other women shouldn’t speak for them. but i am concerned that just as you say the anti prostitiution feminists (and i use the word anti loosely) speak for sex workers and ignore their voices, so do a lot of the pro sex work feminists (again, loose use of the word pro!).

    ultimately it is against the law to buy a trafficked woman or man for your sexual pleasure. if you go and buy a sex worker you are risking that she/he has been trafficked and you would then be breaking the law and the following:
    a court summons
    a criminal record
    a letter through your door
    a fine
    your name in the paper
    could happen to you. that’s how i understood the action.

    • punter69 says:

      What you say is only partly correct. The new law does not mention trafficking at all, which is a good thing too, because the UK Government definition of a trafficked women would cover many women who work totally voluntarily. The law states I should not purchase or promise to pay for a sexual service from someone who has been coerced, or deceived into providing the sexual service?

      unless the man asks the sex worker beforehand ‘are you trafficked or are you here from your own free will’ he is risking breaking the law. and i doubt anyone visiting a sex worker is going to ask that question.

      Asking a sex worker in no way would protect you. On a first visit to a sex worker who is coerced, maybe through debt bondage, she is very unlikely to say that she is being coerced. Asking and receiving a negative reply will not protect the client from prosecution. It takes time and trust and building a relationship with someone before they would divulge that type of information, and that is why some clients who have become regulars have then only discovered the women has been coerced. The client then has gone on to help that victim.

      have you read any of the comments on punternet? i wouldn’t recommend it if you want to hold down your breakfast, but some of the ‘reviews’ suggest that they are buying trafficked women with no care for the law/the woman’s welfare.

      The only comments I see on punternet forum are very much against trafficking and coercion. There though is disbelieve in the size of the problem and the solution to the problem, and we believe Object have it totally wrong. You will find many women posting on that site as well, and many of the moderators are also women sex workers.

      • Thanks punter 69 I think you make some really useful points, especially about the wording of the new law.

        I think punternet can be pretty grim reading as some punters are sexist towards women in general and women sex workers in particular, but as you say it is like any other internet forum: it is a mixed bag, and at least it gives some insight to some of the discussions going on between people who actually work in and are clients of the sex industry. As you may realise, I think OBJECT have it totally wrong too!

  6. hi Sianushka
    Thanks for taking the time to comment here. OBJECT have not responded to my emails/tweets/comments…

    First: I completely agree with you on this point:

    ‘but i am concerned that just as you say the anti prostitiution feminists (and i use the word anti loosely) speak for sex workers and ignore their voices, so do a lot of the pro sex work feminists (again, loose use of the word pro!).’

    I just think the leaflet is scaremongering. If it is meant to be about trafficked workers why doesn’t it say so? It could suggest to male clients that they ask sex workers about their conditions before agreeing to paying for sex. I also really think it should include some links of where people can get information about sex work, sex workers rights, sexual health. Just telling someone they risk breaking the law is not enough in my view. Also, OBJECT took the leaflet down from the UK feminista site when I queried it, which suggests to me they are not 100% confident about its accuracy either.

    I’d love to hear from someone from OBJECT .

    Thanks again for your comment. I would not have set up OBJECTWATCH if oBJECT spoke to me on these issues.

  7. sianushka says:

    i agree some more info on the leaflet would be appropriate. especially on rights, the legal status and health.
    the problem is – when you want to make an eyecatching leaflet you skimp on those details and go for the headline! but a few links wouldn’t have been misplaced.

  8. There is also a point about acknowledging their funders. OBJECT is a charity and funders demand to have their logos on leaflets. I am looking into this issue to.

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