From May 2004. I’ve posted the two comments I got this time.
When children are sexually abused, it is not just the sexual acts committed that harm them. The main harm comes from the breach of trust. Most abused girls are victimized by male family members. Diana Russell calculated that 1 in 6 girls are the victims of incest by the time they reach eighteen. An additional 1 in 6 are victims of other sexual abuse. When I was molested, what hurt the most was not what he did to me, but the fact that he betrayed me. He was supposed to be my friend, not my nightmare. I told, which is surprising to me even today because he threatened to kill my dog and me if I did, and was lucky enough to be believed and supported by another. Unfortunately, many are not so lucky.
When girls are abused, their senses of self are shattered. They have no belief in themselves as human beings with the right to not be harmed and used by others. Those girls may grow up believing that.
When girls run away from home to escape being “Daddy’s girl,” they face people who are eager to force them into prostitution. The pimps won’t have to work very hard to break them in; they already believe themselves to be pieces of meat. Contrary to popular opinion, this is a common paradigm in prostitution because approximately three quarters of prostitutes have been sexually abused as children and many prostitutes are “owned” by pimps. The violence in prostitutes’ lives are by no means limited to their “bosses.”
A great deal of the violence against them is caused by customers. Studies on prostitutes have found that as many as 98% of prostitutes have had “bad dates”–abusive johns. Prostitute women are commonly called vile names, beaten, raped, tortured, even killed. I find that people think that for higher-class “call girls” or escorts”, it is somehow different. It’s not. The $200 per hour escort can end up raped and butchered as easily as the $20 street prostitute.
But even without this overt violence, prostitution is violating women’s human rights. It doesn’t matter whether she’s held captive and beaten by pimps or she’s selling herself to support her children–using a prostitute is, ipso facto, wrong. Even if the customer is not overtly, sadistically abusive, renting the body of another human being is violating any reasonable standard of human rights. Renting the videotape or buying the magazine of another’s naked body is just as wrong.
Pornography is much the same as prostitution, except for one crucial difference–there are documents of the women’s abuse being sold as entertainment. I can only imagine the pain and humiliation experienced by women in pornography. I am horrified knowing that in many countries, pornography, even if it depicts rape, is constitutionally protected as “speech.” Even in pornography where the women are presented as willing aren’t truly. What rich woman without a history of sex abuse says “Gee, I’d really like to have humiliating sex with total strangers in front of a camera for men’s sexual pleasure”? I don’t think a single one does. Not that someone would think that by viewing pornography. Do the surgically enhanced 20 year olds ever say “be gentle”? Do they even say “no,” or Heaven forbid, “I am your equal so treat me as such”? No. The women in pornography–from the Playboy centerfold to women viewed as eager to have every orifice filled with a penis to the woman raped–all are portrayed as insatiable for the use and abuse heaped upon them. All are treated as less than men.
In these institutions, a very important, male-supremacist message is communicated. It is that men are more important, more deserving of respect than women. If these institutions do not violate women’s human rights, women are being denied basic human rights.
2004-05-31 06:07 pm (local) (link) Select
|I wish I was as cool as you when I was 16.|
2004-06-03 06:29 am (local) (link) Select
|This is a great essay.
I hope you don’t mind, I added you 🙂