Today, Julie Bindel triggered a memory in me from quite long ago. I wanted to share.
I used to be in a “School Parliament” that compromised of 2/3 pupils from all high schools in the area from Year 10/11 (GCSE age.)
We attended monthly meeting to discuss young people’s concerns, held at various places, including the town hall.
It was very official. Fancy lunch provided. Prawns with eyes on on a fancy buffet to a 15 year old who eats mostly beans on toast, it was quite the experience.
One girl was a sportsy Tom boy type who wanted the city’s cycle paths fixed as she spend a lot of time them as cycling was one of her favourite hobbies.
The whole time we all thought she was saying she wanted “psychopaths updating.” It was a funny moment when we all finally understood what she meant.
One meeting, we ended up discussing the idea of a red light district in the city to gain the the ‘youth perspective’ on the subject.
We were just 15/16 years old.
Is legalising prostitution really something that should have been our decision at our naive ages?
Did I wish to give consent to this? No way.
Not my place as a 15 year old girl with no true understanding of such a damaging industry?
I remember the idea of “making it safer” for the prostituted women being discussed however from my understanding from the prostituted women I saw, they were desperate drug addicts, for whom I felt much concern for.
My first thought would be “how in the world did she end up there? Why has no body helped her?”
She didn’t need a safer space to harm herself further, she needed help to recover from the trauma that led her there.
She needed help. Period. That life chose her; She couldn’t have just “made a choice” one day to live that life. It’s not possible. It’s not an aspiration is it?
She won’t get that from prostitution.
She’ll survive another day, re-traumatising herself in the process, driving the need for the drug use, endless circle until overdose, HIV, pregnancy or murder strikes her first.
What an odd subject to consult children on?
I really can’t remember a lot, but I can’t recall anyone advocating “choice” for these people. But “making them safe” was cheered merrily like they had half a clue what that actually meant. Who wouldn’t agree to making them safer?
We went on several trips to London and even Amsterdam to visit parliamentary buildings and institutions.
I went to Amsterdam twice with this group. We visited The Hague and Anne Frank House and it was all very enlightening.
We also experienced the red light district, we were permitted a brief half an hour to explore and meet back. One of the pupils lost his virginity to a prostitute.
I went in sex shops and witnessed the variety of the sex industries “products.” (I was no stranger to these concepts, however it was very real to see such the variety in one place, particularly the darker/kink genres.
I was very liberal feminist about it all and ooed and ahhed at the “empowerment” of the girls. Myself no stranger to the concepts on offer there. I was not a young, prudish catholic girl. I was not naive to the sex industry.
In fact the second year went I took a porn video home for my boyfriend. (Mr First) One I “permitted” as it had no anal and “a storyline” with his favourite porn star.
LibFem level upgrade I believe that counts as?
I was however naive to men, their intentions and their beliefs. It never dawned on me to question WHY these men thought nothing of coercing a women into accepting sex with them for money. It was just so normal.
My view didn’t even change from the first time to the second time, despite being a victim of rape between the two visits. I still didn’t make the connection.
Liberal feminism just fails to see the actions of the men. Even when I’d felt the worst action of a man, I was too busy “not all men”ing to see that consent is such a meaningless concept to the men around me. From friends, lovers, peers teachers, even coming from the local council chambers.
So the place they took us to was rich with educational places which we did go to. It was a very unique experience visiting The Hague and various places. It was definitely an “educational” trip.
However, it just so happened we also saw “legalised prostitution” while we were there. How “safe” it was for the girls in the windows. How it was all just very normal, day to day, selling of sex for money like buying a coffee.
Except those prostitutes were not like the prostitution I saw in our city. I saw desperate women treated like scum, not “dolly birds in a window.”
This is deliberately conflating the two.
Like the ‘dressmaker’ and the ‘clothes designer’- same job, very different conditions and environments, very different social status.
The same industry with various levels of hierarchy. Happens everywhere. Prostitution is the same. Legalised prostitution in our city was going to effect the ‘dressmaker,’ not the ‘designer.’
We also saw legalised cannabis, but were kept away from that. Naughty drugs are bad! No one tried taking that home with us. That’s against the law that bit of flower. It harms people. The people in the cafes looked like they were enjoying themselves. Men, women, groups, laughing and chatting together. That’s BAD, ok?
Prostitution is ok though. Shall we take the idea home with us and legalise it?
This piece of legislation was passed around the same time.