Archives de Tag: Répression

In neoliberal d…

In neoliberal discourse, married women are assumed to be responsible for children and dependent on wage-earning husbands, and are often advised to stay at home during their children’s early years to build self-esteem and independence in the young. They are also encouraged to volunteer, as the bulwarks of civil society and « faith-based » social service provisions, with their unpaid labor underpinning the privatized social safety net. Single, divorced, and widowed women may « choose » to work in a gender and race-segmented labor market without affordable childcare or public assistance in order to build their self-esteem and independence—or, some welfare reformers suggest, they may « choose » to put their children up for adoption by married couples, or house them in orphanages. Lesbian and gay, bisexual or transgendered parents may choose only to take their chances amid the patchwork legal minefield of inadequate to hostile partnership provisions, custody rulings, adoptions laws, social services, employment and health insurance practices, and educational (in)visibility.
For men, neoliberal policy wonks and politicians have advocated « law and order » programs, including the « war on crime » and the « war on drugs, » « zero tolerance » policing, « quality of life » crackdowns on crimes against public order, and the mass incarceration of young poor men, especially black men.

Lisa Duggan, The Twilight of Equality : Neoliberalism, Cultural Politics, and the Attack on Democracy, p. 17-18


During the rece…

During the recent years of struggle – by all women, not only prostitutes – it has become clear that the state is the prime target to attack, not the pimp or the client, who are merely secondary objectives. The state is the biggest “pimp” of all. Through fines and imprisonment it is always trying to reduce prostitute’s income to the average female level – low. The state is the true exploiter of both houseworkers and sexworkers, and all women should and must continue to unite internationally in struggle against the criminalization of prostitutes. It is every woman’s struggle.

Leopoldina Fortunati, The Arcane of Reproduction : Housework, Prostitution, Labor and Capital; Autonomedia, 1996, p. 56

Durant les récentes années de lutte – de toutes les femmes, pas seulement des prostituées- il est devenu clair que l’Etat est la première cible à attaquer, non le proxénète ou le client, qui ne sont que des objectifs secondaires. L’Etat est le plus gros “proxénète” de tous. Par les amendes et l’emprisonnement il tente sans cesse de réduire le revenu des prostituées au niveau moyen féminin ) bas. L’Etat est le véritable exploiteur tant des travailleuses ménagères que des travailleuses du sexe, et toutes les femmes devraient et doivent continuer à s’unir internationalement dans la lutte contre la criminalisation des prostituées. c’est la lutte de toutes les femmes.

One the one han…

One the one hand, the woman is formally prevented from selling herself as houseworker and as prostitute in the same time, given that one person cannot at the formal level exist as legal (houseworker) and illegal (prostitute) subjects simultaneously. On the other hand for the prostitute to sell her labor-power as its capacity for production would also be formally incompatible. But in practice she can and she does. Nowadays, for example, with the crisis of family so rampant, housewives and others are becoming part-time prostitutes, as too are students, workers, teachers, secretaries, etc. The division in the female job market between prostitute and non-prostitute is thus blurring. Entering and leaving the two markets has become far easiest than in the past […]. The rise in prostitution, coupled with women’s increasing absenteeism from housework, is dangerously changing the face of the male worker’s consumption, where his consumption of housework should not only be complementary but also fundamental to his consumption of prostitution work, and vice versa. In response, capital has intensified its efforts to regain its quantitative control over the supply of prostitution work. The wave of repression of prostitutes is in reality capital’s attempt to re-establish the complementary aspects of the exchange, and to once more place prostitution work in a secondary position to housework in terms of the male worker’s quantitative consumption of it.

Leopoldina Fortunati, The Arcane of Reproduction : Housework, Prostitution, Labor and Capital; Autonomedia, 1996, p. 44-45

D’un côté, la femme est formellement empêchée de se vendre comme ménagère et comme prostituée en même temps, étant donné qu’une personne ne peut, au niveau formel, exister simultanément en tant que sujet légal (la ménagère) et illégal (la prostituée). D’un autre côté, pour la prostituée, vendre sa force de travail comme sa capacité pour la production serait aussi formellement incompatible. Mais en pratique, elle le peut et elle le fait. De nos jours, par exemple, avec la crise si endémique de la famille, les femmes au foyer et autres deviennent des prostituées à temps partiel, de même que les étudiantes, travailleuses, enseignantes, secrétaires, etc. La division dans le marché du travail féminin entre prostituée et non-prostituée devient brouillée. Entrer et quitter ces deux marchés est devenu bien plus facile que par le passé […] L’augmentation de la prostitution, couplée au croissant absentéisme  des femmes du travail ménager, est en train de dangereusement changer le visage de la consommation du travailleur, puisque sa consommation de travail ménager ne devrait pas être seulement complémentaire, mais fondamentale, par rapport à sa consommation de travail de prostitution, et vice versa. En réponse, le capital a intensifié ses efforts pour récupérer un contrôle quantitatif sur la réserve de travail de prostitution. La vague de répression des prostituées est en réalité une tentative du capital pour rétablir les aspects complémentaires de l’échange, et pour, une fois de plus, placer le travail de la prostitution dans une position secondaire par rapport au travail ménager en ce qui concerne la quantité qu’en consomme le travailleur.

Giovanna Franca Dalla Costa, la répression des putes et le modèle familial de production.

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Giovanna Franca Dalla Costa, The Work of Love: Unpaid Housework, Poverty and Sexual Violence at the Dawn of the 21st Century.

whorephobia and whore control

We are using the policeman’s eye when we can’t see a sex worker as anything but his or her work, as an object to control. It’s not just a carceral eye; it’s a sexual eye. If a sex worker is always working, always available, she (with this eye, almost always a she) is essentially sexual. It’s the eye of the hotel room surveillance video but applied to our neighborhoods, our community groups, and our policies. Even the most seemingly benign “rehabilitation” programs for sex workers are designed to isolate them from the rest of the population. They may be described as shelters, but the doors are locked, the phones are monitored, and guests are forbidden. When we construct help in this way we use the same eye with which we build and fill prisons. This isn’t compassion. This isn’t charity. This is control.
When we look at sex workers this way we produce conditions in which they are always being policed. “Criminalization” isn’t just a law on the books but a state of being and moving in the world, of forming relationships—of having them predetermined for you. This is why we demonize the customer’s perspective on the sex worker as one of absolute control, why we situate the real violence sex workers can face as the individual man’s responsibility, and why we imagine that all sex workers must be powerless to say no. We have no way of understanding how to relate to the prostitute we ’ve imagined but through control.

Melissa Gira Grant, Playing the Whore, Verso, 2014, p. 11-12

Sex workers and…

Sex workers and anyone perceived to be a sex worker are believed to always be working, or, in the cops’ view, always committing a crime. People who are profiled by cops as sex workers include, in disproportionate numbers, trans women, women of color, and queer and gender nonconforming youth. This isn’t about policing sex. It’s about profiling and policing people whose sexuality and gender are considered suspect.

Melissa Gira Grant, Playing the Whore, Verso, 2014, p. 9

In West Bengal,…

In West Bengal, the sex worker collective Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee surveyed over 21,000 women who do sex work. They collected 48,000 reports of abuse or violence by police— in contrast with 4,000 reports of violence by customers, who are conventionally thought of as the biggest threat to sex workers, especially by campaigners opposed to prostitution.
Police violence against sex workers is a persistent global reality. As the economy collapsed in Greece, police staged raids on brothels, arrested and detained sex workers, forced them to undergo HIV testing, and released their photos and HIV status to the media. These actions were condemned by UNAIDS and Human Rights Watch. In China, police have forced sex workers they have arrested to walk in “shame parades,” public processions in which they are shackled and then photographed. Police published these photos on the Web, including one in which a cop humiliated a nude sex worker by pulling her hair back and brutally exposing her face to the camera. When the photo went viral, the outcry reportedly prompted police to suspend these public shaming rituals, though they continue to make violent arrests and raids.
One could hope that the photos and videos like these could make the pervasiveness of this violence real to the public. But to truly confront this type of violence would require us to admit that we permit some violence against women to be committed in order to protect the social and sexual value of other women.

Melissa Gira Grant, Playing the Whore, Verso, 2014, p. 5-6

Police harassment of prostitutes has increased – they can be forced to appear in court to provide testimony against the client (they can refuse to be witnessed, but they are still summoned and sometimes escorted to courtrooms), and whenever they are caught with a client their belongings are searched and they may be frisked. Anything that police think they can use as evidence against clients (such as condoms) is confiscated. This practice clearly has consequences for condom use among sex workers. It provides them with strong incentives to avoid using them. The law has been a catastrophe for non-Swedish sex workers – if the prostitute found with a client is not a citizen or legal resident of Sweden, she is immediately deported; in fact government prosecutors complain that in a number of cases they were unable to gain convictions against clients because the pros- titutes they were found with had been deported before they could even give a statement (BRÅ, 2000:4, p. 44; also Expressen, 01–09–30).8 This fact affects the willingness of non- residents to report on violence. A police chief in the north of Sweden observes that, ‘I don’t think for example that a Russian woman would dare to report a man for violence against her, because then she would risk not being given a visa if she ever wanted to come back to Sweden, because it would have become known that she is a prostitute’ (Tidnin- gen Svensk Polis, 02–04–18).

Don KULICK, “Sex in the New Europe, The Criminalization of Clients and Swedish Fear of Penetration, Anthropological Theory 2003 3: 199

Immediately after the law began to be enforced, police noted a drop in the numbers of street prostitutes (again, we are not talking about massive numbers to begin with – in 1999, reports indicate that there were less than 800 prostitutes in the entire country). This may have something to do with the fact that policemen, who had been allotted 7 million Swedish kronor (US$650,000) to enforce the new law, immediately began making their presence on the streets where sex workers worked very visible. Armed with video cameras, which they ostentatiously pointed at any car that slowed down near a sex worker, they effectively frightened away clients, thus driving the sex workers off the streets. By the middle of 1999, however, it seems that many of the sex workers who initially left the streets were back again. In August of 2002, social workers in Malmö, Sweden’s third largest city, estimated that there were about 200 street prostitutes there, which is the same number that was estimated before the passage of the law in 1999 (Kvällsposten, 02–08–09). Since the law came into effect, three government reports have been commissioned to evaluate it and to recommend how it might be enforced (BRå, 2000: 4; Nord and Rosenberg, 2001; SoS, 2000: 5) None of these reports has concluded that the law has resulted in a significant drop in prostitution in Sweden.
While street prostitution was initially (and, it seems, temporarily) affected (see note 9), researchers report that the passage of the law corresponded to an increase of the number of sex advertisements on the Internet. The number of bordellos – which in practice seems to mean apartments on the periphery of large cities, in which Baltic women work, often, it seems, under oppressive conditions – appears to have increased since the law was passed. Prostitutes interviewed in the mass media report that women with drug problems have been driven to desperation and even suicide by the new law, since they have been unable to put advertisements on the Internet and make up for the clients they lost as a result of the law. Social workers agree that the law has made it more difficult for them to reach prostitutes. Police report that their efforts to prosecute pimps and traffickers has been made more difficult, because clients, who before the passage of the law were sometimes willing to serve as witnesses, are now disinclined to cooperate, since they themselves are guilty of a crime (Nord and Rosenberg, 2001: 4). Social workers and street prostitutes say that the quality of clients has declined, and a recent report commissioned by the National Board of Police has concluded that women are now forced to accept not only more clients (since prices have dropped), but also more unstable and dangerous clients than they would have accepted before the law, when there were more clients and, hence, more choice (e.g. GT/Expressen, 00–04–22; DN, 98–08–02; DN, 99–01–18; Nord and Rosenberg, 2001: 27).

Don KULICK, “Sex in the New Europe, The Criminalization of Clients and Swedish Fear of Penetration, Anthropological Theory 2003 3: 199

That the spread of rural capitalism, with all its consequences (land expropriation, the deepening of social distances, the breakdown of collective relations) was a decisive fac­tor in the background of the witch-hunt is also proven by the fact that the majority of those accused were poor peasant women – cottars, wage laborers – while those who accused them were wealthy and prestigious members of the community, often their employers or landlords, that is, individuals who were part of the local power structures and often had close ties with the central State. Only as the persecution progressed, and the fear of witches (as well as the fear of being accused of witchcraft, or of “subversive asso­ciation”) was sowed among the population, did accusations also come from neighbors. In England, the witches were usually old women on public assistance or women who sur­vived by going from house to house begging for bits of food or a pot of wine or milk; if they were married, their husbands were day laborers, but more often they were wid­ows and lived alone. Their poverty stands out in the confessions.

Silvia FEDERICI, Caliban and the Witch, p. 171