Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Forced male prostitution: sexist?

I suggested before that degrading and violent pornography may not be sexist, pointing to homosexual porn that degrades men for the pleasure of a male audience. Is abusive behaviour sexist if it's aimed at members of the same sex?

My argument was that the sexual degradation of women in pornography is not evidence that men who enjoy this porn are sexist. Rather it suggests that some proportion of men like the idea of abusive sex with those they find attractive, be it male or female:

Today Spanish police undercovered a male sex trafficking ring that seems to support the idea that abusive sexual behaviour may have more to do with sex than sexism:

Spanish police say they have broken up a sex trafficking ring which brought mostly young Brazilian men to Spain to work as prostitutes.... The victims and their clients were plied with cocaine, viagra and other recreational drugs....

The suspected sex workers were in their 20s and were mostly from northern Brazil. They were reportedly told that they would get legitimate jobs in Europe as dancers or models, but were instead left with debts of around 4,000 euros (£3,300) - the cost of travelling to Spain. Others knew they would be working in the sex industry but did not know that they would be expected to work 24 hours a day and would be moved from province to province.

"If the men complained or caused any kind of problem, the gang leaders would threaten them, even with death," the police statement said.

The forced prostitution of men, by men, for men, is hardly sexist, but is still a terrible crime.

So what? Well so we needn't always interpret abusive behaviour in terms of some wider discrimination. Sometimes people are brutal and cruel, but when the victims are of a different sex it isn't necessarily sexist, when they are of a different race it isn't necessarily racist. Bad is bad and our opposition to this behaviour should be on the grounds that it creates victims, not that it indicates sexism, racism or some other prejudice.

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