Thursday, October 22, 2009

Breaking Free Candle Light Vigil Oct 27 and Thoughts On Prostitution

Breaking Free, a non-profit organization, presents:

7th Annual Candle Light Vigil
Tuesday, October 27, 2009, 6:00 PM
770 University Ave., St. Paul, MN

The organization's goals are:


To expose human trafficking/prostitution as violence against women
To educate the community about the effects of commercial sexual exploitation on women and girls
To provide supportive services to prostituted women/youth to permit escape from violence and exploitation
To operate within a culturally appropriate and age and gender-specific context
To provide transitional and/or permanent housing and rental assistance to our target population
The work they do is important, but a few dedicated individuals shouldn't be the only one's who take a stand against the harm done to those who are prostituted and they shouldn't be the only ones who are working to provide practical help to those who have been harmed.

The scope of the exploitation is immense and the response to this exploitation can and should be immense as well.

As I've said before harm reduction isn't enough. We must have harm elimination. Those who believe prostitution (or sex work) can be done without violence need to step up and prove their claim by working to eradicate all harm in prostitution. Not some, all.

When discussions have turned to how women dress immodestly, it is common for someone, man or woman, to bring up the term whore. This is a snippet of a comment from Amanda:
I agree women should wear what they want to wear, but YOU KNOW YOU CAN’T. Guys WILL AND DO rape when you dress like a whore. It’s sad but we all know it happens. That’s probably why he put this out there for WOMEN. He IS guy and he knows how guys think.

If this violence is viewed as certain, and the woman's fault, when a woman does nothing more than dress in a way people label as looking like a whore, what amount of violence is tolerated when a girl or woman has been prostituted? The answer, unfortunately, is a huge amount of violence.

The problem is the behavior of men who use this label as permission to rape and the tolerance or even expectation of this behavior by people who claim to be against violence. Being a guy does not mean automatically turning into a rapist if a woman looks a certain way. Those who assume it does are the ones who make the only difference between non-rapist man and rapist to be opportunity.

Amanda's comment helps men who are violent against those she labels as whore whether she intends to or not because she let's them blame their victim and man's basic nature. Yet Amanda's warning does nothing to protect girls and women since not dressing like a whore is no protection from rape or sexual misconduct.

In May, an abstinence only counselor was charged with sexual assault of a student at the church run program at the Mount Aery Baptist Church in Bridgeport, CT. When those in positions of authority are charged with sex crimes against girls too young to consent it is common to see supposedly good people who focus on the victim and if the word whore isn't used to describe the girl it is often implied.

The harmful attitudes around people's idea of whore or prostitute or sex worker are pervasive, but we can't allow that pervasiveness to cause us to do nothing. Just as each time someone speaks up in a harmful way that contributes to real harm, each time someone speaks up or acts in contrast to that harm that contributes to reducing harm.

This vigil is one way of contributing to reducing harm. If you are in the Twin Cities I encourage you to attend.
Breaking Free would like to invite everyone to join us at our 7th Annual event to end prostitution as we remember the many women and girls who have been killed while involved in prostitution and to make a statement in the community that prostitution is violence against all women and girls.

This event will begin promptly at 6:00 p.m. After a brief introduction, we will all join in a short walk down University Ave (known as a high trafficked prostitution area) peacefully protesting (in cooperation with the St. Paul Police) the violence of prostitution.. We will return to 770 University Avenue and begin our presentations and candle light vigil remembering all those of whom we love and who have been killed while involved in prostitution. We will also remember Sergeant Jerry Vick for the work he has done in trying to eradicate prostitution as a Peace Officer in a kind and respectful way. He will never be forgotten. We will be joined by guest speakers.

Violence against prostituted women and girls has gone unrecognized for many years by minimizing the harm associated with it. Prostituted individuals have been treated as “throw away people” and have been left trapped in their misery without a voice. Everyone in our community is somehow impacted by this vicious cycle.

PLEASE JOIN US AS WE MAKE THIS POWERFUL STATEMENT:

“IT’S NOT OK TO BUY, SELL OR TRADE WOMEN OR GIRLS AT ANY PRICE”

For more information call (Joy) @ 651-645-6557 http://www.breakingfree.net/

HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!!!! Refreshments will be served after the program.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:34 AM   1 comments links to this post

1 Comments:

At October 22, 2009 12:16 PM, Blogger JENNIFER DREW said...

Calling any woman who does not adhere rigidly to male-defined 'feminine' behaviour a whore, conveniently absolves men of any accountability or responsibility with regards to their actions/behaviour towards women. Men continue to retain their male privilege because unlike women they are not commonly reduced to their sexuality. It also serves to maintain belief only men should have autonomy over their sexuality, because unlike women men are not reduced to their 'sexuality.'

This is why men are not routinely called 'whores' if their clothing/behaviour/attitudes etc are perceived as being 'sexually insatiable.' Instead they are labelled 'studs.' So apparently it is acceptable for men to portray themselves as 'sexually insatiable' but not women.

Anyone who calls a woman/girl 'a whore' justifies men's sexual violence against women and girls and also excuses the male perpetrators.

No one is a 'whore' but this misogynistic sexual insult is not only used against non-prostituted women it is also used against prostituted women. Calling prostituted women 'whores' ensures the Johns who are the ones ensuring prostitution continues, are excused their inexcusable actions and also justifies Johns' sexual violence against prostituted women. After all one cannot hurt a 'dehumanised thing,' which is what prostituted women are commonly reduced to.

I hope this vigil attracks many women and men too, because it is male demand which ensures prostitution continues and whilst not all men buy women, those men who do not buy women but do not challenge men who do ensures the male buyers continue to view their actions as acceptable.

 

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