Photo by Magnolija

Crouching exploitation, hidden misogyny

Leftist men’s navel gazing is a paper-thin disguise for the continuation of patriarchy

Artillery Row

The overhaul of OnlyFans moving away from hosting pornographic content in October 2021 sparked a wider debate on the internet last week. Many Leftist outlets deplored the move; one even called it an “attempt to build Gilead under the guise of women’s lib”. This reaction is just the latest in a prolonged, systemic woman-hating ideology that runs through modern day Leftist politics, and the men involved don’t care who knows it.

The Left is striving to uphold the commodification of women as a sex class

In recent years the Left has styled itself as the embodiment of progressive politics, where women are encouraged to engage in “sex work” in an attempt to “smash the patriarchy”, as well as opening up the category of “woman” to…well, anybody who wants to be one, really. It would only take a moment of critical thought and self-reflection to recognise that the rabid frothing of the Leftist commentariat on these issues is as far removed from the dismantling of power structures, such as patriarchy and capitalism, as it is possible to be.

On the issue of “sex work”, which to be clear, is a phrase that sanitises the systematic and crushing economic and sexual exploitation faced across the globe by tens of millions of women, children and yes, some men: this is perhaps the most insidious example only level with the fanatical propagation of gender ideology of the Left striving to uphold the commodification and exploitation of women as a sex class.

Prostitution is often painted as a “profession” that simply requires the application of workers’ rights to solve all the problems therein. As a result, Leftist men never tire of trotting out the egregiously banal phrase “sex work is work” as the riposte-du-jour to anybody who dares criticise the existence of what is a literal marketplace of human bodies, the sexual access to which is ready to be bought and sold at a moment’s notice. There is a conspicuous silence on the part of Leftist men when it comes to criticising the sex industry however, perhaps because we so readily benefit from its continued existence.

Curiously, these same men are all too willing to supposedly recognise the existence of patriarchy and pay feeble lip service towards “fighting for women’s rights”. This nightmarish irony has only been exacerbated and the misogyny accelerated with the advent of the internet. With the increasing prevalence of websites such as OnlyFans, and the grotesquely sexist normalisation of the porn industry, women have been encouraged to buy into a power-imbalance that has already been exploiting them as a sex class for millennia.

Leftist men are all too willing to sit around and navel gaze about issues such as “women’s rights”, but let’s be real for a moment: this is a paper-thin disguise for the continuation of patriarchy. When the paradigm of society is one in which women are already exploited by men, the exploitation of their sexuality being one example of this, then what privilege do websites such as OnlyFans and the wider commercial sex industry supposedly take away from men and bestow upon women?

There is no societal nor economic emancipation when the porn industry is the purest form of free marketeerism, where bodies are bought and sold by men, for the lowest price, only to be used to engage in increasingly degrading acts. It is merely an entrenching of pre-existing exploitation.

She is viewed as a dehumanised object whether she believes herself to be or not

There are analogies to be drawn with Audre Lorde’s speech in 1984 on how the “master’s tools will never be able to dismantle the master’s house”; Shulamith Firestone’s recognition that women fighting for the vote within a male-dominated system was an aspiration for “equality” rather than emancipation; and in the modern era, Julie Bindel arguing that in striving for “equality”, this is only to be equal to men within a system created by us, and for us.

The fact men are so eager to support the normalisation and sanitisation of the commercial sexual exploitation of women and young girls should set alarm bells ringing. It’s no skin off our nose if a woman believes herself to be “empowered” by the industry, and in fact, that just does the leg work for us. It is Barthes’s Death of the Author come to life: her empowerment lives and dies with her. She is viewed as the same dehumanised object that can be purchased on a whim whether she believes herself to be or not.

Men’s preconceptions and privileges are not only not challenged by the existence of the modern-day commercial sex industry, but they are actively encouraged. Germaine Greer once saidwomen have no idea how much men hate them”, and this is true — except now by paying for the privilege we escape any scrutiny.

This woman-hating also extends beyond the sex industry. Take the increasingly vitriolic debate around “gender identity” for example. Leftist men have found themselves obsessively bullying, denouncing and throwing women’s legal and political rights down the toilet in an attempt to be “the most progressive”. And why? Because it literally does not affect us one iota. Nothing more progressive than getting a woman hounded from her job, am I right, boys!

Men propagating the lie that “woman” is an identity that can be slipped into easier than a satin kimono, without any risk to the actual group it affects, should be indulged about as much as a fox in a hen house that says it’s vegetarian. These rights are not ours to give away, yet men’s voices are always the loudest because it affords us the opportunity to be showered with superficial ego-stroking, which is nothing more than fuel to the fire of patriarchy continuation.

The modern Left has not hesitated to embrace ideologies and social movements that systematically dismantle women’s rights, whilst simultaneously further entrenching the idea that they are objects to be bought and sold on the free market. It is a vile betrayal of the work women have done for decades prior, and it is high time men on the Left start to recognise this and take accountability for our part in it.

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