Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New Feminist Activism and Awareness in the UK: HURRAY!

Above: A group of Radical/Anarcho Feminists from Newcastle upon Tyne gathered at Greys Monument in the city’s centre on Saturday 7th March 2009 to take action on the eve of International Women’s Day.
[this image was found here]

A.R.P.'s UK correspondent, Christina, has provided me with two new articles, highlighting what's going down across the pond. One of the links she sent was in the last post. This other link has to do with the well-needed burst of feminism in the UK, due in part to the failures of a racist, pornographised culture to do anything good for women, and the sleazy tactics of Father's Rights groups to strengthen hetero male supremacy and harm children and women.

Hi Julian,
Here is a bit of good news.  Sadly it is only a STEP in the right direction.  But at least it is something.
Now more then ever we need to be educating our young girls, especially girls of colour about the evils of WHMs.  They need to realise that there is much that still needs to be done and by standing together we could remove all WHMs from power and liberate our nations.
Both the US and UK are crying out to be liberated from these evil oppressive WHMs.

[What follows is from that link above.]

The march of the new feminists

Women's groups are thriving for the first time in a decade as young Britons rediscover gender issues
By Susie Mesure

Sunday, 29 November 2009
    March against male violence: 2,000 women joined the 2008 Reclaim the Night demo in London
    March against male violence: 2,000 women joined the 2008 Reclaim the Night demo in London

    They are the Topshop generation: young girls more used to partying than protesting; keener on women's looks than women's lib. But now they have had enough. A new wave of feminists, some still in their teens, are putting the struggle for women's rights back on the agenda for the first time in a decade. 

    The feminist resurgence has spawned a flurry of new blogs, magazines, books, societies, conferences and protest marches – and this time dungarees are out.

    On university campuses, women's groups are thriving once more, while hundreds of women each month are joining new feminist networks in cities from Birmingham and Manchester to Glasgow and London.
    The old-school Fawcett Society, which dates back to the suffragists, has seen its membership jump by 25 per cent in the past 12 months and the number of its newsletter subscribers double; while earlier this month, more than 2,000 women took to London's streets to "Reclaim the Night" from the men who make them unsafe. Similar marches have been held in cities all over the country. And websites such as The F-Word, started by Catherine Redfern eight years ago as a forum for contemporary feminism, is getting more than 110,000 hits a month.

    Campaigners say the trigger for the new burst of activity is a growing frustration that women still lag men in all walks of life a century after the suffragettes began their fight. In the workplace, the boardroom and the home, not to mention the political system and in popular culture, women are still battling acute gender bias that means globally they earn less, despite working harder than men. According to Professor Richard H Robbins, women do two-thirds of the world's work, yet receive only 10 per cent of the world's income.

    Activists also cite a growing "objectification" of women that has recently seen universities reintroduce beauty pageants and the number of lap-dancing clubs in the UK explode to 300 – not to mention the proliferation of lads' magazines such as Nuts and Zoo, which feminist groups such as Object are fighting to get banished to newsagents' top shelves.

    Finn Mackay, who heads the London Feminist Network, said young women were leading the new movement "because they are the ones bearing the brunt of today's objectifying culture and they have stopped finding that amusing".

    A new poll of feminists revealed that nearly half are under 25, with almost three-quarters of the 1,300 surveyed saying they started to identify with being a feminist while still in their teens.

    Catherine Redfern, who conducted the survey for Reclaiming the F Word: The New Feminist Movement, which she is co-writing with Kristin Aune, said: "We want to tell people that feminism is still here, and is a growing, vibrant movement." Theirs is one of three books on feminism due out in the next few months, including Natasha Walter's Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism.

    Kat Banyard, the Fawcett Society's campaigns director and author of The Equality Illusion, due out in March, said: "The mainstreaming of the sex industry has been the biggest catalyst [for the resurgence]. It's brought sex on to the high street. The bottom line is there is a need for feminist activism, despite the gains that have been made."

    Campaigners such as Object's Anna van Heeswijk are already notching up victories. An amendment to the Police and Crime Bill was passed earlier this month that will help to halt the sex industry's proliferation on to the high street. "Next year could be the year that we reclaim the F-word for what it is, one of the world's most important movements for social justice," Ms van Heeswijk added.

    Ellie Levenson
    The Noughtie Girl's Guide to Feminism
    Although not to everyone's tastes – ie, the chick-lit approach – the former comedian's take on lipstick feminism ended an 11-year feminist publishing drought this summer.

    Natasha Walter
    Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism
    After arguing feminism shouldn't police women's clothes and sexual behaviour in her last book, she's back, worrying about the hypersexual culture round young girls.

    Kat Banyard
    The Equality Illusion
    The title says it all: the Fawcett Society's campaigns officer rips apart the belief that feminism has achieved its aims – men and women are equal – and calls for more action.

    What's Wrong with the Father's Rights Movement? Read this...

    [image is from here]

    Thanks to Christina, the A.R.P. UK correspondent, for bringing this to my attention. Her email to me reads as follows:
    Together with MRAs I find fathers rights extremely irritating and offensive.
    Fathers rights (FRs) are just another white hetro boys club set up by predominantly WHMs to ensure that their rights to own and oppress their own wives and daughters are maintained. 
    I came across this article on FRs and how it contributes to violence against women.  Personally I believe the article is not been critical enough about FRs but at least it shows that people are realising that FRs is a problem.
    As far as I am concerned all divorces should take place under feminist law instituted by a feminist judge who is only concerned about protecting the wife and child and not helping WHM oppress and harass their wife and child.
    *     *     *
    All that follows is from that link above.
    *     *     *

    Sign this petition to stop court ordered child abuse in your Congressional district!

    Father’s Rights and Violence Against Women 

    by Dr. Michael Flood

    In this talk, I’m going to focus on the ‘fathers’ rights’ movement, and their impact on violence against women.

    Introduction: The fathers’ rights movement
    The fathers’ rights movement is defined by the claim that fathers are deprived of their ‘rights’ and subjected to systematic discrimination as men and fathers, in a system biased towards women and dominated by feminists. Fathers’ rights groups overlap with men’s rights groups and both represent an organised backlash to feminism. Fathers’ rights and men’s rights groups can be seen as the anti-feminist wing of the men’s movement, the network of men’s groups and organisations mobilised on gender issues (Flood, 1998).
    fathers rights, feminism, domestic violence, violence against children, battered women, men's rights movement

    Two experiences bring most men (and women) to the fathers’ rights movement. The first is deeply painful marriage breakups and custody battles. Fathers’ rights groups are characterised by anger and blame directed at ex-partners and the ‘system’ that has deprived men or fathers of their ‘rights’, and such themes are relatively common among men who have undergone separation and divorce. The second experience is non-resident fathers’ dissatisfaction with loss of contact with their children or with regimes of child support.

    The fathers’ rights movement focuses on trying to re-establish fathers’ authority and control over their children’s and ex-partners’ lives, on gaining an equality concerned with fathers’ ‘rights’ and status rather than the actual care of children, and on winding back legal and cultural changes which have lessened gender inequalities.

    Fathers’ rights groups are well-organised advocates for changes in family law, and vocal opponents of feminist perspectives and achievements on interpersonal violence.

    Impact of the fathers’ rights movement on violence against women
    The fathers’ rights movement has had four forms of impact on violence against women.

    Priviledging contact over safety
    Most importantly, the fathers’ rights movement has influenced family law, with damaging consequences for women, children, and indeed men. Above all, fathers’ contact with children has been privileged, over children’s safety from violence. [See The Custody Scam, the story of Dawn Axsom, Child Abuse: When Family Courts Get it Wrong, Letter to Judge from Jury foreman regarding prosecution of mother trying to protect her children from abusive father, or watch the PBS documentary Breaking The Silence; Children's Stories at the bottom of this post.--Deborrah]

    An uncritical assumption that children’s contact with both parents is necessary now pervades the courts and the media. The Family Court’s new principle of the ‘right to contact’ is overriding its principle of the right to ‘safety from violence’. The Court now is more likely to make interim orders for children’s unsupervised contact in cases involving domestic violence or child abuse, to use hand-over arrangements rather than suspend contact until trial, and to make orders for joint residence where there is a high level of conflict between the separated parents and one parent strongly objects to shared residence.

    The fathers’ rights movement has been unsuccessful in achieving its key goal of a rebuttable presumption of children’s joint residence after separation. However, other changes in family law and government policy over the last two years have reflected its influence. Recent reforms mean that greater numbers of parents who are the victims of violence will be subject to further violence and harassment by abusive ex-partners, while children will face a greater requirement to have contact with abusive or violent parents.

    Current government policy echoes many of the key themes of the fathers’ rights movement. Both government policy and many fathers’ rights groups are guided by two central, and mistaken, assumptions: that all children see contact with both parents as in their best interests in every case, and that a violent father is better than no father at all (DVIRC, 2005, pp. 5-6). Both bodies talk of ‘conflict’ rather than violence, neglect violence as a legitimate issue for the courts and family services to address, emphasise mediation and counseling as solutions, and focus on punishing women for making false allegations or breaching contact orders.

    Discrediting victims
    The second impact the fathers’ rights movement has had on violence against women is in discrediting victims. Fathers’ rights groups tell two key lies.

    First, fathers’ rights groups tell the lie that women routinely make false accusations of child abuse to gain advantage in family law proceedings and to arbitrarily deny their ex-partners’ access to the children.
    Second, fathers’ rights groups tell the lie that women routinely make up allegations of domestic violence to gain advantage in family law cases and use protection orders to remove men from their homes or deny contact with children rather than out of any real experience or fear of violence.

    I have written detailed critiques of these first two lies, and they are available both online and in the latest issue of the Australian journal Women Against Violence. I can send copies to anyone who wishes.

    Men’s versus women’s violence (Impact on perceptions of intimate violence)
    Related to this, the fathers’ rights movement also has had some impact on public perceptions of intimate violence. In particular, it tells the lie that domestic violence is gender-equal or gender-neutral – that men and women assault each other at equal rates and with equal effects.

    While I’ve called this a lie, this is one claim for which there is some academic support.

    To support the claim that domestic violence is gender-symmetrical, advocates draw almost exclusively on studies using a measurement tool called the Conflict Tactics Scale. The CTS situates domestic violence within the context of “family conflict”. It asks one partner in a relationship whether, in the last year, they or their spouse have ever committed any of a range of violent acts. CTS studies generally find gender symmetries in the use of violence in relationships. There are three problems with the use made of such studies by fathers’ rights activists.

    First, men’s rights and fathers’ rights groups make only selective use of this data, as CTS authors themselves reject efforts to argue that women’s violence against men is as common or as harmful as men’s violence against women (Kimmel 2001, p. 22).

    dating violence, domestic violence, abusive men, child custody battles, child abuse, violence against women, abusive menSecond, there are methodological problems with the Conflict Tactics Scale. The CTS is widely criticized for not gathering information about the intensity, context, consequences or meaning of the action. The CTS ignores who initiates the violence (when women are more likely to use violence in self-defense), assumes that violence is used expressively (e.g. in anger) and not instrumentally (to ‘do’ power or control), omits violent acts such as sexual abuse, stalking and intimate homicide, ignores the history of violence in the relationship, neglects the question of who is injured, relies on only one partner’s reports despite poor interspousal reliability, and omits incidents after separation and divorce, which is a time of increased danger for women.

    Third, a wide range of other data find marked gender asymmetries in domestic violence. For example, crime victimization studies based on large-scale aggregate data, household and crime surveys, police statistics, and hospital data all show that men assault their partners and ex-partners at rates several times the rate at which women assault theirs and that female victims greatly outnumber male victims (Tjaden & Thoennes 2000, pp. 25-26).

    Feminist and other scholars have worked to reconcile the conflicting findings of these bodies of data. One important insight is the recognition of different patterns of violent behaviour in couples and relationships. Some heterosexual relationships suffer from occasional outbursts of violence by either husbands or wives during conflicts, what some (Johnson 1995, 284-285) call “common couple violence”.

    Here, the violence is relatively minor, both partners practise it, it is expressive in meaning, it tends not to escalate over time, and injuries are rare. In situations of “patriarchal terrorism” on the other hand, one partner (usually the man) uses violence and other controlling tactics to assert or restore power and authority. The violence is more severe, it is asymmetrical, it is instrumental in meaning, it tends to escalate, and injuries are more likely.

    CTS studies are only a weak measure of levels of minor ‘expressive’ violence in conflicts among heterosexual couples. They are poorer again as a measure of ‘instrumental’ violence, in which one partner uses violence and other tactics to assert power and authority (Johnson 1995, 284–285).

    There is no doubt that men are the victims of domestic violence. Men experience domestic violence at the hands of female and male sexual partners, ex-partners, and other family members.

    A growing body of research tells us that there are important contrasts in women’s and men’s experiences of domestic violence. Women are far more likely than men to be subjected to frequent, prolonged, and extreme violence, to sustain injuries, to fear for their lives, and to be sexually assaulted (Kimmel 2001, 19; Bagshaw et al. 2000). Men subjected to domestic violence by women rarely experience post-separation violence and have more financial and social independence. Female perpetrators of domestic violence are less likely and less able than male perpetrators to use nonphysical tactics to maintain control over their partners (Swan & Snow 2002, 291-292).

    Women’s physical violence towards intimate male partners is often in self-defense (DeKeseredy et al. 1997; Hamberger et al. 1994; Swan & Snow 2002, 301; Muelleman & Burgess 1998, 866). On the other hand, women’s intimate violence can also be motivated by efforts to show anger, a desire for attention, retaliation for emotional hurt, and so on (Hamberger et al. 1994). It is inadequate to explain women’s violence simply in terms of their own oppression and powerlessness, and naïve to assume that women are immune from using violence to gain or maintain power in relationships (Russo 2001, 16-19).

    Men are likely to under-estimate and under-report their subjection to domestic violence by women (George 1994, 149; Stockdale 1998, 63). There is no evidence however that male victims are more likely to under-report than female victims. In fact, men tend to over-estimate their partner’s violence and under-estimate their own, while women do the reverse (Kimmel 2001, 10-11).

    The fathers’ rights movement’s attention to domestic violence against men is not motivated by a genuine concern for male victimisation, but by political agendas concerning family law, child custody and divorce (Kaye & Tolmie 1998, pp. 53-57). This is evident in two ways.

    First, the fathers’ rights movement focuses on this violence when the great majority of the violence inflicted on men is not by female partners or ex-partners but by other men. Australian crime victimisation surveys find that less than one percent of violent incidents among men is by partners or ex-partners, compared to one-third of incidents among women (Ferrante et al. 1996, 104). Boys and men are most at risk of physical harm from other boys and men.

    Second, the fathers rights’ movement seeks to erode the protections available to victims of domestic violence and to bolster the rights and freedoms of alleged perpetrators, and this harms female and male victims of domestic violence alike. I turn to this now.

    Protecting perpetrators and undermining supports for victims
    The fourth way in which the fathers’ rights movement has had an impact on violence against women is in its efforts to modify responses to the victims and perpetrators of violence.

    The fathers’ rights movement has sought to wind back the protections afforded to the fictitious ‘victims’ of violence and to introduce legal penalties for their dishonest and malicious behavior. The Lone Fathers’ Association and other groups argue that claims of violence or abuse should be made on oath, they should require police or hospital records, and people making allegations which are not then substantiated, and those who’ve helped them, should be subject to criminal prosecution. They call for similar limitations to do with protection orders.

    Fathers’ rights groups also attempt to undermine the ways in which domestic violence is treated as criminal behavior. They emphasise the need to keep the family together, call for the greater use of mediation and counseling, and reject pro-arrest policies.

    Such changes would represent a profound erosion of the protections and legal redress available to the victims of violence and the ease with which they and their advocates can seek justice. This agenda betrays the fact that the concern for male victims of domestic violence often professed by fathers’ rights groups is rhetorical rather than real. While such groups purport to advocate on behalf of male victims of domestic violence, they seek to undermine the policies and services that would protect and gain justice for these same men. [bold added by Julian]

    Fathers’ rights groups often respond to issues of domestic and sexual violence from the point of view of the perpetrator. And they respond in the same way as actual male perpetrators: they minimise and deny the extent of this violence, blame the victim, and explain the violence as a mutual or reciprocal process (Hearn, 1996, p. 105).

    This sympathy for perpetrators is evident in other ways too. Fathers’ rights advocates have expressed sympathy or justification for men who use violence against women and children in the context of family law proceedings. And, ironically, they use men’s violence to demonstrate how victimised men are by the family law system (Kaye & Tolmie, 1998a, pp. 57-58).

    Members of fathers’ rights groups also act as direct advocates for alleged perpetrators of violence against women. For example, one group distributes pamphlets for ‘victims of a false AVO’, giving no attention to how to respond to ‘true’ perpetrators of violence nor to the safety of family members.

    Fathers’ rights groups also attack media and community campaigns focused on men’s violence against women, call for the de-funding and abolition of what they call the “domestic violence industry”, and engage in the harassment of community sector and women’s organisations which respond to the victims of violence.

    Other, positive responses by men: The White Ribbon Campaign
    This is all pretty depressing news. In this context, I’ve been especially heartened to see a growing positive response by men, in alliance with women, to help stop violence against women. I will focus on one such response.

    White Ribbon Day is the largest effort by men across the world, working in partnership with women, to end men’s violence against women. White ribbons are worn on the day by men to show their concern about violence against women, and by women who are supporting men. It takes place on November 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

    In Australia, White Ribbon Day is organised in part by UNIFEM, a women’s organisation, but it is conducted in partnership with men and men’s organisations. The White Ribbon Campaign focuses on the positive roles that men can play in helping to stop violence against women.

    To find out more, visit the website: http://www.whiteribbonday.org.au/

    To continue our efforts to prevent violence, several strategies are necessary.

    We must continue to respond effectively to those who’ve experienced this violence, the coalface work that some of you already do.

    We must continue to keep the issue of violence against women on the public agenda.

    We must step up efforts to engage men in positive ways, building partnerships with supportive men and men’s groups. We must confront, or sidestep, the dangerous ambitions and dishonest claims of the men’s and fathers’ rights backlash.

    The achievements of the fathers’ rights movement are already putting women, children and indeed men at greater risk of violence and abuse. The fathers’ rights movement has exacerbated our culture’s systematic silencing and blaming of victims of violence and hampered efforts to respond effectively to the victims and perpetrators of violence.

    However, the new politics of fatherhood has not been entirely captured by the fathers’ rights movement. There is potential to foster men’s positive and non-violent involvement in parenting and families. Key resources for realising the progressive potential of contemporary fatherhood politics include the widespread imagery of the nurturing father, community intolerance for violence against women, growing policy interest in addressing divisions of labour in child care and domestic work, and men’s own investments in positive parenting.

    However, thwarting the fathers’ rights movement’s backlash requires that we directly confront the movement’s agenda, disseminate critiques of its false accusations, and respond in constructive and accountable ways to the fathers (and mothers) undergoing separation and divorce (Flood, 2004, pp 274-278).

    Beating the backlash
    The following are some of the political strategies we can use to help beat the fathers’ rights backlash.
    Discredit fathers’ rights groups. Emphasise that they;
    • Are interested only in reducing their financial obligations to their children;
    • Are interested only in extending or regaining power and authority over ex-partners and children.
    • Do nothing to increase men’s actual share of childcare / parenting or men’s positive involvement in parenting both before and after separation.
    • Collude with perpetrators of violence against women and children, protect and advocate for perpetrators, or are perpetrators.
    • Produce critiques of their lies and their strategies which are credible and accessible.
    • Co-opt the new politics of fatherhood;
    • Support positive efforts to respond to separated fathers. (And emphasise that FR groups fix men in anger and blame, rather than helping them to heal.)
    • Build on men’s desires to be involved (and nonviolent) parents.
    • Find alternative male voices: supportive men and men’s / fathers’ networks and groups.
    ‘Speaking as a father…’

    Tell women’s stories

    Atrocity tales: Stories of abuse and inequality.

    In letters, submissions, on talkback, etc.

    (But beware of the ways in which these can (a) portray women only as victims, (b) homogenise and essentialise women’s (diverse) experiences of violence, and (c) undermine credibility and support. )
    Find and nurture male allies: in government, the community sector, academic, etc.

    More widely, we must continue do the work of violence prevention: to undermine the beliefs and values which support violence, challenge the power relations which sustain and are sustained by violence, and promote alternative constructions of gender and sexuality which foster non-violence and gender justice.

    [For much more of Michael's writings please visit the website he created. This page is of his writings only, but there's LOTS there to bring men's attention to: http://www.xyonline.net/category/authors/michael-flood -- Julian]

    Contact the Author:
    Dr Michael Flood
    Postdoctoral Fellow
    Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS)
    La Trobe University
    E-mail: michael.flood[at]anu.edu.au
    PO Box 4026, Ainslie ACT, 2602
    Presentation in Panel, “Myths, Misconceptions, and the Men’s Movement”, at Conference, Refocusing Women’s Experiences of Violence, Sydney, 14-16 September.

    The Preacher Peeled His Facemask Off and Revealed He Was a Pimp

     [Image of bust of a slave boy is from here. He has a Trajanic haircut and was named Martial Roman, 98-117 CE/ECD. Marble. Photographer: Getty Villa.]


    by Julian Real, 2009

    The Preacher peeled his facemask off and revealed he was a Pimp. The next thing that happened was that the Pimp peeled his facemask off and revealed he was a Preacher.

    And so it went, facemask off again and again, Preacher to Pimp, Pimp to Preacher. Sometimes the Pimp was the owner of a brothel, sometimes he had a "collection" of girls and young women, and a young man or two, people he'd seasoned to be "his" money makers by making them accept that all you can do is allow men to have sexxxual access to you, and for the Pimp this was good and right. He preached the goodness and rightness of this like a Catholic leading a congregation to a false heaven. Sometimes the Pimp was a corporate capitalist, overseeing multinational corporations that enslave men, women, and children--disproportionately the latter two groups, to work without wages, to work for a penny an hour, to do work that is needed by thew workers only because it pays more than not working for that Pimp. And because their own economic systems were overtaken by Economic Hitmen, spreading the Word of the Corporate Pimp. But, as always, the Pimp profits far more than they do, which is also to say they never profit.

    What is taken from them is far more expensive than any amount of money they earn. In the poorer countries, indebted to the White Pimps, everyone is more vulnerable in some ways. And stronger in others. Their strength, in part, is in knowing this is not the only way. They remember the past before the Corporate Pimp came to the villages. I never knew such a time. I grew up in land possessed by the White Pimp. Sometimes these White Pimps tells the adult parents in poorer countries he can do good by them, and make sure their children have a better life, get a good education, get good jobs and send back money so they can join their children in the Promised Land. Or return to start small businesses there. But once the White Pimp has the children he turns them into his sexxx slaves, he trafficks them around the world, he turns women into sexxx slaves and trafficks them around the world. This is no way to be a world traveler.

    When I was trafficked as one of the young males, all I saw was the same basic thing over and over. Never new art collections or historic sites. Never grand vistas or ecological wonders. All I saw was the Prostituter's will manifested in his body actions, and then the next, or many at the same time. All I saw was greed, and more greed. All I saw was men who couldn't ever really see me as a person. All I ever saw was that the world was filled with Prostituters content to give their money to my Pimp so they could have access to me to do to me whatever they wanted to do. Often they enjoyed rape. Or just humiliating me. Or just turning me into some actor in their sick play. Sometimes they wanted me to "hurt them". I didn't want to--I knew what it was to be hurt--but if I didn't they'd beat me until I did it. The Pimp would sometimes get angry at them for beating me. He'd tell them "That's MY job!"

    Sometimes when the Pimp was busily seasoning the newer "acquisitions", the Pimp let me live with one of these Prostituters, who paid my Pimp handsomely for the ability to have me around. Sometimes the Prostituter-Purchaser fed me delicious food and pretended to love me. I thought maybe I loved him for a time. But he required me to still have sexxx with him. I knew I couldn't ever say no to him and I never dared to. And he'd arrange for me to do sexxx with all kinds of people. He'd meet people on an Internet group. Then they'd show up. If I refused to give them all what they wanted, of my body, the Prostitutor-Purchaser beat my body. He'd beat me into doing what they all wanted and I learned it is better to do what they want right away, than be beaten and do it later, bruised. When the bruises healed, I was sent back to my Pimp, but something strange happened for one instant. As I left the house where there was good food, I watched my Pimp open his car door and let out a younger male, who went into this same house as I left and got into my Pimp's car. As I passed him he looked down, but I took his face in my hand and looked into his eyes. There wasn't much there, but I tried to communicate to him to not fight, to never say no; that it will be better for you that way. I wanted to spare him some of the beatings. He looked very sad, and it was, in that instant, like looking into a cracked mirror. I saw my own sadness for the first time.

    I learned a lot during that time. About Powerful men and how to survive among them. About the world of Powerful men and how they operate; how they know each other through the computer; how they make all this possible; how they pass women and children around regarding our humanity as dirt. I learned so many ways of being treating like dirt.

    Once back with my Pimp I met a women who was not as young as many of the people he owned. She was brought to him by someone to be a part of a sexxx threesome. My pimp had told someone he needed an older woman. She was 27. Her name is L. My Pimp gave her and me to a Pornographer. He's the one that wanted to see a threesome and film it. He has a man there for us to have sexxx with. This Pornographer was the Director. He ordered us to do whatever he wanted. The man was cruel; I could tell he'd been making these films for a long time. He was 29.  L. gave me drugs to be able to do the film work and not look afraid or exhausted or anything at all. I wished I'd had those drugs earlier in my life. But more than that I wished to be out of this, without any drugs, without any Pimps. That's some of what I thought about when drugged, how maybe I could be free of all this, while the scenes were filmed. We worked for him for two days and got too bruised to be of any more use to him. Then he was done with us, so he called my Pimp to come and get me. I'm not sure what the plan was for L. This was when the miracle happened. She had a plan. She knew this Pornographer and L. had saved some money and gave it to him if he'd let us go before my Pimp got there. He agreed. He was high on something at the time and didn't seem to care too much, but he counted the cash. So we escaped.

    We walked fast on the streets. L. knew the city like it was mapped into her mind. She took me down alleys and through dead buildings willed with crack addicts who were of no use to the Pimps because they were too unhealthy. She took me to one building where we were let in only when she said something into a buzzer speaker by a locked entrance door.

    Inside there was furniture, food, and clothes. And a shower. And there were bedrooms that weren't for sexxx. There were about a dozen people living there. It looked like we'd all been through similar stuff. Some of them were still using drugs. But I stopped right away because I felt like maybe I could get closer to my dream of being free.

    This place also had books. L. told me about a writer, Andrea Dworkin, who didn't think we were dirty and said that Pimps lie about what women are for. I couldn't believe someone was allowed to say what she wrote and not be harmed. L. said Andrea had already been harmed.

    L. told me she'd been making connections to other women who had read many books by many women who told the truth about men who hurt women and who were hurt in other ways too, by famine, by men's wars against each other, by racism, because they were lesbians. Some of the people who lived at this home had escaped their Pimps, or made deals with a Procurer to get away. No one ever let any of us go without being paid, though. Except for two or three who were not from our world.

    They were part of a world I imagined was part of the free world. But their stories were also very sad. They'd been treated like dirt at their first homes by the Father, or in their second homes by the Husband. The Husbands were not so different from the Pimps. Except the women could eat there and sleep there and pretend they were not at all like us. They judged us at first, until they knew the truth that we all shared--that none of us were free and living as an unfree person means you do a lot of things you don't want to do, to survive.

    The safe home had people in it who looked haunted. Some of them couldn't get off the drugs and got very sick. Some got sick from diseases they got from the Procurers. L. and I spent our days working to meet others who escaped and we led them to our safe house. It was often sad there, but it was safer than life with the Pimps and the Prostituters. It was free of the external horrors of what Pimps and Procurers do.  But we knew the horrors, and so in that sense we were all haunted.

    Once off drugs, my mind cleared and I felt lots of feelings that I'd never allowed myself to feel before. I felt grief and rage. Something resembling Life entered my eyes.

    During this time some of us read to each other, because many of us didn't know how to read at all, or only a little bit. I learned more about how to read there. L. knew three languages: Spanish, French, and English, and she had been sent to many colonised lands where those languages were spoken. So she knew a lot more than most of us and told us what she knew of the world. Her skin was dark brown. Mine was light brown. The people in the safe house were all colors. L. taught many things to those of us who didn't read well, including how to read in at least two languages. She said only knowing one language is a way to not be free. I didn't understand this at first.

    She had done the most reading of all of us in the safe house and she was strong in ways I envied. Her strength came from knowing her own pain, understanding it, feeling it, and not pretending that she didn't have it. Most of us tried to escape our pain a lot of the time. She taught me there was no freedom in doing that. I watched some in the safe house hurt their own bodies, stay on drugs, or berate themselves in their own minds; they kept repeating what the Pimps and Procurers told them they were. But L. didn't do this. Instead she read Andrea Dworkin books to us. We learned that Pimps lie. At first it didn't feel true. Both Andrea and L. said we weren't dirt. No one was dirt. Not even dirt was dirt. I had to think about this for a long time.

    Slowly I began to understand her. By learning to read and helping each other learn to feel our pain, and our rage, we grew stronger. And we could speak out loud about our stories. One of the women not from my world told us about her husband who was a Catholic Priest. He proclaimed the Power of God to be Righteous and Holy and that Man must Rule women or else they would become heathens, pagans, beasts. He was very respected in his town. He was admired, she said. He proclaimed himself to be a Truth-Teller. She was Black but her husband was white. His congregation was filled with white husbands who beat their wives and raped their wives and also their own children, and sometimes other family's children. Once, she told us where the Priest's church was so L. and I went to hear him. L. was stared at because she was darker brown than me. I passed as white. But the place was really, really white. I didn't know such places existed. They acted strangely even though we'd stolen some clothes from a Goodwill and dressed like they did. We heard this White Priest speak about the Will of God, and I realised his god was also a Pimp. I asked my friend about this, and she said Yes. The White Man's god is usually a Pimp and to beware of anything white men teach.

    No woman is the only battered woman or the only raped woman or the only incested girl. No woman is the only one owned by a Pimp or rented by a Procurer. And if the Preacher is white, beware. For he speaks only of Pimp-the-Father as the one and only god. I don't think white men know G-d at all. I only know about Her because she whispers to me often. She always did but I had to stop listening once the Pimp took me and began to brainwash me. Her voice and his couldn't co-exist in me. So only when his voice was gone, and the memory of it got quieter in my head, Her voice could be heard again. She spoke of Freedom and Love. And she spoke of the importance of feeling rage and learning to say No to men.

    There are people wandering the Earth who have been told by other Pimps and Preachers that it is ok to treat women like what they think of as dirt. And they do hideous things to people who they get control of, often teens who are desperate and hungry. Or those children who were told they'd have a better life. If only their parents knew. If only they knew. But maybe it is better that they not know. Their choices are limited once the White Man takes over your economic system, your culture, and tells you your history isn't right or accurate.

    The other day I was walking the street looking for any boys who seemed lost. My friend was out looking for girls and women. When possible we tried to get to them before the Pimps did. And what I saw was another miracle: that boy who replaced me in the Procurer's house was doing the same thing I was! He had Life in his eyes, pain and rage. He was part of another safe house. We embraced and we cried. I hadn't cried in a long time. It felt good.

    He told me his story. He'd been raised by a white Preacher who incested him and also seasoned him too. But he did something I didn't know you could do. One day, while his Father-Preacher-Pimp slept, he took a knife and stabbed him in his cold, corrupt heart. And then he ran away. And now he was as free as he had ever been in his life.