No More Page 3 think modelling and child abuse are the same thing.
Content note: This blog will discuss child abuse, rape, sexual assault and harassment.
It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of No More Page 3, but I’ve yet to contribute to the debate in this format, largely because I find the responses of NMP3 supporters dripping with radical feminism, whorephobia, and find middle-class respectability politics forced onto me. But NMP3’s latest contribution is so bad I just can’t help myself.
A few days ago (August 31st) the official No More Page 3 facebook page posted a comic of a man reading ‘The News’ (The S*n), and being outraged at the Rotherham child abuse scandal, but then flicking to page 3, and looking at this week’s model, an 18 year old named Kelly.
It might not seem damaging from the outset, but scratching the surface of this cartoon, its implications and its intentions reveals not only deeply problematic politics, but politics that seriously endanger sex workers, who are, whether you like it or not, part of our fight for gender liberation.
1- This comic makes a comparison between sex work, paedophilia and child abuse. It says that those who enjoy pornography or are clients of sex workers are the same as child abusers. Child abusers are child abusers and should be recognised as such- all else gives them a defence, a mechanism by which we can relate to them, and an excuse.
2- It paints sex workers as survivors by virtue of their work- after all, they are paid for by child abusers, and as money = power, that means they are controlled by child abusers.
3- Treating sex workers as survivors minimises any abuse they may have experienced separate to their work (which might also include child abuse!) whilst simultaneously saying that any abuse they do experience as part of their work is an inevitability. In short: you’re saying they’re destined to be abused, so why even bother fighting with and for them?
4- It removes agency. It treats sex workers as children, and is part of a rhetoric that infantalises sex workers so that middle class white feminists can continue to denounce them. It says that they are unable to give consent, but fails to recognise that consent to *all* work – not just sex work- and sexual relationships are manufactured within the confines of capitalism. It says you cannot consent because we disagree with what you do, but of course we can consent to whatever we want to do, because we’re not you.
5- It completely erases the severity of child abuse by comparing it to a line of work that human beings can and actually do find fulfilling and worthwhile. Do we really believe that women like Jodie Marsh and Katie Price have no agency, no intelligence, and are merely victims? Child abuse is not pornography, it is not work- it is child abuse.
6- It places complicity on the shoulders of sex workers. It tells them that they are in some way responsible for the structural abuse of children, rather than laying blame at the feet of the actual perpetrators: those at the top, not the bottom, of kyriarchal structures. Considering that inevitably, some sex workers will be survivors of rape, domestic abuse, and child abuse, this attitude also tells them they are complicit in their own abuse- we have a name for this, and it’s called victim blaming, and it’s not feminist.
7- In traditional NMP3 style, it continues to erase all of the horrible things that The S*n has done and continues to do, like inciting racial hatred, humiliating benefit claimants, and taking photos on semi-naked women *without* their consent. More explicitly tied with child abuse, The S*n have run countdowns to when people turn 16. By ignoring this, you’re saying that what creates *actual* abuse is secondary to bashing women whose job you don’t like.
I want a feminism that stands with sex workers and doesn’t humiliate and vilify them, a feminism that stands with those in poverty and accepts structural relationships between race, gender, sexuality, class and work. A feminism that, rather than ‘protecting’ sex workers and stabbing them in the back, seeks to help in any way possible with unionisation, destigmatisation, and with these things, an increase in pay, an end to police brutality, and safer working conditions,
Pornography is not evil, child abuse is.
No More Page 3: fuck you.