Friday, February 22, 2008


The Ipswich killings are anything but indicative of how men treat women

The BBC's flagship TV news programme, Newsnight, last night invited me on to discuss broader questions in the wake of the Ipswich serial killing of street prostitutes. I rubbed my hands when they told me that my sparring partner would be the ex-Home Office minister who so vociferously expresses her prejudice towards men, Fiona McTaggart. I confess though that with the ripeness of the (Mc)Target and so many points to try to get out and develop, I took Kirsty Walk's invitation to interrupt each other a little too much to heart.

The knee-jerk reaction to the story of Steve Wright is that his behaviour is emblematic of how prostitutes are treated, and that this in turn reflects how supposedly men treat women more generally: that is, male 'oppression'. This is an absurd view. First, from general principles of what we know through science about how the sexes interact, there is no 'power' relation between them; in no species is there any cross-sex biological dominance interaction -- it's always only same-sex. Furthermore, the main business of social systems is the 'policing' of the male hierarchy, and to this end we all share a social psychology that has as a major component what psychologists term 'cheater detection' mechanisms. This is the basis of the pervasive prejudice towards men, which underpins bizarre attitudes to prostitution (as re other interfaces of men and women, such as 'pornography', rape, and domestic violence).

All normal men desire -- quite apart from a stable, loving relationship -- an endless string of novel sexual partners. Most men don't interest women in this activity, because they aren't high enough in status for women to be sufficiently attracted to them. Even for those men who do interest women, extra-pair sex is fraught with danger (not least women wanting to steal them from their partners). The most straightforward and honest way to satiate the desire for extra-pair sex is to pay for it. But if men pay for extra-pair sex, then we intuitively see them as having 'broken the rules', in how we naturally 'police' the male hierarchy. This is why there is such a general downer on prostitution. Yet the exploitation here clearly is not of the women, but of the normal desires of men: men are exploited by women for money.

There's not been a case like Steve Wright since Peter Sutcliffe, and nobody has yet fathomed what went on in his mind. Ditto re Aileen Wuornos, the prostitute serial killer of her male clients, who was not merely a serial killer but one who revelled in her murdering. Male or female, these are vanishingly rare individuals. Looking at crime overall in prostitution, it's suffered mainly by the male clients, and predominantly in the street scene, which is nowadays a very small proportion of prostitution (most being internet related or through 'massage parlours'). The ruse of taking the money and not providing the 'service' is so ubiquitous that it merits a slang word for it: 'clipping'. In the situation of street prostitution, the male client is very much not the one in control. Clients are at risk from girls singly or together, or from their male accomplices. Given this, it is amazing why there is not so very much more violence towards street prostitutes. The reason, of course, is that (all normal) men have a natural in-built aversion to being violent towards women. Streetwalkers have mostly the other girls to fear rather than clients -- or pimps. (Pimps are thin on the ground. Rather than a supposed pimp hooking a girl on drugs, the usual relationship is the mutually satisfactory one of 'hooker' and dealer.) If you doubt this picture of street prostitution, try living in a red light area, as I did for twenty years. It's a real eye opener.

Perhaps the realities of prostitution had something to do with the serial killing behaviour by both Steve Wright and Aileen Wuornos -- both could have resented for their different reasons why they were involved in prostitution. Who knows? Either way, it doesn't say much about prostitution nor about how the sexes relate more generally.

The bogus attitude that prostitution is to do with the oppression of women leads to the notion that no woman can freely choose prostitution. If she does, then she is held to be suffering from 'false consciousness'. This is why the cross-border movement of women from low-wage to high-wage economies is mis-labelled by extreme feminists as 'trafficking'. All of the research on this topic shows that 'trafficking' is an insignificant problem. It exists, but on a very small scale. As the farcical Operation Pentameter raids revealed, of the actually quite small minority of women prostitutes in Britain who have come from overseas, most are from the EU (especially from the countries that have only recently joined), and of those who are illegals, they have almost all come of their own accord. Researchers find that women may arrive and find that their working conditions are not what they expected or hoped for. This is nothing to do with being 'trafficked'. The propaganda re 'trafficking' is a resurrection of the old 'white slave trade' myth on the 19th century, and is a ruse to further the argument that paying for sex should be outlawed. McTaggart denied that this was the thrust of her efforts when she was a Home Office minister, but it is now admitted by the Home Office that that is the intention. It is nothing more than the fascism of political correctness.

The idea that violence is a window on supposed male oppression of women goes out of the window when you look at what proportion of violence perpetrated by each sex is against the opposite sex. For men, only a very small proportion of their violence is against women, but for women, their same-sex violence runs at only half that which they dish out to men.

Who's friends with who and co-starred in what?

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