FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Anarchists and Torture Porn

by BEN BARKER

Radicals and the sexual exploitation industry become more and more intertwined by the day. I wish I was surprised when I learned just today that the 2013 Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair is being held in a venue owned by the torture porn website, Kink.com.

Kink.com is infamous for its images of women “stretched out on racks, hogtied, urine squirting in their mouths, and suspended from the ceiling while attached to electrodes, including ones inserted into their vaginas,” explains feminist activist Gail Dines, who argues that the pornography website is in stark violation of the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

If you don’t want to listen to some feminist, I’ll let Kink.com speak for itself. On the website, we learn that the project began when the founder decided to “devote his life to subjecting beautiful, willing women to strict bondage.”

Of course feminists sounded the alarm right away and demanded answers and changes from the Bookfair’s organizers. Of course they were only ignored or attacked.

To be fair, a statement addressing concerns about the venue choice was almost immediately posted on the Bookfair website. Not surprisingly, it attempted to justify the decision, with the bulk of the text being about the tight budget they were working with. With the handful of lines the statement devoted to feminist concerns, they deflected responsibility by claiming that “there is a valid political criticism of every venue that is potentially available,” because “we live in a capitalist society, and until we have created an explicitly anarchist infrastructure that can support this type of event, such contradictions and compromises are inevitable.”

It would seem that the organizers of the 2013 Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair have little or no ties with Kink.com or their venue, and are indeed making somewhat of a comprise in hosting their event there, because there’s just nowhere else to go. But, yet, their statement goes on to show how aware of the issues they really are. They write: “We acknowledge that pornography and sex work have been divisive issues in the anarchist community. The choice of the Armory Community Center is not a political statement, and the Book Fair Committee is taking no political position on pornography. We accept that members of the community (and even members of this committee) have differing opinions on this issue. We will be organizing a discussion on anarchist perspectives on pornography during the book fair, and if this topic interests you, we hope that you will attend.”

This situation—a big political event hosted at a controversial location leading to public outcry—is familiar. It’s not unlike another incident of just last month, when a bunch of House Republicans booked their annual winter conference at a former slave plantation in Williamsburg (where, to add insult to injury, they planned to discuss “successful communication with minorities and women”).

But here’s the difference between the two events: When the Republicans announced the site of their gathering the Left was out in force to decry them as racist and insensitive to the historical reality of slavery. When the anarchists announced the site of their gathering the Left was out in force to decry feminist objectors as puritanical, moralist, and anti-sex.

Imagine if the House Republicans had put out a statement similar to that of the organizers of the 2013 Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair. They might write: “We acknowledge that white supremacy and slavery have been divisive issues in the Republican community. The choice of the former slave plantation is not a political statement, and the House Committee is taking no political position on white supremacy. We accept that members of the community (and even members of this committee) have differing opinions on this issue. We will be organizing a discussion on Republican perspectives on white supremacy during the conference, and if this topic interests you, we hope that you will attend.” That should be sufficient to ease the worries of the Left, no?

I beg the organizers of the Bookfair, and anarchists in general, to answer me this one question: is pain different when felt by a woman?

 Ben Barker is a writer and community organizer from West Bend, Wisconsin. He is a member of the Deep Green Resistance movement and is currently writing a book about toxic qualities of radical subcultures and the need to build a vibrant culture of resistance.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Julian Vigo
The Government and Your i-Phone: the Latest Threat to Privacy
Stratos Ramoglou
Why the Greek Economic Crisis Won’t be Ending Anytime Soon
David Price
The 2016 Tour of California: Notes on a Big Pharma Bike Race
Dmitry Mickiewicz
Barbarous Deforestation in Western Ukraine
Rev. William Alberts
The United Methodist Church Up to Its Old Trick: Kicking the Can of Real Inclusion Down the Road
Patrick Bond
Imperialism’s Junior Partners
Mark Hand
The Trouble with Fracking Fiction
Priti Gulati Cox
Broken Green: Two Years of Modi
Marc Levy
Sitrep: Hometown Unwelcomes Vietnam Vets
Lorenzo Raymond
Why Nonviolent Civil Resistance Doesn’t Work (Unless You Have Lots of Bombs)
Ed Kemmick
New Book Full of Amazing Montana Women
Michael Dickinson
Bye Bye Legal High in Backwards Britain
Missy Comley Beattie
Wanted: Daddy or Mommy in Chief
Ed Meek
The Republic of Fear
Charles R. Larson
Russian Women, Then and Now
David Yearsley
Elgar’s Hegemony: the Pomp of Empire
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail