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
January 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Dr. King’s Long Assassination
David Roediger
A House is Not a Hole: (Not) Caring about What Trump Says
George Burchett
How the CIA Tried to Bribe Wilfred Burchett
Mike Whitney
Trump’s Plan B for Syria: Occupation and Intimidation
Michael Hudson – Charles Goodhart
Could/Should Jubilee Debt Cancellations be Reintroduced Today?
Marshall Auerback – Franklin C. Spinney
Boss Tweet’s Generals Already Run the Show
Andrew Levine
Remember, Democrats are Awful Too
James Bovard
Why Ruby Ridge Still Matters
Wilfred Burchett
The Bug Offensive
Brian Cloughley
Now Trump Menaces Pakistan
Ron Jacobs
Whiteness and Working Folks
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Keeper of Crazy Beats: Charlie Haden and Music as a Force of Liberation
Robert Fantina
Palestine and Israeli Recognition
Jan Oberg
The New US Syria “Strategy”, a Recipe For Continued Disaster
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
The Return of the Repressed
Mel Gurtov
Dubious Partnership: The US and Saudi Arabia
Robert Fisk
The Next Kurdish War Looms on the Horizon
Lawrence Davidson
Contextualizing Sexual Harassment
Jeff Berg
Approaching Day Zero
Karl Grossman
Disaster Island
Thomas S. Harrington
What Nerve! In Catalonia They are Once Again Trying to Swear in the Coalition that Won the Most Votes
Pepe Escobar
Rome: A Eulogy
Robert Hunziker
Will Aliens Save Humanity?
Jonah Raskin
“Can’t Put the Pot Genie Back in the Bottle”: An Interview with CAL NORML’s Dale Gieringer
Stepan Hobza
Beckett, Ionesco, and Trump
Joseph Natoli
The ‘Worlding’ of the Party-less
Julia Stein
The Myths of Housing Policy
George Ochenski
Zinke’s Purge at Interior
Christopher Brauchli
How Trump Killed the Asterisk
Rosemary Mason - Colin Todhunter
Corporate Monopolies Will Accelerate the Globalisation of Bad Food, Poor Health and Environmental Catastrophe
Michael J. Sainato
U.S Prisons Are Ending In-Person Visits, Cutting Down On Reading Books
Michael Barker
Blame Game: Carillion or Capitalism?
Binoy Kampmark
The War on Plastic
Cindy Sheehan – Rick Sterling
Peace Should Be Integral to the Women’s March
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
No Foreign Bases!
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: Across the Boer Heartland to Pretoria
Joe Emersberger
What’s Going On in Ecuador? An Interview With Wladimir Iza
Clark T. Scott
1918, 1968, 2018: From Debs to Trump
Cesar Chelala
Women Pay a Grievous Price in Congo’s Conflict
Michael Welton
Secondly
Robert Koehler
The Wisdom of Mass Salvation
Seth Sandronsky
Misreading Edu-Reform 
Ann Garrison
Full-Spectrum Arrogance: US Bases Span the Globe
Louis Proyect
Morality Tales on the American Malaise: the Films of Rick Alverson
David Yearsley
Winston and Paddington: Marianelli’s Musical Bears
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail