We do not see the lens through which we look. – Ruth Benedict
We all see the world through the lens of personal bias, and in the case of those who are not freethinkers this lens is often both highly distorted and not individual. Indeed, many if not most people wear cultural “spectacles” of which they are not even aware, and the world they see may seem strange and warped to those of us with clearer vision. I was recently referred to this story about prostitution law in Iceland by “Deep Geek”, who sometimes reads my column on his Talk Geek To Me podcast. As some of you are no doubt aware Iceland shares with her Scandinavian sisters Norway and Sweden the sick, paternalistic “Nordic Model” of prostitution law which characterizes women as permanent wards of the state who are as psychologically and morally unable to consent to compensated sex as many Americans believe girls under 18 are psychologically and morally unable to consent to any sex. But the politicians of Iceland, their brains perhaps numbed by the cold of their land and confused by the wild seasonal variations in the amount of daylight received by their pineal glands, add some of their own frightening, extremist rhetoric to the usual propaganda and thereby allow the rest of us a glimpse at the strange shape of the lenses they wear, but cannot see. The article is paraphrased for clarity:
Gudrún Jónsdóttir is the spokeswoman for Stígamót, the Education and Counseling Center for Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Violence; she claims that between thirty and forty women annually seek help from the organization because of their experiences within prostitution and the porn industry. Currently, Stígamót is preparing a shelter for women who want to quit prostitution or have been subject to slave trafficking in the porn industry. “There are women in Iceland who really need this kind of service. We have been aware of this need for a long time,” said Jónsdóttir. She said that it is often very difficult for women to quit prostitution; “We know of women who have already sought help but there have been no tailored solutions for them. Not all women need to stay in a shelter when they are quitting prostitution but some women really need it because the way out is hard and difficult. These women are ridden by shame and guilt…they are stuck in a net and need help to break free, both because the industry always drags them back and because they are scared,” said Jónsdóttir. “I argue constantly that the porn industry is nothing but violence against the women who take part in it. The consequences of getting involved in this industry are serious and totally comparable to experiencing hardcore violence. These women find it difficult to live with what they have done and experienced. We have seen women give up and commit suicide,” she said.
At first, this looks pretty much like any other neofeminist anti-sex rhetoric which demonizes prostitution and pornography. But look a little more closely; in the United States and most of Europe it’s not usual to claim that adult women are “trafficked” into the porn industry, or that producers actually use force to control them. And though there are exceptions like Linda Lovelace, in the US it’s pretty rare for anti-porn activists to claim that adult women in porn are literally pimped. But considering that trafficking fetishists very often make that claim about underage girls, we can see that Icelandic neofeminists essentially view adult women as American extremists view teenage girls: frightened, malleable and helpless to control their own lives without the help of “rescue” organizations.
Until 2007, Icelandic law was harshly prohibitionist: “Anyone engaging in prostitution for own upkeep shall be subject to imprisonment for up to two years.” But in 2007 neofeminists convinced the government that most women who sell sex do so out of desperation or because they are forced into prostitution by others, and prostitution was thus briefly legalized until 2009, when the Nordic Model was fully adopted. Then in 2010 Iceland went one step further by banning stripping as well; if the rhetoric in the article above is typical, can porn be far behind? Icelandic prime minister Johanna Sigurðardottir, a declared lesbian, said: “The Nordic countries are leading the way on women’s equality, recognizing women as equal citizens rather than commodities for sale.” And the female politician behind the stripping ban, Kolbrún Halldórsdóttir, said: “It is not acceptable that women or people in general are a product to be sold.”
This is, of course, what happens when men allow themselves to be reduced to eunuchs and turn control of their sexuality over to radical lesbian neofeminists. “Women’s equality”? Not by any stretch of the imagination. Iceland infantilizes its female citizens to an even greater degree than Norway and Sweden do, and in the pretense that prostitution and stripping are the selling of women themselves rather than services they freely choose to provide, Iceland essentially declares that women (except for lesbian politicians, of course) have no value other than their sexual characteristics. If it is recognized, as in advanced countries, that women have value outside of our sexual characteristics, then prostitution, porn acting are stripping are clearly seen as simply services a woman might or might not choose to provide. But in backward regimes like Iceland, a woman has no value other than her sexual characteristics and so sale of those characteristics is seen as sale of the entire woman (since she has nothing else of value to offer). And because the government of Iceland is unwilling to cede control over women to anyone (including the women themselves), any activities which offend the sensibilities of the rulers must be prohibited, even if it results in their country having almost twice the rape rate of any other country in Europe.
Imagine a woman sitting on a train in a station beside another train; if she looks out the window and sees the other train moving in relation to herself she does not know whether it is her train moving or the other. And if her thick spectacles prevent her realizing that she is seated facing the back of the carriage, her confusion may be greater still. Through their distorting lenses, the ruling neofeminists of Iceland see themselves as “leading the way on women’s equality”, when in reality their train is moving swiftly backward toward the repression and restriction of women’s choices that most of Europe abandoned years ago.