Saturday, May 08, 2010

An interesting... exploitation of men

I just read an excellent piece about Lolly Jackson and the hero he temporarily became in the news.

In this piece, the writer notes: That women in strip clubs, and naked in tatty newspapers, are objects to be ogled at, and worse, is a fact of life. If any of those women want to take part in those activities of their own free will, of course, it's up to them. I am sure that there are women stripping out there who do so happily and because they want to. But at the same time, I am certain that the strip clubs of our country are filled with many more vulnerable women who have no other option, or who can do nothing else.

We have seen this debate go on and on and on - does the stripping industry (if I can call it that) objectify and degrade women? Many groups think so - some fairly forcefully.

But I have always wondered why this care and emotional reaction does not extend to male strippers and rent boys etc. Why do feminists only care about the objectification of women, and not men? Generally, men, particularly white ones, aren't exploited as a group, but it would be folly to think that exceptions aren't there. Why are the feminists only bleating about the exploited women working in these crappy bars in possibly the most degrading job, in the most uncontrolled legal industry, of all time?

It makes me wonder - is it because there is solid reason that men who take their clothes off and shag people for a living aren't exploited, and do this all of their own free will? Or is it a case of protecting only those one can relate to, instead of human rights as a whole?

One might think of the ANC as very pro-black rights, and on paper, that's true. But let me tell you - as a homosexual, they protect my rights too. As hard as it may be to believe, they protect the language rights of Afrikaners as well - otherwise we wouldn't have it in any educational institutions. Martin Luther King championed a HUMAN rights movement, not a black rights one. Many civil rights organisations have a focus, but bang on about HUMAN and CIVIL rights, and mean it.

Compare that to an organisation like Afriforum, as S'Thembiso Msomi does in this excellent column. In it, he says "Afriforum has led a spirited campaign against ANC Youth League president Julius Malema's ill-considered decision to continue singing a struggle song that features the phrase "shoot the Boer".

"Its campaign, however, is severely undermined by the fact that the organisation hardly uttered a word of protest when it was revealed that a security company manager had played a racist song at a Sun City event late last year. In that song, former president Nelson Mandela is called the "k-word"."

There was also no word from Afriforum when a group on facebook was calling black folks "houtkop" and "k-----" on facebook, which hit the news a year or two ago. It is an example of a movement labelled "civil rights" but meaning "Afrikaner rights".

Why is it then, that human rights groups say that women are degraded when they dance around in skimpy or no clothing, but say nothing when men are doing the exact same thing? I can't see why an audience appreciating naked men rather than naked women would be any less leering or dirty or exploitive.

Or are we falling back onto the thought that men should protect themsevles while women need help? If that's what people think, then aren't feminists correctly going bollock them for picturing women as reccessive and needy and unable to help themselves?

Or is it a single focus womens' rights movement, under the guise of human rights?

Perhaps the male stripping industry isn't huge in South Africa, but there is certainly a huge market for it internationally. So it is not a case of it happening so rarely that it's negligible.

And human rights are not negligible for any one person, even on one occasion. That's the entire point of them.

Don't think I am pissing on feminists or the movement they have carried out. I am certainly not. But I think it is worth fighting the full human rights battle, not just one. Focus on women, absolutely. But don't forget that what happens to women often happens to men too. Maybe not as a group, but certainly as individuals. And attack the source of the problem which fuels both exploited peoples.

Disclaimer: I am a feminist at heart, I know feminists and I don't think they do bad work or anything. Look at what they have achieved throughout history in terms of equality for women. I applaud them. I am NOT sitting here hating on feminists.

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