Last night I trooped over to a famous and popular strip bar with a bunch of people. We weren’t going to go in–we went to stand along the sidewalk wearing t-shirts that said, “buying sex is not a sport” and draw public attention to the increased demand that men make for access to women’s bodies. This is a campaign that Christian-Feminist* outfit called “Resist Exploitation, Embrace Dignity” (REED) is doing to interfere with men’s demand for paid sex. Cause, you know, the Olympics(tm) just ended, and there were lots and lots of men here in Vancouver. Whenever lots of men come to a city for a sporting event, the demand for women’s bodies in prostitution spikes. We stood quietly outside the Cecil, nearly 50 of us (most of ’em Christians, I think I was the only Athiest among them, but maybe not) and gave out pamphlets to interested people. The pamphlets said we were standing in solidarity with women who are being bought and sold. We want everyone to have equaltity, and to have enough. men can make a different choice, and not buy women. Prostitution is not inevitable. it is not the “oldest profession” (farming is). We all, and especially men, have a responsibility to interfere with trafficking and the sex industry.
We didn’t block the door. We were most of us silent, except for two women designated to answer questions and talk to cops and media and stuff.
A man who worked at the bar (I think) saw our t-shirts and said, “We don’t sell sex here! we sell the idea of sex. people [he meant men people] see naked bodies [he meant women’s naked bodies] and go home to masturbate. you should try it, it’s good for you.” For the record, the Cecil does, in fact, turn women out. Very young women, at that. Girls.
The bouncers at this place were immediately aggressive.
and you think I’m easily riled. These boys were HOT. from the get-go. They came up, all swaggering banty roosters dressed all in tight black ‘bad-guy’ t-shirts and pants — “Get the fuck out of here, move right along now”.
“My, my. There’s no need to be so angry, there, honey,” I said to the bald guy.
“I’m callin the cops!” he hollered. (cause i called him ‘honey’?)
“you go right ahead” said Michelle, “I will be delighted to speak to them”
“Let ye who are without sin cast the first stone!” yelled another bouncer dude, “paying for sex is like having a steak after you been a vegetarian! Once you taste real meat, you’ll never go back!”
The bouncers got the men all riled up, “Ya! come right on in, we sell sex here! fresh pussy, step right up!” I can’t remember all the things they yelled. vile, insulting references to womens bodies. i wanted to puke on their shiny black shoes.
the bald guy came up behind one of the protesters and shoved him hard. I stood between the protester and the bouncer and held my hands up to him. I said, “Don’t touch us.” I was fucking seething. He sneered at me and grabbed my upraised arms. “Get away from here” he screamed.
“No” i did not raise my voice. our eyes locked. He turned his gaze from me.
i shook my hands free and handed him a leaflet. He threw it away. Another bouncer came up and grabbed my right hand, trying to wrench the leaflets from me. I pulled away from him.
We turned our backs and faced the street and waited for the police to arrive. The boys continued to scream and laugh and lurch drunkenly past our signs.
“but these girls are exploiting themselves, they’re selling themselves…” slurred one young man, “they choose it”
“No they don’t”
“Whose choice is it, then?” he asked
and that’s the way of it. men choose to buy women. They think they are entitled to access to our bodies, just because they “have needs”.
uh. yea. no man ever died from lack of sex. no man ever died ’cause he didn’t see a pair of tits.
I wish I had not heard what all those young men think about women. I wish I had not seen all those angry boys all messed up on liquor and hatred. They forgot all the lessons their mamas tried to teach them.
on the way home, one of the women in the van said, “Maybe their mothers didn’t love them enough”
I said, “how could they?”
today I went to the gym and did a whole bunch of squats and bench presses and thought of taking up kickboxing.
*i know, i know, it sounds kinda oxymoronic–but really. Feminist. and “followers of Christ”–that’s how they call themselves. They’re kinda sketchy about a lot of the ‘big “C” christians. We don’t agree about everything, me and my allies from REED. But we can be respectful–if sometimes vehement–about our disagreements. anyway. building the alliances is where there really IS ‘joy in the struggle’.