The Australian Sex Party, Reactionary Trotskyists, and Bullying Women Out of the Left: The Real ‘Third Wave’

What do these three things have in common?

Anyone who is a radical feminist and has ever been to Melbourne would be able to tell you. First some background.

The Australian Sex Party is a political party whose leader Fiona Patten is a “sex” industry  profiteer- CEO of the Eros Association, a company that owns multiple sex shops and organised sexual assault pornography websites. They pride themselves on a number of deceptively progressive policies behind which they hide their dedication to the mass sexual enslavement of women.

Socialist Alternative (SAlt) are a militant Trotskyist political party  organisation who pretty much everyone who isn’t a SAlt member thinks are a joke. You may remember them from such hits as being obnoxious on national television, being obnoxious in a supermarket, and tokenising their comrade who committed suicide in order to prove that they’re not transphobic.

What they have in common is that they comprise vocal elements of the annual “pro-choice” rally in Melbourne, which is held to counter-protest a “pro-life” march called March For the Foetuses or something similarly demented. This counter-protest is pretty important to us Melbournian feminists, as it is literally the only regular women-orientated action (besides weekly clinic defenses at the East Melbourne Fertility Control Clinic). Considering that these anti-woman activists like to harass women and murder clinic employees, we find it necessary to show up and make sure they all know that we fucking hate them. A group called Campaign for Women’s Reproductive rights “officially” organises this protest and for some reason the Sex Party also has a big hand in the promotion of this rally, as its members can be seen handing out flyers, advertising the party and getting creepy dudes to make speeches with frequent references to women’s genitals. SAlt- being a reactionary mob of quasi-political uni students- also have a large presence, and can be identified at pretty much every protest ever by their repetitive, unoriginal chanting and shoving copies of Red Flag into everyone’s faces.

Oh, did I mention that some women aren’t welcome at this protest?

This year was the first in five that I didn’t bother to attend. After doing an impromptu speech on my second year, I was invited to speak at the next rally. Curiously, the year after, I received no such invitation. Apparently it was because I had voiced anti-“sex” industry opinions on my personal facebook page. How my support for the criminalisation of pimps and johns has anything to do with advocating for abortion rights has not yet been explained to me. After some harassment, threats of physical violence, and doxxing from male Sex Party members, I took it all on the chin and showed up to last year’s rally anyway.

This year, a young woman with similar views to mine attended the rally with her friends. She is a vocal online radical feminist and lesbian activist and was accosted by a member of SAlt. She was physically intimidated and verbally abused to the point that she had a severe panic attack and had to be assisted by street medics. The woman who attacked her (and I shan’t post details with respect to the victim’s safety) responded to criticism by labeling the victim “transphobic” and used the slurs “cis” and “TERF” in the following tirade of harassment instigated by her and her comrades. The victim is understandably shaken and outraged by the way she was made to feel unsafe at a protest that claims to support women.

Her outrage is not enough. There should be public outrage.

This is by no means the first time radical women have been attacked in activist spaces (NOTE: do not confuse with the small and innapropriately named socialist/liberal feminist group Radical Women, who also have a significant presence at the annual counter-protest, and have penned articles for MRA websites). And it will by no means be the last. But this is the prevailing issue with the Left.

Another example of bullying radical feminists out of political spaces can be seen in this statement from Anarchist Affinity, an anarcho-communist fringe group based in Melbourne. This vagueblog statement was issued  in response to an event I organised earlier this year called ‘A Woman’s Place is in the Revolution: Discussing Feminist Visibility in Radical Politics’. The event was a small discussion group of about 20 women  and its goal was to discuss strategies to make the Left safer for women with opinions. Not just RF women, all women. The discussion had literally nothing to do with gender criticism, the sex industry, or anything else that liberal feminists tend to get up in arms about. Demonstrating my point perfectly, AA and “non-affiliated” friends of theirs sent a slew of abuse to myself and the custodians of the space where the event was held, at one point threatening to organise a picket outside the building. After having witnessed one of their members assault a young man at another meeting, I felt it necessary to organise security for the evening. Thankfully none of their cronies showed up, but the fact that this was necessary should cause anyone with a brain to feel pretty concerned about the state of female visibility in the Left.

It is astoundingly obvious that the ostracisation radical feminists face from activist spaces has nothing to do with actual political ideology. Trotskyists are able to march alongside anarchists. Sex Party affiliates manage to attend events organised by anti-capitalists. But neither are apparently able to attend a protest attended by a few 20-something year old women who blog about women’s experiences under patriarchy. They’re doing what the patriarchy has done for years-Divide and Conquer. Why? No one is 100% sure, but I’d wager that it has something to do with a fear of women speaking up about their oppression and their experiences. What’s that called again? Muh-so…mis-oh..misogy….

So where does that leave radical women who want a part in the Left and radical politics? Proposals have been made to form an alliance that works within Leftist groups and provides a support network for outspoken women who have been intimidated for expressing their views (as well as women who have been too intimidated to express their views in the first place). This is a step in the right direction, in theory, and plans are currently underway here in Melbourne. Any woman who is involved in the online (or offline) radical feminist community knows the degree of sisterhood, safety, and solidarity that we can offer each other. The voices just need to get louder. We need to maintain a presence in political spaces and to focus on direct action. Patriarchy funnels down into the left and those misogynistic attitudes need to be challenged before we can move on to challenging society at large. Because feminism is one of the important “new” ideologies driving the Left forward, it’s about time those ungrateful little shits started treating it with the respect it deserves. Each “wave” of feminism has seen its similar struggles, but the Third Wave hasn’t properly happened until the most important struggle in feminist history has been won: prioritising women in the movement, and gaining respect for women within that movement itself.

no women

The Campaign for Women’s Reproductive Rights: Much like Tony Abbott’s cabinet, we can have one or two as long as they do as we say.

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22 comments

  1. Dear goddess, sometimes I think this shit just happens in the U.S, but it’s happening in England and now Australia. Terrible!

    1. Oh…. I didn’t see a question mark in your previous post.
      Was it omitted in error?
      Then again you’ve ignored about a dozen of my questions.
      Shall I repeat them for you?

      Criticism equals “hate mail!”?
      Might I find you at the clinic defence at the Fertility Control Clinic?
      Do you have a problem with sex workers organising and representing themselves?
      I’m wondering if you’ve ever attended a Sexpo?
      Would feminism not also seek to help “prostituted men”?
      Do you know something these sex workers don’t? Do you believe you should be able to make decisions for them about their bodies?
      Oh and let’s not forget “prostituted trans* women and trans* men”. Are they included?

      “They are perfectly able to work.”
      How?
      Under the Swedish model they cannot accept payment for sex work without criminalising their customer. Women would be “rescued” into exit programs. What if they do not want to exit? What if they want to keep working?

      To answer your question, no it is not ok for men to treat women’s bodies as commodities. No human should be bought or sold. I have no problem with two adults consenting to a transaction of money for services. Do you agree, or do you believe women are incapable of consent?

      1. 1. Get over yourself
        2. No, and trying to guilt trip women who may be uncomfortable/have trauma is disgusting (you sound like a man though correct me if I’m wrong)
        3. No. But I do have a problem with prostituted people who haven’t had happy happy privileged fun times in the industry being erased and ignored in the conversation.
        4. No, and there is no way I ever will. The “Sex” Industry will be having none of my money.
        5. feminism is not about or for men.
        6. Straw man, try again.
        7. I don’t know what you’re trying to say by “are they included” but yes, they are prostituted people and therefore also victims. By the way they don’t like it when you put the asterisk.
        8. If they don’t want to exit they can keep working. Most people want to exist. A vast majority. And the model gives them those opportunities. You’re essentially saying that we should force a massive amount of people to stay in an industry that abuses and mistreats them, with no help or exit strategies available, just so a privileged few can feel good about themselves.

        Prostitution is buying/selling a human being. Consent cannot be freely and enthusiastically made when money has entered the equation. And many, many prostituted people are not adults. Most enter the industry as children. NO ONE is capable of consent when that consent has been purchased.

      2. 1. Get over yourself. Seriously that’s your response? I could have said the same to you. Since when does criticism equal hate mail? Can you not handle criticism?

        2. I’m not trying to guilt trip anyone. I’m simply extending an invitation. Sex Party policy is calling for a buffer/access zone at this clinic. Ideally no one should be outside these clinics other than security staff employed by the clinic.

        3. Happy to hear it. It’s a shame many also silence sex workers and presume to say they are all “prostituted women”.

        4. We could organise a visitors pass, a VIP pass or a press pass if you would like to visit a Sexpo. To condemn something you’ve never seen? Hmmmm

        5. It has been long established and understood by many that the partriachy also harms men, because we all suffer from women’s voices not being heard and the imbalance this causes.

        Maybe my question should have been “Would the Swedish model not also seek to help “prostituted men”?” or does it only help women?

        6. No strawperson here. Do you believe you should be able to make decisions for sex workers about their bodies and how they can use them for work?

        8. “If they don’t want to exit they can keep working.” How when their clients are criminalised?

        I’m not saying we should force anyone to do anything. Nowhere have I asserted this.
        I am prochoice in abortion, prochoice in sex work.

        If you want exit strategies let’s try this. Decriminalise drug use and possession, so that drug use is treated primarily as a health issue. At the same time let’ admit that sex workers can use drugs and be a functional adult in society, just as an accountant could use drugs and be a functional adult in society.

        If there are issues that cause some to consider sex work when sex work does not suit them. let’s address those issues. Invest in education and job opportunities, while not limiting the choices for others who do feel suited to sex work.

      3. 1. This is a pointless discussion

        2. I agree. And clinic defenses aren’t always the most comfortable place for women who have had abortions and dealt with that stigma

        3. It’s a shame pro-“sex” industry advocates silence the vast majority of prostituted people who are against the industry

        4. Are there measures in place to help people who are triggered by the kinds of things at sexpo? Because sexually violent imagery especially BDSM gives me severe anxiety

        5. Men’s problems are not my problem

        6. This is a dishonest question

        7. People do plenty of illegal things if they honestly and truly want to do them

        I agree with drug decriminalisation

        As for your kind offer of sexpo entry, I would consider this. On the condition that I can take someone with me to ensure my safety and comfort.

  2. Hilarious! What a persecution complex you have. No room for self reflection and wondering why you find yourself on the outer with such diverse groups as SAlt and the Sex Party?
    This opinion piece matches Andrew Bolt’s race baiting in its inaccuracies.

    1. Uh oh! We have hate mail! I do not find myself on the outer. I am an activist and work within the Melbourne Left. I find that the rising support for the anti-feminist vocal minority to be concerning. And rightfully so, as they endanger women’s safety. On fucking purpose.

      1. Criticism equals “hate mail!”?
        There was no hate expressed in my comment.

        Might I find you at the clinic defence at the Fertility Control Clinic? If not you’re welcome to join me and other Victorians (Sex Party members, Radical Women, anarchists and concerned locals) on the fourth Saturday of every month.

        You may be surprised to learn that the Eros Association owns no sex shops. It is a lobby group the represents adult retailers, who campaign against censorship and prohibition. Your invented assertions are erroneous.

        Your suspicion of “deceptively progressive policies” intrigues. Are you aware that our sex worker policy is written by sex workers, and supported by the peer sex worker associations federally and in Victoria, being Scarlet Alliance and Vixen Collective respectively?
        Unless you subscribe to a theory of them being captive in a Stockholm Syndrome situation, would you not assert that sex workers are best placed to address the issues in their industry?

        Sex workers have been candidates for the Australian Sex Party and I’m happy to call them colleagues and friends.

        Our drug law reform policy echoes the successful reforms of Portugal.
        Our voluntary assisted dying policy leads the way in Australia.
        Our support of public transport is long established.
        We have been staunch in our support of the Abortion Law Reform Act 2008 and vocal in maintaining the much discussed Section 8.
        We propose a buffer zone around the entrance the facilities performing abortions to protect the privacy of patients and staff.
        We have been vocal in speaking out against abortion stigma, and trans* stigma.

        Yet somehow you find this anti-feminist?

      2. Do any ex-prostituted women have involvement in the writing of your policies? Any love for the victims of trafficking that has resulted from the legalisation of “sex” buying in Victoria? Any love for the vast majority of prostituted women who are victimised by such legislation allowing brothels (ie assault behind closed doors) to operate? I’m also aware of how Sex Party advocates promote “Sexpo”- essentially a public exhibition of pornography and sexual tropes that promote misogyny, racism and general violence. Care to address that or….or are orgasms more important than human dignity? because I’ll be addressing that argument in my next post.

      3. Were any ex-sex workers involved in writing our policy? No. Our sex worker policy was written by current and ongoing sex workers.
        You may be interested to know that our sex worker policy calls for the decriminalisation of sex work and the deregulation on the industry which is largely restricted to brothels in Victoria. (The opposite of what many expect our policy to be.) Deregulation would allow sex workers to work freely outside of brothels, working for themselves.
        Curiously you ignore that our policy is supported by Scarlet Alliance and Vixen Collective. Do you have a problem with sex workers organising and representing themselves?

        Decriminalisation will allow sex workers to report crimes without fear of prosecution themselves. Sex workers should be able to access all the protections available to other workers. These are sex workers, male, female, trans* and more.

        Trans* sex workers face the greatest stigma and violence. We have policy to remove discrimination against trans* persons in government, giving them agency and the same protections as all other Australians.

        50,000 Victorians attend Sexpo each year. A very popular event celebrating sexuality. Straight, gay, queer, fetish. All are welcome and are in attendance. I’m wondering if you’ve ever attended a Sexpo? I’ve been to a handful now, and you get the occasional sexist idiot in the crowd, but most attendees are fantastic. Your neighbours, friends and family members could be attendees.

        If you want to find examples of human dignity, look for Touching Base. They attend each Sexpo around the country. Look at the documentary Scarlet Road. It’s inspiring in its compassion and understanding.

      4. I am opposed to “sex workers” in privileged positions (ie, enthusiastically choosing to be prostituted) being the only voices supported by your sick organisation, when a VAST majority of prostituted people a) would choose real work if they had the option and b) have been horrifically traumatised in the industry and speak out regularly against it. And, while we are at it, PROSTITUTION HAS LITERALLY NOTHING TO DO WITH SEXUALITY. It is about power.

        I am 100% in support of decriminalising prostitution. Prostituted women, especially those of colour (and more than 95% of prostituted women in Australia are of Asian descent, thanks to the fetishising and racist culture we have here) are one of the most vulnerable groups in this country. For them to face daily assault, rape, and murder at the hands of sick “johns” and then to be hounded by the law for their source of income is beyond despicable, beyond misogynistic. Prostituted people deserve safety, and this is why feminists advocate for the Nordic/Swedish Model for prostitution to be implemented. Because women’s lives and opportunities are more important than sick woman-hating men’s orgasms.

      5. I can’t help but notice you only speak of “prostituted women”.
        Would feminism not also seek to help “prostituted men”?

        You’re opposed to sex workers “choosing to be prostituted”?

        Do you know something these sex workers don’t? Do you believe you should be able to make decisions for them about their bodies?
        That sounds suspiciously like those who oppose abortion, seeking to deny women choice.

      6. The debate isn’t even about prostituted women. I’m saying they should be legally able to do prostitution. Why is it so important to you that men are able to bribe women into sex? Why are male orgasms more important than women’s lives?

      7. You’re “saying they should be legally able to do prostitution.”
        Did you make an error there? The Swedish model criminalises the purchase of sex, which means that while the sex worker does not face criminal charges, they are unable to work.

      8. They are perfectly able to work. Anywhere they like. Should the police catch a john with a prostitute, a male cop will arrest the john and a female cop will talk to the prostitute and organise to get her somewhere safe and into an exit program. Trafficking has plummeted in Sweden since the model has lessened demand, and rape rates have decreased. Like any industry, as long as there is demand, trafficking will increase exponentially. Criminalising the real criminals (men who pay to rape women) is the only way to make life safer for prostituted people in this fucked up system we live in.

      9. “They are perfectly able to work.”
        How?
        Under the Swedish model they cannot accept payment for sex work without criminalising their customer. Women would be “rescued” into exit programs. What if they do not want to exit? What if they want to keep working?

        This is the same abolitionist language used by anti-choice, anti-abortion campaigners.

  3. BTW I was alerted to woman having a severe panic attack by an acquaintance. I was asked to locate the street medics, and as they started to treat her, I helped form a privacy circle around her and the medics.
    The street medics do a great job, volunteering at many rallies. I hope your friend is ok.

  4. You’re doing a great job here, screamingfemales. This commenter is a member of the sex trade lobby and is fighting for the rights of pimps and johns. Exited women are the ones we need to listen to because they’ve had time to process what happened to them and are able to articulate it properly. Women who are still in the sex trade are not usually able to criticize their situation. Abuse is a mindfuck, and it takes time to work through it. Survivors of prostitution are fighting for the Nordic Model all over the world. The latest countries to adopt laws criminalizing the purchase of “sex” are Canada and Northern Ireland. They’re fighting for it in France right now.

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