[Brussels, 9 December 2016] The founder of UK Feminista, a feminist activist and writer, Kat Banyard was in Brussels on 7 and 8 December, and participated in two EWL activities. She was a guest at EWL FEMtalk, together with other feminist artists, and discussed the role of literature in her activism. She also presented her newly published book ’Pimp State’ at the European Parliament, during a breakfast meeting hosted by Malin Björk MEP.
"In the sex industry, money is not coincidence, it is coercion", said Kat Banyard to MEPs, NGOs, and European Parliament staff. "The normalisation of the sex trade has profound implications for the future of gender equality. Objecting to the sex trade is objecting to sexism".
The second title of Kat Banyard’ book is "Sex, Money and the Future of Equality". In her book, she looks at several myths which maintain a system of exploitation and inequality. "The whole point of the sex industry is that it offers men the chance to buy sexual access to women who do not want to have sex with them – otherwise they wouldn’t have to pay. Masking its fundamental purpose thus becomes the primary PR challenge for the prostitution, pornography and strip club trades if they are to survive – maybe even thrive – in a society that has decided, at least in principle, that women are not subordinate sex objects and rape is a bad thing."
During the breakfast meeting, Bori Juhasz, chair of the Hungarian Women’s Lobby, described the situation in Hungary, where the social system accepts prostitution as an economic solution to poverty, without looking at root causes and patriarchy. While the sex trade is expanding, due to policies based on individualism, profit and inequalities, we also see positive initiatives to raise awareness, such as the creation of the organisation IWASI - Indigenous Women against the Sex Industry, as mentioned by Zala Zbogar from CAP International.
While the Nordic model can now be talked about at European level, Malin Björk MEP noted that pornography remains the forgotten feminist battle ground. She informed the audience of the good news that the Swedish government announced its intention to criminalise the purchase of sex abroad, a necessary measure if Sweden is committed to disrupting the sex trade and protecting all women and girls.
The meeting ended up with a shared feeling of an urgent need to continue to raise awareness, to address the links between all aspects of the sex industry (prostitution, stripping, pornography), and to strengthen our discourse on women’s human rights, LGBT+ rights and sexual freedom.
You can read an extract from Kat’s book here.
Kat wrote an article for AEON based on her book. You can read it here. In this article, she addresses another myth around the sex trade and about fully decriminalised and legalised prostitution regimes: that women who sell sex can no longer be criminalised as a result of their involvement.
You can also read a review of her book ’Pimp State’ by Joan Smith, in The Guardian (20 June 2016).