Michelle Kelly recently spoke out about her experience of being exploited for 7 years in prostitution and pornography. As expected, she received vicious backlash from sex trade lobbyists. They bullied, threatened, ‘doxxed’ and intimidated – terror tactics designed to silence her and deter other survivors from coming forward. This gaslighting and victim-blaming is re-traumatising – and it is deliberate. When women speak out about men’s violence and abuse, we are told to shut up, to distrust ourselves, to always give our abusers the benefit of the doubt lest we say something ‘unkind’ about men. But as Michelle points out, the women and children still in the sex industry have no voice. Only those who have escaped are in a position to speak out. We must continue to OBJECT to men’s violence even (or especially) when we are told to shut up.
Do the cows in the field know they are shut in? As they shuffle painfully into the milking parlour, do they know there is another way to live their lives? No. Cows are farmed but do not know it. What about us women? Surely it is different, we are human, we have choices. But do we? Are we, surreptitiously and without realising it, subject to the same techniques as the cows, the sheep, the goats? While of course being ‘fed’ the line that we are human and equal to men? History, archaeology, language, sexual politics and the arts all tell the same story: Women are farmed!