It's just a body… why do you care?
MONEY. money money money. It talks and the proverbial excrement of male bovine livestock walks, hiding behind the skirts of freedom of speech. Maybe not so much behind as beneath. Beneath the rosy skirt of "ideals," feigned childish innocence and faux naiveté people will talk about the beauty of images or viewing of pornography without ever considering how they got made, who was involved and in what manner. In this realm, detached from reality they are free to spout nonsense about their enjoyment and right to lust with no thought as to the consequences necessary to feed their lust.
Abstract words such as freedom, liberation and others get bandied about while the people abused in front of the camera, real people, who might represent real suffering, are nothing. "IT IS JUST A BODY… WHY DO YOU CARE???"
Why indeed. Because a great many of these "bodies" actually belong to human beings.
Here are some excerpts from a report by Donna M. Hughes, Ph.D. Professor & Eleanor M. and Oscar M. Carlson Endowed Chair. Women's Studies Program, University of Rhode Island.
Growth of the Commercial Sex Industry on the Internet
By the mid-1990s, one of the hottest places for commercial development was the Internet. In early September 1995 there were 101,908 commercial domains on the Web, up 26,055 sites from the end of July, and up 72,706 sites from the end of 1994. The sex industry was leading the way.
At the beginning of 1995, there were just 200 businesses on the World Wide Web selling "erotica services" and products, from condoms to pornographic videos. I did a search on Yahoo, a popular search engine, in August 1995 and August 1996. In August 1995, the category "Yahoo: Business and Economy: Companies: Sex" had 391 listings for phone sex numbers, adult CD-ROMS, X-rated films, adult computer software, live videoconferencing, prostitution tours, escort services and mail-order-bride agencies. In August 1996 there were 1,676 listings-a four fold increase in one year. In late 1997, according to Naughty Linx, an online index, there were 28,000 "sex sites" on the Web with about half of them trying to make money selling pornography, videos, or live sex shows…
Any item produced by the sex industry-magazines, videos, CD ROMS-is always much more expensive than similar non-pornographic materials. The high prices and profit margins of pornographic materials keeps the revenue and profit high for the sex industry. In 1996 Americans spent more than US$9 billion on pornographic videos, peep shows, live sex shows, pornographic cable programs, pornographic magazines and computer pornography. That amount is more than many other entertainment businesses, such as film, music, and theater (See Table 1). To put that amount in some context, according to War on Want, US$9 billion is enough to provide debt relief for the world’s 20 worst affected countries. These revenue figures don’t include the millions of dollars made illegally through the sale of women in brothels, massage parlors, or on the street, or the sale of illegal materials, such as child pornography.
Live Videoconferencing -- Online Prostitution
The pimps on the Internet conduct their own market research on who is buying the women they offer. According to the Internet Entertainment Group (IEG), the largest pimp on the Web, the buyers for live strip shows are 90 percent male, 70 percent living in the United States, and 70 percent are between ages 18 and 40. The viewers are young men in college, and businessmen and professionals who log on from work. Naughty Linx reports there is a 22 percent decline every Summer, when college students cannot use university Internet connections to log on to sex industry sites.
Pimps on the Internet
The movement of the sex industry to the Internet has increased the demand for new and more extreme images of the sexual exploitation of women and children. Older images identified by color quality of the image or clothing and hairstyle are viewed with disdain. Buyers demand new images with the scenes of sexual exploitation and abuse that are in fashion among predators. The result is increased abuse and exploitation of women and children.
Act One Entertainment, USA, owned by William J. Heath, 37, of Royal Oak, Michigan, is known to have operated between September 1994 and November 1997. The operation, known to have pimped more than 300 women, sold strippers and prostitutes to men. He hired underage girls, filmed them stripping and being sexually abused by him and others. He then sold the images on the Internet. In November 1997, the owner, William J. Heath, was charged with criminal racketeering and production of child pornography. Two other men associated with Act One Entertainment were arrested. Johnnie Juretick, 31, was charged with producing sexually abusive material of children; and Jeffrey Scott Maxwell, 22, was charged with performing sex acts on underage girls. The girls were told they would receive royalties based on the number of people who bought their photographs.
Canada A mother was outraged when she saw pornographic pictures of her daughter on the Internet. Stephen Bauer, 24, was arrested on charges involving three children, aged 14-16, for making and distributing child pornography, being a person in authority permitting sexual activity, sexual exploitation, living on the avails of prostitution, and exercising control and communication with a person under age 18 for prostitution. Most of the girls exploited by Bauer were runaways, or from "broken homes." The girls were dressed in school uniforms, stripped, and used by men, while hidden cameras filmed them. Digital images and videos were transmitted live to an Internet site, which specialized in schoolgirls and skirt fetishes. The site was in operation for about 1 year and had about 1,000 subscribers, who paid $15 to $80 (Canadian dollars) for access to the site. Detective Mike Sullivan of the Illinois Naperville Police Department, USA, discovered the site. Other images on the Web site included images of girls as young as five being sexually abused…
A few of the pimps on the Web who started out selling women in audio prostitution are:
Seth Warshavsky, founder of Internet Entertainment Group, the largest live sex show producer on the web, started a phone sex business in 1990, when he was 17 years old;
Seth Warshavsky is the biggest pimp on the Internet. Founder and President of the Internet Entertainment Group (IEG), 25-year-old Warshavsky has been making money from the prostitution industry since he was a boy. While in grade school he ran a computer bulletin board; at age 17 he dropped out of school, moved out of his parents’ house and opened up a phone sex business with a friend using US$7,000 borrowed on credit cards. His first phone sex number was called 1-800-GetSome. In the beginning, if a buyer called the 800 number, an answering service would get the buyer’s credit card information, then page Warshavsky. He would have a woman call the buyer back. Soon after he started he was getting 50 to 60 buyers per day at US$39.95 per call. His phone sex business continued to grow so by 1995 he had an annual income of US$60 million.Ian Eisenberg, who runs the Web site Babes4U with Steffani Martin, and is still in the phone sex business, is the son of Joel Eisenberg, a pioneer of the phone sex business in the 1980s;
The growth and expansion of the pornography and prostitution industries on the Internet have also increased the demand for new material, resulting in increased sexual exploitation of women. Fierce competition among pornography web sites has pushed pimps to advertise and present more and more extreme material, such as penetration with large objects, bestiality and bondage. Of course, making these images requires more violence against women…
"Natalia" While Warshavsky, owner of IEG, lives in a half million-dollar condo and drives a new Jaguar, "Natalia" is paid US$20/hour to strip and perform sex shows for buyers over the Internet. While "Natalia" claims that stripping makes her feel good about herself, "Natalia" is not her real name and she doesn’t want anyone to know she earns money this way. She says she strips for IEG because her other job does not pay enough to support her and her family. She conceals the stripping from most of her friends and family. She describes the depersonalization that other women in the pornography and prostitution industries undergo. She takes on another personality in order to act out the scenarios required. "Out there, I’m a completely different person than I am in here. This is my shadow side."
Ted Liebowitz, Web site operator from Manhattan, runs a phone sex business;
Steve Becker, who now works for Penthouse, ran a number of phone sex lines in New York.
…Other forms of explicit and extreme violence against women and children can be found on the Internet.
During an Internet search on rape, an activist found a Web site with a message from a man asking for someone to rape his wife because she didn’t like having sex with him. Visitors to this Web site left messages with their email addresses indicating that they were willing to rape the woman. Thanks to investigation and complaints to the Internet Service Provider, this Web site was taken down. Another woman found a Web site that promoted the "pre-planned violent rape of lesbians" as a way of "converting" them to heterosexuality. She lodged a complaint with the webmaster.
In Spring 1998, I found a web site called The Rape Zone. The home page featured a picture of a woman screaming as a man forced her against a wall with one hand around her throat and the other restraining her arm. The page title was underlined with a red bar that dripped blood. The site claimed to have over 1,000 images of rape and many video feeds. All of the images were of women tied-up, being beaten and penetrated with large objects. There were a number of images in which the women appeared to be bleeding. Memberships were being sold and viewers could purchase full-length videos…
The Sex Industry and the Internet Industry
The Internet industry exists today because of the prostitution industry. The pimps and buyers on the Internet are funding the development and expansion of the commercial Internet. In fact the pimps and buyers are also contributing heavily to the whole computer industry.
A male exhibitor at the Adultdex, a trade show for the online prostitution industry, who chose to remain anonymous, made this comment:
"The whole Internet is being driven by the adult industry. If all this [referring to products at an online prostitution industry trade show] were made illegal tomorrow, the Internet would go back to being a bunch of scientists discussing geek stuff in e-mail."
The sex industry is among the top five groups buying state of the art computer equipment. The high tech industries don’t like to admit or talk about how they are being supported by the pornography and prostitution industries. A high level technician for the film industry, another buyer of state-of-art computer technology, admits that many companies that brag about their capacities to create computer special effects for the film industry also do a good business with the pornographers and online pimps. It comes down to money,"if someone comes to us with a cheque for US$250,000….."
Looking at the astronomical growth and profits of the sex industry, it is easy to overlook the human cost. One can get lost in cyberspace or confuse glamorous numbers and digital images with real women and children. The profits of the sex industry are based on sexual exploitation, which starts with harm to real people. Sexual exploitation violates human dignity and bodily integrity and is a violation of human rights. The basic premise of international human rights is that people have a right to lives with dignity. The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that:
"All men are born free and equal in dignity and rights" (Article 1)All of these principles of basic human rights are violated by sexual exploitation.
"No one shall be held in slavery or servitude" (Article 4)
"No one shall be subjected to torture, or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment" (Article 5).
Independent Tiplines and Vigilantes
…Christian Valor, known as Se7en, spent 17 years in the hacker underground and didn’t believe the reports about increasing child pornography on the Internet. Then two crucial experiences connected and Se7en declared war on those who trade child pornography on the Internet. He acknowledged his own victimization and someone sent him child pornography. He was able to use empathy to understand and feel the harm from sex predators, which is grossly lacking in most people in the Internet and sex industries. "I myself was abused when I was a kid. Luckily, I wasn’t a victim of child pornography, but I know what these kids are going through." After receiving the JPEG image, he entered the underground of IRC chat rooms with names like "#littlegirlsex" and "#100%preteensexfuckpics." He found ftp (file transfer protocol) directories filled with image files like "6yoanal.jpg" and "8&dad.jpg," and newsgroups like "alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.pre-teen."
Upon finding out the kind of horrible child pornography that exists, Valor promised a "genuine hacker terror" against child pornographers. On 8 June 1997 Valor posted a message on the mailing list for DefCon, the annual hacker’s convention. By mid-June he claimed that he had "taken down" a "major player," who was an employee of Southwestern Bell. He collected evidence and sent it to the President of Southwestern Bell, who replied a few days later that the man was "no longer on the payroll."
Valor also seemed convinced that the police were not likely to intervene, and pointed out that the child pornographers could hardly complain to the police if he wiped out their hard drive by remote access.
Such declarations and action produced much anxious, hand wringing about "rights," and condemnation of "malicious, destructive hacking"- concerns and sentiments that are never expressed for the devastation of children’s lives caused by sexual predators. When solutions to illegal activities on the Internet are discussed, Internet industry people like to make excuses and say that nothing can be done to stop that particular criminal activity. During the discussion of Se7en’s war on child pornographers, one poster’s comment reveals what may be closer to the real situation: "The government can’t enforce laws on the Internet. We all know that. We can enforce laws on the Internet. We all know that, too."
Valor reminded the Internet community of what everyone likes to ignore, "…somewhere in the chain, someone is putting these images on paper before they get uploaded. Your freedom ends when you start hurting other people…"
…To counter these powerful alliances who are profiting from the sale and abuse of women and children is a small, but dedicated, international feminist movement for women’s rights. These women from around the world are demanding a redefinition of men’s use of women. They have made the crimes of battering and rape visible. Now, women are working to make the crimes of sexual exploitation visible. No longer is prostitution labeled as immoral behavior, or pornography called indecent pictures. Women human rights activists are naming the harm to women as violence and sexual exploitation, which violate women’s human dignity, human rights and chance for equal opportunities in society. In November 1996, at the international meeting, "Violence, Abuse and Women’s Citizenship" in Brighton, England, the conference organizers took an uncompromising stand against sexual exploitation by naming all forms of sexual exploitation, including prostitution, as violence against women.
"The steering group is uncompromisingly anti-prostitution. We do not recognise the false distinctions between forced and so-called free prostitution. There is no platform for a pro-prostitution position at this conference. We deliberately chose to have keynote speakers who reflected our own position on pornography and prostitution. We make no apologies for this choice; we have no regrets about it. We consider all of the issues discussed at this conference to be violence against women. It is unfortunately rare these days, for feminists to have access to a conference which is clear and uncompromising in its opposition to prostitution. We are glad that we have been able to give that space to women here who are working against the international sex industry. We hope it has given them strength in continuing their fight."We are at a critical point for women’s human rights. We can go with the predator’s view that the Internet is just a new technology being used to transmit men’s entertainment. We can also choose to accept the pimp’s redefinition of pornography and prostitution as forms of sex work. Or we can begin to make real change to advance women’s dignity and equality, by defining forms of sexual exploitation as human rights violations and crimes against women, which we will not allow in our communities or on the Internet.
Resolution: Misuse of the Internet for the Purpose of Sexual Exploitation
[image © 2006 children of the night]