Kathleen Barry’s The Prostitution of Sexuality was first published in 1995 and grew out of her work and activism following the publication of Female Sexual Slavery in 1979. The first half of the book, which is just theory, is brilliant. The second half felt outdated as it is based almost entirely on the research undertaken for Female Sexual Slavery. I would argue that the situation is actually worse now than it was even 10 years ago, particularly in relation to rape as an accepted tactic of war. I’d be interested to read an epilogue to the book which examines the reality of women’s experiences of sexual exploitation now and whether Barry thinks it is worse for women or if its just that I’ve become more aware of sexual exploitation.
I cannot recommend this book enough though. Barry’s theory on the global exploitation of women is incredibly important. She destroys the idea that prostitution can be consented to within a capitalist-patriarchy. She clearly proves that the sexualisation of human bodies renders women passive objects and men active participants. Barry challenges the heteronormative construction of pornography and prostitution and the hegemonic nature of capitalism which is built on the bodies of women.
I am adding this book to my list of Top Ten Feminist Theory Texts (in no particular order):
1. Andrea Dworkin’s Intercourse
2. Cordelia Fine’s Delusions of Gender: The Real Science Behind Sex Differences.
3. Susan Faludi’s Backlash: The Undeclared War Against Women
4. Kat Banyard’s The Equality Illusion: The Truth about Women and Men Today
5. Susan Maushart’s Wifework: What Marriage Really Means for Women
6. Sheila Jeffreys’ Beauty and Misogyny
7. Susie Orbach’s Fat is a Feminist Issue
8. Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics
9. Melinda Tankard Reist’s Big Porn Inc
10. Kathleen Barry’s The Prostitution of Sexuality: The Global Exploitation of Women
Andrew Parsons has been found guilty and sentenced to life in prison for the brutal murder of his wife Janee Parsons. Andrew murdered his wife in front of their young son. The murder was captured on a dictation machine that Andrew had hidden under Janee’s bed to spy on her. He stalked his wife and then he murdered Janee.
Janee’s crime: having an affair and ending her marriage to Andrew. Andrew murdered Janee because she ended their relationship. Yet, the judge, Patrick Eccles, summation includes the following phrases:
“You were overwhelmed in my judgement by jealous rage.
“Nobody can predict the psychological harm which will be significant to your son.
“You were and no doubt are a good father, you will suffer for the rest of your life knowing the harm you have caused to them.”
Eccles has not only excused Andrew’s violence by labelling it “jealousy” and, therefore, abnormal, he has also chosen to claim that Andrew was a “good father”. Jealous men are not good fathers. Good fathers do not murder their former partners in front of their children. Any man who chooses to abuse or murder his (former) partner is not a “good” father. He is a violent man.
Andrew Parsons lawyer, who at least should be expected to engage in victim-blaming, claimed that Parsons was “clinically depressed” and under “extreme pressure”. Many people are clinically depressed and under extreme pressure and they do not murder their (former) partners.
Janee Parsons was brutally murdered by her former husband, yet the judge has implied that it is her fault for making Andrew jealous.
There are no excuses for violence.
Jealousy is used as an excuse to diminish men’s responsibility for their violence.
Jealousy is used as a way of blaming women for their brutal murder at the hands of violent current or former partners.
Janee Parsons was brutally murdered. Her son saw his mother being murdered. They are the victims of this crime; not Andrew.