portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article commentary global

anti-racism | gender & sexuality

Clamor Magazine erases rapes, promotes racism

The recent liberal trend, now promoted in Clamor Magazine, of calling rape victims liars who weren't really raped but can't admit to really wanting all that sex is contested.
Once upon a decade ago, antifeminist Katie Roiphe said women who "cried rape" the morning after were lying because they really wanted the sex but were just ashamed to admit it. Now Clamor Magazine brings writer Yasmin Nair and the next installment of the "Women Lie About Rape" chronicles.

American Home: Trafficking and the Return of Domesticity  http://www.clamormagazine.org/issues/37/sexgender.php

In the article, Nair claims those millions of women and girls annually who say they were scare-quotey "sex trafficked" are lying about being held captive and raped because in reality they're happy-enough sex workers ashamed of wanting to be prostitutes. She believes it's not that pimps and traffickers are men making billions raping and enslaving women globally, it's that those estimated 10-12 million yearly are all lying about the existence of pimps and organized criminal "sex trafficking" networks.

"It's easier for sex workers to claim being kidnapped and forced into sex rather than admit to looking for sex work"

Does Nair know something about the secret desires of sex workers that Amnesty International, Equality Now, the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, the Polaris Project and hundreds of other international organizations don't? Nair's opinion that prostitution trafficking victims who have survived to tell about being raped and pimped out have successfully deceived thousands of gullible do-gooders at Amnesty & Co. into thinking they were sexually enslaved when she, like Roiphe before her, believes they really wanted the sex they're calling rapes.

Not happy just calling all the NGOs and governments working to prevent human trafficking dupes of manipulative, willing-but-embarrassed lying sex workers, Nair continues:

"The shift from 'sexy trafficking' to 'innocent victim trafficking' is a reminder that women's bodies are endlessly mobilized to turn issues of labor and immigration into deeply personalized narratives about family and nation."

Feminists have fought long and difficult personal-is-political battles to have the abuses done to women in their homes, beds and bodies recognized as part of a larger pattern of patriarchal beliefs affecting everything. Seeing a so-called liberal magazine air the belief that it's best to separate sexism, nationalism, and women's bodily autonomy from what happens to immigrant and working women is a huge step backwards. Women's bodies have the dictates of nationalism and the politics of family forced on them all the time, and those deeply personalized narratives shouldn't be sneered at as Nair does.

Nair writes about Kim Meston, a Tibetan trafficking survivor and co-director of the Cambridge-based Trafficking Victims Outreach and Services. Instead of blaming the man who tricked Kim's parents into giving him their daughter, Nair offers a vague blaming of religion and poverty. It may look like Meston's story revealed a man making a sex and labor slave out of a brown female, but in Nair's telling the man who did the actual enforcing of the indentured servitude with rape privileges did not cause her abuse. You see, it was really poverty and Christianity that enslaved Kim Meston, not the man who abused her:

"Meston's story reveals the vulnerability of the family unit to neo-liberal economic pressures and the hypocrisy of and potential danger posed by US faith-based representatives."

In a particularly gut-wrenching turn, Nair decides to reclassify Kim Meston's being "forced into sex by the minister" (her own words) as not rape but "labor":

"Meston's story reveals the kinds of labor, sexual and commercial, that may be extracted from family members under economic stress."

There's a sexist and racist trend going around liberal circles lately that says there's no such thing as sexual abuse anymore for some, usually not-white, women. What would be called rape or sexual harassment for Global North white women is being called uncompensated sex work for Global South black women. What used to be called economic coercion is called economic incentive in the new liberal whoreticulture. For another example of this at work in liberal magazines The Nation and Counterpunch you can look for Debbie Nathan's recent articles where she claims, based on the testimony of male cops, that teen girls are lying about being forcibly pimped through Internet escort services and terrorized into sex slavery.  http://www.counterpunch.org/nathan02172006.html

Just this week in the feminist blogosphere, a blogger whose boyfriend shoved her mouth onto his ejaculating dick after she stopped a blowjob was easily identified as an oral rape, but in Clamor Magazine the ongoing rapes of a young Tibetan woman brought to America as the personal maid and rapemate of a man is not getting called rape at all but rather "migration for sex work." So clear the rape in the first, so foggy the ritualized rapes of the second.

Clamor Magazine is making the independent media rounds lately with their big anti-American Apparel photo essay spread, and it's great they're calling him on his sexism and bad business practices. However, no one at Clamor is calling the white, Western, American women sexually harassed by Dov Charney uncompensated sex workers like they've convinced themselves darkskinned girls from Tibet sucking American cocks to keep alive in a foreign land are uncompensated sex workers. The racist message is that it's okay for some girls to expect nothing more than to be men's whores while other girls can expect never to be sexually mistreated on the job, just so long as we're all so very liberal-minded about which color of girls goes where.

Clamor says to white American women in the American Apparel article, "You don't have to put up with your privileged white manager forcing 'workplace nudity, inappropriate come-ons, and outright sexual harassment on you.' (quote from page 6 of the layout)

Clamor says to brown Asian women in the trafficking article, "You can expect nothing better than getting your white manager's dick stuffed in and out of every hole in your body whenever he feels like it because 'it's simply not economically feasible for millions of impoverished families to keep hungry children around - it makes more sense to send them away to places where they might be fed and make money.' (quote from Nair's essay)

Liberal media is increasingly funding itself with advertising money from the pornography and prostitution industries, multi-billion dollar comglomerates with the overt mission statement of "Fuck bitches." How suprising can it be that the messages they increasingly promote are that women and teens who say they were forced into and/or raped in prostitution are liars, sex trafficking is not a real and growing international problem so it belongs is in unreality scare quotes, and poverty-stricken families in Tibet deserve blame for an American man making their daughter his private sex slave and domestic servant?

It's now apparently okay to blame men's raping of Global South girls and women on poverty, religion, Amnesty International, parents, George W. Bush, antiporn feminists, Equality Now, and Oprah Winfrey, but whatever you do, make sure you DON'T BLAME PIMPS AND JOHNS for the rapes-cum-transactional-sex approved for darkskinned women by porn-sustained liberal media because then liberals might have to fight for Kim Meston's and every woman's right to a job free from sexist "workplace nudity, inappropriate come-ons, and outright sexual harassment" instead of a job specifically based on them.

homepage: homepage: http://www.genderberg.com

backlash against the backlash 31.Aug.2006 19:48

also feminist

Get off your high horse. Something tells me that you just might have misrepresented this article just a wee bit. Within subject of sex work and the global sex trade/slavery of women, there is room for (and actually a need for) a variety of perceptions and observations. I think that this writer is coming from the same basic understanding as you are, and that you are polarizing the debate to maintain a defensive high ground. There may be a certain percentage of women who choose sex work as there best option, and they are being grouped statistically in the group of women being trafficed. There might even be some racism in the statiticians miscalibration. This needs discussion too.

after a full read 31.Aug.2006 20:20

also feminist

The comments that this article is making about american nationalism and the hysteria around the subject of sex slavery, is very interesting. This article is NOT SAYING and is not minimizing that there is a problem (thank god). It talks about potential distortions within how it is being portrayed in the popular american media and what purpose this serves to hold women down. It deals with the fact the the larger media portrayal will not deal with the ugly subject of our changing global economy. It made sense to me and I thought it was really good.

Are you going to attack me now too???

who's creating these "options" for us anyway 31.Aug.2006 21:00


> There may be a certain percentage of women who choose sex work as there best option

How important, really, is this distinction between sex chattel slavery and sex wage slavery?

If I were to choose to become a security guard and eventually ended up working as a cop because at each step that was "my best option," I might be "freely" selecting my own path at each point, but the whole matrix of options available to me would still be exploiting me based on a degrading and stereotyped gender role, in this case the "tough guy" instead of the sex kitten, involving me in violence on a day to day basis, and directing me toward an ultimate role in society that was damaging both to society and to me.

bleah 31.Aug.2006 21:24

also feminist

I agree with you completely bleah. Once again, there is no polarization here.

What high horse is the author on? Truth? 03.Sep.2006 16:47


The direct quotes from Clamor pulled by the essay's author pretty much spell it out. An examination of reports regarding sex trafficking also spells it out - for the literate, that is. Blaming the victim has always been the easy way out, and is the preferred method in the media. All media forms and all industries are controlled by men, plain and simple. And how does a man get to the top of a corporate game? Not by being "fair and balanced." This is not "man bashing," I am just pointing out the obvious.

For some reason, many people would prefer to believe there is no such thing as slavery in our modern world, and they especially don't want to hear about sex slaves. A lot of these same people would equate sex work, porn and the sexualization of the female image in the media with liberation. It's all about justification and avoidance of examining the self. That and making a quick and dirty buck.

I send strength and love to those unkown millions who suffer so. May their captors and the cultures who spawned them become aware of their actions and change. Peace.

re Clamor and this site 04.Sep.2006 01:43


Hi. I really enjoyed Clamor's article. I was a white, middle-class girl used for sex from the age of three on by international crime rings operated by some of the most high profile public figures you can think of. At least one member of my family knew of this and made money out of it. I am a "girl next door" and I know that it's not an urban legend. Even when I came of age so that, technically, consent became an issue - as if those criminals ever took any notice of that!

Anyway, when I read Clamor's article, I was perturbed on a subconscious level by some comments. As it turns out, they are the same comments that perturbed this article's author and have been requoted. I saw the Oprah show where the victim of the US minister told of her ordeal. To call what she went through "labour without compensation" is racist.

Child sexual abuse has always been surrounded by competing discourses. It used be overcrowding back in the 1920s and 1930s, when poverty was blamed. Clamor rightly makes the point that surrounding discourses exist. I agree with this article that the Clamor article is offensive and racist.