On the subject of sex, Denmark has traditionally positioned itself as less like its Nordic neighbours and more like Germany. Hamburg is not far away, which perhaps explains why the organisers of an abolitionist, anti-prostitution event in Copenhagen would name it Grosse Freiheit, a street off the Reeperbahn in St Pauli, Hamburg’s red-light district. After an embarrassingly late jump onto the Rescue Industry bandwagon, CNN recently accused Denmark of being the Brothel of Scandinavia (reported here in puppet-fashion with the usual dumb photo).
Or do the event organisers want to imply the event is about the great freedom prostituted women will enjoy once they are saved from slavery? Whatever they mean, Grosse Freiheit?, scheduled for the weekend of 7/8 May in Copenhagen, promises to club attendees into submission with back-to-back speakers who agree that prostitution should be abolished and clients of sex workers should be jailed. I don’t use the word conference for this sort of thing because no actual analysis, not to mention differences of opinion, occur: Revival meeting, campaign event, movement marketing are more descriptive (readers of Sex at the Margins may recall that I attended a 3-day version of such an event in Madrid a decade ago – sleep-inducing but very illuminating).
Two non-Nordic prostitution-haters, Janice Raymond and Julie Bindel, are on the agenda. Raymond hates transsexuals and transgender people, too – I imagine a lot of this event will be about hating, now apparently a central facet of Extremist Feminism (which I briefly discussed in Something Dark). Hate is how local Danish protesters refer to the appearance of Raymond and Bindel (more from modkraft here.) Swedish state feminists will also speak, but note that Danes would be very annoyed by the implication that they are being over-influenced by Sweden.
The event is part of a wider campaign which saw Danish feminists marching on International Women’s Day through an area of Copenhagen associated with street prostitution and drug markets, where they made a loud protest against even the idea of sex work. The egregious Anne-Grethe Bajrup Riis, who recently screeched at a sex worker on national television (and was deliciously satirised afterwards) led the march. A so-called Danish Model is promoted by the organisers. Only real insiders will detect any difference here with other Nordic regimes – who wants to try?
Danish men opposed to sex-buying are part of the campaign. At the SIO event I spoke at in Copenhagen on 31 March, a couple of young male politicians intervened, making uninformed, purely ideological allegations and completely ignoring anything said back to them. Nothing quite so boobyish as Ashton Kutcher’s video mishaps about Real Men Not Buying Sex have been undertaken so far, but who knows what the future holds? I am told that the proposition to criminalise the buying of sex will probably be made – again, by certain leftists – but is unlikely to pass, given political coalitions in parliament. But the campaign to bring in such a law perhaps explains why just another anti-trafficking and anti-prostitution event has such a big profile.
Note how some leftist politicians wish to distance themselves from transphobia whilst simultaneously associating themselves with the abolition of prostitution . I have no sympathy for them. The Danish sex worker rights organisation SIO is of course opposed to the whole event. And no, although I sometimes live only a half hour from this event, I won’t be attending.
–Laura Agustín, the Naked Anthropologist