[saymaListserv] How patriarchy can be changed by listening to women's voices

Free Polazzo freepolazzo at comcast.net
Fri Aug 25 20:23:46 JEST 2006

Dear Friends,

SAYMA approved a minute on Patriachy about 10 years ago that 
basically said that "women and women's values are as important as men 
and men's values"   It also said the " while girls and women have 
suffered more from patriarchy, we find that it has negatively 
affected boys and men also."     During the 8 years I carried this 
minute to SAYMA Friends, I learned more than ever, that understanding 
how the "other" gender perceives the world was one of the ways to 
become a more peaceful human being.   This is a continual and painful 
learning process, but whatever it takes to end the longest undeclared 
war (the battle of the sexes) is worth it.

Some Friends thought that this was a "nice" minute, but objected that 
nothing would really change with its approval. "It won't make a 
difference".   Well, we can see what's happened at SAYMA since the 
minute was approved.    We were saying that women's voices need to be 
given more air time and more power.   Notice that the last 3 clerks 
of SAYMA's Yearly Meeting have been Women (8 years?) , even though, 
before that, there had been a "tradition" of alternating genders 
every two years.     What else might change if women had more power?

The article below, about Sweden, shows what has happened in a country 
where the genders are almost equally represented in their 
parliament.  Men's voices are still present.    Yet the approach to 
the country's problems have changed.   They are also seen from the 
women's point of view, not just the men's.    An example of what 
might "differences" come from the kind of "power sharing" that 
SAYMA's minute on patriarchy envisioned, can be seen in Marie Santa's 
article about how Sweden's government changed its attitude and laws 
about prostitution and in how they implemented those changes.   It is 
presented for you below.


Free Polazzo
Anneewakee Creek Friends Worship Group
Atlanta Friends Meeting

>"Opposing Prostitution As a Form of Male Violence:
>     the Swedish Model"
>     In just five years Sweden has dramatically reduced the number
>of women in prostitution.  In the capital city of Stockholm, the
>number of women in street prostitution has been reduced by two-
>thirds, and the number of "johns" has been reduced by 80 %.
>     There are other major Swedish cities where street prostitution
>has all but disappeared.  Gone too, for the most part, are the
>infamous Swedish brothels and massage parlors which proliferated
>during the last 3 decades of the 20th century, when prostitution
>in Sweden was legal.
>     In addition, the number of foreign women now being trafficked
>into Sweden for sex work is almost nil.  The Swedish government
>estimates that in the last few years only 200 to 400 women and
>girls have been annually sex trafficked into Sweden, a figure that's
>neglible compared to the 15,000 to 17,000 females yearly sex
>trafficked into neighboring Finland.
>     **No other country, nor any other social experiment, has come
>anywhere near Sweden's promising results.
>Sweden's Groundbreaking 1999 Legislation
>     In 1999, after years of research and study, Sweden passed
>legislation that a) criminalizes the buying of sex, and b) decriminal-
>izes the selling of sex.  The novel rationale behind this legislation
>is clearly stated in the government's literature on the law:
>AGAINST WOMEN and CHILDREN.  It is officially acknowleged as a form
>of exploitation of women and children and constitutes a significant
>social problem... **gender equality will remain unattainable so long
>as men buy, sell, and exploit women and children by prostituting
>     In addition to the two-pronged legal strategy, a third and essential
>element of Sweden's prostitution legislation provides for ample and
>comprehensive social service funds aimed at helping any prostitute
>who wants to get out, and additional funds to educate the public.
>     **The public is educated in order to counteract the historical
>male bias that has long stultified thinking on prostitution.  To  securely
>anchor their view in firm legal ground, Sweden's prostitution legislation
>was passed as part and parcel of the country's 1999 omnibus violence
>against women legislation.
>     Scotland is also seriously considering revamping its approach
>to prostitution.  The full government report can be seen at --
>ptz/lg04-ptz-res-03.htm.  See also www.prostitutionresearch.com
>for additional research and activism ideas.
>An Early Obstacle
>     Despite the extensive planning prior to passing the legislation,
>during the first few years of this novel project -- nothing much
>happened at all.  Police made very few arrests of johns, and
>prostitution in Sweden, which had previously been legalized, went
>on pretty much as it had gone on before.
>     The police themselves, it was determined, needed in depth
>training and orientation to what the Swedish legislature already
>understood profoundly. **Prostitution is a form of male violence
>against women.
>     The exploiter/buyers need to be punished, and the victim/
>prostitutes need to be helped.
>     The Swedish government appropriated the funds for the coun-
>try's police and prosecutors, from the top ranks down to the officer
>on the beat, to be given intensive training and a clear message that
>the country meant business. **It was then that the country quickly
>began to see unequaled results.
>     Today, not only do the Swedish people continue to overwhelmingly
>support their country's approach to prostitution *80 % of people
>in favor according to national opinion polls), but the country's police
>and prosecutors have also come around.  They are now among the
>legislation's staunchest supporters.
>     Sweden's law enforcement community has found that the pros-
>titution legislation benefits them in dealing with all sex crimes,
>particularly in enabling them to virtually wipe out the element of
>organized crime that plagues other countries where prostitution
>has been legalized or regulated.
>The Failure of Legalization and/or Regulation Strategies
>     According to a University of London study, the legalization and/
>or regulation of prostitution led to:
>     * A dramatic increase in all facets of the sex industry;
>     * A dramatic increase in the involvement of organized crime in
>the sex industry;
>     * A dramatic increase in child prostitution;
>     * An explosion in the number of foreign women and girls trafficked
>into the region, and;
>     * Indications of an increase in violence against women.
>     In the state of Victoria, Australia, where a system of legalized,
>regulated brothels was established, there was such an explosion in
>the number of brothels that it immediately overwhelmed the system's
>ability to regulate them, and just as quickly these brothels became
>mired in organized crime, corruption, and related crimes.
>     In addition, surveys of the prostitutes working under systems
>of legalization and regulation find that **the prostitutes themselves
>continue to feel coerced, forced, and unsafe in the business.
>     A survey of legal prostitutes working under the conditions of
>the Netherlands legalization policy finds that 79 % say they want to
>get out of the sex business.
>     In contrast, in Sweden (unlike the Netherlands), the government
>followed through with ample social service funds to help those
>prostitutes who wanted to get out. **60 % of the prostitutes in
>Sweden took advantage of the well-funded programs and succeeded
>in exiting prostitution.
>So Why Hasn't Anyone Tried This Before?
>     Both Finland and Norway are on the verge of making the move.
>If Scotland takes the advice of its own study, it will go in that
>     **In order to see prostitutes as victims of male coercion and
>violence it requires that a government first switch from seeing
>prostitution from the male point of view to the female point of
>     Sweden, in contrast, has led the way in promoting equality for
>womenh for a very long time.  For example, Sweden criminalized
>rape in marriage in 1965.  Even in the 1980s there were states
>in the United States that still hadn't made that fundamental recog-
>nition of a woman's right to control her own body.
>     **The Swedish government also stands out in having the highest
>proportion of women at all levels of government.  In 1999, when
>Sweden passed its groundbreaking prostitution legislation, the
>Swedish Parliament was composed of nearly 50 % women (in 2005
>it was 46 % women--db).
>     Sweden's prostitution policy was first designed and lobbied
>for by Sweden's organization of women's shelters and was then
>fostered and fought for by a bipartisan effort of Sweden's uniquely
>powerful and numerous female parliamentarians.
>     In 2002, Sweden passed additional legislation bolstering the
>original prostitution legislation.  The 2002 Act Prohibiting Human
>Trafficking for the Purpose of Sexual Exploitation closed some of
>the loopholes in the earlier legislation and furthered strengthened
>the government's ability to go after the network of persons that
>support prostitution, such as the recruiters, the transporters,
>and the hosts.
>     -- Marie De Santis, Peacework, June-July 2005, 16; she's the
>director of the Women's Justice Center, 250 Sebastopol Road,
>Santa Rosa, CA  95407; 707/575-3150, rdjustice at monitor.net,

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