Visual Rhetoric.... The slab of meat.

I write this blog to match the images to the photography theory, to collect my thoughts. To prepare for the thesis.  This time I am looking at Anthony Blair’s “The Rhetoric of Visual Arguments” chapter from Defining Visual Rhetorics in the context of the radical feminism visual onslaught against sex workers.

I make no apologies about this Masters Degree being pro choice when it comes to sex work and the push for decriminalisation. That is not even a discussion point.

What interests me photographically and theoretically is how feminist groups dehumanise the very women they claim to be rescuing from dehumanisation by producing images that suits their argument in favour of the prostituted women. 

The slab of meat.

Its interesting to note, I had difficulty finding images of the prostituted male sex worker as current hegemonic views of traditional masculinity and femininity do not allow for men to appear in contexts of objectification. Men cannot be victims because the feminist discourse on sex work dictates women must be the victims of men. They must be prostituted. The prostituted male sex worker is a myth.

It has been a long held practice of exclusionary feminists to manufacture images to present to the viewer their false belief that ALL sex worker experiences are that of the prostituted controlled women.

Sex Workers operate in a world where their choice is only fathomed in terms of the oppression of men.  Images are then created to reflect this victim centered argument. Exclusionary feminists manufacture provocative derogatory images of sex workers because:

  1. They produce emotional responses whereas print messages produce responses that are analytical.
  2. Images are more persuasive and subjective than words.
  3. People tend to accept photographs and images as factual and representative.

The last point is important as the argument that all sex workers are prostituted women is rarely based on actual fact. Its a moral and western cultural statement not a factual one.  In the “The Rhetoric of Visual Arguments”  Blair states

“For it to be possible for visual arguments to occur, it would have to be possible for visual images to be true or false. In whatever manner they achieve their rhetorical effects, it cannot be by the use of visual arguments because the essential components or arguments-propositions-cannot be expressed visually”

My thoughts then become ...

A photograph can not be taken as fact. Therefor (obviously) if its not fact, I can only suggest its photographic myth making based on misguided feminist rhetoric. Based on a feminism that punishes sex workers for choosing sex work as work.  Despite the creative and ruthless photographic attempts of exclusionary feminists to convince you otherwise.

Visual rhetoric is seductively appealing because in the age of the networked image and the public sphere of the commercial transaction of sex online, the message is is immediate and widespread.

Enter my twitter feed.

When Caitlin Roper tweeted this comment apparently (I was not there) said at a conference in Western Australia it popped up into my twitter timeline. She communicated to the world that this sex worker had described her experiences as being akin to a piece of meat.  Ms Roper did what is always done on behalf of sex workers. Spoke for them and over them.  Cherry picked the voice of one woman's alleged experience described in self objectifying terms and then applied it as representative of the experiences of all sex works. The very reasoning behind the recent Feminism In London conference excluding the voices of sex workers.

The slab of meat.   The visual rhetoric.  Photographic lies and myth making on behalf of feminsim.