Theater of Cruelty

Supports Contemporary criticism

The women's front endorses Martine Aurdal's criticism of the prostitution coverage of the time. PFU leader Per Edgar Kokkvold discourages the magazine's mention of catering customers.


- I agree with Aurdal in most of what she writes, says Anne Kalvig in the Women's Front's National Board. Kalvig is also an associate professor of religious history at the University of Stavanger.

It was in last week's edition of Ny Tid that debate editor Martine Aurdal put a critical spotlight on the highly respected magazine Samtiden and editor Knut Olav Åmås' presentation of prostitutes. The debate ended on Friday in NRK P2's Dagsnytt 18, where Aurdal met Åmås and journalist Martin Gaarder for an engaged exchange of words.

Aurdal criticized the identification of prostitute Gina and her prostitutes, which included an "Africa expert" in a humanitarian organization.

Kalvig also wonders what the purpose of the article of the Day is:

- Is it to point out that there are many different stories among the prostitutes? We've heard it before, it's old news, not least thanks to the PRO Center's polemics. But this stands in the way of the far more important question of whether we want the purchase of other people's bodies and sexuality to be legal or not, says Kalvig.

The head of the Women's Front in Stavanger had wished for a completely different focus in Contemporary, although the author's angling is one possibility.

- It is symptomatic and depressing that it is always the woman who is focused on when discussing prostitution, as long as there are most men in the system. It is first and foremost the whore customers who abound. As I read Martin Gaarder's article, he is most interested in focusing on her sexuality, and he writes most intensely when he says that she sometimes has an orgasm with her clients. I think that is a little interesting point. That so many men are eager to take advantage of women's vulnerability is much more sensational, says Kalvig.

Divided opinions

However, the women's front does not respond to what can be interpreted as the failure to anonymize two of Gina's customers.

- As long as there is no ban on buying sexual services in Norway, the two have not done anything illegal. And if they can not stand for what they have done, yes, then it is perhaps best if they settle with themselves, says Kalvig.

Liv Jessen, head of the Oslo Pro Center, for his part, thinks it is important that Contemporary has revealed Gina's history:

- I do not think Aurdal justifies his anger. She writes that "of course reality is more complex," but then it seems that she does not want it to be anyway. If so, I understand that. Every time we try to nuance the image of the prostitutes by saying that it is not the same for everyone, we are accused of glorifying and normalizing. I think it's important to bring out Gina's story. It is as true as the story of suffering. We often meet it among the Nigerian women we work with, says Jessen.

Email to PFU

The PRO center's manager also thinks it's good that Gina is fully recognizable in photography.

- Among parts of the feminist movement, there is a tendency to look at prostitutes as children we have to decide over. If Gina says it's okay to come forward with a picture, will Aurdal then tell her that she does not know her own best? I think we should go within ourselves and see if such attitudes are not actually directly oppressive. Women's liberation is for all women to be able to decide for themselves – including prostitutes, says Jessen.

Per Edgar Kokkvold, head of the Press Professional Committee (PFU), does not react to the identification of Gina, but like Aurdal agrees with the mention of Gina's whore customers in Norway.

- Here at PFU, we have received a copy of an anonymous e-mail sent to Åmås in connection with the information about the Africa expert. It says: “You may have ruined families with what you wrote. How can you sleep at night? ” The person in question will recognize himself in the article. That is now the case; the problem is that it will cast suspicion on more. After all, we do not have many African experts in well-known Norwegian humanitarian organizations, says Kokkvold

- What if Samtiden runs a fog? That he is actually an Asia expert?

- It does not change anything. The suspicion has nevertheless been thrown at members of a small group. It is a wording I would warn against if anyone had asked me in advance.

- Will PFU do something towards Samtiden?

- Not unless we get a complaint, says Kokkvold.

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