Assessment of August 2011 Socialist Alliance/Resistance forum in Fremantle on erotica and women's liberation

The text below appeared briefly on the Perth Indymedia wire in August 2011. When that website closed down shortly before the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting was held in Perth later in 2011, the article went with it. Along with the bulk of the contents of the site archive, several other, later, documents concerned with the issue of my expulsion from the Socialist Alliance were also 'lost'. Another document, entitled 'DSP caucus expels dissident WA Socialist Alliance member'( ) contains background material on my case, as well as an account of my expulsion, and was posted to and is still on the new Perth Indymedia site based in Sydney.



The Socialist Alliance and Resistance hosted a discussion in Fremantle on '"Raunch Culture", Porn and Women's Liberation' last Saturday afternoon (August 20, 2011). Although the perspective on the issue was ostensibly socialist, in fact the positions presented were much closer to radical feminism. Reproduced here is an open letter to the Socialist Alliance membership in WA. The letter was published on the WA Socialist Alliance loop. A copy was forwarded to the 'Green left' Discussion list, but it was not published there. A short time later I posted the document onto the Perth Indymedia site.

Dear Comrades,
I had thought of sending a few remarks through this loop when I got home last Saturday evening, after I attended the forum in the afternoon behind the Fremantle Town Hall put on by the Socialist Alliance and Resistance. Unfortunately I had been delayed and I missed the first forty minutes or so of the forum, and thus I did not hear the contribution of the first featured speaker, or most of the presentation made by the second speaker. I did manage to get the gist of the second speaker Abigail Bray's view of 'pornography', however. I thought that the discussion after the presentations was quite wide-ranging and generally useful. I should note here, while I remember, that the Socialist Alternative group also had a public forum on this issue recently, at one of their regular meetings in the Perth Cityplace Community Centre. This group does not allow me to attend their functions unfortunately, so I myself was unable to hear their views on this question.

I offer the following remarks here only tentatively, because I have not formalised any stance on this matter. But perhaps other SA comrades, particularly those from a 'Democratic Socialist Perspective' (DSP) background, could enlighten me? I had assumed that the DSP, in some of the programmatic material that this tendency has adopted as policy in the past, had a position quite distinct from the radical feminists ie. the DSP is opposed to the notion held by radical feminists that 'pornographic' or erotic images or films should be suppressed. I came away from the meeting last Saturday with the strong impression that there was largely a consensus among those present at the meeting that erotic material, at least of a visual nature, should in fact, by preference, be banned. The only objection to this demand that I heard expressed at the meeting was one of efficacy ie. such a ban would not work in practice. I don't remember if the reasons for this lack of efficacy were spelled out, but I suppose that they would have focused around the idea that suppressing sexual images, just like suppressing alcoholic drinks during the Prohibition era in the USA, would simply push their consumption underground, and probably lead to an even wider proliferation. But, as far as I recall, no-one at the meeting objected in principle to the notion that 'pornography' should be banned.

Why is it that the radical-feminist speaker at Saturday's forum seemed to have a position on the question of erotica that is essentially indistinguishable from that of Fred Nile and the Festival of Light? And why was it that she was openly and unashamedly flirting from the platform with the ideas recently being generated on this issue by the far-right.

I am quite content to let it be known that I spend many hours (along with about 40% of Australian men, according to recent statistics; among them many married men) surfing erotic sites on the internet and engaging in cyber sex with many webcam models. Among these models I have some quite good friends, and a few of them possess sports cars and BMWs (which is a lot more than I can claim). My partner is not in the least bit interested in sex, and she has no objection whatsoever to my interacting with webcam models or surfing as many 'pornographic' sites as I wish. This is sex in the 21st century. Get used to it.


Graham Milner