transWomyn© Evie Embrechts. This article was first published in the trilingual Belgian magazine Scumgrrrls, #19, Summer 2012.

If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.

—Audre Lorde

What unites us is not a common sexuality or experiences or identities or self-expression. It’s that we’re up against a common enemy.
—Leslie Feinberg

Personal history

Growing up, I slowly gained an understanding of oppression. I still remember when I first joined an anti-racist group, sitting in a student restaurant and suddenly grasping the idea of a structure that oppresses us, that it is not just “bad people” that are the problem.

Later, sometimes slow and sometimes with sudden bolts of understanding I gained some gender awareness. I became a member of a gender action group. I was very happy to be a part of that group, Read more

Evie Embrechts

This article was first published in 2014 in International Viewpoint and LinksFeminisme. It was based on an earlier article in Dutch and then expanded and translated.

Recent years have seen renewed debate about prostitution in European countries. Both the Swedish and the Dutch models have been in effect for over 10 years and a lot of research has been done on the various implementations. What are the opinions and results?


  • Different models
    • Present-day reality
    • Harm Reduction
    • Harm Elimination
  • Effects in the Netherlands
  • Effects in Sweden
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Conclusion

Different models

There are of course countless opinions about prostitution. Most of these are problematic because they are based on myopic, selfish or conservative thinking, or on abstract theory far removed from the real-life situation. There are a few models that try to take reality into account and to improve on it. These can be roughly divided into two tendencies: the harm reduction and the harm elimination model.

I’ll take a short look at both models and then present the actual implementations in Sweden and the Netherlands. The Dutch paper Volkskrant had an article where a quite pessimistic author opines that both the Dutch and Swedish models have failed(1). Luckily that’s not entirely true.

Present-day reality

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This article was first published in 2013 in Dutch on DeWereldMorgen – a progressive Belgian news site. It was then translated to French and published by LCR, a socialist/ecologist/feminist organisation.

holy-war-femenpropaganda-A première vue, cela ressemble à du féminisme, mais les Femen posent de grands problèmes qui ne peuvent être négligés. Elles font leur promotion en employant une démarche de pur marketing qui les mène à s’insérer sans problèmes dans la culture porno. Qui plus est, leurs conceptions sont racistes et néocoloniales.

Au début, je ne savais pas quoi penser du phénomène Femen. Le premier reportage que j’avais vu était très contradictoire. Il commençait par un gros-plan sur les jambes d’une membre de Femen et, ensuite, cela ne s’améliorait pas vraiment. Mais c’était peut-être plus la faute des journalistes que celle de Femen en tant que telle. Ce qui me plaisait, c’était qu’elles prétendaient protester contre le trafic humain et contre la prostitution. Mais elles n’étaient pas claires dans leur démarche et il me semblait légèrement contradictoire de protester contre la prostitution en vendant son propre corps aux média et en adoptant des poses pornographiques. Entretemps, il y avait eu aussi des remarques dénigrantes sur les femmes mariées. Mais, pensais-je alors, même si leur féminisme n’est qu’à petite dose, ce n’est déjà pas mal.

Et puis, me disais-je, de quel droit jugerais-je le féminisme dans d’autres pays ? Je n’ai rien contre le fait de protester nues, c’est peut-être un moyen pour apparaître dans les médias et que savons-nous, ici, de la situation en Ukraine ?

Haine contre les musulmans

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© Evie Embrechts. This article was written in 2010 and published in Scumgrrrls, a trilingual Belgian feminist magazine that no longer appears in print. Since it is still relevant, I’m republishing it here. It was the first article I ever wrote in English – sorry for the “Belgian English” folks!

The context does seem to have changed for the better: several organisations are once again focusing on real issues and there seems more resistance to sexist remarks, porn culture, violence against women… There’s a bit more grassroots feminist organisations in Belgium now, cooperation is better too. On the other hand the academic world does seem to be lagging behind, still lost in a maze of its own creation. Violence is not less of an issue now and the media love to focus on porn culture phenomena like the group Femen.

million women rise 1024bEvie Embrechts

In this article I will attempt to link three present-day issues together to explain why the feminist movement today is in a crisis of vision. Over the years, the way we speak and the goals we try to reach have changed, and changes in the nature of capitalism and the rise of porn culture have also had a significant effect on the feminist movement.

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