Tag Archives: Prostitution

Sex work is dangerous because…

Yesterday, Laurie Penny published an article in the New Statesman. It was entitled “This strange neo-Victorian desire to save prostitutes and porn actresses”. As you can probably imagine, that caught my attention. However, it is the sub heading that is currently being argued on Twitter and elsewhere.

Sex work isn’t stigmatised because it is dangerous. Sex work is dangerous because it is stigmatised.

That (of course) set off the alarms in the underground Crouch End lair of Julie Bindel. Her response:

Awful, libertarian, patronising crap. Hope the growing group of prostitution survivors knocks this down.

Now, putting aside the fact that you really don’t want to get me started on the sudden (and almost magical) influx of “prostitution survivors” who will attest to the fact that everything Julie and her ilk say is not only Gospel, but an understatement. I do find most of what she says about the sex industry to be awful, totalitarian crap which I hope the growing group of outspoken sex workers will knock down, but hey ho…

I don’t see the problem with Laurie Penny’s article. The reason I don’t have a problem with it is that she has obviously been listening and paying attention to sex workers and who better to tell people what we need, than us? Oh yeah, I forgot… Radical feminists. Because of course, we should be denied our autonomy if what we profess to want doesn’t tally with what they have decided we should want.

Along comes an American chap who agrees totally with Julie Bindel, thinks that Laurie Penny has lost her mind and tweets the following:

So wrong. Sex work is dangerous because its often not a choice. Look at these stories please

Now, what I want to know is this:

A sex worker is a sex worker. Regardless of which part of this extremely varied industry he or she works. The fact is that bad people who want to do bad things to others without getting caught know that sex workers are seen as sub-human by many and street workers especially may be missed by few. That’s what makes it dangerous. The fact that those people feel that they have no rights and are seen as disposable. Whether they have chosen sex work or felt compelled to do it through lack of choice isn’t what causes the danger. It’s society’s attitude to them.

And while we’re on the subject of people who turn to sex work out of desperation.

Where is the logic in thinking that eradicating prostitution will help them?

I can assure you that if you wander up to a street worker and say “Ah, you are destitute and have been forced to sell your body on a street corner to survive, so I’ve done you a favour, I’ve completely done away with prostitution. You don’t need to do it any more. No, honestly, no need to thank me. It was the right thing to do”. He or she will probably take a moment to consider the implications of what you have just said and then punch you really really hard.

Those of you who think that getting rid of the sex industry is a wonderful idea. Just think about that for a moment. Forget the people you consider privileged and not representative and concentrate on those for whom prostitution is the only option. If you take it away, what exactly do they have left?

Oh and as for the chap I quoted earlier. He is a photographer who takes pictures of deprived areas. I’m sure that his wading in has nothing whatsoever to do with wanting to sell his pictures. Oh no. I’m sure that Mr “I used to work on Wall Street, but now I’m an artist” has purely altruistic intentions.

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The Rhoda Grant Consultation (Part 2)

Onwards, to the second part of Rhoda’s introduction.

For clarity I shall tackle this one outlandish statement at a time.

The majority of those who are involved in prostitution are unwilling participants.

I notice that there is no reference for this statement. The reason for this is that Ms Grant made this up off the top of her head. It’s a statement that radical feminists often make.

When questioned about the source of this pile of crap “fact”, they will puff up their chests, glare at the person who dares to question them and dig into their collection of emotive arguments, usually pulling out the kind of reply which will leave them looking like Florence bloody Nightingale and you resembling Attila the Hun. Something along the lines of “The poor, broken women who have spoken to me have made this fact all too clear. Are you denying their experiences?”. Cue a sweeping look around the assembled throng, who by now would like to see your head on a spike.

However, on this occasion. We are talking about the law, so Rhoda, please show me your proof.

A number of UK studies provide useful background information in this area.

Yes they do. However, don’t think for a second that I’m agreeing with you.

Many of the findings are disturbing. For example 75% of women in prostitution in the UK became involved when they were children; 70% spent time in care and 45% of women in prostitution report experiencing familial sexual abuse.

75% of women in prostitution in the UK became involved when they were children? She then cites ‘Ties that Bind –Young people and the prostitution labour market in Britain” by Margaret Melrose as her source. Now I’ve read through that and I can’t figure out for the life of me where she found the 75%. Feel free to look for yourself, there’s a link to the paper at the bottom of the page. However, the biggest problem I have with this is that (in the words of Ms Melrose) “The research upon which this paper is based was a small-scale retrospective study of people who had become involved in prostitution when they were juveniles”.

Yes, you read that right. It was a paper on child prostitution. All of the women in the study became involved in prostitution when they were children, because that’s what the paper was about!

Now two questions remain:

  1. Does Rhoda Grant know this and is hoping to palm the statistic off on folk? Or does she genuinely not realise? In which case one must assume that she is a tad dim.
  2. Where the hell did she get 75% from when 100% of the women in that paper entered prostitution as children? We’re back to that dim thing again aren’t we…

And so we move on to the “fact” that 70% spent time in care and 45% of women in prostitution report experiencing familial sexual abuse.

Well, if we dig back through to ‘Paying the price’ we again see that the studies from which they have concluded that 70% spent time in care are for the most part, studies which have concentrated on young people and in the main, were looking at street prostitution. Again, just a small sample of people. Just one small part of the sex industry. I can find the part in that document where it states that

abuse – as many as 85% report physical abuse in the family, with 45% reporting familial sexual abuse

However, it doesn’t cite a source that I can see and as Rhoda Grant would say “Where’s your proof?”

Did you know that 35% of women are said to be victims of familial sex abuse? That’s another random government statistic for you and as most of the stats they trot out for prostitution are gathered by talking to young, vulnerable street workers, I’m actually surprised that the 45% isn’t higher.

The only conclusions that I would draw from this part of the consultation are that the care system needs an overhaul, child abuse is still far too commonplace and this urgently needs to be addressed, child prostitutes1 enter the sex industry as children and that Ms Grant needs to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest as opposed to copying and pasting from the Violence against Women website.

 

Melrose 2002 [pdf]
Paying the price [pdf]

 

1. I do not believe that there is such a thing as a ‘child prostitute’, only victims of child abuse and I do wish they’d stop calling it that.

“Rescue”

The Good Shepherd Sisters (called also Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd) are a Roman Catholic religious institute for women. In addition to the standard vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, the Good Shepherd Sisters take the following fourth vow of zeal for souls [to save souls], particularly of women and girls: “I bind myself to labour for the conversion of fallen women and girls needing refuge from the temptation of the world.” [1]

Magdalene asylums were institutions which ran from the 18th to the late 20th centuries ostensibly for “fallen women”, a term used to imply sexual promiscuity.

Asylums for these girls and women (and others believed to be of poor moral character, such as prostitutes) operated throughout Europe, Britain, Ireland, Canada and the United States for much of the 19th and well into the 20th century. The first asylum in Ireland opened on Leeson Street in Dublin in 1765, founded by Lady Arabella Denny.

Initially the mission of the asylums was often to rehabilitate women back into society, but by the early 20th century the homes had become increasingly punitive and prison-like. In most of these asylums, the inmates were required to undertake hard physical labour, including laundry and needle work. They also endured a daily regime that included long periods of prayer and enforced silence. In Ireland, such asylums were known as Magdalene laundries. It has been estimated that up to 30,000 women passed through such laundries in Ireland.

The last Magdalene asylum, in Waterford, Ireland, closed on September 25, 1996

The Magdalene movement in Ireland was appropriated by the Catholic Church following Catholic Emancipation in 1829 and the homes, which were initially intended to be short-term refuges, increasingly turned into long-term institutions. Penitents were required to work, primarily in laundries, since the facilities were self-supporting and were not funded by either the State or the Religious denominations.

As the Magdalene movement became increasingly distant from the original idea of the Rescue Movement (finding alternative work for prostitutes who could not find regular employment because of their background), the asylums became increasingly prison-like. Supervising nuns were instructed to encourage the women into penance, rather than merely berating them and blocking their escape attempts.

As the phenomenon became more widespread, it extended beyond prostitution to unmarried mothers, mentally retarded women, and abused girls. Even young girls who were considered too promiscuous and flirtatious, or too beautiful, were sent to an asylum by their respective families. This paralleled the practice in state-run asylums in Britain and Ireland in the same period, where many people with alleged “social dysfunction” were committed to asylums. The women were typically admitted to these institutions at the request of family members (mostly men). Without a family member on the outside who would vouch for them, many incarcerated individuals would stay in the asylums for the rest of their lives, many of them taking religious vows. [2]

Why am I telling you this? Surely it’s all ancient history, right? Except it isn’t. Read back. The last of the asylums closed in 1996, a mere 16 years ago.

Why is any of this relevant?

Because, right now, in Ireland. They are fighting the same fight as we are in Scotland. The anti-prostitution lobby is trying to make the purchase of sex illegal. Who are the biggest anti-prostitution lobby group there? The ‘rescue’ organisation who shout that all prostitution is exploitation and abuse?

Let me introduce to the stage, RUHAMA.

Ruhama was founded as a joint initiative of the Good Shepherd Sisters and Our Lady of Charity Sisters, both of which had a long history of involvement with marginalised women, including those involved in prostitution.  [3]

Yes. They certainly did. Just look how that turned out.

I can’t believe they have the gall to stand there now.

 

 

 

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What’s In A Name Part 2

The more I read my previous post, the less happy I am with it.

For a start, it makes it seem as if I have something against street girls. I don’t. That’s just not the part of the market that I am aiming for. If someone wants to work in this industry and chooses to work in a parlour or on a street corner, then I salute them, it’s just not for me.

The point I was trying (badly) to make in my last post was that we all market ourselves differently. We are all different. Not necessarily better or worse, just not the same.

The thing we fight against is the media portrayal of us as crack whores (or whatever). This got me thinking. If I have so much trouble convincing some people that I do this of my own free will, because I enjoy it and that I don’t touch drugs. What about the the street girls who do the job because they enjoy it. Probably about 50% of people would rather believe that I do this because I’m coerced and desperate. Imagine how hard it would be for a happy street hooker to convince people that she doesn’t need to be rescued.

I would love to sit down with a girl who works the streets for all the right reasons and have a chat. I’d love to find out just how much the same/different our worlds are. I wonder if Julie Bindel has ever done that? She seems to quite carefully stick to anyone who will reinforce her beliefs.

The more I think about the word escort, the more I think that it could apply to anyone in the industry as long as they don’t limit themselves to 5 minute blowjobs just to feed their habit.

Call girl… That works for me. Ok, call needs to extend to email, but it’s close enough. The problem with that is that it starts to wend it’s way toward the lingo that is used at the uber expensive end of the market and I really don’t want anyone to associate me with that either.

The not wanting to be associated with things isn’t snobbery by the way. It’s more about making sure that clients know what to expect when they meet me. If I was feeling snobby, I would market myself as a “High class courtesan”. I’m not and sooner or later a client would meet me for the first time and die laughing. I don’t need that on my conscience.

Bradford

More daughters, sisters, girlfriends, wives and mothers taken before their time.

These girls were a target, not just because they were prostitutes, but specifically because they were street girls.

Any self respecting psychopath knows that if you want to go on a killing spree, you look amongst society’s lost folk for victims. If you’re looking for women to kill, then the obvious thing to do is find street prostitutes.

Why?

Because what they do is illegal, so they will hide themselves away. Out of sight, out of mind.

Maybe our hypothetical psychopath will strike it lucky, maybe his victim will be a runaway, homeless on the street and selling herself. If she has no home to go to, then she won’t be missed when she doesn’t return. Maybe, if he’s really lucky, she will have a drug problem as well. Maybe through her addiction she has isolated her self completely. Maybe the only person who will miss her is her dealer.

Why are these girls still out there? Making what they do illegal doesn’t stop them, it just makes them withdraw into dark places.

Why, in our enlightened society, where the AA and RAC will send a patrol at super speed to a woman on her own, where we are sent a text with details of our taxi after a night out so that we don’t get into the wrong car, are these girls left to hope for the best and fend for themselves.

Kick a little. Demand a change in the law. Not a law that drives them even further underground. A law that supports them. A law that lets them work together, in safety. The means to change their lives and get out of prostitution, if that’s what they want. Come on people… Kick a little.

A Note To The Scottish Tax Payer

Before I start:

Note to R. If you want me to take this down, then just let me know.

I noticed this on Punternet Forum earlier and it answers a couple of question that I’ve been asking:

Having looked at “10 Reasons” which another poster had drawn attention to, I used the “contact us” page to ask what/who the proponents were, and for references to allow me to check their “Home Office” statistics. Here is the answer that I received (which fails to provide links to the Home Office…):

Continue reading

If you do nothing else today

Then read this and your day will have been worthwhile.

While you’re there, read all the comments.

Thaddeus Blanchette says:

2 f 09 at 13:57

The more I look at this topic (prostitution), the more I come to the conclusion that the REAL point of repression is not to save women, but to maintain prostitutes in a subordinate, powerless position as much as possible.

This is why I find the Swedish model to be absolutely hypocritical.

In every other struggle for justice on the planet, it is clearly seen and noted that the main problem is empowering the oppressed. In every other struggle for justice on the planet, this means bringing the oppressed into institutional decision-making structures.

We have no trouble seeing this dynamic when the oppressed are landless peasants, urban squatters, ethnic minorities, workers, or indigenous groups. But suddenly, when the supposed oppressed are prostitutes, their so-called “allies” revert to a “noblise oblige” model where all power should be STRIPPED from the “victimized” group and placed in the hands of authorities who will supposedly act in their best interests – despite never having done so before.

It is amazing to me that supposedly left, feminist – even marxist – thinkers cannot see this contradiction.

Amazing 😀

Why have I not seen this before?

What are you still doing here? Go! Read!…