Toying with politics: A review of Melissa Gira Grant’s ‘Playing the Whore’

Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work, Melissa Gira Grant (Verso, 2014; $17.95CAN)
Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work, Melissa Gira Grant (Verso, 2014; $17.95CAN)

The cover of this manifesto on sex work shows three cogs in three fleshy tones, a penetrable central socket in each and high-heeled legs sprouting from them as they appear to grind against each other in a mechanically impossible formation, with no outside power to drive them. And what is missing from the book overall is any idea of what drives the business of prostitution. Even to discuss demand, according to Gira Grant, is to detract from the agency of sex workers:

The demand for victims, as anti-sex work activists describe it, is driven by men’s insatiable desire – not by sex workers’ own demands for housing, healthcare, education, a better life, a richer life, if we dare. Male desire is held up as a problem to be solved, and ending men’s “demand” for “buying” women is a social project to be taken up by producing alternatives for men – such as jail – and scant alternatives for sex workers – such as other forms of employment. It’s a smaller and more convenient problem to want to solve: who men want to fuck and how. It’s one that women who oppose sex work and sex workers’ rights can pretend – unlike poverty or racial inequality – that they have no role in, that they do not themselves benefit from. [pp. 42-3]

Gira Grant’s insistent refrain in this book is that sex work is work, and sex workers are entitled to certain rights in the course of their work. That focus on sex as a business makes the elision of the purchaser even more annoying than it might have been otherwise: few forms of employment have been devised solely for the benefit of those who perform them, and while it’s true that money provides motivation for sex workers, sex work can only be work if someone is willing to pay for it.

That someone is men. From the way she characterises the anti-sex work position above, I suspect that it’s Gira Grant who considers “men’s insatiable desire” the driver – where she differs is that she doesn’t believe this desire should be seen as a problem. But the anti-prostitution argument might hold, and more persuasively, that men do not buy sex because they are innately libidinous: instead, the punter is driven by a belief that he has the right to access women as a commodity because he sees women as his inferior, and he finds erotic gratification in a relationship where the social roles are clearly defined by a cash transaction.

In the anti account, sex work is less about pleasure than it is about power, but because Gira Grant’s book doesn’t acknowledge the issue of masculine social dominance, she isn’t able to respond to that argument. Where does Gira Grant think power is vested? In the state, acting through the police and judiciary; and in anti-prostitution feminists, who Gira Grant claims are allied with police brutality. In the passage quoted above, they’re also implicitly stated to be white and middle class, which seems a rather sly and false way to shore up the radical credentials of the pro-sex work case.

On the point of brutality, Gira Grant offers many examples of the abuses committed against women in the sex trade in the name of regulating prostitution, and if anyone is foolish enough to think that policing around the globe is an inherently feminist institution, this is a good book with which to disabuse yourself. The Indian sex workers who say they suffer more abuse from police than punters, the accounts of Cambodian round-ups: these are horrific. (They’re also examples of why end-demand campaigners are opposed to the policing of the women who sell sex.)

It’s unfortunate, then, that Gira Grant demands the reader accept her feminist-complicity hypothesis along with the fact of state violence. The women’s movement has long spoken out against police misogyny towards sex workers, on the understanding that as to prostitutes so to all women: the 1977 Reclaim the Night march in Leeds, reacting to the introduction of a curfew on women (not men) during the Yorkshire Ripper’s savage spree, is a totemic example of that.  You don’t have to accept the legitimacy of the sex trade to stand against the abuse of those involved in it, and given Gira Grant’s embrace of a harm-reduction ethic elsewhere, it’s strange to see her adopt a moral absolutism that excludes collaboration with potential allies on immediate and life-saving goals.

The book’s grasp of history comes up short in other ways. In the second chapter, Gira Grant tries to show that the identity of the prostitute is a culturally unstable one, invented that it might be controlled: “It’s the nineteenth century that brings us the person of the prostitute,” she writes. [p. 14] This is a welcome rejection of the tedious conservatism of the “world’s oldest profession” argument that is so often made in favour of sex work by self-proclaimed radicals with a blind spot for irony. But in chapter 6, discussing the use of technology by sex workers, she tells us: “In ancient Greece, certain classes of prostitute attracted customers by scoring the words ‘Follow me’ on the soles of their sandals […]” [p. 70]

You can’t have it both ways. You can’t claim that the prostitute is a Victorian innovation for the governing of sexuality, and then subsequently claim a continuity between the prostitutes of ancient Greece and those of Craigslist. There is one interesting observation to draw from Gira Grant’s commentary on prostitution and the wider economy, though, and that’s how much it resembles Gail Dines’ account in Pornland of a sex industry entwined with the hospitality, service and communications industries. Dines’ intention is to horrify readers with the level of capitalist complicity, Grant’s is to present sex work as a normalised part of the economy: both seem to agree that we live in Pornland, but only one is willing to imagine that there might be a better existence for women beyond it.

Gira Grant seems to see nowhere for women to fit beyond the sexual market. She writes: “[t]o truly confront [violence against sex workers] would require us to admit that we permit violence against some women to be committed in order to protect the social and sexual value of other women.” [p. 6] Even if an individual woman is not selling sex herself, in Gira Grant’s view that woman is offering a product in competition with that offered by sex workers, and anti-prostitution laws are to be understood as economically protectionist policies. Fuck Laws rather than Corn Laws, so to speak.

Actually, in the construction Gira Grant uses, the woman herself is the product – a possibly telling contradiction with other parts of the book where she insists that sex workers do not “sell their bodies” [p. 94] but instead provide a service. Neither the version Gira Grant dismisses not the one she offers in its place adequately characterises the sale of sex: sex workers don’t “sell their bodies” in the sense of handing over possession of a good, but reviews from PunterNet show that the men who pay for sex are very clear that the body of the woman is what they are paying for. What they buy is a licence for use of the woman’s body, for a certain amount of time and in a certain way (which many punters feel entitled to renegotiate during sex).

I don’t consider sex work a wrong to women because I think it affects my sexual value. I reject the idea that any woman should be given a sexual value at all. I consider prostitution a wrong because it places all women within an economic structure that prices them sexually: there is no comparable structure that women can place on men, because women have neither the capital nor the social power to do so. Gira Grant thinks that we must accept the legitimacy of sex work to make women safe; I think that as long as sex work is legitimised, men’s power over women is legitimised by extension, and women are made less safe.

Shared aims can and do coexist between these opposing positions, but to find them we have to be willing to look at the power that turns the cogs: the men who buy sex, and why they do it. Gira Grant displaces agency away from such men: “so long as there are women who are called whores, there will be women who believe it is next to death to be one or to be mistaken for one. And so long as that is, men will feel they can leave whores for dead with impunity.”

You might notice here that Gira Grant implies that women’s fears enable men’s violence, even though for women to be afraid of being mistaken for a whore, the male violence would logically have to come first. But Gira Grant cannot account for male violence around sex work, and the confusing call for “whore” to be adopted as a political identity with which Playing the Whore concludes is no answer to the abuses women suffer in a world where their bodies are a commercial commodity. Treating something as a game or a performance does not, after all, stop it from being viciously real to other people.

 

This review was originally published at sarahditum.com and is republished with permission from the author.

Meghan Murphy

Meghan Murphy

Meghan Murphy, founder and editor of Feminist Current, is a freelance writer and journalist. She completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog. Follow her @meghanemurphy

  • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

    I was so flabbergasted after reading that quote and that cover that it took me a while to go back to the rest of your article. Apparently jail is a viable alternative (??). And the first sentence makes absolutely no sense. Her actual position is apparently that “[t]he demand for victims… is driven by… sex workers’ own demands for housing, healthcare, education, a better life, a richer life.” That makes no logical sense! The demand for prostitutes to fuck is driven by prostitutes wanting housing and healthcare? What the actual fuck?

    • Jacobin

      What is actually so confusing about it? Some people actually need to work to earn an income in order to live or support further project in their life. I don’t know if you noticed it these days but basically all kinds of work are terrible and particularly service work.

      • cashmere mist

        “I’ll let you punch me in the face for a dollar” isn’t work, it is an act of dehumanizing desperation which only a cowardly monster of a man would pay his dollar and call a fair transaction.

  • sporenda

    There is no argument in this book that has not been repeated XXXX times by sex workers advocates, pimps unions, pro-prostitution academics and the like.

    This endless recycling of the same prostitution myths–agency of the prostitute, choice, not selling your body, selling a service etc–is so predictable, why even bother to review such an intellectually lame book?

    Reading these dumb rehashed stereotypes feels like eating vomit.

    • Missfit

      Absolutely!

      ‘In the passage quoted above, they [anti-prostitution feminists] ’re also implicitly stated to be white and middle class, which seems a rather sly and false way to shore up the radical credentials of the pro-sex work case.’ – again erasing the voices of Asian and Indigenous women collectives fighting sexual exploitation…

      This is absolutely boring…

  • morag

    For once I would love Gira Grant and other pimp apologists to recognize my and other women’s right to NOT be regarded as a whore. Many women don’t have that option because of our ethnicity, religion, and in my, case my desire for an education. Do they realize how terrifying it is to be an 18 yr old student and have a grown man approach you in the library asking “do you give blowjobs?” Not to mention that black and East Asian girls are viewed as women and are denied a girlhood- ie men justifying gang rapes and human trafficking on the girls’ “adult” behaviour. Let’s see how long before Gira Grant argues that teenage girls are more privileged than 25 yr old women because they have a more desirable “product.”

  • amongster

    i’m really glad i found feminist current and articles like this. i got so confused and depressed by the amount of posts on other feminist pages that glorify or at least justify prostitution. and it is so true, the reason why prostitution exists in the first place is never discussed and asking about the demand is always seen as derailing or as disrespecting the agency of the ‘sex worker’.
    i also get the sense that many activists, especially those who are personally involved in prostitution like gira grant, see abolitionists as women who are only afraid of losing ‘their men’ to prostitutes.

    by the way, i had heard of punternet and the-invisible-men before but just had a first look… don’t even know how it makes me feel. heartbroken i guess. one of the worst things is that i don’t even feel comfortable sharing this with male friends to make a point since i’m afraid such texts might even be arousing to some.

    anyways, thanks for this review.

  • E.S.

    I haven’t read the book, but (even as a sex worker myself) I can see how some would shake their heads at some of the things Grant writes. Judging by the quotes, she seems to contradict herself quite a lot and fails to choose her words wisely.

    However, I would like to make a point about the power aspect of sex work:

    The reality is that it is an exchange of power: they give us what we need (money,) and we give them what they want WITHIN our limits. The ones who push the limits are the ones who give sex work a bad name. The assholes, and rude clients…those who push boundaries until they break. They’re the ones who THINK they have the power. Furthermore, the more people try to emphasize the false claim that it’s the men who hold all the power, the more those men will think they do.

    • Missfit

      All work can be deemed an exchange of power in this sense, ‘I do this, you give me money’. Even the more exploitative one, as long as the buyer/employer provides any amount of money.

      The false claim is that sex is power for women. And let’s not pretend that sex work is just like any other work; you may encounter assholes in other lines of work, but you don’t have to lick their genitals, let them touch you everywhere and insert things in your body… These are the limits that are already pushed in prostitution only. To pretend that it means nothing is seing our body separate from ourselves, as a tool in itself for others (men) to use. This is a gendered balance of ‘power’, and everytime women are objectified for men’s use, it reinforces male power and entitlement.

      • http://gravatar.com/bossbrett Brett

        The mere fact that it requires some close body contact doesn’t change the fact that it’s work. For example,

        And let’s not pretend that domestic service is just like any other work; you may encounter assholes in other lines of work, but you don’t have to clean up their shit, dress them if they wish and scrub their floors on hands and knees… These are the limits that are already pushed in domestic service only.

        Yet we don’t see a ban on domestic service for hire, because that actually would inconvenience the white, middle-to-upper-class white folks who make up the most visible face of the anti-prostitution campaigns (as well as the strongest bastion of its political support). Same goes for physical labor in general.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Oh yeah. ZERO feminists are critical of the exploitation and abuse of the women of colour who do domestic work for white people in the West and the live-in caregiver program. None.

          • Dean

            There are precisely ZERO feminists advocating for the criminalisation of the purchase of domestic services. And that’s a credit to feminists – such a position makes no sense. It’s perfectly obvious that criminalisation of domestic service would only deprive very marginalised people (mostly women) of their livelihoods, even if it worked as intended, and in fact make their conditions of employment less safe. So it’s a genuine mystery that so many self-declared feminists are willing to condone the same “solution” when it comes to sex work. One suspects it’s the “sex” part that’s bothering them…

          • Meghan Murphy

            Um, if you’re talking about domestic workers (who are largely poor women of colour) and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, LOTS of feminists are involved in activism against that kind of exploitation.

          • Dean

            Perhaps I haven’t made my analogy clear… We both recognise that there is lots of abuse of domestic workers, especially migrant workers. But I take it that the appropriate response to those problems isn’t to attempt to shut down the industry altogether. Rather we do things like ensure employers comply with minimum wage and other employment legislation, we target abusive employers, etc. Also, perhaps more importantly, we legally empower workers, for instance by granting open-ended visas rather than visas that tie them to a particular employer (and therefore give that employer a lot of power over them). In other words, we adopt a nuanced perspective which recognises that many women may view domestic labour as the best of a lousy set of options, and try to protect them from abuse as they exercise that option.

            I see no such nuance from the radfem camp when it comes to sex work. The main policy being pushed there is the “Swedish model”, which would criminalise sex worker’s clients AS A CLASS, irrespective of the conditions under which they purchase services or their actual behaviour. This is directly analogous to criminalising employers of domestic workers as a class. This is not, so far as I’m aware, a policy anyone is advocating for, and I hope we would recognise it’s foolishness is someone did.

          • stephen m

            @Dean: Your “analogy” falls down immediately because you equate prostitution and work. Please take the trouble to read the many posts and comments indexed under the Tags: prostitution and/or Topics: prostitution at the bottom of the page. After you have read all or most of this earlier material you will discover why your comment is inappropriate and you might also feel rather foolish to have asked the question at all.

          • marv

            Dean, having penises shoved into you in various orifices is not equivalent to cleaning houses and tending to children and the elderly. You are also presenting a false notion of rad-fem and the Nordic method. The latter demands exit mechanisms and financial assistance for prostituted persons not simply criminalization of clients.

            On the subject of foreign and domestic worker, most rad-fems seek to abolish the hierarchical employer/employee structure with an egalitarian cooperative model, which would apply to all workers. Many rad-fems are agitating for a guaranteed livable income for all people within the capitalist system while acknowledging capitalism is a crime.

            Social equality is a unified whole, but regulatory approaches to oppression cut it up into fragments. This gives rise to the misapprehension that each social issue has a separate cause unrelated to the others. The limitations of such a perspective pre-empts reality, stunting our consciousness to find solutions that address the totality of inequality. Though sex, race and economic classes have their distinct features and origins they intersect and reinforce one another. Consequently they must be simultaneously opposed. Across the board abolition is the remedy. I hope you recognize YOUR “foolishness”.

          • Dean

            “having penises shoved into you in various orifices is not equivalent to cleaning houses and tending to children and the elderly.”

            OK, so first, let’s talk about the passive voice. Women (and others) who sell sex negotiate performing sexual services, some of which involve penetration. You don’t simply “have penises shoved into you”. The difference is as great as the different between negotiating sex with a partner and “having a penis shoved into you” in your private life. The difference, in both cases, is consent. Sex workers know the difference between work sex they’ve agreed to and being raped, i.e. being forced into the position of a passive object. By refusing to acknowledge this difference, you reinforce the common social perception that sex workers “cannot be raped”, which is precisely what makes it so difficult for them to access justice when they are sexually victimised. So stop with that.

            Secondly, sex work and domestic work are not equivalent in that the first tends to pay a lot more. Recognise that, however undignified you feel sex with strangers to be, some people might prefer the indignity of having sex with one stranger in a day to the indignity of cleaning toilets for 8 hours a day. Not to mention the indignity of caring for other people’s children all day while your own children wait for you. To work, under capitalism, requires compromises of our dignity all the time. Sex worker rights advocates are not attempting to deny this, merely demanding equal treatment.

            “most rad-fems seek to abolish the hierarchical employer/employee structure with an egalitarian cooperative model, which would apply to all workers. Many rad-fems are agitating for a guaranteed livable income for all people within the capitalist system while acknowledging capitalism is a crime.”

            This all sounds fantastic and we’re in total agreement. Note also that no-one is saying that sex work (or paid domestic work, for that matter) would exist in a perfect world. But I take it that these wouldn’t disappear from a perfect world because they were BANNED, but because there would be no need for them. If everyone were guaranteed a livable income, presumably they would opt for the most dignified and fulfilling work available. Possibly a FEW people would still opt for sex work (and domestic work for strangers) for various idiosyncratic personal reasons, but not out of economic necessity.

            So I suppose the question is, what makes you believe that you can short-circuit this process of building a more perfect world through criminalisation? I take it we on the left are generally sceptical of state coercion, especially when it is made to affect the marginalised and powerless. We don’t think we can improve the lives of the homeless by criminalising homelessness, or the lives of domestic workers by criminalising their employers, the lives of drug users by criminalising the drug trade. Why is sex work so uniquely “easy” that the lives of sex workers can be improved by criminalising clients?

            Maybe this is all a misinterpretation – maybe your critique of sex work fits into a broader critique of work under capitalism, and your solution is the same as mine, namely guaranteeing livable wages for everyone. But then why is the current legislative “flagship” for radical feminism the “Swedish model”, as opposed to, say, the campaign for a universal basic income?

          • marv

            “…maybe your critique of sex work fits into a broader critique of work under capitalism, and your solution is the same as mine, namely guaranteeing livable wages for everyone.”

            No, my critique of capitalism fits into a broader assessment of prostitution and patriarchy. Patriarchy precedes capitalism. In any case you are more sexist than even Marx.

            Give it up man. You are disgracing yourself and adding insult to injury towards women here. Whether the penis hangs to the Left or Right, women still get the shaft, literally.

            Read this if you dare. It applies to you irregardless if you exactly fit the category or not. http://makemeasammich.org/2014/04/25/dear-entitled-straight-white-dudes/

          • Dean

            Marv, I’m sorry you feel I’m taking up too much space – you’re right that I’m not entitled to dominate a space that women would prefer to keep their own. So I’ll stop posting after this remark.

            Briefly, I think you need to recognise that you and I are BOTH privileged in that we do not sell sex and so do not suffer the accompanying stigma and marginalisation. I am not attempting to mansplain over you about your own experience as a woman; I am attempting to amplify what they have said to me about their experiences as sex workers. My arguments have largely consisted of a) reiterating points made in the book under review, itself written by a former sex worker; and b) the experiences and perspectives of sex workers I have actually met. These arguments are not directed at defending patriarchy, they offer a competing view on how to tackle it. I count several sex workers as my close friends and allies and I hope you understand why I am passionate about promoting their point of view.

            In any case, you are right that these arguments shouldn’t primarily be argued by a man who has never sold sex. So, if you want to engage further, I encourage you to read Melissa Gira Grant’s book, and to read http://titsandsass.com/, which is written entirely by sex workers.

          • Meghan Murphy

            We published a review of Gira Grant’s book on this site and many here have articulated critiques of her work http://feministcurrent.com/7293/postfeminism/. We’ve read the ‘other side,’ we are very familiar with it. We came to our positions here, not out of ignorance or for not knowing about other arguments, but from reading and hearing all the arguments, considering the evidence, and deciding that what was being argued by Gira Grant et al was insufficient, illogical, lacking in evidence, or simply anti-feminist and not in line with our goals as feminists (and allies). Coming here as a newbie is totally fine, but it isn’t totally fine to assume we simply don’t know any better when we’ve been engaged in this debate, intensely, for years. You are the one who should do some reading — we’ve done it — try Kajsa Ekis Ekman’s book http://feministcurrent.com/8514/being-and-being-bought-an-interview-with-kajsa-ekis-ekman/ and Rachel Moran’s http://feministcurrent.com/7921/podcast-rachel-moran-on-her-book-paid-for-my-journey-through-prostitution/, for starters. Listen to Cherry Smiley’s recent talk about Indigenous feminism and the sex industry http://feministcurrent.com/8893/podcast-cherry-smiley-on-indigenous-feminism-colonial-violence-and-the-sex-industry/. Janice Raymond’s talk about her recently published book on prostitution is good too http://feministcurrent.com/8263/podcast-prostitution-not-a-job-not-a-choice-a-talk-by-janice-raymond/. I, myself, have written extensively on these topics on this blog http://feministcurrent.com/7143/there-is-no-feminist-war-on-sex-workers/ http://feministcurrent.com/4024/who-gets-a-say-the-sex-work-lobby-the-silencing-of-feminist-voices/ http://feministcurrent.com/3934/why-does-the-left-want-prostitution-to-be-a-job-like-any-other/ as well as in other publications http://www.vice.com/en_ca/read/decriminalizing-prostitution-may-not-be-the-answer http://megaphonemagazine.com/articles/422/aboriginal-women-are-overrepresented-in-the-sex-trade-is-there-a-way-out http://www.straight.com/news/572896/meghan-murphy-whats-missing-notyourrescueproject. I also recommend Sarah Ditum’s post on the ‘listen to sex workers’ mantra http://feministcurrent.com/8654/who-do-you-listen-to-on-listening-to-sex-workers/ and Finn MacKay’s post looking at the “abolitionist vs. ‘sex worker’ binary” http://feministcurrent.com/7758/arguing-against-the-industry-of-prostitution-beyond-the-abolitionist-versus-sex-worker-binary/

            Best of luck.

          • Dean

            Meghan, thanks for the constructive engagement. I’ve been asked not to dominate this thread, so I’ll keep my reply as brief as possible.

            Thanks for the various links, but I think you’re misinterpreting where my disagreement is coming from. We all agree that there are huge problems with abuse and coercion in the sex industry, and that it exists in a context of patriarchy, capitalism, racism, colonialism and so on. There are empirical differences – over the scale of coercive trafficking, over the effects of different forms of legislation, etc. But I think the underlying difference is over how the sex industry is theorised, particularly how we theorise the agency of marginalised people within these structures of oppression, and how we think about sexual agency and consent. The theorisation that MGG is drawing on, and which I’m attempting to articulate, comes from a tradition that is every bit at feminist as yours, and you do a disservice to everyone in the debate by characterising it as anti-feminist. Finn Mackay mentions Wages for Housework and the English Collective of Prostitutes briefly, but then puts them aside. Are we to infer that Selma James is now not a feminist simply because she disagrees on how to tackle the patriarchy?

            Specific points:

            – Why is Ekman’s book more important than Laura Augustin’s “Sex at the Margins”? Augustin has spent many years working with and speaking to, coincidentally, migrant sex workers in Spain. She hasn’t simply observed her roommate and (without any further conversation with her about it…?) immediately inferred that she’s a better expert on another woman’s life than that woman is herself.

            – “Listening to sex workers”. Why is the voice of one woman, Rachel Moran, who *used* to sell sex anywhere near as important as the voices of the, I dunno, hundreds of thousands of active sex workers represented by the NSWP? There are always going to be some disagreement, but on this point, active sex workers have made their *collective* voice abundantly and unequivocally clear in favour of decriminalisation. I’m sorry to play the gotcha game, but could you name *any* organisation representing currently active sex workers who favour criminalisation along the Swedish model…?

          • Meghan Murphy

            There are hundreds of thousands of women and girls who are being prostituted RIGHT NOW who do not have the privilege to participate in these conversations. And Gira Grant may consider herself to be a feminist but that doesn’t make her argument one that will contribute to the creation of a feminist world. You can choose to listen to whomever you like, but at the end of the day, the sex industry is not feminist and it does not and will never be about respecting and empowering women. Arguing in favour of normalizing such and industry or pretending that it is harmless contributes to the subordination of and violence against women and girls. But feel free to “listen” to whomever you like and promote whatever model/ideology you like on that basis and with that truth as foundation for your decision.

          • Meghan Murphy

            But having consensual, enthusiasctic sex with another human being isn’t a job? Also, when the industry is, like, mostly about abusing women than wouldn’t it make more sense to shut down the industry? Prostitution exists because of inequality — it wouldn’t exist if not for patriarchy.

          • marv

            Dean you keep stating you don’t want to impose yourself here but do it anyway which shows how insincere you are. Countess commenters have made the same defence of sex work on the Feminist Current and elsewhere over the years as you do.

            Historically, many slaves were proslavery. After thousands of years a minority voice began to call for abolition. There are women who don’t mind sexual harassment on the street because they find it flattering. There are women who think porn is liberation. There are women who love to be housewives. Does that make their choices unfettered from patriarchal social conditioning? Manyu of us here have been sex liberals at one time. We have since come out of our stupor. It’s called decolonization of the mind. Now move along as you promised.

          • Donkey Skin

            ‘Why is Ekman’s book more important than Laura Augustin’s “Sex at the Margins”?’

            It’s bizarre that Dean would come on here spouting Marxist theory to justify the sex industry, and then refer us to Laura Agustin, who is an ultra-libertarian and free-market absolutist.

            Agustin thinks that no labour conditions under capitalism should be criticised, as this fails to recognise that workers and especially migrants are active subjects who make rational choices about their work and conditions.

            She also thinks it should be legal for adults to buy and sell children for sex:

            “Most activists are eager to condemn and exclude ‘children’ from their demands, but childhood means different things to different people and in different places. And younger people who make their own decisions need to be respected. This is why blanket declarations against some activities based on age are questionable.”

            http://www.lauraagustin.com/enjo-kosai-compensated-dating-in-japan#comments

            She claims that women who are imprisoned in brothels, forced to have sex with dozens of men a day and moved around the country by traffickers may ‘prefer this situation’:

            “The relationship involving women who live inside sex establishments and rarely leave until they are moved to another place without being consulted receives the media’s usual attention, it being taken for granted that this represents a total loss of freedom. In many cases, however, migrant workers prefer this situation, for any number of reasons: if they don’t leave the premises they don’t spend money; if they don’t have working papers, they feel safer inside in a controlled sitution; if someone else does the work of finding new venues and making arrangements, they don’t have to do it; or having come on a three-month tourist visa they want to spend as much time as possible making money.”

            http://www.lauraagustin.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/LAgustin_Disappearing_of_a_Migration_Category_Migrants_Who_Sell_Sex.pdf

            And she’s compared the situation of such women, and indeed all non-documented people who are trapped in bogus debt-bondage to traffickers, to that of people with student loans.

            “The point isn’t that debt is all good or all bad but that it exists everywhere, and its bondage is often seen as lamentable, yes, but as acceptable – something people are meant to struggle to pay off as part of normal life.”

            http://www.lauraagustin.com/civilised-loans-versus-debt-bondage-and-slavery

            And hey, even slavery can’t be considered wholly bad according to Agustin:

            “Finally forced to recognize that slavery could sometimes represent ‘a better life’ (p. 199), he is nonetheless blind to the possibility that people in bad situations may be able to exploit them and is obviously ignorant of slavery studies far evolved from abolitionist reductionism. Slave narratives, slave archaeology, ethnobiology, and historical research all have illuminated social systems in which slaves were not wholly passive nor owners unidimensionally crushing. Coping, resisting, manipulating, strategizing, and creating culture form part of slaves’ lives.”

            http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/02/27/sex-trafficking/

            You may choose to align yourself with such views, Dean, but no genuine feminist – or for that matter Marxist – would.

          • Dean

            (Apologies to all who want to stop hearing from me – I feel I should reply if I’m addressed directly. I’m in any case out of touch for a week now, so this will definitely be my last post).

            I just want to point out that the “sex worker who would benefit from Swedish model” is, as far as all of you have argued, a purely ideological construct. You have decided that sex work is coercive by definition and then reasoned that the Swedish model is the best solution for that (note that this step doesn’t necessarily follow in itself). You then conclude that there *must* be sex workers who would benefit from the policy. The fact that you can’t find any actual sex workers who are *asking* for the policy is, what, just a minor inconvenience? I have stated very clearly conditions under which my view would be falsified (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falsifiability), i.e. if there were some substantial numbers of sex workers asking for criminalisation. Would you do everyone the courtesy of stating clearly what it would take for me to demonstrate that you are wrong? Meghan has actually said, in so many words, that any sex worker who speaks publicly is (by definition?) too privileged to be worth listening to. This is not only ridiculous, in a world where literally *billions* of people have internet connections, but looks like nothing more than attempt to simply avoid awkward facts.

            So regarding the NSWP, sure it’s a mixed bag. Some of them are health organisations, and there are different degrees of democratic involvement. But, you know, all of these organisations are at least doing grassroots work with actual sex workers and attempting to represent their voices. If you’re at *all* concerned with what actual sex workers are saying, you’d be listening to these various organisations instead of trying to pretend they’re somehow “unrepresentative”. Seriously, if you want to pretend you care at all about what sex workers are actually saying, what’s your alternative?

            And, btw, yeah, the IUSW are a bunch of crackpots who are an active thorn in the side of the movement. But speaking of the most embarrassing organisations in our respective camps, how about we talk about Ruhama, the big Irish “anti-trafficking” organisation run by the Magdalene sisters, the same people who actively enslaved (literally enslaved) thousands of Irish women in their laundries over the course of decades. These are the people your beloved Rachel Moran works with. So perhaps you’d prefer to talk facts and ideology, rather than embarrassing bedfellows, huh?

            Regarding Laura Augustin. She’s an anthropologist, so her method is to ask people about their lives and try figure out what’s going on. So yes, in circumstances where people tell her that chose this or chose that, some degree of her reporting is going to discuss their choices and agency. Sometimes people exaggerate how much agency they have in a situation, to avoid appearing as victims, but sometimes they also downplay their agency (if, for instance, they need services from a Christian charity that is disinclined to assist “unrepentant prostitutes”). Here’s a good summary of her position:

            “Do you believe the issues of race and sex work are mutually exclusive?

            LA: I’m not sure what you mean. People the world over take up sex work for thousands of reasons and are pulled into or attracted to it by their positions vis-à-vis class, race, ethnicity, gender. No single condition decrees how a sex worker will fare; to understand any individual you need to listen to their story.”http://www.lauraagustin.com/

            A good anthropologist will attempt to figure out the real story based on what people tell her, accepting that they’ll often be unreliable narrators. You can obviously criticise how well she’s done this. But I find it deeply ironic that you criticise her for her alleged ideology, given that you refuse, as I’ve said above, on ideological grounds, to do *any* of the work of asking actual sex workers about their lives.

          • Meghan Murphy

            “Meghan has actually said, in so many words, that any sex worker who speaks publicly is (by definition?) too privileged to be worth listening to.”

            No, I have not said that.

          • lizor

            @Dean – April 28th, 2014 at 1:25 am

            Laura Augustin, who calls herself “the Naked Anthropologist” is not affiliated with any department of anthropology, nor has she apparently studied the discipline. Her writings appear absolutely nowhere in anthropological literature.

            Not only does she bestow the title of “anthropologist” upon herself, her wiki page says that “She identifies with no nationality”. So essentially she just makes up her own shit, libertarian style, denying any and all context, even for herself.

            Any contemporary anthropologist worth their salt contextualizes the world of the field subject, and they also write with a degree of reflexivity which provides some transparency regarding the biases they themselves will bring to their ethnographic writing.

            Speaking of embarrassing bedfellows, Hannity and Glenn Beck share many of your patronizing attitude towards women. Reach under the sheets and feel the love Dean. Cheap shots deserve cheap shots.

            Your comment is pure mansplaining bullshit. Now why don’t you take everyone’s advice and try some honesty, humility and a little background research on what’s been said by “Dudes telling’ the Ladies what’s what” ad-nauseum before heaping more on that pile?

          • Missfit

            See, Dean is thinking he’s making a very clever argument by bringing up the old tired trope of ‘sex work is just a job like any other’, as if that was something we never heard before and have not deconstructed countless time. Also, he not subtly implies that we are indeed just a bunch of prudes, how original. Of course, he does not speak about rape (does he even understand what this term implies?), PTSD, addictions. He thinks cleaning floors is the same as having your body touched and penetrated by multiple men, having strangers’ genitals shoved down your throat. He thinks changing helpless babies’ diapers has the same value as grown men asserting their claim of domination over women’s bodies, indulging in degrading or sadistic fantasies over women’s bodies. He does not see a problem with women’s bodies being commodified as consumable goods, objects in and of themselves. See, Dean does not understand radical feminists’ points because he does not think patriarchy is a problem.

          • Dean

            Missfit, see my post above for a more substantive comment.

            I just want to say that you’re simply begging the question on the point of whether ‘sex work is just a job like any other’. You’re using emotive language to evoke the FEELING that something isn’t a job, without providing an argument. But you can do the same for almost anything. For instance, we can re-describe the innocuous-sounding “cleaning floors” as “performing endless, mind-numbing, back-breaking labour that permanently damages your body”.

            We can talk at length about the Marxist concept of alienation, but the bottom line is that, when you perform labour under capitalism, your body is a commodity you have traded for wages *whatever* sort of work you’re doing. The cleaner’s body becomes a machine for cleaning floors, the office worker’s body becomes a machine for moving information around. You haven’t given argument against this point other than your own personal feeling that sex is somehow different.

          • Meghan Murphy

            I don’t think it’s at all appropriate for a man to explain to women what is and is not the commodification of the body. You clearly have zero understanding or objectification and sexualization and how that perpetuates violence against women.

          • Dean

            I think the sex workers I know have a better understanding of objectification and sexualisation than you do, Meghan. Your whole theorisation of sex work depends essentially on the myth of “perpetual availability”, i.e. sex workers are perpetually available for sex, whatever kind of sex the client wants, totally on his terms. And then, you infer, this somehow teaches men that *all* women are perpetually available.

            In fact, it’s largely the opposite that is true – sex in a commercial context is a model for explicitly negotiated boundaries. Granted, what the sex worker gets out of it isn’t sexual pleasure, but at least it’s clear that she *does* get something out of it. It is *civilian* sex that is far more fraught with male entitlement and ignored boundaries. Every time a man demands that a woman in the street “smile”, or a man demands that his girlfriend have sex when she’s not in the mood, a man is demanding that a woman perform uncompensated sexual labour. And, he feels (and often she feels), he has the right to do this simply because he is a man. This is patriarchy.

            My friends who are sex workers say that they have become less tolerant of this male entitlement the longer they’ve been working, because they become accustomed to setting explicit boundaries and showing the door to men who are unwilling to respect them.

          • Meghan Murphy

            No Dean. That’s not how sexualization and objectification work. You don’t speak for women and you certainly don’t speak for prostituted women. Take your mansplaining elsewhere, thanks.

          • Missfit

            There is a difference between labour power and the body as a an object being acted upon.

            I think it is important for children in our schools, sick people in our hospitals, to access clean toilets. I don’t think it is undignified to produce this work and I think work and economics should be organized differently. You know what I don’t think is important? For men to exert their dominance over women’s bodies. You try to present everything as being equal and neutral but it is not and you dismiss real acts and situations (violence, PTSD, etc.) as being merely ‘feelings’, I mean FEELINGS.

          • Dean

            I think this quote is telling: “I don’t think it is undignified to produce this work”. What it reproduces is the ideology that a form of work is defensible only by reference its product, neglecting any value that it provides to the worker. This is why you radfems constantly claim that sex worker rights advocates are defending the “right” of men to have orgasms, when it’s entirely besides the point. Men have no more right to orgasms than rich people have a right to clean toilets. In fact, we defend the rights of sex workers and domestic workers because we respect their right to choose whatever form of labour is best, most dignified, in their particular circumstances.

            So, while I may be a man, I have the benefit of actually listening to sex workers about what they do and don’t find dignified about their work. Here are some examples:

            1) One friend of mine used to work 8-hour shifts in retail, while studying for a degree. This caused immense strain on her body and she found it extremely stressful dealing with management and customers. She was paid minimum wages and found it difficult to pay her bills. Sex work allowed her to earn much more money in less time. She also finds it less physically and psychologically demanding. Now that she has the option of sex work, she has said to me that she would demand the same hourly wage or higher to do her old retail job.

            2) Another friend of mine used to work in a bar. She was constantly sexually harassed by colleagues and customers. One thing she likes about sex work is that she is able to set clear boundaries with clients and have them respected. And if a client is disrespectful, she can opt not to see him again; she is not dependent on him for continuing income.

            3) Sisonke, the sex workers’ movement in South Africa, has a protest song that goes “My mother was a kitchen girl; my father was a garden boy. That’s why I’m a sex worker”. That is, the class background from which these women (and men) originate prepares them for lives of domestic servitude in the homes of rich white people. For them, the ability to earn an income from sex work grants them independence and dignity.

            This is not to say that you have to accept that sex work would be dignified work FOR YOU. You are totally entitled to have any FEELINGS about that you want. It is simply to say that you should respect why these men and women made the choices they have,

        • marv

          “The mere fact that it requires some close body contact doesn’t change the fact that it’s work.”

          You might feel differently if you had a penis thrusted up your anus or into your mouth.

          “Yet we don’t see a ban on domestic service for hire, because that actually would inconvenience the white, middle-to-upper-class white folks who make up the most visible face of the anti-prostitution campaigns (as well as the strongest bastion of its political support).”

          Utterly unfounded claim. Feminist prostitution abolitionists fight for the elimination of economic and race classes too. Indigenous and women of colour are leading the way in the movement.

          http://feministcurrent.com/5590/a-history-of-oppression-canada-colonialism-and-prostitution/
          http://feministcurrent.com/8065/marginalization-is-messy-beyond-intersectionality/

    • lizor

      Yes, you are right. There is an exchange. Pre-existing power hierarchies do not preclude an exchange between people who live on different rungs of a ladder. Powerful people do NEED the people they exploit, whether it’s cheap labour from people whose citizen status is vulnerable or the guy who “needs” a blow job. The person who provides does have power, but it is less than what the purchaser has and that relationship exists on a very uneven playing field.

      A deeply ingrained power hierarchy based on gender exists in the real world. It is the context within which prostitution operates. To name an obvious, indisputable power hierarchy that exists between men and women around the globe at this point in history is not the same as saying “men have ALL the power and women have NONE of it”. No one is saying something so ridiculous. With respect, you are inventing a position that does not exist and arguing against that.

      Yes, being able to acquire money is empowering. But to say “Furthermore, the more people try to emphasize the false claim that it’s the men who hold all the power, the more those men will think they do.” is dangerously false.

      By saying there’s a huge boulder rolling down a hill towards someone is not the same as pushing the boulder. You want to pretend that men do not hold political and financial and social positions of power over women, but that is not the reality. Insisting that the people who name an uneven playing field are the ones responsible for the tilt is shooting the messenger.

      No one is saying you have no power.

      To invent an egalitarian fantasy world because it’s convenient to you and to expect people (including numerous former sex workers) who want greater justice, less sexual and physical abuse, less poverty, fewer rapes and hate-based murders of women by men, to join you in your denial is unfair.

  • http://www.montrealcyclechic.com lagatta à montréal

    True, sporenda, but it is important to read such positions in order to argue against them, and struggle for real choices for women, in particular women facing particular disadvantage – such as Indigenous and racialised women, and women in dire poverty.

  • https://twitter.com/ManyfestoEditor T

    Pimps and brothel owners are included in her definition of sex work, johns are blameless and just as anonymous as they are in the justice system, so if women engaged in prostitution experience oppression then it seems clear they have only themselves or feminists to blame. Also, I’m sick of Gira Grant’s mealymouthed complaint that abolitionists do not have any alternatives for women engaged in prostitution. She is clearly aware that many of them are committed and vocal socialists, but perhaps this doesn’t count as she herself is a free market advocate and former writer for libertarian magazines.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Many of those involved in the sex work lobby like to present themselves as leftists and feminists — as well as sex workers, in many cases — not by describing the ways in which they do identify with leftist movements or outlining the ways in which/why they seek to build an equitable society OR by outright stating they are feminist OR by explaining how, exactly, they are in a position to take on the identity of ‘sex worker’ and, therefore, represent and speak on behalf of, you know, trafficked women or indigenous women working in the Downtown Eastside, but simply by being so vague that we are left to assume, by adopting leftist language like ‘labour,’ talking about ‘unions,’ etc., or in their attacks on actual feminists and abolitionists (i.e. labeling us as ‘colonialist,’ ‘oppressive,’ ‘conservative,’ etc.). It’s all very manipulative and, as we see from Gira Grant’s work, just smoke and mirrors — they want to distract people from what they are really doing (i.e. promoting and legitimizing male power and the exploitation of women) with buzzwords and slanderous attacks on women who actually do care about building an equitable world free of male violence.

      • http://feministhooker.tumblr.com E.S.

        I wrote a comment above, but I’d just like to ask…how exactly are we promoting male power if prostitution is (supposed to be) an exchange of power? With men hearing the kinds of things that you mentioned, it only tells them that yes, they do have the power…when really that’s not the case.
        You saying that we are promoting male power is the same as the opinion that when a girl wears skimpy clothing and gets abused, she was “asking for it.”

        • Meghan Murphy

          Prostitution exists because of, and reinforces, male power. I am certainly not arguing that prostituted women are ‘asking for it.’ I’m a little confused at that reasoning?

          • http://feministhooker.tumblr.com E.S.

            What I’m trying to say is the opinion that prostitution reinforces male power is what reinforces male power…not prostitution itself since that is, again, supposed to be an exchange of power.

            To better explain my “asking for it” reasoning, what I took from what you said is that you think we’re promoting exploitation of women just by offering services that we agree to. The ones who agree to it (like myself) are not asking the men to go around exploiting women. That’s the men’s doing.
            Here’s another example: taxi drivers. They get paid after the passenger has arrived to his/her destination. Does that policy promote scamming?

          • Meghan Murphy

            I don’t think prostituted women are promoting the exploitation of women — I think they are the women being exploited… I think that those who work to normalize, legalize, promote the industry as an empowering choice for women/a job like any other are supporting an industry that promotes and reinforces male power. Women who have to resort to prostitution in order to survive are not to blame here…

          • http://feministhooker.tumblr.com E.S.

            But you just said it again. My comment didn’t mean that the prostitutED women (the women forced into it) are promoting; I meant that opinions like yours are what reinforce male power. Saying that “prostitution reinforces male power” is WHAT reinforces male power. (excuse the all caps…no italics obv.) But do you understand where I’m coming from? The reality..what prostitution REALLY is and what is often forgotten is that no, the men do not hold all the power. There is an EXCHANGE. But the more people make comments like yours, the less men realize that it really is supposed to be an exchange. We are not encouraging them to be violent. The people who act like violence is a GIVEN in the sex industry are, unknowingly, encouraging violence.

          • Meghan Murphy

            I’m sorry but this comment makes no sense. “Opinions” like mine (do you mean feminism?) which say that prostitution is something that exists because of and perpetuates male power and violence against women do not reinforce male power. Pointing to male power and saying it is something that needs to end does not reinforce male power. Pointing out that sexism exists and is sexism does not reinforce sexism.

          • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

            “What I’m trying to say is the opinion that prostitution reinforces male power is what reinforces male power”
            The universe does not function on magical parameters. You can’t wish for things to be true. Yes, intersubjective agreement can create constructs and give them power, but wishing that prostitution empower women would not make it so.

          • E.S.

            I’m not simply wishing prostitution empower women. I’m trying to make it known that to SOME it is empowering and liberating. Who is anyone to deny us of our right to feel liberated? (Obviously only speaking on behalf of those who do indeed feel liberated. Can’t speak for anyone else.)
            So I’m not “wishing.” I’m speaking out to hopefully make the point that I’ve been stressing this entire time: it SHOULD be an exchange of power. I really hope I don’t have to say that again.

          • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

            “I’m not simply wishing prostitution empower women. I’m trying to make it known that to SOME it is empowering and liberating.”
            So what? You’re talking about individuals. Radfem is about systems of oppression. Any point about what individuals feel is irrelevant to the discussion on this radfem blog.

            “Who is anyone to deny us of our right to feel liberated?”
            I do not deny the right, but I deny the goodness of it. Feeling liberated as a slave is worse than feeling like a slave when you are a slave. FEELING liberated precludes ACTUAL liberation.

            “it SHOULD be an exchange of power. I really hope I don’t have to say that again. ”
            I hope you’d just leave, because you are way below your depth right now. Please just don’t say anything more unless you’re going to actually address the points raised by Meghan in her entry.

          • Laur

            I think there may be different usages of the term “power” here. As a woman, you do have less power than a man, especially when you are in a room alone with him, especially if you have never met him before, and especially if you are having sexual relations with him. This is saying nothing about the exchange of money.

            Of course the prostituted person is getting something out of the exchange–be in money, re-enactment of abuse, whatever. But such an exchange is positioned in a society in which gender relations are unequal.

            I would also add, that the person with the money always has more power in any exchange.

          • E.S.

            “Re-enactment of abuse”…are you kidding? How can you just make assumptions like that?

            Sure, there are a lot of workers who have been abused…NOT including myself. But for you to make a passive assumption about something so severe…saying “whatever,” it shows something terrible about what kind of person you are.

            I’m will say that I’ve been lucky. I’m aware that I have been privileged to have had the time to be able to take necessary precautions like asking my clients for references to other providers they’ve seen before. Not everyone has the time for that. So yes, I am one of the privileged few. But my opinions are still valid. I choose to look at it and carry myself as if the man does NOT have control over me. Because he doesn’t. And people should not go around saying he does.

            I’m not going to continue repeating myself. You choose how you want to see things. And you obviously choose to give the man that power you say he has.

          • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

            “You choose how you want to see things. ”

            That’s the problem. Some of us are interested in the truth. You obviously are not. Why even bother discussing anything?

          • lizor

            “Sure, there are a lot of workers who have been abused…”

            Um… that’s why she makes the “assumption”. Because it’s a fact. She did not say that YOU were an abuse survivor. You have no right to call Laur a
            “terrible” kind of person.

            Nobody said your opinions are not valid. But making up stuff that is not true as a baseline for your opinion is not valid in any context.

          • Me

            I wonder how does it make women safer to believe that men as a class don’t hold power over women?

            Doesn’t that kind of set things up for horizontal hostility between women, as always?

          • http://ramendik.wordpress.com ramendik

            “I would also add, that the person with the money always has more power in any exchange.”

            This part, as a generic statement, is demonstrably not true. There are people “sold a dud” in many exchanges – from buying used cars to paying for medical service.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Those with economic power have power over those without.

          • http://ramendik.wordpress.com ramendik

            This may be true as a general statement about classes. It is demonstrably not true as a universal individual statement, and the formula “the person with the money always has more power in any exchange” is just that.

            As an extreme counterexample to this statement as quoted, a mugger has power over the richer person they mug. (Though one can say it’s not an exchange). Even though *as a class* you can say the richer person’s group hold power over the mugger’s group, *individually* the mugger holds power.

            I’m very wary of applying class-based statements to individuals. Full disclosure: I grew up in the USSR seeing the consequences of a society based upon Marxist class analysis.

      • Anarcha

        People in the anti sex work lobby like to pretend that sex worker advocates are not real sex workers because it allows you to ignore us. What do we have to do to be “real” Do we have to prove our experiences even if doing so is distressing? Don’t you think it is perverse to ignore us unless we perform pity porn for you? Does my history of homelessness make me “real” enough for you? The 6 months in the last year that I was homeless for were real enough for my child and me but still I wasn’t “real” enough for antis to listen to. Does returning to work 3 days after having a miscarriage, while I was still bleeding, and risking infection make me “real” enough or am I only real if I parrot your prohibitionist ideology, even though that same ideology would leave me destitute? Oh, that’s right, even if I prove my “realness” to you, you can just write me off as too brainwashed by this so called lobby to know what is best for me. Lucky I have nice, middle class women like you to tell me what is best for my own good. Face it, your fight against sex work is all about you and your ego, if you cared at all about sex workers you would listen to us.

        • Meghan Murphy

          No one has pretended that you don’t exist and I’m not middle class. In order to comment here you must say things that are true or I will stop publishing your comments (see the comment policy). This is your first warning. Thanks.

          • morag

            What I want to know is, why are radical feminists always to blame for trying to take away the jobs of women in the sex industry, when it’s men who will stop seeking out your services once they think you’re too old? It’s not women who are making life harder for you, it’s your clients who are always on the lookout for younger, prettier woman who have cheaper prices and are “willing” to do more extreme sex acts.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Also, feminists are not in charge of jobs. WE are the ones advocating for social safety nets and things like universal daycare, a real, viable welfare system, free post-secondary, etc. The men in power are the ones disempowering women to the point where they are forced into prostitution.

        • stephen m

          @Anarcha: May I recommend an earlier blog entry:

          Arguing Against the Industry of Prostitution – Beyond the Abolitionist Versus Sex-Worker Binary

          http://feministcurrent.com/7758/arguing-against-the-industry-of-prostitution-beyond-the-abolitionist-versus-sex-worker-binary/

  • Rick

    Thanks for this review. I’m curious about how Grant talks about the historical development of the prostitute as subject. Though I haven’t read her account, I’m familiar with the argument (which she seems to be repeating) that it was the 19th century which created the subject of the prostitute as an ‘other’ which critiques the norms of bourgeois sexuality.

    However, this is a gross historical oversimplification of what is a much more complicated genealogy, which has more often than not found prostitution (as an institution) working quite comfortably alongside other repressive state institutions. Even back to the middle ages (and continuing into the victorian era) christian moralists (and later bourgeois state officials) saw prostitution as a necessary practice that allowed men to satiate their ‘natural impulses’ while protecting the ‘virtue’ of ‘decent’ women. The assumptions implicit in that kind of thinking are clear–that male supremacy is based on violence against women, and that that violence should be productively restrained rather than eradicated.

    The relationship between the powerful and prostitution was (and still is), of course, often much more explicit than that, as notes August Bebel writing in 1879:

    “If the public brothels could reveal their secrets, it would become known that their inmates, who are of lowly birth, ignorant and uneducated, but possessed of physical charms, have intimate relations with educated and cultured men who occupy prominent social positions. Here they freely come and go, public officials, military men, representatives of the people, judges, the aristocracy of birth and finance, of commerce and industry.”

    • Meghan Murphy

      In Kajsa Ekis Ekman’s book she talks about how (in the 1800s and early 1900s) the ‘whore’ was constructed as ‘other’ similar to the way people of colour were constructed as ‘other’ — scientists tried to prove that prostitutes had certain physical or biological characteristics making them ‘natural’ ‘whores’ — as in, like, it wasn’t a ‘job’ it was simply what you were. She writes: “The recurring theme was that the prostitute is defective, feeble-minded and degenerate.” (p. 45)

      “The assumptions implicit in that kind of thinking are clear–that male supremacy is based on violence against women, and that that violence should be productively restrained rather than eradicated.”

      Yes, exactly. The logic behind the sex industry says that men are unable to control themselves, ‘need’ sex, will act badly/violently if they aren’t provided with sex, etc.

      • http://feministhooker.tumblr.com E.S.

        Curious…do you agree with Ekman’s statement? That the prostitute is “defective, feeble-minded and degenerate?”
        To be quite honest, I agree with the term “natural whore,” as I can identify as one myself. But I could never wrap my head around why it is so looked down upon. Why, if someone chooses not to be tied down, should they be criticized? We simply like variety. It’s different. Sure, it’s “other.” But it doesn’t have to be a horrible “other.” Who are we hurting? Certainly not ourselves if this is how we are.

        I have to disagree with your “logic behind the sex industry” comment. That is, again, basically saying that we are encouraging men to act violently. We are not. That is the man’s fault and that is something he would need to get checked out.

        • Meghan Murphy

          “Curious…do you agree with Ekman’s statement? That the prostitute is ‘defective, feeble-minded and degenerate?'”

          What??? Of course not! Neither does Ekman! Sheesh. I’m getting a concern-trolly feeling from you, to be honest… Please prove me wrong.

          • E.S.

            This was a mistake on my part, as I didn’t read thoroughly enough comment you replied to. (I blame it on my newfound passion to actually step up and say something…sometimes tend to overlook details.)

            I’m really just trying to learn more about the opposing views on prostitution, since all I’ve known so far are the most common stereotypes that are given to us by society.

        • Laur

          Are you saying that exited women, including Rebecca Mott who spent 13 years in the sex trade and openly says it is inherently violent are encouraging men to act violently? If I say, “women are more likely to develop eating disorders than men,” encourage women to develop eating disorders and discourage men from doing so? What if I say, “people with a history of sexual abuse are more likely to commit suicide than persons with such a history,” encourage people with a history of sexual abuse to commit suicide?

          • E.S.

            Saying that “women are more likely to develop eating disorders than men” is based on fact and statistics. Saying that men have more power is solely your opinion. Unless you’re talking about physical power of course. In that case, they obviously are physically stronger than women.
            If you choose to think that men are stronger than women (other than physically,) go ahead and think that way. I just choose not to.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Patriarchy is not an ‘opinion.’ That’s like saying racism is just an ‘opinion.’

          • E.S.

            How do you ever expect to make a change when all you keep doing is giving in to that patriarchy you describe? Accept it if you want I guess. Choose to be inferior.

          • Meghan Murphy

            “How do you ever expect to make a change when all you keep doing is giving in to that abuse?”
            “How do you ever expect to make a change when all you keep doing is giving in to that racism?”
            “How do you ever expect to make a change when all you keep doing is giving in to that poverty?”

            How does this all sound to you? Make sense?

            Blaming the victims of oppression for their own oppression feels deeply fucked up to me.

          • E.S.

            Don’t say that I’m blaming the victims…I’m most certainly NOT. But I stand by the notion that you can’t make any change if all you keep doing is repeating the same thing over and over. Men have more power. Men have more power. Men have more power. What is that doing?

          • Meghan Murphy

            You must acknowledge that systems exist before you can fight them. How can we fight a system if we pretend it isn’t there/don’t see it?

          • http://twitter.com/SexAngelsUnited Laura

            Dear E.S., yes, thank you! I’m waiting to see comments about how horrible it is that people want sex to begin with (ESPECIALLY men).

          • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

            Again with the fantasy think. The fact that you refuse to think something does not make it vanish. The world is not Scientologyland and you’re not an OT who can as-is anything you want with three shakes of the e-meter needle. You’re a human being like the rest of us. Come down to our planet, ok?

          • E.S.

            Okay, so how else do you propose change be made? By repeating what is true at the moment? What will that accomplish???

          • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

            Stating what is true is part of what is needed, yes. What it accomplishes is tell people what is going on and try to break down their indoctrinated delusions (or in your case, self-enforced delusions). So they can take action in their own lives and in society.

            But you keep repeating that all we want to do is repeat it over and over (which is funny since you’re accusing us of doing what you’re doing). That’s not all feminists are doing. Feminists all over the world take direct and legal action to attack violence against women, rape, prostitution, pornography, and so on. The fact that you refuse to acknowledge this is not our problem. You have a very blinkered, Net-only view of feminism. There are women working out there every day to help female victims of violence.

            As an ally, my role is to address men and tell them to realize their privilege and what they can do about it. That’s what I’m doing. It’s not just “repeating the truth over and over.” It’s addressing what needs to be done.

          • http://progressiveantihedonism.wordpress.com pamelaofmelbourne

            “Saying that men have more power is solely your opinion.”

            It’s not a subjective opinion. There are actual things that give people power such as guns, money, control over the culture, ownership of important resources (e.g. food, water, oil), etc. and men (especially those who use prostituted women) tend to have more of these things than women do. Power is an objective thing (not a feeling) that comes from the sources I listed above and even men who do not have these things have been taught from an early age (either explicitly or implicitly) to be aggressive and ruthlessly self-interested. This is also a source of power for them.

            If you want me to believe that prostituted women are the ones with the power than prove to me that they have more of the things I listed than prostitution users do or point to some other source of power that prostituted women have. What is it that gives them the ability to make others do what they want (i.e. power)? Their oversized boobs?

            “In that case, they obviously are physically stronger than women.”

            I’m not sure if men really are more physically strong than women are by nature. Men are encouraged to do things that make them strong (e.g. play sports, lift weights) while women are encouraged to do things which weaken them (e.g. starve themselves, surgically mutilate their healthy bodies.) Even if men are naturally stronger than women the difference is probably increased by socially encouraged behaviours.

            “If you choose to think that men are stronger than women (other than physically,) go ahead and think that way. I just choose not to.”

            I don’t think people choose what they believe. They can choose what kind of information they’re exposed to though, which then influences their beliefs. This may explain why liberal idealists like you attribute magically powers to thoughts and demand that everyone else shut up. You think that if you are exposed to our “negative thoughts” you will be forced to acknowledge that what we’re saying is correct that you’re not as empowered as you think you are. If your feeling of empowerment was based in reality you wouldn’t be asking everyone else to sure-up that feeling.

            People who are confident that their beliefs match up to reality and can be backed up are not afraid of opposition (so long as it takes the form of rational argument, rather than cruel insults and death/rape threats.) Inability to handle disagreement is a sign that one is insecure in their beliefs.

          • E.S.

            Trust me, I can handle disagreements. I am not trying to force anyone to agree with me. I just want people to at least understand what I’m saying. Obviously no one on here does. All I’m hearing from everyone who is commenting is the same old thing. What are you accomplishing by repeating what’s true AT THE MOMENT. What are you accomplishing by accepting inferiority? Nothing.

          • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

            What are we accomplishing? We’re telling the truth and analyzing what are good and bad ways of changing reality based on that truth. What are you accomplishing, apart from deluding yourself?

          • E.S.

            But you can’t change reality if you don’t change your mindset. For example: my mindset is to take back the power that society is trying to take from me. I’m changing my mindset, therefore that will change how I operate. With self-respect. If more people did that, then a change could actually happen. I understand telling and analyzing truth. But at some point, you’re going to have to change something. The change might as well be taking on an optimistic mindset.

          • Meghan Murphy

            I’m sorry, E.S., but you seem very confused about how movements work and how one effects change. Imagining things away doesn’t work. You need to actively fight against dominant power structures. You also don’t quite seem to understand the point of feminism…

            You wrote that “The people who want to make a change, but ultimately accept that It’s Just The Way Things Are…and then continue to whine about it;

            and

            The people who try to make a change and refuse to fall into the mindset of the majority.”

            http://escortingsugar.tumblr.com/post/77086433843/there-are-two-kinds-of-people

            So here’s the things — abolitionists do NOT accept that this is the way things are. We refuse to. We believe in creating a different world. Meanwhile, you have argued that ‘this is the way things are and they’re never going to change’ by saying that prostitution has always been here and will always be here. This — like, what you’ve argued — is ‘the mindset of the majority — which is what feminists/abolitionists are challenging.

            You go on to say “How can you claim to be a feminist but still choose to see things as if women are inferior to men?”

            FEMINISTS DO NOT SEE WOMEN AS INFERIOR TO MEN. PATRIARCHY DOES. FEMINISM SEEKS TO DESTROY PATRIARCHY. THAT IS THE POINT.

            “How about you stop complaining and just change the way you think? More people might take you seriously…and you might even *gasp* change the world.”

            We, as feminists, HAVE ‘changed the way we think.’ That is why we are feminists. But that is not the same as pretending that the power structures that exist aren’t there.

            Are we clear?

          • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

            “But you can’t change reality if you don’t change your mindset.”

            You realize that reality operates according to cause and effect, not based on your fantasy world, right? It’s called reality. Look it up sometime.

          • Laur

            I don’t know how we can change things if we don’t name things as they are. We have to face and state reality so we can make a plan to change it.

            Do you think telling slaves, “you are just as powerful as your “owners” ” actually makes slaves as powerful as their owners? Would you say saying slave owners are exploitative and oppressing an entire class of people is just accepting inferiority?

          • E.S.

            That’s not the same thing. Slaves were OWNED. They were not paid. They were forced to literally have zero power.

            Prostitutes, however, have the power (even if they don’t realize it) to choose who they see and when they see them. That’s what I want people to realize. We do have a choice. It’s society that forces the view that we’re like slaves. (Feel free to check out my response to Misfit at the bottom of the page.)

          • Meghan Murphy

            Many, many prostituted/trafficked women and girls don’t actually get paid. And, getting paid does not give ANYONE power. That’s why we have unions.

            Also, if a woman is poor/marginalized, she really doesn’t have all that much choice over who she sees and when. She has to survive… The john is the one who has the power to abuse, rape, or murder the prostitute once she is in a room/car with him. And they take full advantage of this power, as evidenced by the extremely high rates of murder, rape, and violence in prostitution.

            The only solution that seems to work is to criminalize the johns and decriminalize the women — giving the women the power in the exchange, as she is doing nothing wrong and can easily go to the cops if the john tries not to pay or is violent, because he is already doing something illegal.

          • http://twitter.com/SexAngelsUnited Laura

            Dear E.S., yes, thank you. There’s sex workers that are of legal age that willingly choose the job. Why do some act like because a job exists that they don’t want to do they have to be part of it? I say just avoid it. Personally, sex work isn’t for me unless there was no other way to live. But, I have no right to say others can’t choose it. People have to be free to make certain choices.

          • Lo

            “you choose to think that men are stronger than women(other than physically,) ”

            It’s NOT a choice to say that men have more power than women (through gender/economical/cultural etc opressions).

            It’s just a fact.

          • E.S.

            Tell me. What are you accomplishing by repeating that “fact” over and over?

          • Lo

            First: No one is “””repeating””” anything.
            Feminists denounce everyday the different oppressions/inequalities against women.
            And Guess what? We have now the right to vote, etc etc.
            It is slow yes, but did You thought it would be easy to get rid of patriarchy or what?
            This just show how naive you are (or maybe you’re just trolling).
            How can you accomplish anything if you don’t understand how the society work from an unbiased point of view?

            What happens in society is studied, and there are inequalities/oppressions/etc whether you want it or not.

            We only need to repeat it to the ones like you who are acting as if there are no oppressions or no rape/sexist culture.
            Is it this hard to understand?

            If you think oppresions are normal (essentialism much?) or if you think that there are no oppressions because it suits your vision of the society, this is clearly a choice.

            Hope you understand the difference between your vision of the society, which is denying reality just because you’re fine with oppressions, and facts which are objective.

            Or are you saying that because it is hard to progress, we should act as if there are no oppressions (#BestIdeaEver),
            if so then tell me WHAT DO YOU ACCOMPLISH BY DENYING FACTS (oppressions etc)?

          • Maria Luisa

            Really? “saying that men have more power is solely your opinion”? The person that has the money has the power. And that’s not you, that’s the “client”, and in general, that’s the men. The “client” is the one who chooses, not the prostitute. If you think you have any power at all you are very deluded.

          • E.S.

            I have no power? I do not have the right to turn down client? I do not have the right to refuse a service? If a client has herpes, I do not have the power to tell him we won’t be having sex? I have absolutely no power?
            You’re ridiculous.

          • Lo

            Depending on the context, you can’t turn down every clients.
            They have what you don’t: money.

            Those clients, when they’re turned down somewhere, will search for another body, whether they have herpes or not, they’ll always find women to buy. And some women don’t complain when the client is aggressive or dirty, and this is something punters are proud of (just read what they say on the internet).

            Do you really think because you have the power to turn down a man with herpes then everything is alright? What about other women? What about the context? Aren’t you the one who is ridiculous?

            I don’t understand what you’re trying to do here, if you are an “individualist” and on top of that, essentialist, there is no point….

            I know you deny facts, but there are two points here:
            -women are oppressed by an economical situation
            -women are considered as sex objects because of our culture: women are objectified when men are not (not even hot men, you can read more here, if you understand french: http://antisexisme.net/2014/01/12/lobjectivation-sexuelle-des-femmes-un-puissant-outil-du-patriarcat-le-regard-masculin/)

            Our culture teach Men to deny women as their equal, this is why they no problem to have sex with someone who has no desire to. And the other hand women are told to please men to live. Don’t you think there is something wrong here?

            This is why most men are clients when women are not, their desire is considered as more important than our own desires.
            Add to this the oppressions between gender, the economy etc…
            Moreover With those cultural oppressions men have access to women’s body whenever they want, and they can get all the bodies they want, but again maybe it is normal for you?

          • Laur

            “If the public brothels could reveal their secrets, it would become known that their inmates, who are of lowly birth, ignorant and uneducated, but possessed of physical charms, have intimate relations with educated and cultured men who occupy prominent social positions. Here they freely come and go, public officials, military men, representatives of the people, judges, the aristocracy of birth and finance, of commerce and industry.”

            Public officials such as Elliot Spitzer? He refused to wear condoms, and was so violent that one of the women working at the escort agency said she never wanted to see him again. (Though apparently she didn’t have a choice).

            Funny how those “intimate relations” aren’t described. And I’m betting what actually goes on in prostitution is not delved into in MGG’s book either. Funny how that works.

    • Laur

      “If the public brothels could reveal their secrets, it would become known that their inmates, who are of lowly birth, ignorant and uneducated, but possessed of physical charms, have intimate relations with educated and cultured men who occupy prominent social positions. Here they freely come and go, public officials, military men, representatives of the people, judges, the aristocracy of birth and finance, of commerce and industry.”

      Public officials such as Elliot Spitzer? He refused to wear condoms, and was so violent that one of the women working at the escort agency said she never wanted to see him again. (Though apparently she didn’t have a choice).

      Funny how those “intimate relations” aren’t described. And I’m betting what actually goes on in prostitution is not delved into in MGG’s book either. Funny how that works.

  • Missfit

    @ E.S.

    Let’s say that when feminists talk about prostitution they are not necessarily talk about you personally, and I’m sure you agree that experiences in prositution are diverse. Let’s say that we are more concerned about the multitude of women who suffer physically and psychologically for being in prostitution due poverty, because of coercion, the ones who suffer because of what prostitution demand of them, those who are caught in patterns of sexual abuse since they,re young, who work in prositution as teenagers. Unrestrained demand results in more of these women; what should we do about that? Should we even care? Should we just say to these women to choose to look at things differently and to choose to feel a certain about them? The power of choice! I guess then any instances of injustice and inequality can be solved this way, by choosing to see them as just and equal.

    Do you think that the sex industry affects the way men and women view each other and themselves, how they forge their sexuality? What do you find so liberating and empowering, as a woman, about giving any man (like the ones on punternet for example) orgasms and comfort? If it is just about making a living, then I guess any line of work can be called ‘liberating and empowering’.

    • Missfit

      And I just want to emphasize that I would really like an answer to my last question because I heard a lot about liberating and empowering claims from some sex workers and I would really like for somebody to elaborate on it because I can only see same old feminine servitude. And by the way, I did experience prostitution years ago and I am trying to understand the psychology behind the claims of liberation…

    • E.S.

      Thank you for this mature reply.
      “Unrestrained demand results in more of these women; what should we do about that?” This issue is as complex as complex gets. Because what CAN we do? There’s no surefire way to help these women lead the kind of life that they’d prefer. As cruel as it sounds, and it sounds very cruel, not everyone can make it in this world. I’m a strong believer in the Darwinian Theory of Natural Selection.

      The first thing should not be to tell the women to look at it differently. It should be to tell the men to TREAT the women differently. Understand? Prostitution will be around forever. We need to urge that sex workers be treated with respect…like human beings.
      Now, I know. Not everyone wants to be a prostitute. Because sex is something that is sacred to some…something that they only want to share with a significant other. That’s fine. But those should be the people who should NEVER enter the industry. Those should be the people should rather be on welfare or something than prostitute themselves. But if prostitution were a more respected industry, should those people HAVE to do it (as in desperately live or die NEED to,) then don’t you think they’re mental state wouldn’t suffer so severely? If they didn’t have to go into it knowing how horrible people will look at them?

      I don’t want to sound like the devil or anything, but it does have a TON to do with your mindset. Should you A) go into prostitution and be forced to feel horrible about it or B) go into prostitution and make it work for you…set a goal for yourself so that when you get out, you have a future beyond this.

      Think about the porn industry. There are very respectable porn companies, then there are the ones who don’t give a shit about the performers. Which ones do you think cause the stigma attached to porn? If there were more respectable sites, then maybe porn wouldn’t have such a bad name. Of course, there will always be people who oppose porn in general, but hopefully you get what I’m saying.

      Personally, I find it liberating to be able to flip what is so looked down upon and make it work to my advantage. I find it liberating because I essentially own my own business (insert snickers from the peanut gallery.) But I do. Personally, I have always loved sex and have always been intrigued by sexuality, so to be able to capitalize on that is empowering to me. I find it liberating to know that as much as I do like what I do, it’s only a means to an end in the long run. Can’t do this forever.

      • Meghan Murphy

        “The first thing should not be to tell the women to look at it differently. It should be to tell the men to TREAT the women differently. Understand? Prostitution will be around forever. We need to urge that sex workers be treated with respect…like human beings.”

        We are telling men to look at women differently by fighting the objectification and sexualization of women and by telling men that they are not entitled to access women’s bodies simply because they have the urge/can pay. Women are not things to be bought, sold, or consumed. This is what we are saying.

        Prostitution has not been around forever and will not necessarily be around forever. Indigenous women were not prostituted until European men came over and prostituted them. It sound as though you are the one who has given up on change or on a better, more equitable world.

        So long as women are prostituted, men will not see them as full human beings — they will see them as things to be bought and sold and used.

        • E.S.

          Also, were you kidding about the whole European thing? You do know that the history of prostitution goes back WAAAAYY further than that. If you weren’t kidding, I seriously regret having this argument with you since you obviously don’t know what you’re talking about. Look it up.

        • E.S.

          Newsflash: Humans are sexual beings. My job capitalizes on that…but it’s just that. A job. Outside of my job, there are many sides other than sexual. So I have not given up on change. Outside of my job, I carry myself in a way to be taken seriously. Because I am not working outside of my job (repeating so you’ll get it by the way.) Outside of my JOB, I automatically demand to be seen as the “full human being” that I am. Tbh, even while I’m working, I’m often expected to be a “full human being.” So now that I’ve explained that it’s a JOB, I’ll repeat I have not given up on change.

          Do you expect a cashier to only know how to be a cashier? Or to only be treated as a cashier??

          • Meghan Murphy

            “Outside of my job, I carry myself in a way to be taken seriously. Because I am not working outside of my job (repeating so you’ll get it by the way.) Outside of my JOB, I automatically demand to be seen as the ‘full human being” that I am.'”

            How does this work for victims of rape or street harassment? Are they simply not demanding to be “seen as the full human beings” they are? How do you control how men see you?

            “Do you expect a cashier to only know how to be a cashier? Or to only be treated as a cashier??”

            Cashiers are not oppressed as a group/class and regularly subjected to violence on account of being cashiers…

      • Donkey Skin

        Holy fuck. Missfit asks you what you would do about all the raped, abused, coerced, enslaved and underage women and girls caught in systems of prostitution, and your answer is, ‘I’m a strong believer in the Darwinian Theory of Natural Selection’?

        I think everyone on this blog should be finished with you.

        • E.S.

          a continuation of my first reply to Donkey Skin’s comment: I do admit that I should not have used that as my first point. But if you read the rest of my comment, you’ll see that I made my point.

        • E.S.

          Looking back, you are right about my mention of the Theory. I should not have said that. But don’t make me out to be evil before reading the rest of my comment…because I still stand by what I was trying to say.

        • lizor

          Yeah, E.S.’s mindset is very troubling. I guess E.S. would condemn those of us on this forum who have survived rape for not pretending a magical alternative history and for holding the rapist accountable – because there’s no reality, just what E.S. wants to pretend.

          I can’t help but wonder about the degree to which this profound denial and unwillingness to acknowledge the real world facilitates and/or is a byproduct of the “power exchange” E.S. is so hopped up about. (I’m also thinking that E.S. might possible be a dude and even more possibly a John)

          I would appreciate hearing from someone who has experience in this.

          And E.S. – as for my rape being a manifestation of “the darwinian theory of natural selection”: that is a disgusting and inhuman thing to say to me and to the other survivors here.

          Please take your offensive solipsism and go away.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Well, to me it sounds similar to all those white, male, New Age douchebags who say things like “I don’t see colour, I see humans!” Or, like, imagine that because they say they believe women and men are “equal” (who really knows what they mean when they say that) it makes it so (despite the fact that they only treat women well who behave passively or don’t challenge them — I’m fairly certain many of us have encountered these kinds of men… They also tend to talk a lot about how much they love women and how magical and beautiful their baby-making bodies are!).

            I share your concerns with regard to how widespread this kind of “denial-as-a-way-to-effect-change” mentality is… I know for certain this is a product of individualism/American neoliberalism — wherein people have been told to “pull up their bootstraps” so many times and feel they have so little to work with in terms of working towards an equitable world that they turn to self-help, convinced that if they just think positive things will actually BE positive. It’s quite destructive (on an aside, Barbara Ehrenreich’s book, “Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America,” is good on this, for those who haven’t read it.) and most certainly undermines actual movements, convincing individuals they don’t need collective organizing, because they can just fix things for themselves in their minds. Certainly a good trick on the parts of the powers that be.

          • lizor

            I could not agree more and thank you for pointing that out. It’s “The Secret” on steroids.

            Of course the sex-worker-as entrepreneur-fits hand-in-glove with the neocapitalist downloading the cost of former state-run social programs onto the most vulnerable. You’re not an employee, you’re a contract worker and therefore can enjoy freedom from the tyranny of pensions, health benefits, sick days and so on. The promotion of “manifesting your reality” supports that systemic economic exploitation beautifully.

            And that Ehrenreich book is fantastic. Actually all of her writing is wonderful.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Yes! Ehrenreich is amazing.

            “Of course the sex-worker-as entrepreneur-fits hand-in-glove with the neocapitalist downloading the cost of former state-run social programs onto the most vulnerable. You’re not an employee, you’re a contract worker and therefore can enjoy freedom from the tyranny of pensions, health benefits, sick days and so on. The promotion of “manifesting your reality” supports that systemic economic exploitation beautifully.”

            Totally. Michael Laxer got at this a little bit here I think:

            “What’s troubling about the discourse surrounding ‘sex as work’ or prostitution as a ‘free choice’ individuals make, is that, while positioned as a progressive argument, it’s actually grounded in notions of the free market as both liberating and an equalizer. Under this ideology, ‘anything is ‘fair’ because, no matter how demeaning, dangerous or awful the work, you ‘chose’ to do it and therefore it is a part of your freedom,’ Laxer says.” (http://www.straight.com/news/572896/meghan-murphy-whats-missing-notyourrescueproject)

            Choosing = freedom under neoliberalism, which is also why E.S. believes that she can “choose” to see the world in a particular way and that if she “chooses” to see prostitution as empowering and “chooses” to be seen as a “full human being” it will work. We’ve been made to believe that we, as individuals, control our own destiny, which weakens us because we then believe we don’t need to work together towards our collective freedom because, after all, our oppression isn’t systemic, it’s simply a frame-of-mind.

          • morag

            Grant’s version of reality reminds me of this article http://theger.wordpress.com/2009/10/16/okay-so-check-this/

            Apparently Rebecca Mott and other women like her are responsible for their own victimisation, since if they were just nicer to all the sex worker advocate blogs they would be published. It’s also their responsibility to advocate for women who enjoy the sex industry, since their trauma means nothing and they of course have the time, resources, and energy to cheerlead for a woman who flaunts her privilege. The pornsick dudebros and plastic handmaidens on that thread disgust me.

          • http://libertynothedonism.blogspot.com.au/ Independent Radical

            Since E.S.said she wouldn’t respond to anyone but Meghan, I’m going to ignore her for the moment and make a point about “Bright-Sided” and the critique of positive-thinking.

            I haven’t read Ehrenreich’s book, but I have listen to talks she’s given about the book. I really like what she has to say. In particular her story about how she was told to “think-positively” about her cancer, to reinterpret as something positive so that she could be cured from it (which is pretty contradictory if you think about it.)

            I wonder if Ehrenreich’s arguments can be applied to disability activism. Disability activists nowdays tell people to see their disability as a positive opportunity for self-development and as something that makes them special and unique. They think that all problems people with disabilities face come from social discrimination and people failing to realise how empowered disabled people are (sound familiar?). I’m not denying that disabled people face discrimination, but I think that being unable to walk (for example) is a problem on it’s own, not something that should be reinterpreted as an empowering opportunity.

            Does anyone feel the same way I do? Because right now I feel totally alone in my thinking. At university I’m surrounded by positive-thinkerists and I’m often told to shut up because my viewpoints are “offensive” (I’m talking about my truth-oriented viewpoints in general, not just my viewpoints with regard to disability activism.) Is anyone challenging the current disability activist dogma?

          • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

            You are not the only one. By far!

          • E.S.

            Please. 1) I have since apologized for the Theory mention. My apologies were not posted/are not being posted correctly by the moderator. I would never excuse rape or abuse. Ever. I have since admitted that the Theory was not the best thing to say. I explained more in my last post at the bottom of the page. 2) I’m not a guy. I’m a female sex worker.

          • Meghan Murphy

            I am posting your responses as quickly as I can, E.S. There are a lot of them and it’s hard to keep up.

      • Missfit

        ‘As cruel as it sounds, and it sounds very cruel, not everyone can make it in this world. I’m a strong believer in the Darwinian Theory of Natural Selection.’

        Well we don’t strive here for the survival of the fittest in a capitalist patriarchal white supremacist system, we strive for the survival of everybody and we don’t want to adapt to this system, we want to change it.

        Porn companies treating their performers respectfully is surely something I will never argue against, but if the end product is women being called bitches and shown near vomiting for having dicks shoved down their throats (and all the misogynist violent female submission usuals), porn will still have a bad name.

        It is not looked down upon for women to sexually service men. Women are looked down upon. Men who look down upon women are more likely to go see prostitutes. If men saw women as human beings, the sex industry will not proliferate like it does.

      • Candy

        On another note, that’s definitely not the only reason porn has a bad name, though clearly the conditions tend to be shitty in a lot of porn, especially gonzo. It has a bad name because of the content as well. Girls who get called dirty whores for a living (by men, generally) are generally not going to be respected, nor is their profession going to be seen as respectable. When I talk to men, this is a major reason they personally place a stigma on it.

    • E.S.

      Also, I’m not saying choose to see abuse as equal. Abuse is never okay…ever. The only thing I can say about abuse is that people need to STOP abusing.

      What I’m saying is that if people urge respect instead of trying to get rid of the industry altogether, then a change might be made.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Can you provide an example of a system/model wherein this “respect” of women in prostitution has been “urged?” When it’s very clear that men do not respect women in prostitution and, more generally, don’t respect women as full human beings (which is why they are seeing prostitutes in the first place), how do you propose we implore men to respect the women they don’t think of as equal/full human beings? Without feminism? You think violent men are simply going to volunteer to stop abusing prostitutes because we suggest it to them nicely?

  • E.S.

    For goodness sake!
    I’m appalled at you all’s mindsets. What are you accomplishing by repeating the same thing over and over and not DOING anything to change that? At least by me having a mind of my own, that’s a start! I’m choosing to look at the glass half full. Saying, hey…I DO have power. Even if it’s not “as much as I think,” as someone commented. It’s still something. I’m choosing to take whatever power I have and use it to uplift me. Why the hell would anyone try and take that away from me?
    You call yourself feminists, but all I’m hearing are people who have a This Is Just The Way Things Are mindset. Well fucking DO something about it then. Stop complaining. Sheesh.

    • Meghan Murphy

      “I’m appalled at you all’s mindsets. What are you accomplishing by repeating the same thing over and over and not DOING anything to change that?”

      May I introduce you to the feminist movement?

      • E.S.

        That’s a lot of things…but a “movement” is not one of them. You all aren’t moving anything.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Good point. You’ll notice women still don’t have the vote, still can’t work or own property or have credit cards, still are considered the property of their husbands, still can’t go to university, still don’t have reproductive rights, and are still expected to endure rape and abuse in their marriages. You’re right. Feminists have ‘moved’ nothing.

          Please educate yourself. You should be ashamed. We are all indebted to the women who came before us, who fought for the rights we have today. The feminist movement has been, arguably, the biggest and most impactful movement we’ve witnessed to date.

          • E.S.

            I was referring to this argument. This argument is “moving” nothing.
            Do you really think that I don’t appreciate the real movement? Come on…

          • Meghan Murphy

            Nope. What you were responding to was this:

            “Meghan Murphy – February 18th, 2014 at 4:57 pm

            ‘I’m appalled at you all’s mindsets. What are you accomplishing by repeating the same thing over and over and not DOING anything to change that?’

            May I introduce you to the feminist movement?”

            This is the comment you were responding to. We are talking about the feminist movement. If you made a mistake in your response, say so.

      • E.S.

        This is in reply to your “Are we clear?” comment way above:

        There is a time and place for everything. I just so happen to understand and be okay with the fact that, when I’m working, that’s the time and place for a man to relieve his sexual needs (WITHIN MY BOUNDARIES) as well as needs for companionship. But I am more than my job, as is everyone. I’m also a massage therapist (post training/pre licensed.) That’s the time and place for someone to come and relax or get treatment. But I’m more than a massage therapist.

        I knew going into this debate (or whatever you want to call it) that in the end, we’d agree to disagree because you don’t believe my job should even exist. And that’s okay. I’ve learned a lot from these opposing views and that’s exactly all I intended to do…learn.

        I understand exactly what you’re saying. But as I said to someone earlier, my intention was not to make anyone agree with me…just for my voice to be heard and not shut down as if what I’m saying doesn’t make sense just because it’s not your opinion.

        Also, can you please publish my “Newsflash” comment? Thnx.

        • Meghan Murphy

          It’s less that we don’t ‘think your job should exist’ and more that we don’t think male power and female subordination/male violence against women should exist…

          No one’s telling you that you can’t do this job. Johns aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. But what we ARE saying is that it is not men’s right to access women’s bodies for a price, we ARE saying that male violence should be criminalized, we ARE saying that we want a world that doesn’t seen women as things that exist for male pleasure, and we ARE saying that we want better options for women.

          • E.S.

            I’m sorry, but you contradicted yourself by saying you’re not telling me I can’t do my job…but then saying men shouldn’t access women’s body for a price. That’s exactly what I’m doing…letting them access my body for a price.

            I agree with you on the fact that women should not be seen as things that EXIST for male pleasure. But it would be unrealistic to think that pleasure is not eventually going to be a need, wouldn’t it? I explained more about that in my “Newsflash” comment, when I said that my job satisfies those needs. Outside of my job, I am not existing solely for male pleasure. After the session is over, so is the fantasy that they hired me to fulfill. I go on to live my life.

          • Meghan Murphy

            I’m not sure all women are able to separate their bodies from their minds as easily as you say you can here… If you speak with women who have exited prostitution they will often say that, of everything inflicted upon them, it was the psychological damage that had the worst impact on them.

    • Missfit

      Well something I’m not gonna do anymore is trying to change my mindset to fit patriarchy. And this is why I became a feminist. Our perspectives are very different because amongst everybody who comment here, I find that you are the one who demonstrate the ‘this is just the way things are’ mentality…

      • E.S.

        First, I’d like to say that the moderator is not publishing all of my posts. So that is automatically not fair to me.
        I want to be done arguing and I made some very valid points that were not published, that is out of my control. I’ve apologized for a few things I’ve said, such as the Darwinian Theory mention. But…
        Do you mean that I’m demonstrating “This is just the way things are” by saying that sex workers should be respected? Because that’s all I’m really trying to say. That our JOB should be respected? And that outside of our JOB, we should still be respected as human beings who are more than just our JOB (just like everyone is more than just their JOB.)

        • Missfit

          I don’t know of any feminist who don’t respect sex workers as human beings. It is the men like the ones on ‘the invisible men project’, the clients, who don’t. You might go on punternet asking for respect, you don’t have to argue this with us, we know and we do. But I’m afraid this won’t change because the sex industry is based on the premise that women are subservient to men, and that this inequality is sexy, and that humiliating and hurting women is sexy (i’m sure you’ve looked at porn…). Not very conducive of ‘respect’.

          You talk about humans as sexual beings, you talk about it being just a job, you never address how gender relations are constructed; what do you think of patriarchy? Of course you are more than your job and you do plenty other things. But after your job is done, after the fantasy is over, men still go in this world with the acquired and reinforced knowledge that women are there to satisfy their needs. Will they have a more difficult time accepting a woman telling them no, a woman having authority over them? I don,t believe in compartmentalization, I belive everything is connected.

          You mentioned your power to refuse any client… I don’t know how that works… When I worked as an escort, I was in a hotel room, knock knock on the door, I didn’t know who was on the other side (if not a regular). I never refused anybody if he was not of my liking and never did I heard of such a thing. The client was the one who could refuse me if I wasn’t pretty enough to his liking. Then what, after he got rid of his pants, I’d say ‘ouh, I don’t like that smell, please go?’ No. A man being rejected by a prostitute?? A woman whose job is to service any man? Who knows how violent such a man could become then? A prostitute do not refuse anyone, it is her job to service any man, the ugly, the weird fantasy… This is the point of this industry. I know you would like this to change, you may be in a privileged position that allows you to be discriminatory, to put certain limits, but I’m afraid that on a larger scale, prostitution can’t be reformed. Because the prostitute is the woman who can’t say no. In countries where it has been legalized, brothels have become very competitive, they offer girls who will do anything the client wants for a flat-rate. It is what the men, the clients, want that drive the industry. This is the nature of this industry. Where’s the power here? And men want young girls. Even though I was like 22 years old when I worked as an escort, I was advertised as being 18. This is what we want for women, for our girls, a world that sends them the message that they can be bought for men’s use? What happened to equality?

          • Meghan Murphy

            Thanks Missfit. This comment says it all.

          • E.S.

            The refusing takes place before the client gets to you. That is where taking precautions comes in. If you value your safety, you take precautions. Just like security cameras in shops, that’s taking a precaution. Precautions being ask clients for references to other workers. Precautions being job verification. I KNOW that prostitution accepts the ugly, the weird fantasy..I’ve written about it! I don’t mind what my clients LOOK like. I mind how they act.
            If by privileged you mean I take the time to screen my clients, then yes I’m privileged. But who’s saying other workers can’t do the same thing? That’s one way to demand respect. I require a reference to see a client. I’m letting them know I value my safety. I’m NOT saying workers who do this don’t value their safety, I’m saying they could LET IT BE KNOWN THAT THEY DO. Sure, it might result in less clients. But it’s always better to be safe.
            Meghan commented below that if we have to take precautions, doesn’t that say something about the industry. Well hello! All jobs require precautions! Yes, nothing is foolproof. But it is a start. And the more workers hear this and realize they have the POWER to screen, the more we as workers enforce that power to screen our clients by asking for references, the more clients will wake up and see that we take our safety very seriously.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Does the pimp or madam let you refuse? How does that work? You all negotiate? I doubt it…

          • E.S.

            I don’t have a pimp or madame. But when I did work for an agency, yes I was free to turn down a call. As I said to Misfit in the comment below, this is what should be the norm. Clients realizing we take our safety seriously by taking whatever precautions we need to, agencies need to better protect their workers, these are the things that need to happen. It would be a slow process, but it can happen.

          • Missfit

            References? How does that work? Where I worked, the receptionist took the calls (the agency’s number was advertised in the local newspaper), it was the client who asked the questions and they usually didn’t even give their real names. I got also a lot of tourists in Montreal. You ask for references from whom, other sex workers? And then what? You tell the client that you will make background checks and call him back? How long does it take to reach the references? Usually, when a client calls, he wants an appointment as soon as possible… I don,t know what system you got there but do you realize that it is not how prostitution usually work in the larger world and that it can’t be so?

            You said you judge a client on how he acts. How do you know in advance how is he going to act? By asking a sex worker he previously saw? The client has to keep with him the number of the sex workers he saw before? What about first time clients, tourists? You don,t take them? And if a client has acted badly, then it is another prostitute who had to deal with it and too bad for her? It does not make sense and it is not going to convince anyone about the rightousness of sex work. You say all jobs require precautions. Never saw a waitress or massage therapist or whatever ask for references. Do you acknowledge that prostitution is inherently dangerous?

          • E.S.

            To answer your question, yes I ask for references to other workers. Many many girls make this a requirement, and even more that I talk to online are starting to. And when you say that is not how prostitution works, I understand that’s not the norm now. But I’m saying the more it gets put out there that it should be the norm, the more clients see that this is what we require the more they’ll see that we value our safety and respect ourselves. He doesn’t have to keep the number of a previous worker, but don’t you think he’d at least remember her name? All of my clients provide references and have no problem doing so. I’m saying that this is what should be the norm. Yes, it takes longer and the clients aren’t able to see me “right now” but that’s how its should be. That should be the norm.
            As for first timer clients, as I said, I don’t have all the answers. But if more people were aware that prostitution needs to be regulated, I’m sure an answer to that would come about. Call it “wishful thinking” call me “privileged,” but wishful thinking is what you all are doing as well. You don’t have all the answers, and neither do I.

            And no, waitresses or massage therapists don’t require references. But massage therapy used to be a big taboo. Now we have to go through school and get licensed to be able to touch other people’s bodies in the way that we do. It’s regulated. We even take classes on what to do when massage clients make advances towards us. So we do take precautions in massage, just different kinds. Plenty of waitresses will tell you that they get harassed and treated unfairly. Is waitressing inherently dangerous? No, because it’s regulated.

  • sporenda

    @E.S.
    You dont have a mind of your own, quite the opposite in fact, you are just parroting the typical stereotypes about prostitution.

    And you definitely need to beef up on history and ethnography: you’d learn that there are lots of cultures where prostitution was unknown.
    In the history of North American indians for instance, there is not a single mention of prostitution, it was non existent before the arrival of the Europeans.

    “The first thing should not be to tell the women to look at it differently. It should be to tell the men to TREAT the women differently. Understand? Prostitution will be around forever. We need to urge that sex workers be treated with respect…like human beings.”

    You should also learn more on prostitution and johns before giving your naive solution to a complex problem.
    Most men don’t visit prostitutes just for sex, what they want is power over a female human being, buying the right to to things to her that most non prostituted women would not accept.
    Most clients behave badly with prostitutes, and that’s precisely what they are paying for.

    Telling clients that they have to be nice, considerate and respectful to prostitutes makes as much sense as to tell boxers they have to be nice and gentle with their partners.
    Prostitution is pay per rape, the only way to respect prostitutes is not to force unwanted sex on them.

    You think you have all the answers because you don’t have the slightest idea about what you are talking about.

  • E.S.

    I’ve been completely misunderstood (and I’m aware that it’s partly my fault. After all, I’ve never spoken out on this subject until now.) And I really want to be done arguing my point. But I do want to make sure my points are clear:
    1) I do NOT think that abused workers should change their mindset about abuse. All of my statements about changing mindsets have nothing to do with the abused workers.
    2) The focus should be on respecting sex workers, rather than getting rid of the industry. The need for sex will always be around. And as long as people like me choose to fulfill it as a JOB, we need to be respected and treated like human beings.
    3) I agree that women do not exist for male pleasure. That is only a job. After a prostitute is done working, she does not EXIST for male pleasure.
    4) Nothing I say is directed towards the trafficking victims/the abused. None of it. And I don’t appreciate being made out to be someone with no sympathy for them.

    That is all.

    • E.S.

      This is a sloppy argument because some of my posts (even the ones in which I apologized for coming off as unsympathetic,) are not being published by the moderator. To see what I am trying to say, read above.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Your arguments are coming through quite clearly. They just aren’t very strong arguments. People are responding to your weak/confused arguments and you aren’t seeming to get it. It has nothing to do with how quickly your comments are being posted.

    • Meghan Murphy

      “I agree that women do not exist for male pleasure. That is only a job. After a prostitute is done working, she does not EXIST for male pleasure.”

      Well the thing is that prostitution and the systems that have created the sex industry are still around after a prostitute is done “working.” Why do you think there are such high rates of PTSD among prostituted women? Why do you think it is that men make up the vast majority of johns and women the vast majority of prostitutes? Do you think that has anything to do with power/systems of power? Why do you think men believe they are entitled to sex with women, even if those women don’t want to have sex with them? Don’t you think people should have sex with one another because they desire one another and not because one person wants sex, the other doesn’t, but needs the money/has no choice? Doesn’t that strike you as a bit off, ethically?

    • E.S.

      Tbh, the only person I’m taking seriously right now is Meghan Murphy. Even though she doesn’t agree, she is the only one seeing everything I’m saying. I’m no longer replying to the people who are unable to keep up with where we are in the argument.

      • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

        No, she’s being polite (as the host) to an obviously delusional reader who believes that she can change reality by wishing otherwise, who knows absolutely nothing against feminist history, and it’s tiresome.

        Frankly the only reason why you’re taken seriously right now is your claim to be a prostitute (there is no such thing as a “sex worker”). They just don’t want to silence you or anything. I don’t care, I think you need psychological help, and this blog can’t help you.

        But yes I second the recommendation of Bright-Sided by Barbara Ehrenreich made by Meghan and others. Please read that instead of supporting the oppression of millions of women.

        • amongster

          i must admit that i have been very delusional myself about topics like this. for far too long i’m afraid.

          i don’t know if i can really understand E.S.’s position because she said she is not a survivor – i am – and i was never a prostitute but instead i told myself that choosing my own submission was liberating, that i was in power when i was simply agreeing to getting abused. i even found a ‘feminist’ page about how healing bdsm can be for rape victims and believed it – because it seemed easier, i guess. it wasn’t though.

          i think it is very false and very dangerous, especially for women who have already experienced abuse, to say that you can find freedom and power by choosing submission to men in any way.

          • Laur

            Hi amongster,
            So glad to see you post here. I am glad to see someone speak up about BDSM.

          • amongster

            thank you, laur. glad to have found this site! definitely helped me a lot to stand up for myself and see things for what they really are.

  • polarcontrol

    @ E.S.

    It’s funny how many times you repeated the complaint that others just keep repeating the same thing over and over..

    Yet when others made substantial points, arguments about what’s a fact or not, you didn’t really reply. (For example, do men have power or what it means that they do etc; or on the history of prostitution; Or if feminism as a movement has accomplished/can accomplish something)

  • marv

    E.S., over the years many developing nations have become major suppliers of women of colour prostitutes to white men in advanced capitalist countries. First Nations women have been internally displaced within some of these countries by colonization, becoming prostitutes for white men as well. In fact the flow of prostituted women across the world has impacted sexual relations in poor communities and countries, intensifying the idea that women are raw materials/goods to be bought and sold there. It has exacerbated sex classes in these places through increased male dominance and the expansion of female subordination revealed in various forms of violence against women.

    The movement of desperate women across lands, in turn, has had a substantial effect on sex class relations in advanced capitalist countries by reinforcing male entitlement to sexually use and violate women. Any assertion that sex work is empowering fortifies these classist and racist political conditions. We have to be conscious of how are individual decisions and actions impact the whole system instead of being self-involved entrepreneurs who want to “capitalize” on our private interests. Social Darwinism is not something even Darwin believed in.

    • E.S.

      Thank you for this bit of information. And thank you for not attacking me, so I can actually take in what you are telling me.
      Just in case you didn’t see, I did apologize for the Darwin comment. That was very ignorant of me.

      You raised a very important point, saying “We have to be conscious of how our individual decisions and actions impact the whole system…” You are very right. We have to be conscious, but at the same time it’s out of our control. If a landscaper says they like their job…could you criticize them for that? Could you say how can they like to do physical labor for another person? Physical labor used to be required of slaves. But a landscaper is not a slave. And landscaping isn’t even necessary…it’s a want. Sex, on the other hand, is a need. In some cases, sex workers are forced/coerced into fulfilling that need. THAT is what needs to be eradicated, that’s what people should fight for. Not abolishing sex work altogether, that is very unrealistic.

      • Meghan Murphy

        But no one would criticize a landscaper for liking their job and no one is criticizing you for ‘liking your job.’ You are completely missing the point. Why?

        We are criticizing the system. And the men who buy sex/exploit women. Not the women in prostitution.

        • E.S.

          So your point is that you are criticizing the system. If you are criticizing the system and not the women in the system, wouldn’t my “respect sex workers” argument make sense?

          A few comments ago, you asked where else people are advocating that sex workers be respected. http://www.swopusa.org/about-us/
          Feel free to check that out.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Feel free to let us all know who, exactly, is heading SWOP, why, and where they get their funding, to see what their goals and priorities really are.

            “So your point is that you are criticizing the system. If you are criticizing the system and not the women in the system, wouldn’t my “respect sex workers” argument make sense?”

            How are you planning on enforcing this? With regard to men, that is… It’s clear that johns don’t respect women — are you going to ask them to nicely?

            Also, I did not “ask where else people are advocating that sex workers be respected.” What I said was: “Can you provide an example of a system/model wherein this ‘respect’ of women in prostitution has been ‘urged?'” i.e. like a legislative model or social system. Not an organization that uses empty “respect sex workers” mantras without actually addressing the root of the issue or trying to effect change in a way that has been shown to work.

          • E.S.

            How does anyone plan to enforce what they believe in? By demanding respect. How are you planning on enforcing your beliefs? By making your voice heard right? Through outlets (like this website,) you are making your voice heard. You are gaining recognition. That’s what SWOP is doing.

            The more our voices are heard, and the more we demand respect, I believe that a significant change can happen. Sure, for those who commented before, that sounds like me thinking “wishfully” again. But I’m not just thinking. I’m speaking out. I have a blog of my own that tells of my stories as a sex worker. I’m speaking out and inherently demanding respect, and I’m following a ton of other sex workers who are doing the same thing.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Through legislative change combined with education. See: The Nordic model.

            SWOP wants to legalize and normalize prostitution which has been shown not to reduce violence or change anyone’s “views” about women. There is no “safe, legal industry.” The “sex workers” who “speak out” also tend to erase the experiences of marginalized women who aren’t in a position to share their experiences and erase the voices of survivors who are abolitionist.

            SWOP isn’t a feminist organization. They don’t WANT to end patriarchy/male power. So how are they relevant re: the liberation of women?

          • E.S.

            I’ve gotten plenty of messages from women and men who have told me that my attitude towards my work has changed their views. I can show them to you if you’d like.

          • stephen m

            “The Sex Workers’ Outreach Project USA (SWOP USA) was founded by Robyn Few the year after she was convicted of conspiracy to promote interstate prostitution. This means that like St. James, Few was also a madam, a female pimp. As a survivor of ten years of prostitution myself, I would never feel safe around a madam. Most women in prostitution wouldn’t. Such an organization can’t speak for us. Robyn calls herself a ‘sex worker’ most of the time so the conflict of interest isn’t obvious. But the SWOP website makes a point of acknowledging her conviction for promoting interstate prostitution. Why? Because pimps across the country are using SWOP to connect with Johns while they recruit vulnerable young women. This isn’t activism, it’s marketing while lobbying ‘for pimp interests.”
            http://prostitutionresearch.com/pre_blog/2012/05/23/pimps_will_be_pimps_whether_ma/

          • Meghan Murphy

            Thanks Stephen. Again, we see the problematic use of the term “sex workers” to mean anything, really. It goes to show how those who claim to speak on behalf of prostituted women — as “sex workers” — really can’t be taken very seriously as far as protecting and advocating for marginalized women goes.

          • E.S.

            “Can’t be taken seriously as far as protecting and advocating marginalized women goes…” That’s the message I’m trying to send by saying that people should respect sex workers. They should respect us because they don’t know the conditions in which we became a sex workers in the first place. They should respect us because we are human beings. They should respect them because they are not hurting anyone. My message is only advocating RESPECT.

            Also, I see you had no response when I mentioned that I’ve received messages from both men and women saying that reading my blog has changed their outlook on the sex industry. Changing outlook means changing how we are treated. The more people change their outlook on sex workers themselves, the more they will not disrespect us.

            I don’t see how you guys think advocating respect is anything BUT advocating respect.

          • E.S.

            But, as I said before… I don’t believe you don’t think sex work should exist. (Do you? Because you confused me when you contradicted yourself earlier. Not even trying to be a smartass. I really would like to know if that’s how you feel.) If so, then also as I said before…I’m fine with agreeing to disagree.

          • Meghan Murphy

            You’re going to have to explain where I contradicted myself (are you responding to me?)…

            Regarding your question about whether “sex work should exist” — you’re oversimplifying. Yes, feminists are working towards an eventual end to prostitution but that’s also tied to the fact that we are working to end the systems that make prostitution exist (capitalism, patriarchy, imperialism, globalization, racism, colonialism all play a part).

          • Meghan Murphy

            But men who buy sex don’t respect women. That’s why they are johns. Because they don’t see women as full human beings, but rather as things that exist to provide them with pleasure. Commodifying women and women’s bodies is not going to convince men to “respect sex workers.”

            You need to look more closely at the the root of the issue and what’s behind the sex industry and stop obsessing over the delusional notion that you can convince individual to respect women, when it’s clear they do not. Did slavery end because slaves politely asked their masters to show them respect?

          • E.S.

            So bottom line is that you are working towards an end to prostitution. Something I feel is very unrealistic.

            “Men who buy sex don’t respect women.” That’s like saying white who hire black people to perform physical labor don’t respect black people. Yes, there are still some racists. But the more racism is fought, the more it will become a thing of the past. Slowly, but surely.
            Yes, there are plenty of men who buy sex and don’t respect women. But the more that is fought, the more it will become a thing of the past. The more we make it known that what we provide is just a job and that we are more than our job, that we are human beings to be respected, the more disrespect will become a thing of the past. Slowly, but surely.
            Wasn’t everyone on here saying that feminists state the problem, analyze, and find ways to change it.
            Just think about that…
            I’m not pretending I have all the answers because I don’t. I just know what I’m advocating for, and finding ways to put that out there…gaining recognition.

            ALSO, “STOP OBSESSING OVER THE DELUSIONAL NOTION THAT YOU CAN CONVINCE INDIVIDUALS TO RESPECT WOMEN…”
            Um…ISN’T THAT WHAT YOU’RE DOING??
            Aren’t you trying to get respect for women by being a feminist?? Wasn’t the point of the feminist movement to convince everyone to have respect for women? Oh, but forget about prostitutes. There’s no way anyone could EVER have respect for prostitutes. Is that what you’re saying?

            We could never get respect because we are presenting our bodies as commodities? I’m also a massage therapist. Am I presenting my hands as commodities? No. Massage therapy is a service…as is prostitution.
            And all service workers need to be respected in and outside of their jobs.
            You’re completely missing it… Just think about what I’ve just said, and piece it all together. If your response is going to be the same old “…but johns don’t respect sex workers,” I’m done because you don’t get it.

          • Meghan Murphy

            “The more we make it known that what we provide is just a job and that we are more than our job, that we are human beings to be respected”

            Don’t you think that prostitutes have “made it known” they are “human beings to be respected” many times over? Are you the first to try?

            The point is that johns think they are entitled. They are entitled to sex and to access women’s bodies. This is not a mindset that leads one to think of women as equals or full human beings. When you buy sex from a woman you are commodifying her and you understand that you are having sex with someone who does not want to have sex with you. This creates an innately unequal dynamic that privileges male desire over women’s bodies and lives.

            The feminist movement does many things. We take many different approaches. But in terms of violent or abusive men, we would make sure they know their behaviour is unacceptable. This means that buying women is unacceptable. We could teach them that, certainly. But you cannot teach a man to respect a women he is abusing without telling him/forcing him to stop abusing her. You can’t simply ignore the power dynamic innate to prostitution in your efforts to magically get johns to “respect sex workers.” It makes no sense.

            If johns respected women and saw them as their equals, they wouldn’t be johns. The men I know who respect women and are feminist allies DO NOT BUY SEX. It’s very straightforward.

          • Missfit

            The point of prostitution is that the man buys the woman to do whatever he likes with her. If he asks her to bark like a dog, she will, if he asks her to call him daddy, she will. You don’t treat people like that in any other job. I know you will say that you don,t allow this and that, that you set the limits and all but that is not the norm and will never be because it is not the basic purpose of prostitution. You certainly are privileged in your position and don’t seem to think about other women. Respect is not what is going to bring business to pimps, on the contrary. Objectification is what brings profits.

          • E.S.

            I’d also like to add that, although little-known, there are websites that serve as databases for sex workers to report bad clients so that other workers can be aware to avoid him. I know many escorts who use these sites like VerifyHim and BadBoyReport. If you search a client’s number through Google and an escort has reported him, that number will show up on BBR. As I said, it’s little known right now, but it’s a start. Taking the time to take precautions like these are important. These sites as well as asking clients for references are great ways to weed out bad clients. I know…an argument would be that not everyone has the time to do this. But when you’re safety could be at risk, you kind of have to make time to screen clients. That alone shows clients that you value your safety.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Doesn’t that tell you something about “clients?” I’m sorry but harm reduction doesn’t stop the violence and it doesn’t address the root of the problem. These “safety plans” should tell you what’s behind prostitution: male power, male violence. They are superficial solutions that do little in the grand scheme of thing. Didn’t you read the quote from Jackie Lynne about her mother? Her “safety plan” didn’t protect her from violence. The violence comes from the johns — stop the johns.

          • Missfit

            ‘I’ve received messages from both men and women saying that reading my blog has changed their outlook on the sex industry. Changing outlook means changing how we are treated.’

            How exactly did they changed their outlook? Did they go from concern to acceptance? Is their new outlook that prostitutuion is not a big deal, that it is a girl’s responsibility to adapt her mindset in order to find whatever power she can out of her situation? Because I think that if a john would change his outlook on prostitution, he would then simply stop using prostitutes…

      • Missfit

        A sexual relation is not a need, it’s a want.

        • http://twitter.com/SexAngelsUnited Laura

          Yes, people can literally live without sex but it’s a way more unhappy life. I’d rather be dead than go back to my past life of being frigid. I’m for literally free sex for all (including women) except for real rapists and pedophiles. Also, the sex drive keeps the human race going. Without it people would die out. So I don’t see it as just a want.

          • lizor

            “I’m for literally free sex for all (including women) except for real rapists and pedophiles.”

            Based on your comment above “Dear E.S., yes, thank you! I’m waiting to see comments about how horrible it is that people want sex to begin with (ESPECIALLY men)”, I’m pretty confused.

            Regular commenters here support unpaid sex – i.e. all parties wanting to have sex with the people they are having sex with. So I don’t understand your implied hostility to this blog and its participants.

            You want free sex, so I can only assume you recognize how corrosive coercion is to a positive sexual experience and therefore acknowledge how prostitution contributes to an exploitive, alienated sexual landscape.

          • Meghan Murphy

            “Free sex” would imply everybody having the sex wants to have the sex and is enthusiastic about it, yes? Prostitution is not that. The basis for prostitution is one person wanting sex and another person not wanting sex. That’s why they have to be paid. If they both wanted the sex, nobody would be paying for it.

          • http://twitter.com/SexAngelsUnited Laura

            Dear Meghan, my personal ideal is that no one ever has to pay for sex and no one should be sexually frustrated. However, I think this shouldn’t apply to real rapists and pedophiles. I do want full decriminalization of sex work for various reasons. A major one is because they’re helping people sexually. They lessen the amount of sexual frustration. I see them as my fellow “sexual helpers”. At the same time, I don’t want to do sex work but want to see others be able to do it if they like (and are of legal age and do it of their own free will). Just because something exists doesn’t mean I automatically have to take part in it. Sex work isn’t for me unless there was literally no other way to live. My choice on this shouldn’t keep others FROM THEIR choice. Like I said, I don’t have to be part of things just because they exist.

          • http://twitter.com/SexAngelsUnited Laura

            Dear lizor, I’ve had some feminists block me and/or quit following me on Twitter because of what I do (which is give literally free sex as I’m able to). I’m also for full decriminalization of sex work which is why I was blocked/unfolllowed also. These experiences have made me kind of leery of feminist websites. However, I say give them a chance and hope they give me one also. Sex work isn’t for me but I support the right of those who are of age to choose it and are also choosing it of their own free will. Hope this clears up your confusion.

    • E.S.

      @ marv: “We have to be conscious of how our individual decisions and actions impact the whole system…” Isn’t that what I’ve been preaching this entire time, but on the other end? The individual decisions to not hurt sex workers, the individual decisions to respect us…the more of those individual decisions there are, a change can be made. That’s exactly what I’m advocating.
      Also, marv, I’m curious about your thoughts on my landscaper metaphor specifically. With the comparisons you explained, then this should be relevant: African Americans being hired to do landscaping for white homeowners. The landscapers are not slaves now, but they would have been during the times of slavery.

      • marv

        Possibly a correlation may help. Where I live many white people think that racism against indigenous people is solely a matter of prejudice and bigotry. They want to eradicate discriminatory attitudes, behaviours and treatment to resolve it. While such unfairness is unacceptable the overriding issue is colonization – the institutions of white male supremacy that govern First Peoples lives; the state, law, capitalist economy, culture, education, religion……. The real solution is to abolish these unjust structures and replace them with social equality organizations, aboriginal sovereignty, collective self-determination and land rights, not simply showing greater respect to indigenous people, i.e. more kindness. Individual decisions to be compassionate in themselves won’t subvert structural inequity; it will only bolster power divisions. As long as white people are nice the system is sanctioned.

        Women, people of colour and the poor are forced to accommodate to the same institutions as First Nations. Prostitution is part of the male supremacist system worldwide. It is not a biological condition. As such prostitution must be terminated (despite any pleasures people derive from it) by laws that criminalize the proprietors and customers of women, financial support and exit services, in order for women to move towards self-determination and social equality with men. The feminist movement is the vehicle for these changes. It’s right here and around the globe working arduously to achieve these goals.

        The “landscape” metaphor you used is very apt if you see its deeper allegorical meaning. White male hegemony has recklessly altered the landscape, ecology and climate of the earth with its capitalist imperatives of profit, competition and growth. All workers are enslaved by it too in varying ways depending on sex, race, disability and economic class. Capitalism has enriched the few at the expense of the many through a process some define as “creative destruction”. Therefore, it needs to be ended as much as prostitution. In reality they are interrelated.

        You have to scrutinize “background assumptions” and the politics of your knowledge in order to see that liberal individualism is authoritarianism in progressive disguise.

        • E.S.

          Okay, marv. Now I’m intrigued because you’ve made some very enlightening points. (To defend my metaphor, I wasn’t trying to compare prostitution to a biological condition. I was comparing it to the physical labor that African Americans are hired to do for whites and how they are not seen as slaves because slavery is no more. Basically comparing African Americans to women in general, since both have fought for respect.)

          From what I understand, you believe in what some call “spreading the wealth”? If I’m correct:
          The thing is, I’ve always wanted to believe in that as well. But never understood how that would even be possible. And would it even work. Isn’t there a reason capitalism came about in the first place? How do we know attempts to spread the wealth won’t end up back at capitalism?
          Not asking you to answer all these questions, because I’m sure you could write a whole book on it. And I know books and articles are already out there.

          Thanks for this very educated response.
          I will be honest, it hasn’t changed the fact that I like my job (as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve always taken a keen interest in sex even before working. Always found sexuality intriguing and interestingly complex, knowing what people like and why. That’s why I’ve made this job work for me. The reason I speak out about the things I do is because I know for a fact that there are others like me. From reading the well known Secret Diary of a Call Girl to reading other workers’ blogs. I know they’re out there, and I hate when others try to make it like our interests aren’t real or that we’re lying to ourselves.)

          But again, your response was exactly what I was looking for through all of this. I’m always open to learning all points of view (when they’re presented in this manner) and will most likely seek out more information elsewhere.

          Also, if I wasn’t correct about the “spreading the wealth,” please let me know.

          • E.S.

            To add, I know a few have stated that You’re not trying to tell me not to like my job. But trying to take it away is worse than telling me not to like it. (Just in case you were wondering why I keep repeating that point.)

          • Missfit

            I used to say to clients who asked why I was doing this job (they are very intrigued about that) that I just loooved sex (I won’t go here into the real reasons I did it which I truly uncovered years later). But the sex in prostitution is a particular kind of sex, not aimed towards female pleasure, it is male-centered sex, it is about female submission to male desires. Of course, this particular kind of sex is usually socially defined as what sex is (welcome to patriarchy). But hey, women are raised to be male pleasing, taught to look for male approval and male validation. Constantly, prostitutes are asked to do physical things with men they don’t like, some they might feel repulsed by or fear, they are asked to endure pain, do things that they would otherwise choose not to. This is what they are paid for, johns are paying for submission. Prostitutes often disconnect from their body in these instances. This is ordinary, I am not talking about cases of outright assaults.

            You say that trying to take your job away from you is worse than telling you not to like it. You mean that wanting women and girls to live free of sexual exploitation, to be offered real alternatives, is worse than infringing on your clients’ satisfaction? Less johns means less vulnerable teenagers and desperate women being recruited and coerced into a job that will leave them damaged. What will happen to you if you happen to have less clients? Do you have options? What will happen to you that is worse than a young girl having her life destroyed?

          • E.S.

            In response to your comment about clients asking why you were working: that’s where we are different. I do enjoy pleasing men (are you saying that’s wrong?) I am aware that my job means I please men I’m not attracted to. But I don’t see pleasing men as something degrading. I see it as something I like to do and want to get paid for (on my own time.)
            It’s the man’s responsibility to realize that not all women think this way, and that not all women are the same. And (predicting here,) if anyone thinks that I’m silly to think a man could realize this, that men can’t take responsibility of their own thoughts and actions, what are you even fighting for?

            And as far as the “less johns” comment goes:
            You seem to be missing my point. The goal would be to STOP recruitment of women. The goal would be to enforce regulations for the non-recruited. And some of those regulations might include the end of street prostitution. Some of those regulations might mean girls would have to work with an agency or in a brothel (like in Nevada.)
            I’m aware that it would mean less clients. I knew that when I started screening I’d have less clients. More safety, less clients, raised rate to make up for less clients. It all works out.
            So my point, again, is to regulate the job. Make it safer which, again, might mean the end of street prostitution among other things.

          • Meghan Murphy

            There is no such thing as a “safe, legal” sex industry. In places that have tried legalization the violence, coercion, abuse, exploitation and stigma remain.

          • http://escortingsugar.tumblr.com E.S.

            There is no such thing as no prostitution. How does that sound? Trying to get rid of it altogether obviously hasn’t worked either.

            And where do you mean? Because in the places I’ve read about, it didn’t seem as though the laws were heavily enforced… (see my comment at very bottom.)

          • Meghan Murphy

            It’s a long process and we have to start somewhere. The Nordic model has decreased prostitution. This is getting exhausting. I’m tired of repeating myself. You really just need to do some research on this.

          • Illusions Noires

            You keep saying you have a fascination with sex and enjoy sex as if that makes you rare or even uncommon amongst humans. People really, really like sex, it’s not just you.

          • Meghan Murphy

            There are also, for the record, sex workers who really, really, love sex but hate their clients and resent having to get men who they aren’t interested in, sexually, for money. Most women in prostitution don’t WANT to fuck their clients. Prostitution isn’t about women ‘loving sex’ — it’s about men getting off…

          • E.S.

            That’s the biggest disagreement here. We see sex very differently. People can’t understand that some women don’t need love or even feelings to have sex.

          • Meghan Murphy

            That has absolutely nothing to do with what I said.

          • http://escortingsugar.tumblr.com E.S.

            I’ve already stated (somewhere in this messy “conversation”) that part of what I enjoy, aside from being sexual in general, is pleasing men. Are you saying that’s wrong? I find pleasure in pleasing them, and many of them find pleasure in pleasing me (very many. sure, that’s not the “norm,” but if that’s what they like…) Are you saying that’s wrong? Doing what I enjoy? Pleasing men?
            How about instead of trying to take away male pleasure, more women try to find what pleases them.

          • E.S.

            I don’t think it makes me rare. I know I’m not the only one who “really really likes sex” Never said I was the only one. What’s rare is to see a female who is unapologetic about how sexual she really is. Someone who does not cover it up. In my job, yes, it’s channeled towards male pleasure (although, if you want to be technical, I’m also open to women or couples…but that’s a different topic altogether.) But that’s why it’s a job. It’s taking a part of my fascination and enticing a specific audience.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Prostitution is not about female pleasure or female sexuality. It’s about male sexuality.

          • http://escortingsugar.tumblr.com E.S.

            Did you even read my response correctly? I know it is about male pleasure. That is what I enjoy satisfying. That is why I am a sex worker. Here I go repeating myself again…

  • sporenda

    “After a prostitute is done working, she does not EXIST for male pleasure.”

    Meghan underlined the well known fact that most prostitutes suffer from PTSD.
    So no, they are not done with male abuse when they are finished working.

    They still have to deal with the physical and psychological consequences of repeated abuse by johns. One of the consequences of these abuses is frigidity: the prostitutes I have interviewed told me that overtime, they become completely frigid, that they end up seeing all sex as a violation: they can’t derive any pleasure from sex even with men they desire, for years,and sometimes forever.

    And when a prostitute is done working, she still has to deal with her pimp. In western countries, according to police stats, between 80 and 90% of the prostitutes have pimps and/or have been traficked.
    She still has to deal with the physical ailments resulting from her activity, the addiction to drugs taken to put up with the abuse, the social exclusion and contempt, the fear of being attacked or even killed by a client that nevers leaves, etc.

    And very often, BEFORE a prostitute starts working, she exists for male pleasure; it’s called grooming. Most prostitutes have been prepared for prostitution by rape–by an incestuous father, stepfather, friend etc.I have never come across a prostitute who had not been the target of violence before entering prostitution: “if I cannot avoid being raped by men, I might as well get paid for it” is the typical rationale of young girls who enter prostitution.

    Being a prostitute is not a 9 to 5 job, your view of prostitution is as uninformed and fairytale as “Pretty Woman”.

    • sporenda

      i just did an interview with an ex-dominatrix (80% of her johns were submissives according to her).
      When she started , she thought prostituting herself gave her power because she’d been neglected and mistreated as a child, and at least the johns were paying attention to her and giving her money, and money is power.

      She used to be in favor of legalization when she started, because her main goal was protecting the prostitutes and obtaining better working conditions for them. She thought legalization was the best way to get there.
      But progressively, she realized that if prostitutes needed protection, it’s because the job is inherently dangerous. And the danger comes from the johns themselves, and from the pimps.

      She underlines that even a dominatrix doesn’t dominate her clients, it’s an illusion she had when she started BDSM (also to avoid being physically invaded) but she understands now it’s just roleplay; “we have to do what the john likes, or he won’t come back. Even when we hit them, they are in command. it’s their demand, their command, their money “.

      The notion of power over the john is typically a beginner’s illusion; ES should talk to exited or seasoned prostitutes to find out how much of this feeling of power is left after years on the job.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Almost every survivor I know and/or have interviewed says that while they were in prostitution they felt they were making an empowered choice and that it wasn’t until they exited that they realized it was not and that this was a coping mechanism. That notion is not limited to prostitution… We see this everywhere in our culture — women “choosing” to “self-objectify” and calling it empowering and liberating because it’s their own “choice,” without acknowledging or understanding the way our culture limits and shapes our “choices.”

        “Jackie Lynne told me her mother felt she was helping to ‘protect’ other women from rape and said she certainly would never have called herself a ‘victim.’ I mean, it’s pretty rare for anyone to self-identify as a victim when they are in a situation they don’t want to or aren’t ready to or cannot leave (I’m thinking about women in abusive relationships, for example) — people find power where they can. Again, it’s a coping mechanism.

        ‘To tell the truth about the sex industry means to speak of victimization,’ Lynne says. She told me that her mother, also Métis, was prostituted on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside for over 25 years. “But if you had asked my mom, when she was prostituted, if she was a victim, she would have said ‘no’.”

        …Lynne says she thinks her mother felt a sense of agency in terms of her “safety plan”—the tactics she would use to try to protect herself from violence. ‘But did her plan keep her safe? No! Not from her pimps or her johns.'” http://www.straight.com/news/572896/meghan-murphy-whats-missing-notyourrescueproject

        • sporenda

          “Coping mechanism” sums it up.

          Believing you have power over the johns is the illusion that makes having sex with men you despise and/or find repulsive tolerable ;

          but once you stop blindfolding yourself and start seing it like it is, it becomes unbeareable.

          The prostitute does what the client wants, not the other way around, or she has no clients.
          A blue collar worker works for his boss, and must do what is required of him, or he has no job.
          Within these limits, they have a modicum of agency, but pretending that the guy who pays the piper doesn’t call the tune is just fooling yourself.

  • E.S.

    Meghan Murphy’s quote: “Doesn’t that tell you something about “clients?” I’m sorry but harm reduction doesn’t stop the violence and it doesn’t address the root of the problem. These “safety plans” should tell you what’s behind prostitution: male power, male violence. They are superficial solutions that do little in the grand scheme of thing. Didn’t you read the quote from Jackie Lynne about her mother? Her “safety plan” didn’t protect her from violence. The violence comes from the johns — stop the johns.”

    So would you also say that security cameras in grocery stores don’t address the root of the problem? They target thieves, not shoppers altogether. The theft comes from thieves. Stop the thefts.
    The violence comes from abusers. Stop the abusers. Shoppers do not equal thieves. Client/john does not equal abusers. Prostitute does not equal victim. White does not equal slave owner. Black does not equal slave. All of this is going way over your head.
    So are you saying we sex workers shouldn’t have those databases? We shouldn’t be able to warn other escorts about disrespectful clients? Because what’s the point, right? We shouldn’t ask our clients for references, showing that we value our own safety? We shouldn’t do that is that what you’re saying? It’s not going to completely end violence so what’s the point, right?
    Do security cameras completely end theft?

    • E.S.

      Going back to my “White does not equal slave owner,” back then it did. Now it never does, because African Americans fought for freedom. But African Americans still go back and work for white people. They are not slaves. They are workers.
      White also does not equal racist. But racists still exist and people are fighting to end it.
      Men do not equal disrespectful to women. But some men are still disrespectful to women and isn’t that what you’re fighting to end? Men being disrespectful to women? Most prostitutes are women. Shouldn’t you be fighting that everyone be respectful to them?

      So, by my comment, I’m not trying to compare white (something biological) to a john/client. I’m simply saying that white should respect black, no matter their job (even if their job is to work for them in some way.) And men should respect women, no matter their job (even if their job is to service them in some way.) That’s all. More respect, more precautions taken by sex workers (through the databases I mentioned before,) will ultimately lead to LESS abuse. Less is the key word. I do not have the answer to ERASE abuse. Because nothing is foolproof…that’s with any job.

    • Meghan Murphy

      No I am not saying any of the things you’ve asked me if I am saying. That’s clear because I haven’t said those things.

      I don’t really want to get into a debate about “theft” (I don’t think “the john” is comparable to “the thief”) but I’d argue that it happens because people are poor. Because of capitalism. And I’m a socialist. So I don’t really think security cameras are a solution to theft, no. I think ending poverty and capitalism would be a solution to theft.

      Prostitution sexualizes inequality. The power is what johns want. If they didn’t want the power, they’d go find a woman who actually wanted to have sex with them — who they didn’t have to coerce. Men who buy sex are not all these lonely, socially inept, ugly dudes. They are married men, celebrities, men who have friends and girlfriends and high-powered jobs. Why would they see a prostitute? Because they can treat her in a way they can’t treat their wife. Because it makes them feel powerful. These are abusive men. Even if they aren’t technically being physically violent, their behaviour and mentality is abusive — it is not a mentality or an exchange that respects women. It is solely about HIS needs and HIS desires, no matter how sadistic.

    • Lo

      “So would you also say that security cameras in grocery stores don’t address the root of the problem? They target thieves, not shoppers altogether. The theft comes from thieves. Stop the thefts.”

      Oh a liberal comparison… how predictable.
      Thieves steal foods/objects, but not women FYI. And if they had the money, they wouldn’t steal… (BTY, objects and food are not “alive”, they’re products! how can you compare those things to human beings?)

      But does that mean that stealing food is the same thing as abusing/rape a woman?

      There are bad bad punters and on the other hand sweet sweet punters? Are you really defending punters????

      If a man rents a car, then it’s the same thing if he rents women’s orifices? If a man eats chocolate, and if it’s the same thing as buying a woman who doesn’t desire him, then are you saying women are comestible?

      SMDH.

      Are you aware that some women don’t want to be seen as comestible/sex objects/etc? Do you even understand what is patriarchy and women objectified/dehumanized and how it shows how much women are not considered as equals or not?

      • E.S.

        Thanks. I had no idea food was a product and not a living thing. Thank you for that. Do you really think I think stealing food is the same thing? Please. You obviously haven’t read all of my posts, therefore what you said means nothing to me. Posts such as “I know all women don’t want to be prostitutes…” where I go on to say that but the ones who do choose to go into this deserve respect.
        But of course, you people don’t believe women have the right to choose to be prostitutes like I did. I’m finished talking to narrow minded people.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Why would you compare johns to thieves if you didn’t think the comparison was apt? Why don’t you try responding to the arguments people are making instead of twisting things around and threatening to storm off? Your responses have been consistently manipulative. I think you know this, but NO ONE has argued women don’t have “the right” to “choose to be prostitutes.”

        • lizor

          Unbelievable. YOU brought up that comparison. Your posts are being read and people are responding to what you have written.

          You, on the other hand, are ignoring people’s questions and not acknowledging the points made here, particularly from exited people, shifting your position all over the map and pretending that your point – all that needs to happen is for people to respect prostitutes – has not been addressed over and over. Then you have the audacity (after accusing Meghan of censoring your posts and thereby misrepresenting you) to accuse other commenters of doing exactly what you yourself have been doing from the beginning of this thread.

          E.S. you have refused to engage with anyone here in a coherent and respectful way. It’s not that’s you’ve been rude in your language, but your dodging the positions and evidence brought by others here is not respectful engagement. It frustrated me at first – but on reflection I think you might really believe your own intellectual tap-dancing. I have got the distinct impression that you are either very young or else you have some phenomenal denial mechanisms that are constantly engaged. As I said above, I am guessing that those mechanisms must be a necessary and valuable part of how you cope with the work.

          You said above that you are an independent contractor and that that works well for you. I do hope that you are successful at staying safe and that you have at least one trustworthy person in your life who has your back.

          If you really do believe everything you have written in this thread, then I do hope that if and when reality hits it does not do too much damage. I wish you the best, honestly.

          • E.S.

            1. I brought it up to make a simple comparison about safety precautions. I wasn’t comparing the severity, I was comparing the logic.
            2. I’m trying not to ignore questions, but when there are a million questions thrown at me at once, they start to become repetitive. That’s why I chose to specifically answer to Meghan Murphy since she’s the moderator and actually sees everything I’m saying. Also, I’m not going to answer to people who aren’t trying to understand me. I truly did want to understand you all’s mindset, but it’s difficult when all I’m hearing is that I’m “delusional.”
            3. I have acknowledged when I think someone has made a good point.
            4. “If you really do believe everything you have written,” If I do believe that a change could be made, as in more respect could make that change…then yes, I do believe that.

          • E.S.

            To add to #4, more effective regulation of sex work would lead to said respect.

          • Meghan Murphy

            “more effective regulation of sex work would lead to said respect.”
            But that’s been tried and it hasn’t. You claim is factually incorrect.

          • http://escortingsugar.tumblr.com E.S.

            Key words: MORE EFFECTIVE. Abolishment of prostitution has obviously been tried by making it illegal…is that working? Nope.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Ok so you really need to do some research. Abolitionists want to decriminalize the prostituted and criminalize the johns. And yes, the Nordic model has been very successful in Sweden for 15 years now.

            And no, regulation is not ‘more effective’. It changes nothing in terms of safety and in places that have legalized, trafficking, prostitution (of children and adults) rises. The industry is run by organized crime and women are abused and even murdered in the red light districts.

          • E.S.

            Also, I’m not in denial at all. I enjoy pleasing men. (See my response to Illusions Noires.)
            I am staying safe and yes, I have supporters. Thanks for your concern.

          • Lo

            Do you ever think about the objectification of women in patriarchy, what it means, how it is construted, and the consequences it has for all women?

            Patriarchy wants women to be objectified, but that’s not all, this culture is clearly teaching us to like to be objectified/used/humiliated by and for men. If we want equality, there can’t be objectified people who like it on one hand, and the ones who objectify them on the other hand.
            People who claim to be empowered or that like to be objectified are simply giving rights to the oppressors to objectify.

            Prostitution is an old institution, created by men for their own pleasure, which had a huge impact on our cuture and globalization + colonialism promoted this patriarchal institution all over the world. (This why there is a huge demand from men, and this why migrants and poor women always “choose” to be prostitute when they don’t any other way to survive).

            In other words, it is cultural: men are taught to objectify women, and women are taught to objectify themselves for men’s pleasure.
            I already asked you, but you didn’t answer: isn’t their a problem of oppression here?

            You said you enjoy “pleasing” men, are you sure that those men only want “sex”?
            What please men is the idea that women will always be available for their penis.

            In prostitution, sex alone doesn’t sell, if it was sex alone, then why is a human being (mostl good-looking, very young women is what punters want) needed? Because having sex with someone who doesn’t desire/want them, is like controlling them.
            What sells is the objectification/déhumanization of women reduced to their bodies (as if they were robots, though sometimes the escorts girls have also to play the kind/sweet/submissive girlfriend, like dolls, it just shows that men don’t want only sex, but clearly control women’s bodies whenever and wherever they want).

            I’m sorry, but I don’t see why we should deny what sort of psychology the punters really have. Calling prostitution “sex” alone is not correct.
            (Moreover sexuality is also a social construction so…)

            Some punters try the play the “nice guy”, others want to find a prostitute to marry her, but in the end, they’re all looking for a specific sexual satisfaction through objectification.

            Prostitution institutionalises the sexuality of men. And this sexuality is: the erotized objectified women and the power of men to objectify them as they want.

            This is why legalised prostitution has always failed: in the roman empire no one cared about prostitutes, they were only there for male pleasure, while other women where there to make babies (you know patriarchy just wants two type of women). In the XIX century, doctors protected punters by putting prostitutes in brothels because they could control their bodies this way, (and many paintings of that time showed that most of the prostitutes were just poor women and how horrible it was…)etc
            Even today, the regulation still fails, and on top of that there are more rapes, more red light districts (even streets where women can’t walk in) with women behind windows objectified for the gaze of men etc

            Regulation has never been about the respect all women deserved, and it will never be. Because it’s all about the rights of pimps and johns, nothing else. And it has consequences for ALL women.

            Here’s a quote: ““The effect of legalised prostitution on women outside prostitution is to lower the status of all women. Women are recognised by the state in this system as the appropriate objects of male penetration with no consideration for their personhood or pleasure. This teaches that the penetration and use of an unwilling woman is ‘sex’, an idea that lies at the root of sexual violence against women in general. There is no chance of developing a sexuality of equality in which women’s pleasure, right to say no, and bodily integrity are respected whilst the violence of prostitution is allowed to continue with state support for men’s behaviour.””

        • Lo

          Oh you’re welcome :)

          “you people don’t believe women have the right to choose to be prostitutes”

          Did I even talk about rights? Ugh, you’re always changing the subject, and now you’re accusing of something I’ve never said…
          Anyway what does it have to do with what I said?
          Abolitionnists don’t blame prostitutes, we are quite aware of the cultural/economical/gender inequalities and oppressions, the objectification of women and the causes and consequences of it, etc etc etc but everyone here told you that already (even I), but you didn’t answer those points.

          Just why?

          • http://escortingsugar.tumblr.com E.S.

            Well. Now that we’re on the subject. Do you believe we can choose to go into this line of work?
            “Cultural/economical/gener inequalities and oppressions, the objectification of women and the causes and consequences of it…” I’ve already answered questions about it. How I believe it is an exchange of power, rather than male dominance. Did I not? What didn’t I answer that wouldn’t be repeating myself if I do now?

          • http://ewinsor.wordpress.com lizor

            “How I believe it is an exchange of power, rather than male dominance”

            Yeah. And I believe Trayvon Martin’s death was a result of a legitimate feeling of threat (just an exchange of power!) and NOT a manifestation of deeply enculturated racism.

            Also a black person who “just likes pleasing white people” is perfectly normal.

          • Lo

            So you’re just denying that we live in a patriarchal society.
            I already told you it is a fact. Gender/economical/etc oppressions are facts, your “exchange of power” doesn’t mean anything in this context, oppressed don’t have any power. They just adapt themselves to the oppressors to survive.

  • http://escortingsugar.tumblr.com E.S.

    (Meant this to be at the bottom)
    @ Missfit:
    In response to your “Respect is not what is going to bring business to pimps..” I never said anything about what will bring the most profit. And I don’t believe that’s how things should operate. That’s a big part of the point I’m trying to make, which I explained above.
    I’m talking about reform here… Reform and regulation to make things safer. This reform would most likely end street prostitution (I know I’ve already said this, but this new platform is more effective I think.) This reform would most likely require workers to work in brothels (like in Nevada,) or with decent agencies, or to at least have partners. The reform would ultimately make sex into something that’s not so taboo, not so hidden. I posted on my blog a radio interview with Dita Von Teese. She spoke about how, over time, her audience began to shift from mostly men to mostly women. I assume that’s because people began to realize she enjoys what she does and that she is only celebrating her body and sexuality…more women began to appreciate that about her. That shift sends a powerful message about what might happen once respect is demanded and becomes the norm. Of course, Dita Von Teese is not having sex with her audience…. But it makes my point about what would happen if the subject of sexuality wasn’t so reserved. This is only a small example.
    And people might argue that even in places where it isn’t taboo, like the Red Light District, there is still evidence of human trafficking. True. There, many of the prostitutes there are illegal immigrants, and many are underage. So the question should be why isn’t the government doing more to regulate and enforce the laws.

    I’ve been asked why try to urge respect in the industry if it has proven to be ineffective. So… Why try to get rid of prostitution if it has proven to be ineffective?

    • epic woman

      Heather Sweet aka Dita Von Teese made hardcore BDSM porn before getting lucky by getting it on with celebrity Marilyn Manson aka Brian Warner.

      Most people don’t know that because her publicists intentionally court women in an effort to move her away from the hardcore porn past that would make her just one more porn actress among millions, and here you are unaware of her true beginnings in filmed BDSM prostitution.

      • http://escortingsugar.tumblr.com E.S.

        Who said I didn’t know she had a past? You mean BDSM porn, not prostitution as you said at the end. And she was also a regular stripper. Your point?

        • epic woman

          The point is she fits the standard multi-platform prostitute mould and her ordinary sex work past is downplayed to the point of erasure because the truth would diminish people’s respect for her, but you mistakenly place her relative success upon people knowing the truth and respecting her anyway.

          Her business plan has been successful because most burlesque-consuming women don’t know the truth, not in spite of it and as a result of growing respect for sex workers as you claim.

          • jo

            I just wanted to say that I <3 your username Epic woman 😀

  • sporenda

    “I’m talking about reform here… Reform and regulation to make things safer. This reform would most likely end street prostitution (I know I’ve already said this, but this new platform is more effective I think.) This reform would most likely require workers to work in brothels (like in Nevada,) or with decent agencies, or to at least have partners. ”

    You don’t seem to be aware that reform and legalization have been implemented for years in lots of countries (Germany, Australia, the Netherlands, NZ etc), with mostly negative consequences.

    – It didn’t end street prostitution: lots of prostitutes don’t want to work in brothels, where they are kept under the permament control of pimps. Also, when they are declared, they have to pay taxes, submit to various inspections and regulations, and lots of prostitutes prefer the freedom they of the street.
    – i didn’t improve the safety of women: prostitues are raped, attacked, stabbed in brothels just like in the streets; they can’t turn down a john, they can’t try to guess if he is dangerous or not, etc.

    In Germany, there is a chain of Eros Centers called “Pacha Club”, they have branches in most major German cities.
    THe biggest of these brothels so far is the one in Köln: huge place, 12 floors, 126 rooms, same number of prostitutes, open 24/7, cut rates for seniors and unemployed, hundreds of clients each day.
    iN more than 10 years that it’s been operating, 2 prostitutes were stabbed to death, Following a police raid, it was discovered that there were 23 prostitutes who were illegal aliens, 4 who were underage (as young as 14), and weapons and cocaine were also found.
    And of course, rowdy customers and fights are a daily occurence at these places, making the neighborood unsafe.

    What you don’t seem to understand is that
    – brothels have been around for centuries: they NEVER reduced street prostitution nor improved the working conditions or safety of prostitutes,
    – brothels are run by pimps and organized crime, most prostitutes prefer to be their own boss than to be ruled by those types
    – most women in these brothels are traficked illegal aliens: the number of volontary prostitutes being far from enough to “staff” these places, poor women from foreign countries must be coerced or trapped into prostitution –by pimps and organized crime.

    The countries that have legalized prostitution are now having second thoughts: the negative consequences of this decision are now obvious: the number of prostitutes has skyrocketed (400 000 in Germany). And this increase concerns both street prostitution and indoor prostitution.

    There is also a huge increase in human traficking, in the number of illegal aliens, and generally an increase in all the types of crimes that go hand in hand with prostitution, like drug traficking.
    Organized crime networks get huge profits from this booming trade in women, legalization amounts to legalizing and funding organized crime. In Western Europe, roughly 85/90% of prostitutes are controlled by criminal networks: mafias from China, Eastern Europe, Africa etc.

    As I said before, your views about prostitution are incredibly unrealistic and uninformed. Being a prostitute has nothing to do with the glamour world of Dita von Teese. There is plenty of info available on the net on what it feels to work in a brothel, often in jail like conditions, in Nevada, Germany or Australia, you should read it instead of posting your ‘Pretty Woman” stories.

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  • stephen m

    @Dean: My browser was unable to place this reply after the comment that it references.

    Your text:

    “Why is the voice of one woman, Rachel Moran, who *used* to sell sex anywhere near as important as the voices of the, I dunno, hundreds of thousands of active sex workers represented by the NSWP?”

    Is NOT accurate in the context you use it. The organizations that are on the membership roster of the NSWP are for the most part organizations that do not have a voting membership of the prostitutes. They tend toward organizations that help prostitutes with heath issues related to prostitution like drug addiction, STDs, AIDS, PTSD etc.

    I would be curious what the prostitutes that you erroneously claim are *represented by NSWP* would say if they were asked about what would be best for them:
    Prostitution industry decriminalization
    OR
    The Nordic Model where their current prostitution activities are decriminalized AND In addition they would get real support to help them escape the brothels and streets with treatment for their prostitution related problems (drugs, alcohol, STDs, PTSD etc.), with opportunity for alternate employment to feed their families.

    It doesn’t take a genius to know what the overwhelming results of the vote would be.

    Sorry Dean the folks here know what prostitution really is and prostitution is not the “work” what you attempt to pretend it is.

    ps You forgot to to include the impressive “International Union of Sex Workers”. They have 10 members, academics/activists/any-interested-parties-who-aren’t-actually-sex-workers (prostitutes). We should all be skeptical of organizations that claim to represent the prostitutes in the sex trade.

  • b

    prostitution came with settler colonialism and land expropriation/dispossession and has been an avenue of violence and exploitation by settler men.