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My reply to Richard Lucas

So, the Bill fell. And I’m getting a lot of responses to my Adultwork profile. Life is good. I might post some of my emails to Kane, the poly dom. I saw them again today and got a bit of a shock. Howl! Seven days to the wolves! (copyright Nightwish – it’s a great song, by the way.) A she-wolf meant a prostitute and of course there’s my Seven Nights stories and fantasy…But before I blog the good stuff, here’s my hilarious (even if I do say so myself) missive to our friend Richard Lucas, a homophobic anti-abortion abolitionist who debated Laura Lee and Douglas Fox. You can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jzgc4PoBfWY I’ve got a reason to dislike -maybe hate – the guy. I don’t usually hate people I’ve never met, but this guy…he’s worse than Ann Widdecombe. And what he said…and my other reason for hating him, which only a couple of people know. This blog would be so much more interesting if I could just tell you. I guess I can say that he made me powerless and uncomfortable, even though I maintained control of the situation. He also defamed people, and I really have a thing about lies.

Anyway, Lucas was giving his usual whorephobia/pro-full criminalisation moralising to Scot-PEP, and Glasgow Sex Worker, who was Facebooking for Scot-Pep at the time, replied. So did Gaye Dalton and Matty King, and Lucas was of course steadfastly maintaining his position and questioning someone’s story of abuse in their childhood. (He also pointed out his views differ from Grant’s – yes, they’re WORSE!)

Here’s my incredibly long reply:

Oh Richard. Truly it is a privelege – nay, an honour – to meet such a uniquely arrogant moralist-driven oppressor as yourself. I bow to an inflated pride far greater than my own. Your sense of entitlement to govern the careers and bodies of your fellow humans is indeed a wonder to behold. Oh Lord Richard, I am so angry right now that I’m aroused and could hatefuck you – but all in its own time. For now, to work:

Okay: So, what you haven’t addressed is what gives you the right to moralise. Yes, you say you evaluate sex work “on its own basis” but you’re candid about your religious beliefs – for which I do genuinely respect you. So, what if Muslims, Jews, Pagans, Wiccans, Hindus and Mormons all got their way with the law? Every religion as a different view. Why is Christianity the chosen superior religion that should rule the masses? In 2013, should Britain turn from a democracy into a theocracy? When laws are based on religion, that is theocracy; so you are prepared to condemn these sceptered isles to a future of theocratic control? And come to that; why is YOUR brand of Christianity the supreme truth over Catholicism, Rastafarianism, Jehovah’s Winess(ism?) and those loonies who cast out demons? You want full criminalisation, and that results in murder, rape, increased trafficking and sex workers being arrested and so unable to exit the industry because employers wont hire criminals.

Their children get stolen by the state just because the mum or dad is working in the sex industry. You have children, oh Richard the Saviour of All the Unsaved. Imagine if social workers snatched your sons just because you’re a minister. Imagine losing custody battles, being imprisoned, being outed in the press, just because of your job. Sex work isn’t my career, unlike other sex workers you’ve debated. I’m not representative. But I still fear being outed. I know 5 people on Twitter who have been outed, as were Laura Lee and Douglas Fox. (I believe LL was outed twice- once in the 1990s and once more recently.) You cannot comprehend how much I wish I could say this with my real name. But so many people get fired for past sex work, even if it was 10 or 20 years ago, that I cannot risk it. Though it’s not my career, my blog’s existence and its explicitness put me at more risk of discrimination than the few other virginity sellers who’ve been documented. So, Oh Prophet Mine, the question is: are you really going to have women and men murdered, raped, mugged, exploited, fired, outed, separated from their children, stigmatised, discriminated against by potential employers, and saddled with criminal records JUST TO SATISFY YOUR MORALISM? Will you do that? If you are against prostitution then criminalisation – whether full crim or criminalising the buyer – works AGAINST you. It stops sex workers finding jobs in other industries and keeps them doing sex work. One woman was fired after her boss found out she acted in a porn film several years ago. She ended up going back to sex work for five years – the very job that her boss hated! Besides, other industries cause much more harm than sex work. We’re killing people in other countries. They are starving right now because we have to have nice clothes and drink at Starbucks and buy cheap jewellery. We’re killing animals. We get fat stuffing ourselves with chocolate and the farmers don’t get a fair price; their kids never get an education or enough food. This laptop was probably made by children working 14 hour shifts, or it’d have cost thousands of pounds.

Richard, if you’d like to buy my virginity, DM me on Twitter (@KalikaGold) Offers over £12,000 considered. I’m a Masters student, young, 22D, 5″6. Photos on request. I’m a bit bi so could do your wife as well or any grown-up children you may have (I could do you a family discount). (My original client went AWOL after I sold sexual services twice for £2,000).

 

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Why sex worker activists should support the decriminalisation of street work

First published on Harlot’s Parlour.

(I’m not a sex worker activist and though I’ve been planning this post for months, I wasn’t sure if I should write it; if I’m not a sex worker activist, or even a representative sex worker, then how can I tell sex worker activists what to think? But after a  brief conversation on Twitter, I decided to finally post this. – K )

If you’re for sex workers’ rights then you have to be for street sex workers’ rights too. Otherwise you’re not standing for ALL sex workers. If you think that your brand of sex work, whatever it is, should be decriminalised and that you deserve rights but that street sex work should remain criminalised, then that’s elitism. You’re saying that you’re “better” than street workers, or that you’re different to them in a way that you aren’t different to other sex workers who work in different areas of the industry but not on the street.

And if you take the view that street sex work is dangerous and therefore should be criminalised – well. Doesn’t that sound familiar? It’s the antis’ argument against the entire sex industry (including the adult entertainment industry). So, basically, you’re an anti – just an anti who wants non-street work decriminalised but is still for the abolition of street work.

Finally, if you believed that street sex workers have agency and can choose to work, how could you deny them human and labour rights? So it’s clear that to be in support of criminalising street sex work, you have to see street workers as having no agency or in need of “rescuing” by sex worker activists. Again, this might sound all too familiar.

And let’s be practical – criminalising street sex work in the UK has been proven to create what academics call the “revolving door” effect: street workers are fined for soliciting and then have to do more sex work to pay off the fine. While working to pay off the fine, they’re arrested again and hit with another fine, and so on. Which actually stops them from “exiting” street work (oh, how I hate that phrase – for all other jobs we say “finding another job”.) So, if you’re eager to rescue street workers, criminalisation actually works against your objectives. Not to mention the fact that a woman or man with several soliciting offences on their criminal record is not going to find it easy to get employment in another industry.

The Merseyside model includes exiting strategies and only uses arrest as a last resort, though unfortunately the use of exiting strategies instead of fines is, in my view, just as intrusive and is also a harassment – not to mention insulting as it implies that street work is unacceptable and that the worker doesn’t have agency. (That’s the one bit of the Merseyside model that I would wish to see changed. I mean, if they’re so obsessed with rescuing, why not rescue street workers into another type of sex work, like indoor work or, if they fit agencies’ preferences (or there are ‘specialising’ agencies nearby), agency work?)) Not that I’m for rescuing anybody anywhere; it’s just an interesting question why the police feel that the entire sex industry is exploitative but other industries are totally fine.

The fact that street sex work is criminalised might be making it more dangerous. Since clients were criminalised for kerb-crawling, maybe the law looks more equal, but it might be having the effect of weeding out the clients who don’t want a criminal record, leaving only those who might already be known to the police. How are the workers and clients supposed to report any violence they witness or experience if they know they’ll get a court appearance and a criminal record? The clients know that the workers might not report violence so they might not be deterred by the possibility of police action. (This could also be true of the sex workers, who might be more prepared to perpetrate crimes against clients because they know the clients won’t report it.) I’m not just talking about violence here, but blackmail or theft as well.

Therefore, the more dangerous you think street sex work is, the more you should be in support of decriminalising it. While there is some evidence (in the Home Office report referred to below) that criminalising clients forces street workers to work indoors in relative safety, that was a small-scale study and it’s obvious that there are still street workers even though street work is criminalised in the UK.

References:

R. Matthews (1986) “Beyond Wolfenden? Prostitution, Politics and the Law” in R. Matthews and J. Young (eds) Confronting Crime, London: Sage

R. Matthews (2008) “Prostitution, vulnerability and victimisation” in Prostitution, Politics and Policy, Abingdon: Routledge-Cavendish

The Scottish Executive (2004) Being Outside: A Response to Street Prostitution (about exiting strategies and small red light zones in non-residential areas of cities. Proves that there’s only about 2,000 sex workers in all of Scotland who street walk OR work out of flats – meaning that less than 2,000 are street workers, as the number includes independent indoor workers.  Available at:http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/30859/0024989.pdf)

J. Phoenix (2000) “Prostitute Identities: Men, Money and Violence” British Journal of Criminology 40 (1) 37-55  (There is violence, but it’s not as bad as some NGO’s make it seem, and it’s hard to see how criminalization would enable these sex workers to report violence to the police or leave violent boyfriends. Oh, and non-sexworkers also experience domestic abuse, even rape.)

R. Matthews (1993) Kerb-Crawling, Prostitution and Multi-Agency Policing”, Police Research Group Paper 43, London: Home Office

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2013 in Sex work

 

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Rape victims get 50% of compensation cut for doing sex work

At the Sex Worker Open University (SWOU) event in Glasgow, the ECP revealed that after police failed to deal with a serial rapist, they funded a successful private prosecution. But the two women had their Criminal Injuries Compensation cut by 50% – because they sex workers.

Para 25 p11 of the Ministry of Justice’s Guidelines state that compensation can be cut for “conduct”:

An award may be withheld or reduced where the conduct of the applicant before,during or after the incident giving rise to the criminal injury makes it inappropriate to make an award or a full award.

Sex work was considered “conduct” which provoked the rape. No other job could be so willfully and openly punished, and no other rape victim would have been victim-blamed so much. If anyone was in doubt that sex workers are stigmatised, this is the final proof.

Happily, the problem is easy to remedy. Para 25 goes on to say “For this purpose, conduct does not include intoxication through alcohol or drugs to the extent that such intoxication made the applicant morevulnerable to becoming a victim of a crime of violence.” So all that is needed is for the words “choice of career”, “work”, “sex work” or similar before or after the line about intoxication.

As Irish Law student  @belowcontempt noted, the Irish Criminal Compensation laws are even more far-reaching, though they also do not specify rape or sex work.

Compensation was witheld – for both rape and murder – in Australia in 2006. The judge reportedly made shocking comments like “this wasn’t a woman waiting at home for her husband.”

Women are being reduced to their job – sex work. They aren’t human beings, they’re commodities. This is also insulying to men because it imples that rape is simply a risk of the job, that all clients are potential rapists.

The targetting of sex workers raises a number of philosophical conundrums: would compensation be cut if a sex worker is raped while not doing sex work, for example if she is raped by her husband? What if a man is raped one hour before exiting the sex industry? Or if, an hour after being raped, a woman joins becomes a sex worker (and how would the start time be calculated, anyway? Her first phone call to the escort agency, or when she sees her first client?) Gaye Dalton (@mechanima) raised an interesting question: where would I fit? How would they see my conduct? Are all sex workers equally culpable in their own rapes, or are VirginWhores less fallen so maybe should only have their compensation cut by a third instead of by half? Or is selling virginity even more reprehensible to men who literally reward (with compensation) sexual inexperience in women and punish experience?

This is disgusting. A century ago, rape wasn’t recognised as rape if the victim was not a virgin. And it looks like nowadays, rape isn’t really rape if the victim is not a non-sex worker. The Criminal Compensation Scheme is literally ascribing more value to ‘good women’ than to sex workers.

And even in its misogyny, it fails. Because non-sexworkers can be “sluts” and they won’t even require payment for doing it. At least sex workers only do it for work. And as I pointed out above, it seems to be a lottery of when you get raped – if you haven’t stopped or started sex work yet, you get double the compensation.

Government incentives to keep the women of Britain pure and under control.

Ministry of Justice Criminal Injuries Compensation Guidelines: http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/victims-and-witnesses/cic-a/am-i-eligible/criminal-injuries-comp-scheme-2012.pdf

The Irish Department of Justice’s guidelines: http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/Criminal_Injuries_Compensation_Scheme

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2013 in Sex work

 

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Police Chiefs tell all UK forces to spy on sexworkers, sabotage their ads & stop people entering sex work

While researching for the Merseyside Model campaign, The Slutocrat came across the ACPO (National Association of Chief Police Officers) Guidelines on Policing Prostitution and Sexual Exploitation Strategy (yes, they have tied the two together because obviously sex work and trafficking are all the same thing). I don’t even think exploitation, rape and trafficking are the same thing – they’re all vile, but they’re different and you can be exploited without being raped or trafficked.

I thought tweeting some of the bad stuff would be enough, (I did that yesterday) but the more I read, the more I realised I had to do a blog on it. I’m not going to mention the good stuff that was in it, because The Slutocrat is going to do that (because we’re trying to publicise the Merseyside model and some feminists won’t click into my blog because it has the word ‘whore’ in the title – though apparently having ‘slut’ in the title is fine).

The guidelines themselves do make limited use of the term sex worker, and do acknowledge that sex work has a long tradition in human society. Sadly, the text of the guidelines seem to confuse sex work with exploitation and blur both with trafficking, and use of the term “prostitution” instead of sex work is consistent throughout. The focus on interfering in sex workers’ lives and trying to make them exit the industry is especially worrying, as even if the police do consider someone to be exploited, they could help them find non-exploitative roles in the sex industry. The police are told to treat all migrant sex workers as trafficking victims until they prove they know they haven’t been trafficked (p8) which is nonsensical at best, and ‘othering’ or disscriminatory at worst (from the point of view of migrant sex workers).

The guidelines refer to sex workers’ cards in phone booths and the sight of sex workers and clients as “visual pollution” and claims that the presence of sex workers is risky for “the vulnerable” (p9). It also seems to assume that all (not just some) sex workers are exploited: “People who use the services of sex workers may not consider themselves to be exploiters, but it is the sex workers’ loss of self-esteem (and/or drug dependency, poverty, etc.) that is often being exploited.” (p10)

The Guidelines state “A key aim must be to ensure that individuals donot become involved in prostitution in the first place” (p7) – apparently freedom of choice and the choosing of one’s career are unimportant in modern police-work.

And what about “Creating a bespoke intelligence “picture” for each local area of active sex workers, which includes new sex workers to the area, kerb-crawlers and exploiters/coercers” (p8) and building intelligence on clients, whom they call “users and abusers” (p10)? This might be a good thing to protect vulnerable street workers, but are workers in any other field of employment spied on by the State like this?

The police also admit to colluding with BT to remove sex workers’ cards from phone booths (p10).

Prostitution is victim-centred, not victim-less” they state on p5 – and they obviously mean ALL sex work, not just some…looks like the radfems have sunk their claws into our police now. Which begs the question of what a radfem state would look like.

Remember how the police raided sex work establishments in the run-up to the Olympics, forcing workers to be questioned while still in their work clothes and deporting a few women? (No trafficking victims were found). Well, it seems like all along the police knew that there wasn’t going to be trafficking in the run-up to the Games: “Concerns were raised in a Metropolitan Police Authority report, published in 2009, that sex trafficking may increase in the lead up to the 2012 Olympic Games. At present there is no intelligence to support that such a trend is occurring. During the run up to the Games, the Human Exploitation and Organised Crime Command (SCD9) of the Metropolitan Police Service is working to disrupt prostitution [not just trafficking, but all sex work/”prostitution”]and rescue victims, including victims of trafficking [“including victims of trafficking” – what other victims are there? Victims of sex work??], in the five Olympic London boroughs.”

If they knew trafficking wasn’t going on, then stopping trafficking couldn’t have been their motivation for the raids. So- what was their motivation?

On the whole, the use of language is offensive and very stigmatising of the sex industry as a whole, but hopefully we can use these guidelines for a good purpose – to back up the implementation of the Merseyside model.

The ACPO’s Guidelines on Policing Prostitution and Sexual Exploitation Strategy

http://www.acpo.police.uk/documents/crime/2011/20111102%20CBA%20Policing%20Prostitution%20and%20%20Sexual%20Exploitation%20Strategy_Website_October%202011.pdf

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2013 in Sex work

 

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PHALLACY: The myth that prostitutes are ‘used’ by men

The idea that sex workers are ‘used’ or that their bodies are commodities is a fallacy. But many feminists use this argument to claim that sex work is degrading, anti feminist, commodifies women or is harmful to them. Moralists (who are sometimes indistinguishable from the radical feminists) use the argument to justify looking down on sex workers or pitying them because they’re “degraded”. The radfem myths of ‘false consciousness’ and sexworkers’ lack of agency are also  heavily dependent on seeing them as used bodies, as sex slaves.

But if you think that sex workers are used by clients, that idea is actually made up of several patriarchal ideas about gender and gender rules.

1) It means you think there aren’t male sex workers and that there aren’t female clients. So it’s a world where there are no LGBTQ people to sell sex or buy sex. It’s also a world where only men like sex and therefore pay for it; women are chaste so would never buy sex. They only provide it. They don’t have sex for pleasure. They only have sex for money, just like housewives or women who marry for money. The word “patriarchal” doesn’t quite cover it; words like heterosexist and double standard could be applied here, too. And of course it’s all about rigid gender norms and a non-fluid gender identity – as well as other things. So, this idea is clearly flawed because male sex workers and female buyers do exist. In the Irish Justice committee’s sex work hearing, Quinlan gave evidence that in Sweden twice as many men as women sell sex (to both women and men).

2) It means you believe in the economic model of sex. The economic model is the idea of sex which is the most misogynistic and the most harmful to women. The economic model says that women “give” sex for other things like money/financial security (i.e. housewives and prostitutes) or love. This also means that sex is something women ‘have’ that men “get”. So, a woman will always lose something (an unknown entity) through sex and the man will always gain something (sex) from the woman. This is exactly what radfems believe – that only men by sex, and they buy it from women; and that no woman would really ever choose to be a sexworker. Again, the double standard and rigid gender identities and gender norms are all connected with this, and again LGBTQ people are conspicuosly absent. Other models of sex are less misogynistic. For example the performance model would view women and men as equals, and focus on the act as “doing” rather than as one person “getting” something from the other (which makes absolutely no logical sense, anyway.) The economic model is flawed.

3) It means that you don’t believe women enjoy sex. Radfems think that no woman would choose to be a sex worker and so all sex workers are either trafficked or only doing it because they’ve got no other choice. Not some sex workers – all of them. But if women get pleasure from it, it would follow that some women would choose a job in the sex industry, or at least wouldn’t need rescuing by feminists.

4) It means you believe that women should be pure and that the sanctity of the female body isa real thing, and is precious. Or why else would uneducated women doing sex work to avoid being on benefits be such a tragedy? “Little girls don’t dream about being a prostitute,” they say. But little girls don’t dream about working in Tesco’s or Poundland or McDonald’s. They also don’t dream about doing boring jobs like being a wages clerk or hman resources personnel, but the reality of life is that many jobs are administrative and nonexciting. Most people don’t get to be princesses or astronauts or cowboys or pirates. But radfems act like women working in the sex industry is a tragedy, and seem to prefer women to be on the dole, barely able to eat and stigmatised as unemployed. Wouldn’t you rather be unreasonably stigmatised for working as a sex worker than be unreasonably stigmatised for not being able to work and being the poorest of the poor, while being harassed and bullied by the Jobcentre? Because that’s what Jobseeker’s Allowance amounts to. Radfems also only focuus on sex trafficking and talk about it as if it’s separate from all other labour trafficking/human trafficking, despite labour trafficking being a much bigger problem. So it seems that, for radfems,  if it involves sex – whether it’s a job or a crime – it’s infinitely worse.

5) You think sex is degrading. Or why would radfems think sex work is degrading, but give other jobs where you have to touch peoples’ bodies (doctor, masseuse, carer, midwife, gynecologist etc) a free pass? And lots of people are degraded and dehumanized while working as waitresses, shop assistants or in any kind of employment. Casual workers and low-wage workers are particularly vulnerable. I knew a school girl who worked part-time as a shop assistant who was forced to clean toilets by the boss who hated her. I had to tell my boss whenever I went to the toilet as a waitress; my boss frequently swore and shouted at me and once docked my pay.for telling a customer the wrong price. These stories aren’t unique; my co-workers were paid £3 per hour at one job, and knew a waiter who was only allowed noodles for lunch (he had to eat on the premises). I could tell more stories, and they’re all stuff that happened to me, my friends,acquaintances and co-workers. This was clearly exploitation, but we were too young to know it or too desperate for money to care. Some employers don’t register employees, especially students and pupils, which means that these teens and young people have no rights. You can be fired on a whim, which means you’ll do anything to keep your job, like changing the bins in the toilets or sitting through 20 minutes of yelling and criticism (both of which I have done at two different jobs). Yet radfems think that if it’s not sex, it’s not as bad – even though a sex worker earns £100-£200 per hour and we were paid the minimum wage or under it. So even if sexwork is degrading, at least you’re being paid a lot to be degraded; it’s better than being paid peanuts to be degraded. But again, without sex, it’s just ordinary exploitation and the radfems don’t care.

 

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, the myth that sex workers are used by clients does not hold together. It’s based on untrue facts (that sex workers are women and clients are men) and all the other component parts of the myth are flawed or illogical.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2013 in Sex work

 

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Pretty Woman and Belle de Jour: Are they happy hooker myths or the complete opposite?

“It’s not like Pretty woman, you know,” say the abolitionists whenever the issue of sex work (“prostitution”) comes up. They use this one-liner to justify criminalizing sexwork and pushing the Swedish or end demand model (which makes paying for any kind of sexual services a crime) on the rest of the country. At other times, a more 21st-century version of the old gem is used: “It’s not all Belle de Jour”.

But first…THINGS ABOLITIONISTS MISS

1) “It’s not all Pretty Woman” is only a valid and relevant argument if Pretty Woman was designed as a documentary to speak for sex workers. It is meant to be fiction. We all know Hollywood gets it wrong, especially with regard to marginalized groups; they do this all the time.

2) “It’s not all Belle de Jour” also makes no sense; the books do not claim to speak for all sex workers; the blog called itself “Diary of a call girl” – i.e. the diary of a specific individual; the books were called the “intimate adventures” of a call girl; again, a single individual. They were not academic articles or textbooks. Why do abolitionists persevere in thinking that Belle was speaking for anyone other than herself? And with lots of sex worker and sex activists out there, they choose Belle to focus on – feminism, or jealousy because the others aren’t famous? Hmmm…

3) You can’t call a real story unrealistic

4) Pretty Woman represents a street sex worker, not the majority of sex workers

5) Abolitionists and the feminists who side with them use criticism of Pretty Woman and Belle de Jour interchangeably, not realising that they’re not the same or even similar things, and it’s not ethical or logical to think of them as similar. To elaborate: when you say you hate a film, that’s OK. You’re criticizing the scriptwriters, actors, director, producer – everyone and every thing that holds a movie together. (Note that feminists use the title oof the film when they criticise it). But when you say you hate a memoir, you’re saying something againsst the person – not the author (because its not fiction) but the person (because it’s a memoir). Saying a film script isn’t realistic doesn’t hurt anyone; films exist to make big bucks for the studio and they’re multi-person projects as well as completely fictitious. But saying a memoir isn’t realistic is different. (Note that the so-called feminists don’t use the book’s or TV series’ name here, they use the writer’s name). And these two cultural phenomena are totally different: one’s a multi-million dollar project started by studio execs, made by celebrities and created as fiction. The other is the un-funded true story of a year-and-a-bit in the life of a migrant student, as told in her own words.

Am I suggesting the feminists shouldn’t criticise the blog, books or TV series? YES. No. I mean, we dish it to them, too; and free speech for one and all, right? I’m just suggesting that they see Pretty Woman and Secret Diary of A London Call Girl as separate, very different entities, and think more carefully about which of the two to criticise in any argument, and what point they’re trying to make by bringing it up.

6) The other Belle de Jour book and film, which Brooke Magnanti named herself after. (“It’s not all Belle de Jour! I mean the first Belle de Jour!”)

bdj67

PRETTY WOMAN

What they allege – with no evidence – is that Pretty Woman is not an accurate portrayal of sex workers (or, in their lingo, ‘prostituted women’). And actually I agree – but for the opposite reasons. The character in Pretty Woman is a street sex worker. Street workers make up only about 10% of sex workers in the UK, so the film is not relevant to the UK sex industry (and it was made in the USA, not UK). I’d heard all about how the movie unrealistically glamourises sex work, so when I watched it on TV I got a shock. It seemed as if the film had been written and performed to stigmatise sex workers and the sex industry.

And far from glamourising prostitution, the film actually stigmatises and stereotypes sex workers. Vivian dresses in a revealing outfit, has never seen an elevator or been inside a nice hotel, is awed by the size of a small room, is emotional, is unable to even shop for a dress without the help of others, and charges $300 per hour yet is stupid enough to stay an entire week for $3,000 which really would only be the price for 10 hours. I mean, yeah, I get it that if you use more of a service or buy in bulk you get discounts – but that discount seems a bit much.

Vivian also feels upset that her client told his friend she is a sex worker, and decides to leave without taking the payment for the services she has sold. This is stereotyping sex workers as ashamed of their careers, as if all sex workers are slut-shamers and furthermore have internalised that slut-shaming and turned it on themselves.

Vivian is portrayed as uneducated; her friend appears to be struggling with money.

Vivian then falls in love with Edward (after only knowing him for a few days). She decides to leave the sex industry (suggesting sex workers are unhappy and want to leave.)

This quote from Wikipedia says it all:

His leaping from the white limousine, and then climbing the outside ladder and steps, is a visual urban metaphor for the knight on white horse rescuing the “princess” from the tower, a childhood fantasy Vivian told him about. The film ends as the two of them kiss on the fire escape.

The whore has redeemed herself by love and monogamy with the kind of alpha male that would return in two decades’ time in the form of Christian Grey.

Conclusion: Not happy hooker! Instead, its a radfem’s wet dream, and pure hollywood from start to finish.

 

BELLE DE JOUR

I’ve only read a bit of the first book, but it’s obvious that this is more than antis have read, so that’s why I feel qualified enough to comment on it. I will also be using stuff like logic and actual reference to the text instead of huge sweeping statements about Pornstitution or Moral Decay or the State of The Country Today And Why Feminism No Not Your Feminism But My Slut Bashing Feminism Is The One True Way.

There is nothing “glamourising” about the book. In fact, sex bloggers right here on WordPress glamourise sex far more than Belle ever did. Her books are not explicit; they cover many aspects of her life including relationships with family, friends and The Boy. The whole point of the award-winning blog was that the sex work narrative got entangled with everything else – and maybe that’s one reason why the blog/books were successful. A description of one sexual act after another with no exploration of relationships and emotions may not be destined for success except as erotica or porn. I was surprised at the lack of explicit detail in the book, that summer day in 2011 or 2010. I remember reading “..and a bit of (very light) torture” and being slightly irritated with the author (who I only knew as ‘Belle’, unaware her identity had been revealed a year earlier), like, ‘I want the juicy juicy details!!!’

Does Belle de Jour glamourise sex work as much as E.L. James glamourises monogamy or marriage? Brand-names and helicopters don’t feature in Belle’s work. Or, for that matter, does it glamourise sex work as much as James Bond glamourises spying (and murdering)?

When you consider other published memoirs such as Sarah K’s BDSM memoir or the sex blogging of Zoe Margolis, the “glamourising” charge becomes even more problematic.

I’m no literary critic, but I’d say that the theme of Belle de Jour is one person trying to live her life; it has been said that recurring themes are loneliness, self-sufficiency and independence, though personally I’m unconvinced about the loneliness. But this blog – the Diary category – probably ‘glamourises’ sex work even more. I write in a sexually explicit way, being careful not to omit a single detail. Recurring themes are thrills, experience and sexual fantasy. The joy experienced by selling sex is repeatedly stated. My blog is not only memoir, but also (arguably) sex blogging – something Belle de Jour (arguably) never was explicit enough to be.

So why is it okay for sex bloggers to glamourise sex? Because they’re glamourising unpaid sex?

Antis feel sorry for me, and annoy me but they don’t say I’m glamourising prostitution…which may prove that instead of being about feminism or morality, they discredit people based on good old fashioned envy of fame and (in this case, percieved) material wealth.

The TV series was about a sex worker quitting sex work but finding out that it’s not as easy as it seems (this was the series’ tagline) – again, stereotyping sex workers as not enjoying their job. How is this glamourising? It is clearly showing the sex industry in a negative light, and the sex worker as having little agency and control over her own life and being unable to exit the industry.

Another criticism abolitionists and radfems make of the Belle books is that they’re unrealistic. But “Belle” was a real person who had really worked as a sex worker – her testimony is as real as the stories of the few prostitution survivors who are used by abolitionists to speak for their cause.

Abolitionists also haven’t figured out the main difference between Vivian and Belle: one isn’t real, the other is a real person deserving of respect like all human beings. There’s a reason why, when Belle had full editorial control (her blog) sex work was not portrayed negatively (or at least not more so than many other jobs) but in the TV series and in Pretty Woman it was portrayed as an industry the sex worker wanted to leave.

Conclusion: Belle de Jour is realistic because it is a memoir and you don’t get any more realistic than that. It has equal legitimacy with, (and represents the experiences of sexworkers much more closely than) the stories of the women who call themselves survivors. It does not glamourise sex work; it only tells a true story and is less glamourising of sex work than sex bloggers are of sex.

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2013 in Film, Literature, Sex work

 

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Ruhama Agency ran the Magdalene Laundries: Round 2 of abusing fallen women, or, how sex workers replaced Magdalenes

The government disappointed survivors and Justice For Magdalenes campaigners yesterday by not apologising for being complicit. Perhaps if more people realised that the Ruhama Agency which is currently advising the government on sex work is run by the same people who ran the Magdalene Laundries, they would be even more outraged. The Magdalene Laundries were started for sex workers, then later began preying on unmarried mothers as well, and on women who committed minor crimes like taking a night off work or not paying for a train ticket. Sex workers were abused and died in the laundries, and now those same people are advising the government on policy which directly affects sex workers. And sex workers weren’t allowed into the Dail hearing where Ruhama was giving evidence to the government.

The Ruhama Agency was started in 1989, and its trustees continued to run both Ruhama Agency and the laundries together, until the last Magdalene laundry closed in 1996. Ruhama have refused to meet with Magdalene Laundries survivors and say they can’t pay compensation. Allegedly, they’ve also silenced sex workers online by taking down sex worker rights ads and paying for Ruhama ads that intercept search engine terms used to find sex workers’ activism sites. They also allegedly censored tweets about Ruhama abusing girls from an abolitionist parody Twitter account, which was suspended three times until yesterday when the Magdalene Laundries report came out. On the day when Ruhama feared the parody account would tweet about the report (or that people would be more interested in the parody), the account was suspended for a fourth time. Ruhama also replied to tweets about abuse, saying they were “serious allegations” when we all know – and the Magdalene Laundries survivors know – that it was all too real.

The next sex work hearing will be secret and will not be streamed, according to Pat O’Neary, as reported by individuals who emailed and phoned him. This is wrong – all policy must be made in the open and sex workers must be included as they’re affected most of all.

The Ruhama Agency is still being listened to and valued by the government while survivors are ignored (the Magdalene Laundries investigation was only started because the UN Commiitee Against Torture required it) and sex workers are not allowed to influence policies which affect them the most out of everyone (or even witness the hearing).

Even now amid the Magdalene Laundries controversy, those responsible are still excercising their power over fallen women – just not confining themselves to a few thousand women in the laundries. This time, the whole of Ireland is their playground. There has been little change – this is just Round Two of their state-sponsored attack on fallen women. Only, now sex workers have replaced the mix of sex workers, unmarried mothers and minor criminals who made up the “magdalenes”, and instead of enslaving women in convents, they’re actually lawmakers now.

Ruhama are contributing to making laws about sex workers by advising government. And the law they’re pushing for is the Swedish model which will result in more rape, murder and trafficking in the sex industry and expose sex workers to unsafe working conditions, abuse by police and control by pimps.  And, funded and listened to by a state which excluded its victims from the hearing, they might just succeed.

Interested? Here’s more…

Ruhama won’t meet with survivors of the Magdalene Laundries and claim they can’t pay compensation – even though they’ve recieved over 14 million euros since 2006 from the Health Service Executive alone. http://www.paddydoyle.com/laundry-orders-run-sex-workers-aid-group/

Media reports that Ruhama is run by those who ran the laundries, and is funded by TWO government depts! http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2011/0625/1224299584327.html

A sex worker’s rights blog on how Ruhama are harming sex workers: http://www.stop-the-lights.com/old/times.htm

Ruhama does very little work; last year Ruhama only helped 241 women (some of whom were ongoing cases) and none of which were trafficking victims. (They say a few are “suspected” trafficking victims, but list no figure for women who said they were trafficked). Do they really need all that funding from taxpayers? http://www.thejournal.ie/ruhama-reports-18-per-cent-increase-in-demand-for-support-services-567797-Aug2012/ And last year was already a large increase in the numbers!

Ruhama try to silence sex workers online by taking down sex worker rights ads: http://www.turnoffthebluelight.ie/2011/06/08/ruhama-paying-to-stop-people-seeing-what-sex-workers-have-to-say/

Follow #sexworkhearing, #sexwork and #JusticeForMagdalenesNow on Twitter for live tweets of the hearing and more on Ruhama, the laundries and sex work politics.

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2013 in Sex work

 

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