Good piece on sex work by Laurie Penny

(498 Posts)
SolidGoldFrankensteinandmurgh Thu 20-Dec-12 15:43:42

Here. She puts it a bit more elegantly than I usually do...

OldLadyKnowsNothing Fri 21-Dec-12 23:47:02

There is a huge difference to prostitutes, don't their feelings/voices count? Oh, no, not to Radfems, how silly of me.

ThaliaS Fri 21-Dec-12 23:51:20

How silly of you indeed.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sat 22-Dec-12 00:02:56

I find it interesting that the only group of women whose voices are routinely ignored, shouted down and insulted by Radfems are prostitutes. I wonder why that is?

Remind me, when Radfems were shouting about 80,000 trafficked sex-slaves working in British brothels, which resulted in not one but two multi-million pound police operations, involving 55 police forces nationwide raiding brothels on and acting on "information" (Operations Pentameter I and II)... how many convictions were there?

Personally, I can't help feeling that that money and those resources would have been better spent on, ooh, I dunno, DV fast-track courts? A bit of DV training for police, prosecuting solicitors etc?

But no, not if you're a Radfem. You go, gurl!

Frans1980 Sat 22-Dec-12 02:59:48

www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/oct/20/government-trafficking-enquiry-fails

There are supposedly hundreds of thousands of trafficked sex slaves, so why can't we find them? If there were as many as claimed a UK-wide crackdown involving all UK police forces busting into flats, saunas and brothels would at least find some don't you think?

Such operations cost a heapload of money. And countries which enforce anti-prostitution laws spend so much money trying to enforce them. And in Sweden the money comes from funds that could have been used for social work (page 38 of link below).

www.hivlawcommission.org/resources/report/FinalReport-Risks,Rights&Health-EN.pdf

Frans1980 Sat 22-Dec-12 03:04:45

"Personally, I can't help feeling that that money and those resources would have been better spent on, ooh, I dunno, DV fast-track courts? A bit of DV training for police, prosecuting solicitors etc?"

I agree. I feel busting into random homes and brothels all over the country to catch sex workers in the act "in case they might be trafficked" isn't the best way to spend money. Perhaps spending it on services for workers like giving them free STI checks or free condoms or services to help them leave the industry (if that's what they wanted) would be a better use.

ThaliaS Sat 22-Dec-12 19:36:51

Having just days ago read about Susana Trimarco and her struggle to find her sexually enslaved daughter, I'm not going to waste my time debating rape deniers who say there's no such thing as slavery.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-17560518

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sat 22-Dec-12 22:13:56

Er, I think you're the first person on this thread to even mention slavery. confused And wtf is a "rape denier"?

SolidGoldFrankensteinandmurgh Sat 22-Dec-12 23:02:09

No one is denying that slavery and trafficking exist. The insistence that all sex workers are trafficked slaves, even the ones who say they are not, is what is harmful. There is also trafficking and slavery involved in other industries such as catering, agriculture, domestic work and clothing manufacture, but no one makes a big deal out of telling the people who work in those industries of their own free will that they are deluded or lying.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sat 22-Dec-12 23:15:54

The Chinese cockle-pickers who died in Morecambe Bay were trafficked, but not for sexual purposes. People still pick cockles in Morecambe Bay.

Frans1980 Sun 23-Dec-12 01:43:22

Exactly. When people think about "trafficking" they generally think about women forced into prostitution, but don't forget people are also trafficked for non-sexual work eg labour.

I haven't seen a single person on this thread deny trafficking exists. But wildly exaggerating trafficked statistics to create scaremongering and trying to paint all sex workers as victims and all clients as sex predators will benefit noone.

Anaitis Sun 23-Dec-12 02:31:24

I just don't understand why it's OK to buy sex from anyone.

Frans1980 Sun 23-Dec-12 04:26:32

"I just don't understand why it's OK to buy sex from anyone."

If it's between consenting adults indoors in private what's the problem?

StewieGriffinsMom Sun 23-Dec-12 10:54:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SolidGoldFrankensteinandmurgh Sun 23-Dec-12 12:35:33

I don't think that argument holds water, actually. To use the writer's example of it being 'shocking' to offer payment for a family festive dinner: there's nothing shocking about it at all, it's something that some people actually do and the world doesn't end. There are all sorts of activities that people engage in out of friendship, affection, duty, idealism, for sheer pleasure which some people mightalso do in exchange for cash: cooking meals, playing musical instruments, any of the performing arts, giving sympathy and advice (people pay for counselling, and being a counsellor can sometimes be boring and/or distressing).

People who object to the exchange of money for sexual activity are people who have an issue with sex in that they consider it such an intensely different activity to anything else human beings do, that they can't accept it simply isn't such a big deal to others, and that people can choose to engage in sex for money because they find it OK, neither delightful nor horrific, and as such they should have a right to do that.

AnyFuckerForAMincePie Sun 23-Dec-12 12:46:56

The high rate of PTSD in ex-prostitutes might also point to the fact that they also attach a "different value" to selling sex as opposed to selling, for example, carrots

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sun 23-Dec-12 14:09:26

Do we actually know the rate, high or otherwise, of PTSD in ex-prostitutes? Do we actually know how many people in the UK have even worked as prostitutes? How many tried it once or twice and didn't like it; do they count as ex-prostitutes? How many times, or how long, do you have sex for money for you to be considered a prostitute, and does every experience you have afterwards have to be viewed in that light? Do ex-prostitutes declare themselves as such at every available opportunity?

Or do we only look at stats for "people we treat for PTSD" and consider the percentage of ex-prostitutes to be high?

I imagine (but I can't be arsed hunting for numbers) that the percentage of "people we treat for PTSD" who are ex-military will be "high" (given there are charities aimed specifically at them, and not at ex-prostitutes) but I don't see a strong demand that we stop fighting wars.

FestiviaBlueberry Sun 23-Dec-12 14:37:08

"So-called 'radical' feminist groups point to high rates of rape and assault experienced by sex workers as if this were an inevitable, natural consequence of selling sexual services"

It's an inevitable consequences of interacting with men who don't believe women are really human. Men who believe women are human, do not believe that they have the right to stick their cocks in them and use them as wank-socks, just because they've paid for the privilege.

Whenever this topic is discussed, the people who are in favour of the sex trade, never want to discuss the sort of men who are prepared to buy the right to use a woman's body as a masturbatory aid without her enthusiastic participation.

The rape and assault dangers are precisely because of the nature of the clientele - it doesn't matter what legal rights you get, whether the brothels are equipped with clean sheets, whether you get the right to paid holiday and sick pay, the sort of men who feel entitled to buy women's bodies to use as they wish, make them disproportionately more dangerous to women who permit them access to their bodies, than interactions with the average man. They HATE women and they often express their hatred, during encounters with women they have paid to sexually abuse.

No one ever wants to discuss the attitudes of the clients. And how dangerous they are. And how legitimising of those attitudes, support for the sex industry is.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sun 23-Dec-12 14:47:34

Teela Sanders' research suggests that men who use the services of prostitutes are indistinguishable from "the man in the street". The vast majority do indeed at least hope the prostitute isn't horrified/traumatised/trafficked, and is happy in her work. As noted earlier, a trafficked/traumatised/abused/forced prostitute's most likely saviour would be a punter; who else would know?

Of course, just as there are abusive wankers in real life (see Relationships forum) there are abusive wankers who pay prostitutes. But at least prostitutes in brothels have a chance of their screams being heard, and help appearing. A woman working the streets has no time to even start to assess a punter when he's anxious not to be arrested.

FestiviaBlueberry Sun 23-Dec-12 14:54:02

Oh that's all right then.

Let's just support men's right to treat women as wank socks then. Becuase some men do in normal everyday life, let's give them the right to pay for it and call it a legitimate transaction.

And again, we are accepting men's right to treat women as lesser human beings by accepting the argument that because so many of them do that in everyday life, we might as well commodify it and give women the chance to make money from men's god-given entitlement to abuse us.

No. We deny their right to abuse us.

The problem with all these arguments around prostitution, is that they ignore the actual context of patriarchy - the actuality of unequal power-relations. If men and women were equal, prostitution as a thing wouldn't matter. But we're not and until we are, it has to be dealt with in real terms, not in abstract ones.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sun 23-Dec-12 14:59:55

And in real terms, working as a prostitute pays significantly better than working in Tesco, and the hours can be to suit. If you're not the sort of person who is traumatised by having sex for cold, hard cash, why should we deny you the right to do just that?

FestiviaBlueberry Sun 23-Dec-12 15:21:38

Because your right to do that, impacts on the well-being of every other woman in the world. And particularly on the women who do not make the choice to sell their sexual services in a non-coercive context.

And until it doesn't, the well-being of the majority is more important than your right to sell sex IMO. Just as with every other thing in the world - when it causes more harm to society than it brings benefit to you, then you shouldn't be insisting on your right to do it.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sun 23-Dec-12 15:30:57

In what way does an individual choosing to earn cash through prostitution "impact on the well-being of every other woman in the world", and in what way is that different from any other way of earning money? It could easily be argued that working for anyone else supports an exploitative capitalist system which oppresses women worldwide.

grimbletart Sun 23-Dec-12 15:58:48

* The vast majority do indeed at least hope the prostitute isn't horrified/traumatised/trafficked, and is happy in her work*

'Hope' being the relevant word in this sentence.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sun 23-Dec-12 16:03:18

Do you spare as much thought for the person working the checkout in your local supermarket late on Xmas Eve?

SolidGoldFrankensteinandmurgh Sun 23-Dec-12 16:13:13

Festivia: that's one of the arguments the patriarchy uses against women: that what any woman does affects every other woman therefore women should always put other people's interests ahead of their own.

And, actually, in practical terms, (speaking from personal knowledge), it's often those who have chosen to sell sexual services who offer non-judgemental practical help to those who have been forced into doing so. Sex workers who are fighting for their right to work without harassment and stigma, violence and exploitation, are also helping other women rather than harming them, same as everyone fighting for better working conditions is helping other workers.

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