privilege and prostitution

(283 Posts)
ezinma Wed 26-Mar-14 15:15:39

Appearing in my social media today is one of those sharp and sassy thoughts for the day that I’m invited to approve by sharing. Where better to share it than here:

So, you are against prostitution. But you're an attractive person with a boyfriend. Who I assume you have sex with. That gives you privilege. Some people aren't so lucky. The only way they can get laid is by paying for it. Why do you think you have the right to experience one of life's fundamental experiences and others don't?

It’s from tumblr so we ought to make some allowances. Let’s, if we may, overlook the fact that I am a middle-aged frump with a civil partner; the debatable contention that sex, in and of itself, is one of life’s fundamental experiences; the erasure of women who aren’t “lucky” enough to have a boyfriend and whose right to A Fundamental Experience presumably requires them to seduce a partner using skills that cannot be withdrawn from a bank machine; and the regrettable (though now unavoidable) misuse of ‘privilege’ to refer to any old scenario where one group of people has a little bit more access to something than another group does. (Have I missed anything?)

What remains is the daring suggestion that a woman might be against prostitution because she is attractive. Since it's already well established that we fat old frumps are against prostitution — no glamorous john would waste his beer money on buying our flabby arses, and we are bitter about it! — then I’m left with only one conclusion: a woman’s attractiveness has no influence on her opinions about prostitution.

A lightbulb moment for me. Thanks, tumblr. hmm

dashoflime Wed 26-Mar-14 15:22:07

I. Hate. Tumblr angry

I weep for the youngsters who are attempting to reach a political analysis through discussion with other ignorant people on a micro blogging site.

It makes me feel really old. Even older than I felt the first time I heard music from my youth at a "nostalgia night." It makes me feel like the younger generation are an alien species that I can never reach or understand. How can they believe this nonsense?

Damn you tumblr!!!!

newbieman1978 Wed 26-Mar-14 15:42:41

What would be the feminist view on the prostutution aimed at disabled people? I saw a very moving documentary on the subject and I have to say it did sway my view somewhat if only in that sort of specific case.

I don't know the figures off hand but disabled people have a far lower relationship rate than abled body people, many never experiencing any form of tangible sexual relationship.

Keepithidden Wed 26-Mar-14 15:47:21

Newbie - I think there's always been a cultural repulsion at the idea of disabled people enjoying sexual relations. There was a recent episode of "Call the midwife" (DW watches it!) about a Downs Syndrome couple who were split up because of a sexual relationship. I doubt it is unusual even now.

Get rid of that and the battle is almost won.

vesuvia Wed 26-Mar-14 16:16:46

newbieman1978 wrote - "What would be the feminist view on the prostutution aimed at disabled people?"

My view is that negative attitudes about disability should be eliminated to improve the chances of disabled people finding truly consensual sexual relationships with people who want to have sex with them without payment. Society should take this approach instead of trying to normalise, encourage, excuse or justify the buying of a prostitute's consent.

TheGirlFromIpanema Wed 26-Mar-14 16:23:57

Newbie I think that no-one has a 'right' to a sex life.

Baleno Wed 26-Mar-14 16:31:20

Ezinma, that comment was aimed at somebody else, not you. There was no reason to take it personally. Everybody has different reasons to be for or against prostitution.

The point that the commenter was trying to make is that attractive people may not understand the difficulties that less attractive people may experience in attracting a mate, hence attractive people may not understand why less attractive people may behave in a different manner.

NeoFaust Wed 26-Mar-14 16:41:23

I never believed I would ever have sex, because I'm autistic (aspie), ugly and charmless. It ate me up inside because on a fundamental level sex is the ultimate form of communication and empathy between two individuals. Even in non-procreational form it symbolises a connection to the continuation of the species, a profound act of recognition and acceptance.

I've never paid for it, because I thought that wouldn't be real; it would be an illusion of that powerful urge and no different from masturbation. Why pay for someone elses meaningless touch and concealed contempt?

But, now that I have actually had sex, I've changed my mind. Sex is powerful, beautiful and significant. Life without it is dark and hopeless. Even a little taste of such beauty can be enough to give hope and a dream of meaning; Even the tiniest touch. When I heard about the sex therapists and workers who specialise in providing this to those who are unlikely to ever find it otherwise I actually offered a little prayer from this cold atheist heart.

I don't know why feminists despise sex so much.

ezinma Wed 26-Mar-14 16:43:49

dashoflime Sorry!

Hey, before I left home, most of the political analysis I was exposed to came from the parish priest, the Daily Mail, and Radio 1's Newsbeat. The youth of today has no excuse, as far as I'm concerned.

newbie Unfortunately, the Supreme Feminist has had to take the afternoon off from dismantling the patriarchy — something to do with a strike? In Her righteous absence, I feel ill-equipped to provide "The Feminist View", but I do note that the good old male entitlement-to-sex thing seems to be alive and well in your post, and effortlessly projected onto disabled men (but not, I guess, disabled women). In general, it's not very useful to think of disabled people as one group, since the different nature of their disabilities scatters their wants, needs, behaviours and capabilities in various ways, both near to and far from the able-bodied norm. I myself have MS, which makes me a disabled but ex-able-bodied person; my own experience, which is all I can offer, is that the medication I take has reduced my libido, to the point where if I had to draw up a list of all the comforts and reliefs I desired, sex would be at the very bottom.

It's curious (but also predictable) that many debates about sex work quickly alight upon its nurturing, public-service aspect — big-hearted, open-minded ladies doing a kind deed for the disadvantaged. I have no figures to hand (damn that strike!) but I would hazard a guess that this dynamic represents a very small piece of the prostitution pie.

TheGirlFromIpanema Wed 26-Mar-14 16:47:33

My Feminism doesn't despise sex thank you very much neo hmm

And good for you for not paying for it.

But seriously, what harm would have come to you if you had never had sex? Lots of things can improve a persons quality of life. Make life seem beautiful and significant.

Freedom/money/power/children/a nice car.....

No one has a right to any of those things though.

LurcioLovesFrankie Wed 26-Mar-14 16:50:20

But that argument's bollocks because no-one has the right to have sex at someone else's expense. And yes, I do know what I'm talking about - I'm a 48 year old, frumpy middle aged single mum. I would be deluding myself if I though I was ever going to have sex again. Do I miss sex? Yes, of course I do. Do I despise sex? Don't be bloody daft - I can remember just how bloody brilliant enthusiastic, mutually consensual sex was. Do I think those facts give me the right to pay some financially desperate young man to shag me against his will? No, not in a million years. Because I am not a complete and utter exploitative gobshite. So fuck off with the "unattractive people have a right to have sex" crap. No we don't. We have the right to try to chat people up, to try to win them with personality when looks won't work. But no-one has a right to pay in order to get round someone's lack of enthusiasm.

ezinma
I really enjoyed your dissection of the quote.
It reminded me that most of my time with Mr TP I have been amazed to find myself with such a good-looking catch!
I like to tell myself that he is, of course, very lucky to have me for so many reasons.
Supposing he wasn't around any more - I keep checking the life insurance is paid up.
I think I should be entitled to have sex with anon strangers if they consent. As I rather like my own company and independence I could well imagine that would be preferable to having a new relationship.

I agree with the point in the quote that people without a sexual partner should not be sentenced to a life of celibacy and masturbation. Sexual intimacy should be available for commercial gain as it always has been throughout world history.

Branleuse Wed 26-Mar-14 16:55:38

i think its nobodys business who wants to have sex with whom, and for whatever reason.
If money changes hands, its pretty sad, but just because i wouldnt pay for it, doesn't make it wrong.

If I wasnt in a monogamous relationship Id consider sex work, its good money.

LurcioLovesFrankie Wed 26-Mar-14 16:58:26

Murder has been about throughout world history. Does that make it right? The "world's oldest profession" line is a totally spurious argument.

Just because one person is being paid I do not think it is true to say this applies:
"the right to pay some financially desperate young man to shag me against his will"
I don't think all prostitutes are financially desperate
and I don't think they will be doing it against their will.
I don't know why you think they are desperate and would be loath to do it?

Personally though - I wouldn't fancy a young man - someone around my own age would do for me and I am a frumpy 46 year old.

Branleuse Wed 26-Mar-14 17:00:12

its sex, not killing

Branleuse Wed 26-Mar-14 17:00:37

its sex, not killing

NeoFaust Wed 26-Mar-14 17:03:55

Really Ipanema? Because I see a lot of feminists saying 'sex isn't that important'. If they really appreciated it, they wouldn't say that.

Not that I believe the old prejudice about feminists being women who had never had decent sex, but sometimes the (bad) joke is all too easy to make.

If I hadn't had sex, I'd have killed myself at 18:30 on the 18th of September 2005. And this isn't hyperbole - this was a plan. Notes written, pills procured, location accessed (cut the chains preventing roof access to my uni building roof - I still feel guilty). Then I met a girl at a party and for some strange, glorious reason she rather liked me. Slept together on the second date and finally, I knew there was hope in the world. After our relationship ended I went two years without any relationship at all, but I kept going because now I knew what would be possible if I was patient, if I kept faith with myself and what I had achieved in the past.

If you don't have sex, you are forever disconnected from a powerful, central element of your personality. The horrible way that anti-female-sexuality attitudes (from religion etc) have damaged and disconnected women from their human birthright appalls me. I believe it's the internalisation of that attitude which makes so many women, not just feminists, disregard the power and significance of human sexuality. Sex with a specific individual we have no right to - but we have the right to pursue a sexual life in whatever way we can, so long as it's consensual.

LurcioLovesFrankie Wed 26-Mar-14 17:06:15

But how would you know, MrsTP? We've had quite a lot of punters on threads here. They all claim to know, but go on to say they've never reported situations where they suspected the women of being trafficked to the police. They've described situations where they've had nervous first timers who clearly didn't want to be there (even the punters accepted that they didn't want to be there) but the punters went ahead and fucked them anyway. As far as I can see (and this is going off what users of prostitutes actually say about themselves) these men do not care about whether the woman is a happy hooker or in financially desperate straits - they just go ahead anyway.

As for the "it's sex, not killing" line, the whole point is that in many circumstances the consent is dubious - often coming from financial desperation, in the worst cases from pimps wielding the threat of physical violence. That's not sex, that's rape.

LurcioLovesFrankie Wed 26-Mar-14 17:12:37

Quite the reverse, Neo. It's because I think sex is so fantastic (whether done as an emotional exercise or as a purely physical release) that I think the idea of the person coerced to have the sex is so terrible. Because for every punter having this incredibly life-affirming experience of getting his rocks off by paying to use someone's body, there's a woman having to lie there faking an orgasm with someone that 9 times out of 10 she finds physically repulsive. There's two people involved - but only one of them is having this tranformative existential experience. The other person is being used as a wank sock.

WhentheRed Wed 26-Mar-14 17:15:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

scallopsrgreat Wed 26-Mar-14 17:16:08

Saying sex isn't that important enough to be a right is the equivalent to despising it is it NeoFaust?

"The horrible way that anti-female-sexuality attitudes (from religion etc) ..." From men. Those attitudes have come from men.

"I believe it's the internalisation of that attitude which makes so many women, not just feminists, disregard the power and significance of human sexuality." Please don't presume to know how we feel about our sexuality. Stop attributing feelings and thoughts to us that you know nothing about. And this human sexuality you talk about how do you define that? Or can we get to define our own sexuality? Perhaps our sexuality doesn't actually involve men at all? shock

TheGirlFromIpanema Wed 26-Mar-14 17:19:02

Neo you are posting strawman arguments.

With all due respect, just because you were going to commit suicide because of lack of sex doesn't mean it should be an automatic right for everyone.

There are plenty of things which I consider to be important to me, but for which I have no right to have. Sex is one of those things.

newbieman1978 Wed 26-Mar-14 17:42:07

ezinma
Would you go back and read my post and then come back and tell me where I myake any distinguishment of the sexes.

I also said that on the issue of disabled people using protitues that my view has been somewhat swayed hence my view in general in that prostitution is not healthy.

So for the record and so everyone knows since my original post was not clear to some. I'm agaianst protitution in the main.

Please don't tar me with the brush of "men feel entitled" I don't feel or want to be entitled to anything from anybody.

Branleuse Wed 26-Mar-14 17:54:58

i think a lot of anti prostitution feelings, come from a patriarchal view that having sex with a woman is buying her. That having sex is a violation of dignity, and that to be used for meaningless sex, is pretty much the worst thing that can happen to a woman.

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