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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...

FestiviaBlueberry Sun 23-Dec-12 16:45:49

Yes, point taken SGB but my point isn't that women should put other interests ahead of their own: it's that they should put their own interests ahead of their own IYSWIM. I think we are just going to have to disagree on this as usual. "Sex workers" are missing the point, if they think that legalising their abuse by men who don't think they're human, is the way to get full human status.

Prostitution is stigmatised because patriarchy needs a bogeywoman to keep other women in check; it will always be stigmatised while we have patriarchy, because that's why it exists. No amount of fighting for better conditions, better pay etc., will stop the stigma and de-humanisation of a prostituted woman or any other woman who doesn't conform to male-focused feminine behaviour - single women, single mothers, lesbians etc. If you leave out the context of the struggle, you leave out reality IMO.

AnyFuckerForAMincePie Sun 23-Dec-12 17:53:26've "never seen a strong demand for us to stop fighting wars" ! ?

Are you serious ?

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sun 23-Dec-12 17:55:02

Yes. Where are the repeated attempts to outlaw wars through parliament?

AnyFuckerForAMincePie Sun 23-Dec-12 18:00:39

Attempting to say that the rights of men to pay women for sex is absolutely ok because other bad things like x, y and z happens is nonsensical

it's possible to campaign against more than one fact, you can have objections to as many damaging scearios as you like

AnyFuckerForAMincePie Sun 23-Dec-12 18:00:46


OldLadyKnowsNothing Sun 23-Dec-12 18:03:14

I'm saying nothing about the rights of men to buy sex, I'm talking about the rights of people to sell sexual services if they choose to do so.

grimbletart Sun 23-Dec-12 19:03:28

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

Oddly enough I was in my local ASDA this morning at 10am. As the check out young lady - her name was Rachel - was putting my stuff through the till I asked her when she finished and she said 5pm tonight, but working Christmas Eve until 11pm and then on Boxing Day again. I said you will be exhausted won't you - I don't envy you having to do that and remain so cheerful, but she then said she was saving to buy a house so was glad of the extra shifts and I commiserated with her on the difficulty of getting a mortgage.....

I wonder how many punters ask if their ladies are OK, if they are exhausted and when they will have time off, or why they are working that day, or even bother to ask their name?

I am having a difficulty equating the the problem of being on duty on Christmas Eve once a year with that of being on permanent semen depository duty I'm afraid. (Oh, and for over twenty years I used to be on call on Christmas Eve (alternating with Boxing Day).

mellen Sun 23-Dec-12 19:07:38

"I don't see a strong demand that we stop fighting wars."

Really? I think most people would rather that war didn't happen.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sun 23-Dec-12 19:15:56

Most people might prefer that wars don't haooen, but there is no-one trying to outlaw them, is there? Instead we have rules about how to conduct them.

You're obviously one of the nicer customers, grimbletart, I've just been reading a thread by people who work with the public and the things some customers feel entitled to do and say are shocking.

And yes, I daresay many punters do like to chat a bit, or do you imagine than an hour-long meeting is all shagging?

rosabud Sun 23-Dec-12 19:22:05

So why aren't men selling their sexual services to women then? I know there are a few examples of this, but the men involved aren't generally impoversihed/taking drugs/had fewer life opportunities etc, they aren't generally at risk of being abused/assauted etc. Is this because men who sell sex to women have better working conditions? Or is it because men who sell sex to women are not involved in a transaction which relies on a power imbalance fundamnetal to our society?

I don't know whether I am a "radical feminist," I know that I have been a feminist since I could first think for myself and I think that women should not be offered double standards. From the moment I reached my teenage years and was told that girls who "let" boys do it were sluts, I realized there was an enormous double standard going on about women and sex. Saying that it is OK for women to sell sex to men, is reinforcing this idea of "letting" men have sex in the extreme. If there were no double standard, if we accepted that men do not "need" to have sex any more than women do and that women are not the gatekeepers of sex, then there would be no place for prostitution. Prostitution is the clearest evidence of the imbalance of power, the clearest evidence of the partirarchy and it is not the "oldest" profession for nothing. I look forward to a world where the "old" partriarchy is eventually eroded and, therefore, the "oldest" profession with it. Is this radical? I don't think so, I think it's the bleeding obvious and has been to a large number of people for centuries. Surely it's more radical to suggest that men should be free to continue buying sex (because it is about free choice and better than working at Tescos - what utter rubbish) and, therefore, free to continue this imbalance of power? Radically ridiculous.

grimbletart Sun 23-Dec-12 19:43:33

I am just a bog standard customer OldLadyKnowsNothing. Round our way everyone chats at the checkout as long as we are not holding up the queue or in a particular hurry.

Do I imagine an hour-long meeting is all shagging? No idea. You tell me.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sun 23-Dec-12 19:47:10

Well, I've never managed a full hour shagging, not even when I was young and enthusiastic. Don't think any of my partners could have coped with that either.

Interestingly, in Sweden, more young men sell sex, than young women. The authorities are puzzled.

Frans1980 Sun 23-Dec-12 20:29:09

"So why aren't men selling their sexual services to women then?"

A quick search on adultwork escort directory shows one third of active UK escorts are male (although they do tend to have less feedback and lower prices).

"No one ever wants to discuss the attitudes of the clients."

After reading your post I get the impression you are just believing in what you want the truth to be. You seem to want clients to be misogynists who hate women etc. In reality clients are all different. Some clients are disabled, some clients are able to get sex if they want but don't want the complications that come with a relationship or one night stand.

"Do I imagine an hour-long meeting is all shagging? No idea. You tell me."

Maybe they have small talk first, or have foreplay or the client wants to act out a roleplay/fantasy or something. It depends on the client.

And not every client wants a sexual service. Some escorts are hired to accompany a client to an event for company or to go out for a meal.

rosabud Sun 23-Dec-12 21:38:06

Oh yes, I forgot, in a minority of cases it happens to men too, in a minority of cases it's about accompanying men to the blacktie Christmas do. Silly me, oh yes that completely invalidates all the other arguments then.

And as for the person who's never managed an hour of shagging - good grief, I thought you were claiming to be "sex positive"?? Really? I think you've been short-changed, so to speak.

Yes but as a former escort, a client never wants to hear things like the fact that your doing this as a way to support yourself or that it's your full time occupation, that's my experience anyway.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sun 23-Dec-12 22:44:02

rosabud At no point have I described myself as "sex-positive". I have talked about sex-positive feminists aka funfems but not claimed to be one. I have also talked about Radical Feminists, do you think I'm one of them too? Why the need for labels anyway?

And no, I've never managed nor desired an hour of PIV, and don't feel in the slightest short-changed.

Maggie, what did your clients want to talk about? Or was it just sex, straight away?

Frans1980 Sun 23-Dec-12 23:38:06

Maybe clients avoid asking workers about their work because they might think such questions would be instrusive or too personal?

Discrection is very important between workers and clients, so IMO people generally don't like to give too much info away.

rosabud Mon 24-Dec-12 00:01:16

Oh yeah, that'll be it. Very polite, thoughtful clients - sweet of them, really. Can't believe I didn't think of that myself.

SolidGoldFrankensteinandmurgh Mon 24-Dec-12 00:02:52

How do people feel about surrogate pregnancy/sperm or egg donation? I'm sure I heard somewhere that sperm donors get paid lots more than either egg donors or surrogate mothers, which sounds fairly wrong, though I don't object to surrogate pregnancy at all; another case of your body, your choice.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Mon 24-Dec-12 00:05:37

Given that research suggests that clients/punters are pretty much ordinary men, who are in general fairly thoughtful (I know we see the worst on MN) and polite, why would you think otherwise?

Why seek to demonise, rather than humanise, men who pay for sex?

(And, as a total aside, none of my questions have so far been answered, so I'd really appreciate it if you would oblige.)

OldLadyKnowsNothing Mon 24-Dec-12 00:12:06

X post with SGB... It used to be the case that egg donors were paid £15, same as sperm donors but it's obviously harder for women in a physical sense.
Not sure of the current situation, but I'm pretty sure it changed recently.

Surrogate mothers are allowed to be paid actual expenses (lost wages, buying maternity wear etc) but are not supposed to make any sort of profit from 9 months of 24/7 work.

Have read that many couples are now using their own egg/sperm embryos and having them implanted in Indian women as it's cheaper.

rosabud Mon 24-Dec-12 00:15:27

Well, I suppose we demonise men who pay for sex because they are taking advantage of the imbalance of power between the genders in our society, and bearing that in mind, sperm donation or surrogate pregnancy is not comparable as it doesn't take adavantage of a power imblalance. What questions did you want answered?

OldLadyKnowsNothing Mon 24-Dec-12 00:21:33

Erm , why do you think users of prostitutes would be anything other than ordinary men? And questions about the broad assertion re PTSD frequency in ex-prostitutes, there were a few questions associated with that... And the assertion that choosing to work as a prostitute in the UK damages women elsewhere, no response there either...

OldLadyKnowsNothing Mon 24-Dec-12 00:24:40

Ooh, yeah, and how many convictions for trafficking for sexual purposes resulted from Operations Pentameter I and II? I'd like an answer to that.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Mon 24-Dec-12 00:25:32

But I don't expect you to answer them all, rosabud. smile

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