Prostitutes = Pizza

Friday, March 10th, 2006 · 125 Comments »

Stephanie Zacharek has an article in Salon today about Colin Farrell, in which she defends his enthusiasm for using prostitutes — which Farrell has compared to “phoning up for a pizza.”

More precisely, Zacharek sneers at those fuddy-duddies who think Farrell’s likening of a live human being to an Italian pastry is pretty fucking sick. She refers to it as “wattle-shaking disapproval” — since obviously only old biddies with neck wattles think prostitution degrades women. The young and the hip are all totally down with the women-as-meat thing.

The essence of the fucked-upedness of Zacharek’s piece is right here, where she defends Farrell’s remarks on the joys of ordering up a woman (with or without extra cheese):

The subtext of that comment, if there needs to be one, may be that sometimes it’s more honest to just pay for sex, as opposed to trying to fool a woman into thinking you really like her just so you can get laid — although even that may be a truth some people don’t want to hear.

Bzzz. Wrong. People like me are well aware that people like Colin Farrell think it makes sense to rent a woman the way you rent a stump grinder from Home Depot. That’s not a truth we’re “afraid to hear,” Stephanie; it’s a truth we know all too well.

Seriously, what is Zacharek’s argument here? It’s as if she sat down to write this piece thinking, “People who disapprove of the prostitute-as-pizza analogy just don’t grasp that sometimes men simply want to rent a woman’s body to fuck. They’ve led sheltered lives. If I explain to them that some men see women purely as fuckholes and aren’t interested in the whole relationship thing, then they’ll understand that buying a prostitute really is just like buying a pizza! And then everyone will agree with me that Colin Farrell is a great guy.”

Stupid crap like this is why you shouldn’t bother with a subscription to Salon.

Filed under: Prostitution · Tags:

125 Responses to “Prostitutes = Pizza”

  1. gordo says:

    And of course, there ARE only two alternatives when it comes to dating. I can either be dishonest and try to fool a woman into thinking that I’m falling in love, or I can pay a hooker. Obviously, buying a hooker is the only truly honorable choice.

    The truth that Zacharek doesn’t want to hear is that most men date with the idea of finding someone to have a relationship with. And there are a lot of women who are willing to have sex for free, even if they don’t think that a man is in love with them.

  2. Violet says:

    There is no reason to pay a hooker. Certainly not if you’re Colin Farrell, who is a movie star and apparently considered hot (I think he’s freaky-looking).

    I had a friend who was a sex addict — really, he was in therapy for it — and he never paid for sex. He was an extremely good-looking guy, and all he ever needed to do was show up in the hotel bar and make eye contact. There are plenty of women who also just want to get laid and aren’t interested in a relationship.

    The only reason for a guy like Farrell to order up a woman like a pizza is to get off on the objectification.

    Well, it seems I’m still adding to my post…

  3. manxome says:

    “Stupid crap like this is why you shouldn’t bother with a subscription to Salon.”

    Yeah, I always held off on that, so these days I’m wondering if they’re even worth monitoring via RSS. Nah, I’m not wondering. It’s not worth it. I’ve been irked for weeks now how much crap from them shows up in my reader, with hardly anything worth clicking on, and then I find that whatever I clicked on wasn’t even worth sitting through the ad.

  4. Alon Levy says:

    Of course I’d say no online publication is worth subscribing to, except your field’s specialist literature and, maybe, the New York Times (mostly because of Krugman).

  5. Violet says:

    Alon briefly considers reviving the prostitution debate, but winces as he recalls the still-unhealed catscratches on his face and the deep gouge marks alongside his eyesockets. Wisely, he decides to confine himself to remarking on the value of online subscriptions.

  6. will says:

    I dont understand the need for a prostitute either. I agree with VioletS. There are plenty of women who are interested in sex.

  7. will says:

    I do not have a problem with prostitution or stripping in theory. The problem is implimentation. The lifestyle for the overwhelming majority of women is a recipe for disaster.

  8. Pastor Al E Pistle says:

    Oh, put a sock in it. How many old crones call up for a stud-muffin? LOTS! He could have just dialed the wrong number…..Pizza, Prostitute….right on the same page. And only homers read Salon anyway. Where’s my 4X4 “Offroading the Spotted Owl/Poachinf with a million candlepower” magazine?

    Seriously, you are WAY too anal about feminism. Don’t want to have 44FFs? Don’t have the kit installed. Want to make an extra five grand a DAY for two hours of playing nice? Your choice.

  9. Violet says:

    Landover Baptist approves of prostitution now?

  10. Alon Levy says:

    There’s no debate to revive, Violet. As far as I’m concerned the debate about prostitution ended when Cicely posted her statistics showing that the Swedish policy was a failure. The last few tens of comments in that thread were about idealism vs. pragmatism, and the value of gender studies, rather than about whether prostitution should be legal. I didn’t comment about the prostitution question because a) I consider it settled, and b) I think Colin Farrell’s comment has made it to the top of my list of “dumbest things actors said,” surpassing even “gay marriage should be between a man and a woman.”

  11. Violet says:

    Goddamnit, boy, did my flawlessly crafted joke not even make you smile?

  12. Jim Deeny says:

    The real thing is that MOSTLY men pay for prostitution. Why? Why do men need that connection?
    It’s not that they’re really truly disgusting in some shape or form but somewhere deep down they need it. Looks has nothing to do with it, they can be ugly, handsome or cute, same goes with women.

  13. Violet says:

    Why?

    Most humans crave sex, male and female. On average there is no discernible difference between the sex drives of men and women.

    Your assignment, Jim, is to consider that fact and then figure out why it is that men are overwhelmingly the ones who buy sex and women are overwhelmingly the ones who sell it.

    Hint: 6,000 years of patriarchy. Look into it.

  14. Chris Clarke says:

    I do not have a problem with prostitution or stripping in theory. The problem is implementation.

    You can say much the same of pizza.

  15. Pastor Al E Pistle says:

    Landover Baptist approves of prostitution now?
    -Socks

    Of course not, but everyone recognizes that prostitution is a matter of degree. Even wives control access to their slot machines through subtle trickery and demands for bribes such as flowers, jewelry, chocolate and various sundries and drygoods. That’s why they get bitch-slapped now and again as GOD commands. And wives NEVER look like the solid tens that are for rent in New Zealand. On the other hand, prostitution is almost unknown in places like Hawaii and other tropical islands where the high school girls are giving it away faster than the pros can sell it.

    In this state it took an override by the legislature to make the age of consent 16. It had been 14 since 1959 and the Governor thought 13 was better.

  16. Pastor Al E Pistle says:

    It hardly matters anyway. Since theologically, women have no souls and only men go to Heaven, what difference does it make?

    NOTE: Don’t blame ME for God’s word as recorded faithfully and literally in the KJV1611 (Authorized) Bible. All queries must be directed to GOD, personally. If an intercession on your behalf by a TRUE CHRISTIAN (TM)pastor is desired, please contact us at our website to set up a tithing schedule.

  17. Alon Levy says:

    Goddamnit, boy, did my flawlessly crafted joke not even make you smile?

    Maybe your crack wasn’t as flawlessly crafted as you think… but yes, it made me chuckle.

  18. Jim Deeny says:

    I will do that VS Only because I came to a conclusion tonight standing in my cornfield naked as all heck (yes, I own and live my dream), but it dawned on me that being Naive isn’t an adolecent problem. I’m 37, and I thought I knew it all, I was wrong. Hey, I admit it! Doesn’t make me anything, but honest and pure.

  19. Pastor Al E Pistle says:

    Most humans crave sex, male and female. On average there is no discernible difference between the sex drives of men and women.

    Your assignment, Jim, is to consider that fact and then figure out why it is that men are overwhelmingly the ones who buy sex and women are overwhelmingly the ones who sell it.

    Hint: 6,000 years of patriarchy. Look into it.
    -V. Socks

    Women sell it because they found out men would pay for it. Men still have not discovered that they are being scammed and it could just as easily have gone the other way if men has been scheming instead of hunting. There is a reason that most household budgets are controlled by women.

  20. Jim Deeny says:

    Another thought: being naive to me seems like a safety, a safety net mom taught me. Maybe she was more than a mother than I ever dreamed of.

  21. Jim Deeny says:

    Pastor: No I disagree in we as men are being scammed in theway you put it. I think of it as a wakeup call to finally treat women with respect. Men payed for it because men in the patriarchy pushed women to a limit that they could not earn any monetary returns for their species other than the vagina between their legs. it’s just wrong to think that way. They are individuals regardless of gender.

  22. Jim Deeny says:

    When I married I found my equal.

    Keep up with the times Pastor.

  23. Jim Deeny says:

    I’m heated Pastor.

    My wife controls the finances in my home. DO you know why?

    There’s probably about 10 million women out there that raised our children, bathed them, made their dinners, made their beds, tucked them in at night and sung a lullaby while you or I worked late, that to me is by far any type of disposable human being, yet alone, no human is disposable.

  24. Violet says:

    Whoops! Just checking in before bedtime. Jim, your sentiments are sound, but remember that the Pastor is a satirist. Landover Baptist Church. I don’t think we’ll ever get him to change his tune.

    Now I’m too sleepy and drunk to say more, so goodnight.

  25. Pastor Al E Pistle says:

    they could not earn any monetary returns for their species other than the vagina between their legs.
    -Jim Deeny
    If it weren’t for that one thing, there would be a bounty on every one of them. Even the Virgin Mary was unclean after birthing Jesus.

    Note To Socks: Shhhhhh! Go so sleep. Landover Baptist is as serious as Jesus Christ and as real as hell! (Yes, it’s still real….yes, you are still going)

  26. Jim Deeny says:

    Peace.

  27. Jim Deeny says:

    I don’t know Pastor, why would I go to the junkyard to get a mirror from a 1970 Dodge Dart ant put it on my 2006 Chevrolet Avalanche?

  28. Burrow says:

    “Now I’m too sleepy and drunk to say more, so goodnight.”

    You’e drunk too. Damn, after watching “walk the lin” and realising I didn’t have any whiskey I needed to go out.

    4 double bourons later….

  29. Pastor Al E Pistle says:

    I don’t know Pastor, why would I go to the junkyard to get a mirror from a 1970 Dodge Dart ant put it on my 2006 Chevrolet Avalanche?
    -Jim Deeny

    Forget the mirror, Jim-Bob. Just make sure you have 8″ plastic balls affixed to the trailer hitch or people will think you are a homer.

  30. Pastor Al E Pistle says:

    Prostitutes = Pizza
    -Socks

    Lookit Socks, pizza, prostitute or taco supreme, once the lights are out it’s all about the same. The YWCA used to serve lunches but today the phrase ‘eat at the Y’ has a completely different connotation.

    But you know, I have nothing against trying out a matriarchal society for awhile, at least in Muslim countries. I think the men have buggered things up past our ability to fix them and I think that when the bottom falls out women should be in charge. Let’s make men the sex objects for awhile and see how the bastards like it!

  31. Alon Levy says:

    You’re pretty bad at impersonating a radical Dominionist, I must say.

  32. belledame222 says:

    Alon’s right, you know, Pastor. Try to keep up.

    I’m going to have to look at those statistics on Sweden. I…hm. well, I won’t get into it now. yeah, women aren’t pizza, and Farrell’s a choad, no doubt. but as far as pizza goes: the acts of preparing food and breaking bread are pretty intimate too, or they can be, and yet: no problem paying a stranger to do it. (or as far as degrading and dangerous goes: no problem paying someone else to, say, scrape pigeon shit off statues). I do know sex workers who consider their career a calling, a craft, as much as any other. I realize they make up a very small percentage of actual prostitutes, but…in answer to a question posted here a while back, yes, I can envision a non-patriarchal, not grossly corporate/capitalist society in which a career in sex work is a viable option. The fact that even a few people that I know are able to do it in a way that allows them to maintain their integrity and use their creative faculties, even considering the steep challenges of throughly ingrained hostility toward women and sex, not to mention punitive laws, tells me that it’s at least a possibility, if not likely to become a reality.

  33. belledame222 says:

    As far as Salon goes: it’s easy enough to just click the ad and read the article anyway; I’m too lazy and cheap to bother with the full subscription.

  34. jo says:

    “the acts of preparing food and breaking bread are pretty intimate too”

    You’re comparing this to selling your body to a stranger?

  35. Infidel says:

    When Alec Baldwin prepares “Schwetty Balls”…it is comparable, at least to the radio listener who can’t see what is actually going on.

    You can’t compare buying a womans body to buying dinner any more than you can compare eating to having sex. You can but the comparison doesn’t enlighten, it makes things more confusing.

  36. belledame222 says:

    You know what though, I can, and I do. And one of these days I’m gonna post about it, but today I don’t have time.

    As far as “selling your body:” there’s a lot of grey area, you know?Consider, for instance: professional massage. It’s legal and valued; it’s okay to get paid to use healing touch to make a stranger feel good…unless you actually massage the genitalia (or anus). Then it’s a crime. Does this make sense? It doesn’t to me. And yes, I have been both giver and receiver of such massages, with strangers, male and female technically not for pay in the legal sense since it was a workshop, but for all intents of purposes…and I found it remarkably healing and educational.

  37. belledame222 says:

    “can and I do” referring specifically to comparing sex to eating, there. I think “buying a body” and “buying dinner” is a bit of a false analogy wrt prostitution, in spite of the fact that choads like Farrell are doing pretty much that with such remarks, but…yeah, later.

  38. JimDeeny says:

    Whew! I was pretty zooted lastnight!

    I was listening to James Blunt, he’s rather talented.

    Enjoy your weekend everyone. I’m out till Monday.

  39. Infidel says:

    “can and do”
    Comparing paying for massage to paying for a pizza makes more or less sense then comparing paying for a massage to paying for sex.
    Massage/Sex- okay two strangers, touch, pleasure.
    Pizza/Sex- chaChing..money changes hands, product is consumed/enjoyed.
    Yes there is a comparison but it is more like a simple juxtaposition.

  40. Burrow says:

    *double take*

    Oh yes, because food has a long history of exploitation under the patriarchy. Make it so women aren’t forced to sell their bodies to survive and the carrots will demand that next!

  41. Alon Levy says:

    Child bearing has a long history of exploitation under the patriarchy; clearly, getting a nanny should be illegal.

  42. Steve says:

    I know prostitution has an illustrious history -the world’d oldest profession, blah, blah, blah. But in yet another revelation of my sexual tastes that makes me glad that this is an anonymous post, I don’t understand how you can do the nasty with full and complete abandon knowing that your partner is there, not becuase of her own excitement and consent, but for a commercial transaction. Isn’t the mutual consent sort of the point?

    And I don’t ask this with some theoretical or lofty point to make about mutuality. I’m thinking erection.

    Let me be blunt: How is any self-respecting guy supposed to get it up and keep it up knowing he is engaged in a commercial transaction? An exploitative relationship.

    And yes, I know that non- prostitute nookie can also be exploitative and lack full consent. And, blah, blah, blah, I know that some marriages can have more than a slight odor of exploitation about them. I know that in some sexual transactions, the value exchanged is in forms other than a C-Note yet no less exploitative.

    But limit this discussion to prostitution. And I suppose limit it to me, because I am sure that my rules of engagement are far from universal.

    The thought of sex with someone not there because of who I am but because of my Mastercard approval code just doent fill the spongy tissue with the required bodily fluids.

    Guys who are able to get it up in blatantly commercial, exploitative, or age inaaprorpiate sexual encounters are getting off on that commerce, exploiutation and age difference and are acting like dickweeds.

    And revealing something about their need to oppress and dominate that you’d at least think they’d be a LITTLE ashamed of.

  43. cicely says:

    Violet Socks wrote:

    Most humans crave sex, male and female. On average there is no discernible difference between the sex drives of men and women.

    Your assignment, Jim, is to consider that fact and then figure out why it is that men are overwhelmingly the ones who buy sex and women are overwhelmingly the ones who sell it.

    Hint: 6,000 years of patriarchy. Look into it.

    I don’t know whether it’s true that there’s no discernible difference between the sex drives of men and women. Not saying there isn’t, but how do we know?

    I tend to think, but am open to hearing otherwise, that one difference between men and women – arousal-wise – is that men are far more likely than women to pursue sex with almost any available woman than women are to do so with almost any available man. I always knew, and still do, that if I ventured out to look for a man to have sex with I’d be guaranteed to find one. Possibly within an hour including travel time. I know this because I’ve never in my life wanted one, but I’ve spent plenty of time, as have most women, avoiding them or batting them off. (Telling them I’m not interested because I’m a lesbian only made them try harder.)

    I don’t think men, on average, can venture out with the same kind of absolute confidence that a woman they meet will want to have sex with them that night. They could find another man who will though. (and lots of apparently straight men do indulge in secret and anonymous sex with other men….) If the demand was there from women does anyone think men wouldn’t consider prostituting themselves?

    Separating real and actual human sexuality out from thousands of years of religiously inspired repression along with the whole patriarchal mess is not such a simple thing, methinks.

    belledame, my comments about prostitution in Sweden here can be found on the ‘Hot New Blog Celebrates Police Abuse of Prostitutes’ thread – post no. 97.

  44. Alon Levy says:

    I don’t know whether it’s true that there’s no discernible difference between the sex drives of men and women. Not saying there isn’t, but how do we know?

    Maybe part of it is because the most familiar form of sex, and the one humans are biologically hardwired for, tends to be more pleasurable to men than to women.

  45. will says:

    Wait. Are women supposed to be meat or pizza?

  46. Violet says:

    A few points:

    1. Colin Farrell’s remark isn’t just the inane musings of an actor. It encapsulates the very essence of prostitution: women as things to be bought, consumed, and discarded. It’s worth noting because people who favor prostitution invariably cite the kind of high-class prostitute that Farrell probably uses. These people would point to such a prostitute and say, “What’s the problem? She’s getting paid thousands a night and she gets to fuck a movie star.” And as prostitution goes, no doubt she’s at the top of the heap. But consider: her customer, the movie star, regards her as something less than human, a thing to be bought, consumed, and discarded. A pizza. And that’s prostitution at its best.

    2. Enough with the comparisons to other oppressive work. Alon, which job would you prefer: looking after children for low pay, or having a strange man ram his penis up your ass? belledame222, which would you prefer: cleaning pigeon shit off of statues, or having to suck on some smelly stranger’s diseased dick?

    3. As for Sweden — the case is not closed. Cicely cited some important information which calls into question the success of the program, but one study is not conclusive. And even if more research is done and the Swedish experiment is determined to be a failure, that still doesn’t mean that the fundamental approach is wrong. It’s an isolated feminist experiment in a world drenched in sexism and patriarchy. It would be like trying to introduce socialism on the 7th floor of Rockefeller Center for 3 weeks, finding it a failure, and declaring that socialism is therefore completely unworkable.

    4. Re lack of demand from women for male prostitutes: I don’t think it’s biological so much as psychological. You know what Steve said about not being able to get past the fact that your partner doesn’t really want to be there? Men obviously can and do get past that every day, but for women it’s almost impossible. That’s because we’re the sex class: we’re indoctrinated all our lives to think of it as our job to attract and please. When a woman contemplates using a male prostitute, she automatically worries, “But will he like me? I’m fat, I’m ugly, will he want to?” Whereas I think we can safely say that male johns don’t worry about this. They, too, have been indoctrinated all their lives, and they know that women exist for their (men’s) pleasure.

  47. Violet says:

    Wait. Are women supposed to be meat or pizza?

    I was rather pissed off and hurried when I wrote the post and managed to get several metaphors going at once. Pick whichever one you like.

  48. Violet says:

    Vis-a-vis my point 4 above: longer way of saying men are comfortable thinking of women as objects, but women are not comfortable thinking of men that way.

  49. Steve says:

    Who is this Violet?

  50. Violet says:

    Who is this Violet?

    Same as it ever was.

    This is not my beautiful house!
    This is not my beautiful blog!
    My god, what have I done?

  51. Steve says:

    Socks

    I was referring to the anonymity issue. Your voice is so distinctive and , like many of your regulars, the Socks mystery just intrigues me.

    I don’t expect an answer..

    I’ll only ask one question: Are you my wife?

    Don’t laugh, this is possible.

    Did we ever go out on a date? Become intimate?

  52. Infidel says:

    So it’s not actually phoning up for pizza.
    It’s like phoning up for pizza.
    It’s that easy(if your Colin Farrel)
    You call, you put in your order, someone shows up at your door and you get what you wanted.
    The pizza guy doesn’t stay and share the experience though.
    So it’s actually more like phoning up for a plumber.
    And it’s actually even more like phoning up for a massage.
    But what it is is phoning up to ram your dick into meat or get your diseased dick sucked.
    I worked in a pizza place, and it was never that.

  53. Infidel says:

    You look at a comment like “its like phoning up for pizza” and assume that it is Pizza that is grounded in some agreed concept.
    I think it helpful here to consider the other side of the coin. The prostitute is grounded in a common understanding and it is the Pizza which here-to-fore was thought of as food but in reality represents a human commodity to be bought and paid for as cavalierly as you might a prostitute.

  54. cicely says:

    Maybe part of it is because the most familiar form of sex, and the one humans are biologically hardwired for, tends to be more pleasurable to men than to women.

    You mean a woman might want sex as often as a man, but because what she expects the man will want is not so much what she will want, she doesn’t get interested so she appears to have a weaker sex drive?

    If so I’m sure you’re right, Alon, that this could be part of the equation.

    Not that it’s any of my business, but sexual intercourse *is* still widely portrayed as the gold standard for sexual pleasure and satisfaction for women in the movies and on tv etc., and I’m pretty sure that doesn’t reflect the reality. In fact I have myself been known to ‘bin’ a dildo a woman partner was overly fond of using…which takes us to the brain as sex organ….but back to prostitution….

  55. cicely says:

    I agree with probably all you say about prostitution in the context of women as the sex class, men’s ability to objectify women and womens general inabilty to do the same with men etc, Violet Socks. You can’t take sex work out of the overall context of patriarchy – including patriarchal religion and the ‘shame’ element around sexuality that this has created. But that doesn’t mean we can automatically ‘know’ what is right, real, or ‘best practice’ in the absence of these cultural and political distortions.

    My view is that, however it’s been done, all attempts to stamp out prostitution have failed (correct me if I’m wrong) and, I imagine, always would fail, therefore we have to deal with ‘what is’ and perhaps from a harm reduction perspective. That obviously includes harm done to prostitutes where they have no protection from exploitation, health risks and straight out violence. I would add to that ‘shame’.

    It does come down to the nature of the work. As belledame pointed out, in physical terms there is little difference between a full body massage, as a commercial transaction, and prostitution. A man *can* literally order the services of a prostitute (or a masseuse) in the same way he can order a pizza. And there is a distinction that’s being overlooked between purchasing a person, and purchasing the finite services of a person.

    How the prostitute herself feels about being ‘bought and discarded’ as you put it, also has to be taken into account. She may not view it in the same way you do. She may well prefer to use her body in this way as opposed to cleaning shit off statues 8 hours a day for $10.00 an hour (and being subject to the prospect of being fired from even that job on someone elses whim, i.e. ‘discarded’) or even being a pharmaceutical saleswoman, say, since not all prostitutes are bereft of other options to earn a decent income. She may appreciate the autonomy, the variety, the empowerment of turning men’s objectification of her body to her own commercial advantage. She may even take some pride in her skill. Why not acknowledge these positive aspects of sex work for women in a genuine position to choose it? If fewer and fewer women did begin choose it – out of a safe and non-judgemental atmosphere such as doesn’t yet exist – we might be able to move closer to discovering what *is* real.

  56. cicely says:

    begin ‘to’ choose it – of course…

  57. Violet says:

    Why not acknowledge these positive aspects of sex work for women in a genuine position to choose it?

    Honestly, because I think focusing on that takes attention away from the bitter reality of most prostitutes’ lives. It’s not that I’m denying the possibility for some very privileged sex workers, but I think it’s a red herring. More to the point, I think it’s a pernicious distraction.

    We often talk about how prostitution is stigmatized in this patriarchal society, and it is. But prostitution is also glamorized. It’s sexy. Notice that any discussion of prostitution invariably invites ribald humor. Notice how many books, plays, and movies feature the “hooker with a heart of gold.” Notice how many prostitutes are depicted in art and entertainment as enjoying their work. Notice how they’re almost always depicted as good-looking. Notice how prostitution is seen as something naughty bad girls do, not as something that oppressed low-skilled wage slaves do.

    I grew up watching movies like “Two Mules For Sister Sarah” and reading Gore Vidal, and as a kid I didn’t have the slightest inkling that most prostitutes were broken-down women who were starving or drug addicts. As a child I thought they were all like Shirley Maclaine, or like Vidal’s impossibly lusty whores who never failed to enjoy their work.

    My point, Cicely, is that the idea of prostitution as just a sexy career is hardly a radical new idea. I think it’s actually more like the prevailing opinion, whether people conciously recognize this or not. And as long the word “prostitute” makes us hear sleazy clarinets and picture women in French stockings, we won’t be picturing this, posted by a sex worker at the Feral Scholar:

    “I don’t think that all these people could ever understand what it is like to be annihilated and then remade in whatever image they want over and over again…

    “Maybe they have never begun to hallucinate from sleep-deprivation, lack of light and air and overload of drugs. Maybe they’ve never seen the faces of people they lost transposed onto clients and others.

    “Maybe they have never seen other workers slowly crumbling into nervous wrecks, then being thrown out by the management. Maybe they never saw the long-term effects on someones personality after a client smashed their head through a glass door. Or how pathetic they look when someone doesn’t pay them and gloats about it. Maybe they never listened to a teenage girl from their own home town telling you how great the work is in between how she took 10 eccys over the weekend and stopped breathing after her parents would not speak to her on the phone.

    “Maybe they never had sex with someone with white shit on their dick who smelled like a dog and then laughed at YOU. And maybe she never had people pull the condom off then say that you wanted it. Maybe they don’t know how much having sex when you have stomach problems from heroin hurts. Maybe they haven’t felt like she’d just had a knife stuck up her when someone sticks his dick up your arse with no lube.

    “Maybe they haven’t watched on coldly from a distance as their immediate personalities dissintegrate leaving only the basest instincts and desperate will to survive. Some things are too hard to look at and some words too hard to say. Working in a brothel gives you a birds-eye view of the world crumbling and society braking down. There is no light and no hope, just entropy, cold cynicism and survival.”

  58. Violet says:

    I’ll only ask one question: Are you my wife? Don’t laugh, this is possible. Did we ever go out on a date? Become intimate?

    That’s three questions.

  59. Steve says:

    i withdraw the first of my three “one questions.” besides i know where my bwife was at 320am. snoring.

  60. Violet says:

    What are you doing up at this hour? Me, I’m on one of my no-sleep jags.

    No, we’ve never dated or been intimate. But I am that grad student who keeps giving you the stink eye in your Wednesday seminar. (Paranoia strikes deep.)

  61. Steve says:

    I knew it. That’s you. Socks is my student. Socks is my student.

    Just what have I been doing to piss you off so much in class? That look of yours is like a laser.

    Ill tell you one thing: I never would have guessed it was you. The Maoist in the second row, but not you.

    Especially after that essay you handed in entitled

    “Patriot, Cellophane Advocate, and Culture Warrior: A Liguistic and Political Analysis of How Phyllis Schlafly, Marabel Morgan, and Lynn Cheney Brought Sanity to America.”

  62. Violet says:

    No, no — I’m the one who did “Ken on Top: A Foucaultian Exploration of Interpersonal Power Dynamics in the Barbie Funhouse.” You gave me an A.

  63. Steve says:

    This is a little scary. That’s you Vi? It WAS a great paper.

    But now Im really confused: If that is you, what in the world leads a guy who is clearly doing late night hokey pokey with all the women students in the seminar — except the lesbian with blue hair — to run a feminist blog and assume the identity of a woman?

  64. cicely says:

    cicely: Why not acknowledge these positive aspects of sex work for women in a genuine position to choose it?

    Violet Socks: Honestly, because I think focusing on that takes attention away from the bitter reality of most prostitutes’ lives. It’s not that I’m denying the possibility for some very privileged sex workers, but I think it’s a red herring. More to the point, I think it’s a pernicious distraction.

    I am certainly and acutely aware of both perspectives, as I’m sure most of us are. Do we have to choose one or the other as *the* reality we’re prepared to give credence to – is that what you’re saying? And I ask this given that there does have to be a current active legislative approach to sex work. I guess I have this thing about ‘truth’. Who determines what’s ‘true’? And then there’s the issue of freedom to choose.

    We don’t need to focus on one reality at the expense of the other, but treat them as two separate realities, though with obvious links. I’m trying to be practical too, since the criminalisation of sex-work has been an un-mitigated disaster to date. Particularly for those women most in need of protection – those who *are* forced into it through poverty, drug addiction, trafficking etc. This is also true thus far in the Swedish situation, though it is early days.

  65. Violet says:

    I am certainly and acutely aware of both perspectives, as I’m sure most of us are.

    I know that you are, of course, but I’m not sure that most of us are. In the U.S. at least, it seems that some of the loudest pro-prostitution activists are mostly interested in the bright side — and even go so far as to paint anti-prostitution feminists as anti-sex prudes. The real lives of real prostitutes get lost, I think, in a fantasy of happy hookers and porn stars.

    Do we have to choose one or the other as the reality we’re prepared to give credence to – is that what you’re saying?

    No, I like to have the full picture, as do you. But it’s a question of focus and the fact that complexity doesn’t play well in Peoria. I really think that focusing on the few happy hookers in the world serves to distract people from the miserable majority, not to mention the crushing weight of sexism at work. I don’t mean that this is intentional (and certainly I don’t mean to imply that it’s your intention); I just think it’s what happens.

    I’m trying to be practical too, since the criminalisation of sex-work has been an un-mitigated disaster to date.

    Has it been? I’m still trying to find out as much as I can about Sweden. So far my impression is that it’s rough going, with some improvements but some definite negative side-effects.

    One of the things that has caught my attention recently is a prostitution co-op in India, run and managed by the women. I haven’t found the time to read up on it yet, much less post about it.

  66. belledame222 says:

    I hear what you’re both saying, cicely, Violet.

    Thing is, I’m not at all sure that prositution *is* that glamorized, really. I mean, it is in the occasional Julia Roberst pic or whatnot, but the stigmatizing is far heavier, still. Or, thse days, it’s mainly glamorized in the sort of James Frey/J.T. Leroy/V.C. Andrews sort of way, prostitutes suffer, but in a sort of gothically attractive sort of way. The idea of a woman having her own agency, sexual or otherwise, is still one a lot of people have trouble wrapping their heads around. After all, the song was, “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp.” Not for the woman. Again. The *pimp* is glamorized; the pimping shouldn’t exist as a profession at all.

    And the current pimp ‘n’ ‘ho chic–well, that’s got a few things wrapped up in it, the weird twists and turns of insitutionalizd racism and late corporate capitalism among them. But for me the bottom line of that isn’t even the women shakin’ their booty, but the hostility toward the women, and the “bling is everything” mentality. Scrape the veneer of SEXXXY off that and you have something very very familiar, yes. But is it fair to blame the SEXXXY component for that? Or does it make more sense to go directly to the bottom line: the attitude that money is everything, and that women “ain’t shit?” If someone thinks women ain’t shit but ho’s and tricks, it doesn’t make sense to focus on the ho’s and tricks; it makes more sense to focus on the “women ain’t shit” part.

    Mainly I agree with cicely about the effects of criminalization. And I think that one could take the same approach as say with the spurious War on Drugs–like, say, you may not think all substances are equal, you may be say in favor of pot being legal but think heroin and crack are pernicious; and you never take any of the stuff yourself; and yet realize that the criminalization makes the situation much worse. At minimum you could be in support of such programs as needle exchange, so that the spread of HIV doesn’t compound the problems.

    I honestly don’t think Susie Bright, Carol Queen and their ilk are responsible for the notion that prostitution is fun ‘n’ safe for everyone. Like Andrea Dworkin on the other end of the spectrum, perhaps, I think they are more complicated and interesting than the popular/superficial idea of them might suggest.

    As far as the rest of it: well, look. If the problem isn’t so much sex per se but the exploitation via the commodification of bodies, then doesn’t it at least make sense to say that the root of this is not (just) the patriarchy/institutionalized sexism but capitalism? I mean, I don’t know how you can seriously talk about the idea of objectification as a problem without talking about money; and I don’t know how you can talk about the problem of the strata of sex workers (for instance) without seriously tackling class.

    The thing for me is, at some level, we’re all objects on this bus, to one degree or another. It’s about more than learned male entitlement; it’s about the mechanization/industrialization of society; the notion that subjectivity, the interior life, doesn’t matter; and that as a society, on the whole, we know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

  67. belledame222 says:

    >ram your dick into meat or get your diseased dick sucked.

    Okay, see, that right there: that’s actually even more dehumanizing and hostile-sounding than the original comment. Certainly mor graphic. Is that how you think of it? “Ramming your (diseased) dick into meat?” Because I don’t.

  68. Infidel says:

    Your words have value and they don’t cost but to listen(read).
    I can think of nothing that a woman could buy in this capitolist construct that would be as demeaning as prostitution.
    Buying furs does reduce the wonderous bear or fox to a commodity, one that could easily be simulated to the releif of that reduction.
    Bears and fox are oblivious to intent till their dead and skinned.
    Prostitutes know pretty well how bad it could get going in, they don’t die in the act for the most part so they have to live with what they do, and they get paid. You don’t need a patriarchy for that but misogyne is a requisite.

  69. will says:

    “Who is this Violet?

    Same as it ever was.

    This is not my beautiful house!
    This is not my beautiful blog!
    My god, what have I done?”

    Oh my gosh. Please tell me you don’t wear big pants and big jackets!!!

  70. Infidel says:

    Existance is like non-existance in that both concepts can be expressed with words.
    So prostitution is just like ordering a pizza in Colin Farrels words. Only Colin and probably not even Colin can say for certainty why he saw fit to juxtapose prostitution with pizza delivery. He did. Stephanie Zacharek wrote an article about Colin’s words.
    Nobody in their right mind thinks seriously that prostitutes=pizza and only some would say prostitution=pizza delivery.
    Right mindedness of indulging in prostitution is questionable. Right mindedness of publicly stating your feelings on your questionable indulgence is questionable. Right mindedness of
    writing an article on somones stating their feelings about their indulgence is looney.
    If you engage in prostitution you are not only a misogynist but a “misos(men)-ist” as well. Colin Farell speaks only for himself and cannot be thought of as evidence of patriarchy.

  71. Alon Levy says:

    Actually, if prostitution were as glamorized as you say it is, legalization would proceed completely smoothly. In Germany it was found that the greatest problem with prostitution was that prostitutes are still too ashamed of their profession to complain about abuse or to unionize.

  72. Burrow says:

    Who’s the face of prostitution? The poor women who disappeared and were killed from the Downtown eastside in Vancouver? Unfortunately not. Police don’t even bother to investigate prostitute murders/disappearances until their numbers reach the double digits. That’s reality.

  73. cicely says:

    Burrow said:

    Police don’t even bother to investigate prostitute murders/disappearances until their numbers reach the double digits. That’s reality.

    I’m repeating myself from another thread, but contrast the above with the case in New Zealand, where prostitution is completely decriminalised, in which a client was charged by police and convicted by the court of removing a condom during intercourse without the knowledge of the prostitute.

  74. Burrow says:

    To clear up the Sweden situation:

    “Prostitution is sexual exploitation, one of the worst forms of women’s inequality, and a violation of any person’s human rights.” So wrote a group of survivors of prostitution and trafficking from five countries who launched a manifesto at the European Parliament last autumn. Since 1999 this has been the official view of the Swedish government, which in that year removed penalties for selling sex and imposed them instead on men who buy it. Gunilla Ekberg, a special adviser at Sweden’s ministry of industry, employment and communications, explained the thinking behind the law: “In Sweden it is understood that any society that claims to defend principles of legal, political, economic and social equality for women and girls must reject the idea that women and children, mostly girls, are commodities that can be bought, sold and sexually exploited by men.” In the most radical approach ever adopted by any state, the Swedish government argues that “the legalisation of prostitution will inevitably normalise an extreme form of sexual discrimination and violence and strengthen male domination of all female human beings”. Men who seek to buy sex can be punished by a fine or up to six months in jail, while women (and men) who sell it have a right to assistance to escape from prostitution.

    The effect has been dramatic. Official figures show that the number of women involved in prostitution fell from 2,500 before the law came into force in 1999 to 1,500 in 2002. By 2004 the recruitment of women into street prostitution had almost halted. With a population of nine million, Sweden is estimated to have only 500 street prostitutes, while neighbouring Denmark, with a population just over half that size, had between 5,500 and 7,800 in 2004, half of whom, it is estima-ted, were victims of trafficking.

    Supporters of the law say it has also had an impact on trafficking into Sweden, with the National Criminal Investigation Department (NCID) reporting that the country is no longer an attractive market for foreign gangs. Intercepted telephone conversations show that pimps and traffickers express frustration about setting up shop in Sweden, preferring to operate in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain. In its 2004 report the NCID concluded that the law “continues to function as a barrier against the establishment of traffickers in Sweden”; it estimates that roughly 400-600 women are trafficked into Sweden each year, compared with between 10,000 and 15,000 into Finland. The law’s opponents claim it has made street prostitution more risky because the few remaining clients tend to be more “perverted”, but most of them concede that it has reduced demand.

    Taken from This article.

  75. Burrow says:

    cicely: yes in this world we live in making selling sex not be a crime, but making buying sex a crime is the best recourse. No need to punish a woman who’s all ready suffereing. But focusing on the idea of the .001% of “happy hookers” in the world is not the reality as I pointed out. Men see these women as nothing more then commodities as Violet pointed out, and in MANY places the cops see them as such too. Bravo to Sweden for placing the blame where it really belongs: on the men who buy prostitutes.

  76. cicely says:

    Burrow says:

    cicely: yes in this world we live in making selling sex not be a crime, but making buying sex a crime is the best recourse.

    I’m not convinced of this, Burrow. It seems to depend on who you’re talking to when it comes to getting accurate information about the impact of the Swedish legislation. Consider this:

    ‘How are other countries dealing with prostitution today? Sweden, the poster society for progressive public policy, passed a law in 1999 prohibiting the purchase of sexual services and criminalizing johns rather than prostitutes. Wildly applauded by feminists and social progressives as a breakthrough in gender equality, this law has been criticized by Swedish sex workers, who claim that its effects are extremely negative. In a survey, Swedish sex workers argued:

    – the new legislation makes it harder to assess clients since “the clients are more stressed and scared, and negotiation outdoors must be done in a more rapid manner. The likelihood of ending up with a dangerous client is thereby greater…Women working on the streets in some bigger cities claim that there is now a greater percentage of ‘perverted’ customers and the ‘nice and kind’ customers have disappeared.”

    – sex workers feel hunted by “police, social workers, media and sometimes even anti-prostitution activists on the streets…Sex workers are now more apprehensive about seeking help from the police when they have problems with an abusive customer.”

    – prices on the streets are lower since there are fewer customers and more competition. “This means that women in more desperate need of money will engage in unsafe sex and sexual activity they usually would not perform.”

    In some cases, official reactions to Sweden’s new law have also been negative. The National Council for Crime Prevention has concluded that while there may be less street prostitution in some areas, the overall amount of prostitution has remained the same, and hidden prostitution has increased with a large increase in services advertised on the Internet. The National Police Board has observed that it is harder to prosecute sex profiteers because sex-purchasers won’t testify. Sex workers can be made to testify and have “neither the rights of the accused or the victim.”

    Sweden’s new law seems to have made prostitution less visible but not less present, and to have made life harder and more dangerous for the most vulnerable workers in the sex trade.

    Eradication of prostitution has not worked in 10,000 years, although draconian official suppression such as in Communist China worked for a short period of time. Driving prostitution underground, whether through moral condemnation or criminalizing purchasers, only exacerbates the most dangerous aspects of prostitution. In the real world, the demands of sex workers — better working conditions and complete de-criminalization — seem to be the best ways to decrease the dangers of prostitution to clients, prostitutes, and society as a whole. Try telling that to Congress or your feminist friends.

    Sources:ᅠ Center for Health and Gender Equity, “Implications of U.S. Policy Restrictions on Programs Aimed at Commercial Sex Workers and Victims of Trafficking Worldwide,” November, 2005.

    Petra Ostergren, “Sexworkers’ Critique of Swedish Prostitution Policy,” http://www.petraostergren.com

    Neutral observers in Sweden have conceded that it’s impossible to measure accurately the incidence of prostitution since the legislation took effect as methods of soliciting have moved dramatically to the internet and mobile phones.

    Also, I’ll repeat myself again ….there is a new crime in Sweden. Women posing as sex workers rob their ‘clients’, who are unlikely to report the theft to authorities for fear of being prosecuted for attempting to purchase sexual services. I’ll concede that some people might think this is a bonus for some women. They can get paid without having to perform sexual services! Overall though, I don’t think anyone would see this as a positive outcome.

  77. Alon Levy says:

    In addition to the problems Cicely mentions, you need to look at Sweden’s prostitution rate before 1999. For instance, if there were 3,500 prostitutes in Sweden in 1996 and 4,500 in 1993, then the 2,500/1,500 statistic is worthless.

  78. cicely says:

    Something to add is that in New Zealand it is illegal for non-citizens to engage in prostitution. I’m guessing this is to combat trafficking (and hoping this means engagement or involvement at any level).

  79. cicely says:

    This was posted by Lauren at Feministe. It’s an article she’s quoted, not her own words, but can someone please let me know if it’s inappropriate for me to re-post the article excerpt here?

    ‘Prostitutes in the Brazilian city of Salvador are starting up their own radio station.

    The Association of Prostitutes of Bahia state has won government permission for the project, enabling FM station Radio Zona to start broadcasting in the second half of the year, project coordinator Sandro Correia said on Thursday. “We are not going to apologize for prostitution but we are going to struggle for the dignity of the profession,” Correia told Reuters.

    The aim was not to attract women to the business. The station will feature programs about the trade but will also discuss issues such as human rights, social questions, and sexual abuse, Correia said. “The idea is that we have diverse programs that look at health issues, AIDS prevention, and racism, for example,” he said.

    Working girls and media professionals such as Correia will staff the station and will give prostitutes training in an alternative job. Funding will come from association funds, advertising and sponsorship.

    Prostitution is widespread in Brazil, especially in Bahia state and other parts of the impoverished northeast. International rights organizations have criticized the country as a destination for sex tourism and child prostitution.’

    This is the kind of transparent and empowering thing I’d like to see more of. I do believe it’s part of a better approach than forcing prostitution underground, whether that be for religiously or otherwise informed ‘morality’ reasons, or for feminist inspired ‘political’ reasons. But you already knew that….

  80. Violet says:

    Cicely, not inappropriate at all. I put the quote in blockquote format so it would stand out more clearly. Thanks for sharing it.

  81. cicely says:

    Thanks, Violet. I learn something every day. Assuming I *have* learned that you do a blockquote here the same as at Alas…

  82. Sam says:

    Did anyone else notice how Burrow’s supportive comments on Sweden cited specific studies with specific numbers in comparison to other countries and Cicely’s rebuttal contained not one concrete fact, only conjecture and hypothesis? I noticed.

    “this law has been criticized by Swedish sex workers”

    Which sex workers? Don’t say the 20 women Petra claims to have spoken with who all unanimously agree with her that whoring is just a job and should be fully legalized. Any study where the population of 20 is unanimous should be suspect, especially when no other study done with prostitutes internationally has ever been unanimous.

    the new legislation makes it harder to assess clients since “the clients are more stressed and scared, and negotiation outdoors must be done in a more rapid manner

    Do rapists emit a rape-pheromone that only prostitutes can smell, and only if given enough time to adequately sniff? How did Swedish prostitutes tell the murderous clients from the non-murderous clients before 1999? Did prostitutes before the 1999 law hand out forms to prospective tricks with such questions as “Are you going to rob, rape, choke, cigarette-burn, or otherwise hurt me? Circle one: Y / N”?

    there is now a greater percentage of ‘perverted’ customers and the ‘nice and kind’ customers have disappeared.

    So when Swedish men rape prostitutes, the solution is not to hold those men accountable but to point the finger at feminists and blame them for changing the law that made men “have to” ask hookers for more perverted (dangerous, painful, permanent) kinds of sex acts? That makes no sense, and neither does suggesting that when the 1999 law changed suddenly a bunch of sadistic Swedish men decided to start using prostitutes.

    I’m pretty sure those men were around long before 1999 because it is these men’s violent and sadistic treatment of prostitutes that brought about the need for legal changes challenging men’s “right” to have sex anytime and any way they wanted. If men who used prostitutes were nonviolent gentleman there would be no need for the law.

    Sex workers are now more apprehensive about seeking help from the police when they have problems with an abusive customer.

    Again, I ask for quotes from sex workers, because the Swedish reports say that not only are prostitutes turning abusive men in more, but those violent men usually have criminal records beyond assaulting prostitutes so they often are brought up on those charges as well, resulting in more criminals behind bars where they belong.

    prices on the streets are lower since there are fewer customers and more competition. “This means that women in more desperate need of money will engage in unsafe sex and sexual activity they usually would not perform.

    Doesn’t this actually mean Swedish men who use prostitutes have been shown to willingly take advantage of vulnerable women to economically coerce them into painful, degrading sex acts? Again, the notion that these Swedish men weren’t asking for double-anals, vagina-tearing dry sex, “prosti-tots”, etc before 1999 is absurd.

    National Police Board has observed that it is harder to prosecute sex profiteers because sex-purchasers won’t testify.

    Of course tricks won’t testify, and they didn’t regularly before either. Quotes from tricks show that they are often afraid of violence or robbery from pimps just like prostitutes. One man who responded to a researcher’s newspaper ad said, “I’ve never tried to rescue a girl. You can get killed doing that.” You can get killed testifying against the organized criminals that lord over prostitution internationally.

    Sex workers can be made to testify and have “neither the rights of the accused or the victim.

    Not true, cicely. Under Swedish Criminal Procedure Law (Chapter 36, 6 Rattegangsbalken) a prostitute can refuse to give evidence that can reveal that she has undertaken a “disreputable” act. It pretty much guarantees the prosecution will have a hard time getting a conviction, but a prostitute is not forced to give evidence under Swedish law.

    Driving prostitution underground, whether through moral condemnation or criminalizing purchasers, only exacerbates the most dangerous aspects of prostitution.

    Actually, even groups working towards prostitution legalization have had to admit there is no evidence of an increase in underground prostitution since 1999. The best they can say is that there’s not enough information, but nothing has shown numbers of underground, trafficking, or other organized criminal prostitution rising and it is clear that trafficking into Sweden has decreased dramatically.

    In the real world, the demands of sex workers — better working conditions and complete de-criminalization

    In the real world, 90% of prostitutes say they want out of prostitution immediately. One 5-country study of 475 prostitutes found 92% said they wanted out, and a 9-country study of 854 prostitutes found 89% wanted out immediately.

    Please show where you picked up the belief that what most prostitutes demand is help staying in prostitution and complete decriminalization so they can stay prostitutes. You are demonstrably wrong about that, Cicely.

    Here is what 475 prostitutes from 5 countries said:

    United States: 56% don’t want it legal, 88% want out now.

    South Africa: 62% don’t want it legal, 89% want out now

    Thailand: 72% don’t want it legal, 94% want out now

    Turkey: 96% don’t want it legal, 90% want out now

    Zambia: 92% don’t want it legal, 99% want out now

    From http://www.prostitutionresearch.com

    I would very much like to see whatever proof you may have to support your claim that what “sex workers” are really demanding is decriminalization and better whoring conditions.

    Neutral observers in Sweden have conceded that it’s impossible to measure accurately the incidence of prostitution since the legislation took effect as methods of soliciting have moved dramatically to the internet and mobile phones.

    That would go against what you said earlier about an increase in underground prostitution. It has been guessed at but not proven, and recorded phone conversations with pimps and traffickers have shown the new law effectively deters them.

    there is a new crime in Sweden. Women posing as sex workers rob their ‘clients’, who are unlikely to report the theft to authorities for fear of being prosecuted

    I think that’s woman hating, unproven bullshit that feeds off men’s loathing of women as gold-digging, conniving greedy bitches. What you’re saying is that there’s a new crime that no one has reported yet, but you’re certain it’s there anyway because women are lying bitches like that.

    Sure, it’s theoretically possible Swedish women might pretend to be prostitutes (who don’t fear men’s insane amount of violence towards whores for some strange reason) to begin robbing men, but for a long time now Swedish women could threaten to “cry rape” in order to steal from or blackmail any man, trick or not, and that hasn’t been happening. Saying that giving prostitutes the power to turn the men who abuse them in has lead to malicious, lying Swedish women “crying rape” for an easy payday, oh but the men are too afraid to report it so there’s zero proof, is flat-out misogyny.

  83. Reclusive Leftist » Blog Archive » Carnival of Feminists says:

    [...] Prostitutes = Pizza [...]

  84. Alon Levy says:

    Did anyone else notice how Burrow’s supportive comments on Sweden cited specific studies with specific numbers in comparison to other countries and Cicely’s rebuttal contained not one concrete fact, only conjecture and hypothesis? I noticed.

    That line is just crap. Consider the following argument:

    A: In Japan there are only 1.5 rapes per 100,000 people.

    B: That’s only the reported rate – Japanese women who are raped don’t tell anyone, so right now it’s impossible to know Japan’s real rape rate.

    By your logic, B must be wrong because he doesn’t produce specific numbers.

  85. Burrow says:

    No what it is is thagt we’re showing studies where they talked to a wide range of prostitutes from many countries and did the study in a scientific way. On the other you have a woman who talked to 20 people and called it a study.

    Apple, orange. Look at the damn truth for once

  86. cicely says:

    Sam and Burrows – hello. I’m not sure when you posted to this thread, Sam, as I’ve been unable to call in here for a few days – I havn’t been ignoring you. It’s going to take some time which I don’t yet have to respond in full, but I certainly will do so. To begin…

    Sam wrote:

    In the real world, 90% of prostitutes say they want out of prostitution immediately. One 5-country study of 475 prostitutes found 92% said they wanted out, and a 9-country study of 854 prostitutes found 89% wanted out immediately.

    Please show where you picked up the belief that what most prostitutes demand is help staying in prostitution and complete decriminalization so they can stay prostitutes. You are demonstrably wrong about that, Cicely.

    Here is what 475 prostitutes from 5 countries said:

    United States: 56% don’t want it legal, 88% want out now.

    South Africa: 62% don’t want it legal, 89% want out now

    Thailand: 72% don’t want it legal, 94% want out now

    Turkey: 96% don’t want it legal, 90% want out now

    Zambia: 92% don’t want it legal, 99% want out now

    From http://www.prostitutionresearch.com

    I would very much like to see whatever proof you may have to support your claim that what “sex workers” are really demanding is decriminalization and better whoring conditions.

    Firstly, I did write earlier in this thread, or in another thread here on prostitution, that I accept that the vast majority of girls and women working as prostitutes want not to be. I wouldn’t contradict 90% plus, overall. It probably follows that these women would not want prostitution legalised. On the other hand, from your own statistics, a considerable percentage of sex workers surveyed would. 44% in the US, 38% in South Africa, 28% in Thailand, 4% in Turkey and 8% in Zambia. At least these women havn’t said they would *not* want prostitution legalised, since it would have been noted if they had. Clearly there are differences between countries, which will have origins in those particular cultures, but don’t you agree that 44% in the US is a pretty significant minority? So, the next question, set against that statistic, is, *why* do 88% still want to get out in the US? Is it for some because of the unsafe conditions they are forced to work in, while prostitution is criminalised? What do you think explains this discrepancy?

    My thing is, we do have to have these discussions directly with those women doing sex work, and who *do* want to continue but with legal protections and safe conditions. (and I can reference a few sex worker organisations which have websites if you’d like me to…) I can’t find any justification for ignoring them since they will demonstrably continue to be motivated to put themselves at risk even without these basic civil rights. What motivates them? Are they entitled to define for themselves what doing sex work means in their own lives? Conservatives say ‘no’ for moral reasons, many feminists say ‘no’ for political reasons, I say ‘yes’ for largely humanitarian and civil rights reasons. I believe that *only* de-criminalisation has the potential to fully protect sex workers, whatever the underlying reasons for their participation in the sex industry may be. And I don’t pretend to always know what they may be.

    This is all I have time to write for now. I will return…

  87. Burrow says:

    but don’t you agree that 44% in the US is a pretty significant minority

    And yet they’re a minority and you want to discuss them rather then the MAJORITY. You’re humanitarian and civil rights reasons for supporting prostitution are a nice smoke screen. It is obvious that you don’t mind throwing women away. (Come on the 4 and 8%. Really? We should legalise it for them?)

    Also maybe the possibility that they want it legalised comes from the fact that *they* are the ones arrested and they have no other option. Sweden gives us one and one that keeps them out of jail.

  88. Sam says:

    My thing is, we do have to have these discussions directly with those women doing sex work…since they will demonstrably continue to be motivated to put themselves at risk

    Well first, thousands of prostitutes (male, women, transgendered) have already been spoken with and I have shown you where you can find what they have to say about it. Wendy McElroy started a study of women volunteering at sex worker rights organizations and she abandoned it when it became clear even among this most biased of prostitution populations the women didn’t really want to be sex workers. Carol Leigh, aka Scarlot Harlot, said in debate, “95% of my friends want out of prostitution.”

    You see, my thing is to stop looking at poverty-stricken, desperate women and asking them why they do desperate things for money they desperately need. My thing is focusing on men with disposable income who could freely choose not to sexually exploit drug addicted, sexually molested teen girls and asking them why they insist on their “right” to do so.

    Your focus on prostituted women is not where the problem lies so you will not find the solution there either. You need to start talking about the men who choose to use prostitutes just because they want to and it gives them pleasure. Pro-prostitution advocates consider talking about the men who use prostitues anathema, so they focus on the women as if changing women is going to change how violently and abusively men treat prostitutes, and all women really.

    The male belief in their entitlement to sex is the problem, not prostituting women. A great thing about changing the prostitution debate to reject men’s “right” to have sex any time, any way, as much as they want is that it goes right to the heart of rape culture and will benefit all women.

    Men’s widespread sexual violence against prostitutes is caused by the cultural acceptance of men’s ownership and entitlement to access women’s bodies. Men’s sexual harassment of the women they work with also stems from a culture that accepts men’s entitlement to access females sexually. Men who rape believe men have a right to use women’s bodies to relieve themselves any time, any way, as much as they want. Anti-choicers believe men have a right to women’s bodies by dint of the sexual use of her body by an impregnating man.

    The problem, I mean The Problem, of sexism is that men feel they have a right to use all female bodies any time they want, any way they want. Feminists who cannot bring themselves to reject the patriarchal notion that men have a right to sexually access women’s bodies are not going to be effective lessening any of these epidemic sexist ills if they keep looking at women as if it were women who had the problem that needs fixing.

    The Swedish policy addressing prostitution as women experience it (harmful, humiliating, violent) instead of how men experience it (harmless, entertaining, pleasurable) is a revolutionary moment in the history of the women’s movement. I hope more good-intentioned feminists can move away from the ideological place that accepts prostitution as inevitable because boys will be boys and men’s “right” to sex from women will not be questioned.

    Until more feminists start questioning men’s entitlement over female bodies, significant advancements in women’s right to be free from rape, sex harassment, and prostitution can’t happen. Rejecting prostitution is consistent with the feminist belief that men do not have a right to sex from women, but too many feminist women still can’t say this standing tall and without apologies for believing it.

  89. Alon Levy says:

    The Swedish policy addressing prostitution as women experience it (harmful, humiliating, violent) instead of how men experience it (harmless, entertaining, pleasurable) is a revolutionary moment in the history of the women’s movement.

    So the fact that the Swedish policy failed doesn’t matter. So much for realism.

    And yet they’re a minority and you want to discuss them rather then the MAJORITY.

    Have you heard of minority rights?

    Men who rape believe men have a right to use women’s bodies to relieve themselves any time, any way, as much as they want.

    They don’t “believe” anything any more than murderers believe they have a right to kill people. They just do it.

    Carol Leigh, aka Scarlot Harlot, said in debate, “95% of my friends want out of prostitution.”

    Then give them better jobs. Make sure they have the ability to get out, instead of throwing them on the street so that you can feel better about it.

  90. Violet says:

    So the fact that the Swedish policy failed doesn’t matter. So much for realism.

    Alon, where are you getting that? Cicely posted a link to a study that showed some purported negative effects of the Swedish law. How did we get from that to the “fact” that the Swedish policy failed? You’ve said that several times now — that it’s been “proven” and the debate is over, etc. — so I’m wondering if you have access to some information the rest of us don’t. As far as I can tell, there is conflicting information from very different sources. The matter is hardly settled.

  91. Alon Levy says:

    In general, when a policy succeeds, you see clear-cut results–a reduction in the number of abuse cases, for example. So far there’s a clear reduction in the reported number of prostitutes and of abuse cases, but there’s also an increase in the unreported number. Even if the evidence isn’t clear-cut, the problems with Sweden’s approach should be enough to quell people’s enthusiasm.

  92. Violet says:

    In general, when a policy succeeds, you see clear-cut results -

    Right away? With no complicationss? Of course not. The more radical or complex a change is, the longer it takes to be effective and the messier the process will be.

    As for the negative side effects in Sweden, I’m still not persuaded that those reports are even as well-documented as some of the more positive surveys. There is just too much conflicting information at this point.

    The bottom line is, it’s very early days yet with the Swedish policy. It seems premature to take stands based on the surveys so far and declare Sweden either a success or a failure. The Swedish situation seems to be evolving dynamically as the public and the judiciary adapt to the new law. It’s an ongoing process. What’s needed is monitoring, study, and reliable data so that in a few years a more mature assessment can be made.

  93. Alon Levy says:

    Well, that I can accept; my main problem is with the unqualified enthusiasm Sam displays.

  94. cicely says:

    Pro-prostitution advocates consider talking about the men who use prostitues anathema, so they focus on the women as if changing women is going to change how violently and abusively men treat prostitutes, and all women really.

    The male belief in their entitlement to sex is the problem, not prostituting women. A great thing about changing the prostitution debate to reject men’s “right” to have sex any time, any way, as much as they want is that it goes right to the heart of rape culture and will benefit all women.

    Sam, I’m not someone who finds talking about men’s sense of entitlement to womens bodies anathema. I agree entirely that the Swedish model represents a ‘first’ in going straight to the heart of that matter and I applaud that without reservation (I cheered when I first heard of it) in as much as it forces ‘that’ discussion on the whole world community. I see dangers in ‘normalising’ sex work by de-criminalising it also. It’s not a perfect solution – from a feminist perspective. We don’t want women ‘having’ to entertain prostitution as an available job or career option, because of it’s normalisation, as if it were just another form of labour. As in, for example, a poor woman not being entitled to a social welfare unemployment benefit because she hasn’t ‘accepted available work’ as a prostitute. Or a male partner insisting that a woman enter prostitution if a couple hits hard economic times. That would be a nightmare conclusion. The jury is definitely still out on the Swedish approach, but what I do see is that the most disadvantaged women appear to be still left hanging out to dry, and working in more dangerous circumstances than they were prior to 1999. Maybe only 20 prostitutes were interviewed, but should their voices not be heard at all because they’re only 20?

    I’m looking for a whole picture, and the best result for women, and that’s not easy while everyone is pushing their own barrow and quoting only statistics in support of that barrow.

    The whole picture has to include some kind of answers to the questions ‘What purpose does prostitution serve for the prostitute, for the client, for society? How much of societies negative attitude to prostitution stems from shame and a generalised dishonesty around human sexuality?

    In my city over the past few years we have had a ‘Sexpo”, which is exactly what it sounds like – product sales and displays about all manner of things sexual, and the prostitutes collective always has a display. One year I remember seeing some very pertinent and amusing hand drawn cartoons depicting the hypocrisies that are so easily resident in peoples minds around sex work and sex (and women) in general. As a society we need to come to grips with this stuff. When women can still feel utterly surprised to discover ‘their’ man’s infidelity, when men use prostitutes so much that a city of a million people can be supporting up to 1,000 prostitutes on any given day/night (figures quoted in a newspaper about my city) but no-ones husband, lover, brother, father, son or friend is known or ‘expected’ to be among the clients, etc, etc, what purpose does it serve to keep or to push sex work and sex workers further into darkness? (Apart from the lack of protection aspect.)

    A bit of an aside, but I once heard some statistics about sexual activity that go like this: Excluding purchasing of sexual services, heterosexual women have, on average, the smallest number of sexual partners over a lifetime, heterosexual men and lesbians have about the same number, on average, and gay men have a hugely larger number than any of the other groups, again, and I emphasise – on average. I have heard anecdotal evidence also that many men who consider themselves straight regularly frequent gathering places for secret and anonymous (and most often free) homosexual activity. So, if homosexuality didn’t have the moral and social stigma attached to it that it does, wouldn’t it be ideal if men matched their ‘surplus’ sexual appetites to each other and left women alone? Heterosexual relationships as structured and accepted in our society may be oppressive to many men, who have natural sexual appetites that can’t be satisfied within them. I realise I could receive a torrent of objections to this hypothesis, but I think we have to at least discuss things right at this level if we’re ever going to get anywhere! And – ‘does wanting sex mean one is entitled to it?’ is a good question. What, realistically, actually happens and can be expected to continue to happen- or not – with what changes to our approach to sexuality? We get right down to matters of social cohesion I suppose – if family structures are impacted on by polyamory and other options I haven’t thought of. Maybe I’m just way ahead of my time….quelle surprise….I’ve always felt like that anyway, as no doubt most of us here have….

    Seriously though…I don’t pretend to have ‘the’ answer to the prostitution question. I’m still researching and thinking and I will be following the logic and the outcomes of different approaches – particularly a comparison between that of New Zealand, where prostitution is completely de-criminalised and sex workers have legal protections, rights and duties, and that of Sweden where it is illegal for anyone to purchase sexual services while the providers are protected from prosecution.

  95. Alon Levy says:

    As in, for example, a poor woman not being entitled to a social welfare unemployment benefit because she hasn’t ‘accepted available work’ as a prostitute.

    Despite dire warnings, this hasn’t happened yet, even in Germany, where on the one hand prostitution is completely legal and on the other an unemployed person has to accept any available work to get unemployment benefits. A while ago the Daily Telegraph ran a false story saying that such a thing had just happened, but a quick check revealed it to be an urban legend.

    particularly a comparison between that of New Zealand, where prostitution is completely de-criminalised and sex workers have legal protections, rights and duties, and that of Sweden where it is illegal for anyone to purchase sexual services while the providers are protected from prosecution.

    I don’t think you’re going to find such a comparison. From what I’ve seen, New Zealand’s decriminalization policies is probably the world’s most successful, so anti-prostitution advocates won’t do any research about it. Similarly, because Sweden’s policy is less of a failure than the USA’s or Canada’s, pro-prostitution advocates won’t research it, either. And people who don’t have a bias don’t care about the issue enough to do any kind of research on it.

  96. Violet says:

    Heterosexual relationships as structured and accepted in our society may be oppressive to many men, who have natural sexual appetites that can’t be satisfied within them.

    Oppressive how? What are the natural sexual appetites that can’t be satisfied? Are you referring to homosexual desires? Or are you saying heterosexual men are oppressed by not having approved access to as many women as they want?

  97. Sam says:

    New Zealand is not protecting prostituted women and children. In April 2005, the naked body of sex worker Susan “Ritalin Sue” Sutherland was found in Christchurch. She was described as being in a disturbed state of mind the night she was killed after she was chased down the street by people to whom she owed money.

    Tell me how decriminalization of prostitution helped Susan escape first from her addiction, second from her murderer(s). If men don’t change their sexually exploitive, abusing ways, nothing changes. Decriminalization didn’t keep Susan alive and it didn’t help her beat her drug addiction.

    I have a number of articles about prostitution in New Zealand I’ve collected.

    Scoop Independent News reported on April 19, 2005 that, “A police survey undertaken in 2001 found just six brothels offering in-house services, whereas the most recent survey undertaken between November 2003 and April 2004 identified 93.”

    Is that what a successful prostitution law looks like?

    Stuff reports the number of prostitutes rose 40% and that street prostitution jumped from up from 3% in 2001 to 11% in 2004. link

    Scoop announced on September 27, 2005 that a Wellington brothel owner who sold a 14-year old, who was in the care of Child, Youth and Family Services to 24 paying men was given a paltry sentence of 300 hours of community service.
    link

    Is that what a successful prostitution law looks like?

    Here’s a Prostitution Law Review Committee report
    link to report

    There have been just five convictions under the Prostitution Reform Act since it was enacted in June 2003. Five convictions in two years and the Prostitution Law Reform Committee released a report indicating 20% of those involved in street soliciting are under-aged and street prostitution is has escalated to nearly 4 times its numbers prior to decriminalization.

    Is that what a successful prostitution law looks like?

    It’s proven fact that trafficking into Sweden is down enormously since 1999. A Stockholm organization found a 75% decrease in men seeking prostitutes in Sweden since implementation of the new law. It is also true that the Netherlands has twice the population of Sweden but 10 times the prostitution. Those facts alone should be considered successes, especially when the new law has been in place a scant six years. I believe the Swedish law is meeting its goals where legalization and decriminalization have failed to meet theirs and I feel it’s a positive step towards the evolution of humanity as a whole. There can be no equality and democracy while the human bodies are considered buyable and sellable

    cicely says, the most disadvantaged women appear to be still left hanging out to dry, and working in more dangerous circumstances than they were prior to 1999., but that has not been proven. I’ll need to see exact numbers and quotes from sex workers before believing this has come to pass and so far all I’ve seen is unproven speculation. A report that says “probably circumstances have gotten more dangerous” is not something I can take seriously.

    I would believe Petra’s report if she didn’t only use vague terms like “some” and “many”. If she were honest she would lay her data out to be examined, maybe saying “Of 20 sex workers interviewed with methodology X, 10 wanted out of prostitution immediately, 8 wanted legalization and government assistance to stay sex workers, 2 did not want any government action, and here are some representative quotes from each viewpoint.” That’s what a quality piece of convincing research looks like, and that’s not Petra’s study.

    cicely, it should come as no surprise I do indeed think your belief that men have a biological need to stick their penises in many more body holes than a prostitute-free world can accommodate is bogus. But I’m more concerned with the way you still can’t seem to the look the extreme amounts of sexual violence men commit against prostitutes directly in the eye. You wax poetic about families, social cohesion, and the biological nature of human sexuality but you haven’t addressed the incredible amount of violence men commit against prostituted women and I feel the generalities you’ve used in your last post serves to obfuscate men’s abuse of women and men’s responsibility to stopping that abuse.

    You have to be able to explain why prostitutes are the most raped women in the world to see where people who reject prostitution as “work” are coming from when they deny that any person has a right to economically coerce others into sexual servitude.

  98. gordo says:

    Sam–

    Your link to the source of the 3-11% jump in street prostitution is broken. I don’t know what that figue means. Surely it doesn’t mean that 11% of all the women in Christchurch are now prostitutes.

    And I think you’re right to keep this in the realm of hard data. Whatever the philosophical arguments for or against legalization, I think that measurable effects on the prostitutes themselves has to rule the day.

    And there’s no way I’m buying into a “men need more sex than a single woman can provide” argument. If actually having sex is what’s needed, rather than intimate time with your partner, then there’s always the masturbation option.

    If the intimate time is what’s lacking, then maybe it’s time to split up. And it’s hard to see how a prostitute or an anonymous encounter fills that void, anyway.

  99. Alon Levy says:

    Tell me how decriminalization of prostitution helped Susan escape first from her addiction, second from her murderer(s). If men don’t change their sexually exploitive, abusing ways, nothing changes. Decriminalization didn’t keep Susan alive and it didn’t help her beat her drug addiction.

    Decriminalization won’t fix my socks, either. What’s your point? If cicely’s trying to say that decriminalization is panacea to every problem that relates somehow to prostitution, she’s wrong. The correct approach is to abandon policies based on prosecution and criminalization in favor of directly improving economic conditions, for example by making it easy for drug addicts to go on rehab programs.

    Scoop Independent News reported on April 19, 2005 that, “A police survey undertaken in 2001 found just six brothels offering in-house services, whereas the most recent survey undertaken between November 2003 and April 2004 identified 93.”

    Is it because there are more brothels in New Zealand or because the police finds more? Reported numbers of a lot of things jump after legalization, even if the real numbers barely move. For example, the abortion rate in the US today is about the same as it was 50 years ago; the difference, of course, is that today more abortions are reported because they no longer carry jail sentences.

    Scoop announced on September 27, 2005 that a Wellington brothel owner who sold a 14-year old, who was in the care of Child, Youth and Family Services to 24 paying men was given a paltry sentence of 300 hours of community service.

    That sort of non-enforcement is the norm in every Western country for every crime but homicide and, at times, drug dealing; and even with homicide, you can find cases like this if you look hard enough.

    You wax poetic about families, social cohesion, and the biological nature of human sexuality but you haven’t addressed the incredible amount of violence men commit against prostituted women and I feel the generalities you’ve used in your last post serves to obfuscate men’s abuse of women and men’s responsibility to stopping that abuse.

    With respect to the problems of prostitution, there are basically two groups of policies: prosecute, and provide help. Sweden’s policy is a novel variant on prosecute, but still seems to create the same problems.

    The provide help policy hasn’t been tried yet as a response to rape, but in all areas in which it has been tried, it succeeded. The best-known success story of this policy comes from Thailand, where NGOs provided condoms and educated people about how to avoid STDs, resulting in an immense drop in AIDS infection rates among prostitutes; the figure I remember is a 75% reduction in 5 years.

    An indirect piece of evidence showing that provide-help will work better is the profile of the average prostitute, who is economically coerced (people with better options don’t stay in jobs they want out of), and the average non-economically coerced prostitute, who I will call a choice prostitute to save space. The greatest difference is one of economic class: choice prostitutes disproportionately come from the middle class, are mostly educated, and do not sell sex to fund drug habits.

    In addition, Germany’s legalization failed to bring about the expected unionization of prostitutes simply because prostitutes are still afraid of the social stigma they face. In contrast, the other problems anti-prostitution activists associate with legalization failed to materialize – or, more precisely, had been present for years before prostitution was legalized.

    If you want to eliminate non-choice prostitution, you have to eliminate the economic conditions that create it. You have to support a more anti-drug foreign policy, rehab rather than jailing as the preferred response to drugs, schemes that allow prostitutes to anonymously complain about abuse, and more generous welfare payments. Just don’t criminalize; it won’t help anything except making you feel better about yourself.

  100. cicely says:

    Oppressive how? What are the natural sexual appetites that can’t be satisfied? Are you referring to homosexual desires? Or are you saying heterosexual men are oppressed by not having approved access to as many women as they want?

    Violet, I’m not talking about homosexual desires as such, but using the gay male sex scene to explore what unconstrained (by societal heterosexual ‘norms’) male sexual behaviour looks like. The male on male sex scene is different from in some ways, and the same as in other ways, the straight sex scene. Speaking generally, the level of promiscuity is much higher. Over a lifetime, gay men have more sexual partners, on average, than any other group. Polyamorous relationships are much more common, anonymous sex and group sex are much more common and sexual preferences and styles are much more openly advertised (as in personal ads) and discussed. Gay males do appear to objectify male bodies as much as heterosexual males objectify female bodies, but without the patriarchal context as that impacts on women. (because they’re sex equals and ‘not’ the sex class.) Gay men also pay other males for sexual services (eg rent boys). The female on female i.e. lesbian sex scene looks very different to that of gay males. Some women tried to run ‘one’ lesbian sex sauna in a city I lived in at one time – it never got off the ground for lack of interest.
    All the above is not to say that gay men don’t also have loving and long term committed relationships as well – because of course they do.

    What I am saying is that if you take all this into consideration, male sexuality and female sexuality seem likely to be, generally speaking, a mismatch. What do you think? And, yes, what follows from that is that straight males, generally speaking, would probably prefer to be free to have sexual relations with more women over their lifetime than our social arrangements permit. This is part of the reason they purchase sexual services from prostitutes. I’m saying that it’s not *all* about ‘entitlement’ or having the power to buy a woman’s body, to uphold patriarchy etc, etc. There’s a mixture of things going on, and it *is* all going on in a patriarchal context, of which I am fully and painfully aware. I just think we need to be honest about the whole picture, and not just parts of it.

    Sam, Alon has responded to you with the points I also would have made. We are not going to change much at all in 6 or 3 years anywhere, but I remain open to following the progress and seeing what happens. There is a huge difference between being economically and circumstantially free (say, drug addiction free) to choose sex work, and not being free to choose. That’s where our efforts should be being directed in my opinion. Then if women actually stop choosing sex work at all, we’ll know it’s something no woman would choose. I don’t actually think that’s what would happen, but I could be wrong.

  101. Alon Levy says:

    Polyamorous relationships are much more common, anonymous sex and group sex are much more common and sexual preferences and styles are much more openly advertised (as in personal ads) and discussed.

    Is polyamory most common among gay men just because of promiscuity, or also because it’s impossible to have a polyamorous relationship if each person is only attracted to people of the opposite sex? Also, is polyamory among gay men more common than among lesbians?

  102. Violet says:

    because it’s impossible to have a polyamorous relationship if each person is only attracted to people of the opposite sex?

    Huh? Heterosexual polyamory is not only possible but common…

  103. Reclusive Leftist » Blog Archive » A comment that deserves its own post says:

    [...] Violet: ……posted to Prostitutes = Pizza at 4:02 pm EST on March 26, 2006 [...]

  104. Sam says:

    Your link to the source of the 3-11% jump in street prostitution is broken. I don’t know what that figure means.

    You can read the original data at the Prostitution Law Committee Report linked. There’s a handy chart that shows in 2001 street prostitution was 3% of New Zealand prostitution and in 2003 the number jumped to 11% of prostitutes on the street. This, combined with a 40% increase in the numbers of prostituted women overall and the massive increase in brothels, make New Zealand the latest country to experience these well-recognized trends in countries where the government profits from selling women’s bodies.

    After the Netherlands legalized the sex industry it was estimated to have grown overall by 25%, trafficking to the Netherlands increased to meet increased men’s demands, child prostitution increased, and street prostitution remained as dangerous and organized-crime controlled as ever.

    Alon, from untrue and meanspirited comments like “New Zealand’s decriminalization policies is probably the world’s most successful, so anti-prostitution advocates won’t do any research about it” to comments accusing me of wanting prostitutes “thrown on the street so that you can feel better about it” to slamming the Swedish model with inanities like “So far there’s a clear reduction in the reported number of prostitutes and of abuse cases, but there’s also an increase in the unreported number.” when it’s oxymoronic to definitively report on unreported cases, I don’t care to do further keep-up on correcting your many mistakes beyond this post.

    You said the Swedish model has failed and were given specifics about how it has reduced trafficking, reduced men’s demand and reduced street prostitution. Rumblings of increased underground activity may or may not be true and time will tell for sure, but trafficking, demand and street prostitution are down and those were the goals set forth by the Swedish law.

    You said New Zealand decriminalizing brothel prostitution to try and reduce street prostitution is the most successful model and were shown New Zealand reports that there are 40% more prostitutes than before decriminalization, street prostitution has quadrupled, there have been only five child “prostitot” convictions in three years and pimps caught sexually selling children are given community service hours for facilitating systematized child rape. New Zealand has gone backwards in its stated goal to reduce street prostitution because decriminalization actually increased street prostitution fourfold.

    You seem to think an adequate reply is the dismissive “Decriminalization won’t fix my socks, either” and “That sort of non-enforcement is the norm in every Western country,” but then how can you conclude that New Zealand’s decriminalization is working better than what is done in other countries?

    Thailand, where NGOs provided condoms and educated people about how to avoid STDs, resulting in an immense drop in AIDS infection rates among prostitutes

    What about the immense drop in men raping prostitutes, or the immense drop in men murdering prostitutes, or the average age of a girl’s subsumption into prostitution rising above the early teen years? What about men’s violence, a subject you and cicely assiduously avoid despite my best attempts to address that male violence? What if prostituted women’s lives mattered more than Western men’s fears of catching AIDS from a cheap, teenaged Thai whore while on vacation, and by saying that we mean no man has a right to sex on demand, with or without condoms?

    Alon, you’ve been aggressively rude, don’t have facts to back up what you’ve said, and the weird logic you use to justify men’s “right” to selfishly, sexually use female bodies whenever and however they want defies reason.

    Cicely said: “We are not going to change much at all in 6 or 3 years anywhere” and you couldn’t be more wrong because a lot has changed in the past 3 years in New Zealand and the past 6 years in Sweden. New Zealand’s 40% increase in prostitutes, explosion of brothels, and quadrupling of street prostitution are big changes for the worse. Sweden’s decriminalization of prostitutes but not pimps and johns, reduction in men seeking prostitutes in Stockholm by 75%, reduction in trafficking to the country, and increase in services available to help women transition out of prostitution are major changes of the past few years.

    There is a huge difference between being economically and circumstantially free (say, drug addiction free) to choose sex work, and not being free to choose. That’s where our efforts should be being directed in my opinion.

    I consider this rather offensive. Prostitutes are clear about where they want your efforts to be directed when they say they want help getting out of prostitution. They are saying they need drug addiction treatment, safe housing, job training, and childcare to meet their goals of escaping a life of prostitution and you’ve twisted that to say, “What they really want is the freedom to choose sex working as a career.” What gives you the right to rewrite their clear requests for help getting out of prostitution into them wanting to be “free to choose” prostitution? That’s not what they’re saying, and you need to listen to what they’re saying when they overwhelmingly say they want out.

    Suggesting that we should wait until there’s a sexism-free world before we can determine if prostitution is sexist, humiliating, violent, health-wrecking, and soul-detroying is a slap in the face to prostitutes living now and an abandonment of responsibility to prostitutes living now who need help getting out from under the crushing weight of men’s demands for prostitution now.

  105. VK says:

    heterosexual women have, on average, the smallest number of sexual partners over a lifetime, heterosexual men and lesbians have about the same number, on average, and gay men have a hugely larger number than any of the other groups, again, and I emphasise – on average.

    1) Women lie on these things. So do men. Studies show they are more likely to lie the more they perceive someone may link them with the figure. But men bump the figure up, women bump it down. Why? Because women can’t be sluts and men need to be studs.. or so society says.
    Look at your numbers – they don’t work. Hetro woman CANNOT be having less sexual encounters than men of average – for every hetro encounter, their is someone of each sex so it changes both averages equally (assuming numbers of men/women are approximately the same – which I think we can safely do) Think of it this way – you have 30 men and 30 women. If they couple up in monogamous pairs, then the average is 1 each. Draw. Suppose one man sleeps with all the women. Then the average for the men is 1 – because the 30 partners of the one man is weighted down by the 29 abstinancees. But the women have an average of one each as well.
    The only way the hetro men can be racking up a higher score is (lying or) sleeping with men! By the by do bisexuals sleep with no-one? Do the average between the hetro and homo? Or do they get super high numbers of partners because they have so much more choice.

    Bottom line. Men may have higher sex drives. Women may have higher sex drives. We cannot tell because we CANNOT compensate for the effect of society on the people measured. In absense of evidence I think we have to assume sex drive levels are equal.

  106. Alon Levy says:

    You seem to think an adequate reply is the dismissive “Decriminalization won’t fix my socks, either” and “That sort of non-enforcement is the norm in every Western country,” but then how can you conclude that New Zealand’s decriminalization is working better than what is done in other countries?

    It’s better at a few things, like reducing abuse cases. At most things it’s completely irrelevant.

    You said the Swedish model has failed and were given specifics about how it has reduced trafficking, reduced men’s demand and reduced street prostitution. Rumblings of increased underground activity may or may not be true and time will tell for sure, but trafficking, demand and street prostitution are down and those were the goals set forth by the Swedish law.

    If you don’t grasp the idea that some things are underreported, then you’re an idiot. By your logic, there’s barely any rape in Japan, since the official figures are very low.

    What if prostituted women’s lives mattered more than Western men’s fears of catching AIDS from a cheap, teenaged Thai whore while on vacation, and by saying that we mean no man has a right to sex on demand, with or without condoms?

    I’ll be charitable and attribute the fact that you assume it’s about Western men’s AIDS infection rate to a misunderstanding, but there’s a 50-50 chance it’s due to crimestop (or is doublethink?). For future reference, the policy was intended to reduce AIDS infection rates among prostitutes; johns didn’t figure into the stated goals. And the final results of the policy were a 75% reduction in AIDS infection rates among prostitutes. Maybe you think getting prostitutes to stop catching AIDS is yet another patriarchal conspiracy – I don’t know.

    Prostitutes are clear about where they want your efforts to be directed when they say they want help getting out of prostitution. They are saying they need drug addiction treatment, safe housing, job training, and childcare to meet their goals of escaping a life of prostitution…

    Then give these to them, and they’ll choose better jobs on their own.

  107. cicely says:

    Bottom line. Men may have higher sex drives. Women may have higher sex drives. We cannot tell because we CANNOT compensate for the effect of society on the people measured. In absense of evidence I think we have to assume sex drive levels are equal.

    Well, you’ve done your homework, VK, but can you see why I chose to do the comparison using the gay male and the lesbian sex cultures? How would you explain to yourself the disparity there? Both groups are free from actual hetero-societal constraints and gay men are demonstrably far more sexually active as per my post above re no. of partners, anonymous sex and group sex.

    Belledame suggested that both groups may still be following society’s expectations and there is likely to be some truth in that but not, in my opinion, the whole truth. I feel pretty confident that there is enough evidence to suggest that men sexually objectify more than women do, whether the ‘object’ is male or female, and are frequently aroused by that objectification enough to follow through to an actual sexual encounter. Women objectify too but are much less frequently moved to follow through to an actual sexual encounter. (Since this applies to lesbians too the safety issues don’t signify.)

    In addition to the above it is indisputably and overwhelmingly the male demand for sex that fuels the sex industry. My own personal internal debate around prostitution centres around whether or not it can ever be said to be a legitimate and harm-free transaction – the commercial exploitation by some women of the male demand for sex, or whether it can only ever be seen as exploitation ‘of’ women to satisfy the male demand for sex. I believe it’s both, but that under current circumstances in most cases and in practice, overwhelmingly the latter. I see no reason to disbelieve those women who say they choose prostitution freely and I support their right to legal protection, safe working conditions and the removal of the associated social stigma. I also understand that those women represent a very small percentage of women involved in prostitution overall.

    I think if you whole-heartedly believe that prostitution *can* only be exploitation of (mostly) women, the Swedish approach of criminalising the purchasers and not the providers of sexual services is wholly appropriate. Even if the vast majority of, if not all prostitutes are being exploited it *may* still be appropriate to remove the choice for the few who can choose if that proves to have the most successful outcome in terms of reducing the overall exploitation of and harm to women. That’s where it gets tricky for me.

    If full de-criminalisation has a successful outcome in terms of protecting *all* women who participate in prostitution (which hasn’t yet happened in Sweden or New Zealand apparently) and the issue of exploitation – violence, trafficking and all other forms of abuse is vigorously and successfully addressed, that would currently be my ideal approach. We could see, as time unfolds, how many women would actually freely take the option of participation in this form of sex work. It could look very different to the way it looks today.

    And then we get to the question of male access to womens bodies overall – that ‘sense of entitlement’. I’ve just been reading about yet another male bonding exercise of group rape involving no fewer than 8 (!!) men. They spiked the drink of a conservative 42 year old Brisbane mother, on a cruise ship, with a drug (GBH or ‘fantasy’) which removed her inhibitions, took her to a cabin, took photographs of themselves having sex with her (which they later showed to other passengers), then left her unconscious on the cabin room floor where she subsequently died of an overdose of the drug they had administered.

    Along with the current abortion situation in the US, and much else around the world, if there isn’t a war on between the sexes about the ‘right’ of men to have access to and control over women’s bodies, I’ll eat my hat.

    These things don’t sit easily together in my mind. (women’s autonomy in the right to choose prostitution and men’s sense of entitlement). There is definitely a big part of me that wildly applauds the Swedish approach. Just because you want something – particularly a persons body – shoudn’t mean you can have it.

    I’d be interested in hearing the opinions of the men here on the subject of pack sexual assaults and rapes. They’re hardly uncommon. What do *you* think is going on from your inside view of male culture? Apologies – this is thread drift – but it all seems to be tied in together to me.

  108. cicely says:

    Actually, is this thread ‘bounce’ as well?

  109. Alon Levy says:

    I’d be interested in hearing the opinions of the men here on the subject of pack sexual assaults and rapes. They’re hardly uncommon. What do you think is going on from your inside view of male culture? Apologies – this is thread drift – but it all seems to be tied in together to me.

    Pack sexual assaults may be common in absolute numbers, but as a percentage of all assaults they aren’t. The typical sexual assault is individual, committed by someone known to the victim, non-aggravated, and, I think, non-premeditated.

    About male culture, I must plead ignorance. My knowledge of male culture in general, let alone the gang subculture that commits group rape, is very limited; I certainly don’t know what the average male thinks any more than what the average female thinks.

  110. Violet says:

    I dislike playing policewoman, but this needs to be said: Sam of Genderberg is an extremely knowledgeable anti-prostitution advocate and I welcome her contributions. She is neither malicious nor idiotic. To assume that she opposes prostitution because it makes her feel better rather than because she cares about the women involved is a) unwarranted and b) the kind of prejudicial attitude that shuts down communication. Similarly, when two people are talking past each other on a particular point of logic, if they start calling each other “idiot” then I can pretty well guarantee they’ll never figure out where they crossed signals.

    If you don’t understand what someone means, ask. If you think someone is missing a big part of the puzzle, ask them about it. Try to assume that your interlocutor is not the Anti-Christ. More light, less heat.

  111. Alon Levy says:

    Sorry, but her logic reminds me a lot of how I tried to argue on Majikthise once that Japan was an example of a society with a very low rape rate, and in particular a very low rape-to-murder ratio (about 3). The main difference is that when people started explaining to me about the severe underreporting problem in Japan, I changed my mind according to the new facts.

    Also, the “feel good” comment isn’t about her specifically. If she shows genuine interest in prostitutes’ quality of life – which I think she does – then my beef isn’t with her. The problem is that the majority of anti-prostitution arguments I’ve seen don’t talk about prostitutes’ quality of life at all; rather, they talk about how prostitution is sexist/immoral and it’s a feminist/divine duty to oppose it.

  112. cicely says:

    My apologies Sam, for not having responded to your last post as yet. I somehow missed seeing all of it until now – including where you’d addressed me directly. I came straight here and responded to VK this morning. I’m going back up the page to read fully now…..

    What about men’s violence, a subject you and cicely assiduously avoid despite my best attempts to address that male violence?

    I don’t think I’ve been thorough enough in responding to your posts at all Sam, as I’ve left you with the impression that I want to avoid the issue of male violence. I absolutely and unequivocally do not. I wrote my previous post without reading your last one and I hope it helps assure you that this is the case. Unlike you though, I haven’t come to absolute conclusions about the best way to approach the issue of prostitution, or that prostitution perse *is* always violence against women.

    Sam quoting cicely: ‘There is a huge difference between being economically and circumstantially free (say, drug addiction free) to choose sex work, and not being free to choose. That’s where our efforts should be being directed in my opinion.’

    Sam: I consider this rather offensive. Prostitutes are clear about where they want your efforts to be directed when they say they want help getting out of prostitution. They are saying they need drug addiction treatment, safe housing, job training, and childcare to meet their goals of escaping a life of prostitution and you’ve twisted that to say, “What they really want is the freedom to choose sex working as a career.” What gives you the right to rewrite their clear requests for help getting out of prostitution into them wanting to be “free to choose” prostitution? That’s not what they’re saying, and you need to listen to what they’re saying when they overwhelmingly say they want out.

    I haven’t re-written anyones clear requests. There are clearly requests from both sides – and from prostitutes, or sex workers, themselves. I’ve never disputed that the vast majority of prostitutes in the world would rather not be, or that they should be able to access all the help they need to change their life circumstances. But I’m asking myself, listening to the other side too, is it possible to separate the exploitation, the violence etc from the work itself? Some women, who are prostitutes themselves, believe so. Should they stand accused of betraying all women, even being ‘responsible’ for the pain of unwilling participants – or do they have a right to their own position and their own requests for legitimacy and safe working conditions? (If you are doubting the existence of prostitute advocacy groups at all, let me know and I’ll be happy to direct you to some.)

    I’m still listening and learning. Whatever I conclude for tiny me, it won’t involve attacking women from either or any side of the equation. I’m not saying that *you’re* attacking anyone, and certainly not that you don’t care – that’s very obviously not the case – but I would like to genuinely ask – what *do* you say to the women who wish to continue to work as prostitutes?

    I will follow your links as well as seek further information on the current situations in New Zealand and Sweden. I may be looking to sources you have overlooked. It’s not about winning an arguement though. For me it’s about not slamming my mind shut too soon, or at all. I won’t be sure until I’m sure.

  113. Sam says:

    What about men’s violence, a subject you and cicely assiduously avoid despite my best attempts to address that male violence?

    “I don’t think I’ve been thorough enough in responding to your posts at all Sam, as I’ve left you with the impression that I want to avoid the issue of male violence. I absolutely and unequivocally do not. I wrote my previous post without reading your last one and I hope it helps assure you that this is the case. Unlike you though, I haven’t come to absolute conclusions about the best way to approach the issue of prostitution, or that prostitution perse is always violence against women.”

    You’re still not even minimally acknowledging and addressing the men who do commit violent acts in huge numbers against prostitutes or the violence they’re committing. You’re written a lot of apology but I’d rather you skipped with the apology paragraph and move on to the “Why are prostitutes the most raped women in the world?” and “If laws against rape and asking pimps and tricks nicely not to rape haven’t worked so far, why believe pimp & trick decriminalization is going to stop men’s violence against prostitutes?”

    Here’s another good one, “Why are legal brothels built with ‘panic buttons’ in them?” I believe if we have to build brothels with the routine expectation that many women are going to get violently attacked by many tricks then we shouldn’t be building them at all. A Dutch brothel owner complained about the regulation that there be pillows on the beds because, “You don’t want pillows in there, it’s a murder weapon.”

    ”I’ve never disputed that the vast majority of prostitutes in the world would rather not be, or that they should be able to access all the help they need to change their life circumstances.”

    But you have. You do when you say, ”There are clearly requests from both sides – and from prostitutes, or sex workers, themselves,” which implies a near equal split. To go with the numbers we have, 92% of prostitutes want help getting out of prostitution immediately, so to speak of “both sides” and “the other side” as you do really does dispute that the vast majority of prostitutes want out immediately.

    Some women, who are prostitutes themselves, believe so. Should they stand accused of betraying all women, even being ‘responsible’ for the pain of unwilling participants – or do they have a right to their own position…?

    You still haven’t talked about men’s responsibility for stopping their exploitation and violence, you’re still focusing on prostitutes and trying to make it as if it’s their “choice” to get raped, cut, slashed, burned, punched and kicked by men regularly. There is no sensible feminist reason to ignore the 92% of prostitutes who do not consider it work but slavery in favor of the 8% minority, especially when doing so only affirms the rape culture that already says (often literally) men have a God-given right to wet their penises with women’s holes any way they desire, any time they want it.

    Like Einstein said about not being able to simultaneously prevent war and prepare for war, you cannot affirm men demanding sex from women anytime they want as acceptable at the same time you’re trying to get through to men that they do not have any right to demand or coerce sex from any woman, ever.

    Einstein also said, “The real problem is in the hearts and minds of men.”

    what do you say to the women who wish to continue to work as prostitutes?

    Not much, because prostituting women aren’t the problem, men who use prostitutes are the problem and I’ve got a lot to say to them.

    To women who want to legitimize men’s right to economically coerce poverty-stricken girls and women into sex they would otherwise not consent to I’ve got something to say. To anyone who says we should look at prostitution as an acceptable job for poor, brown, young females, to anyone who personally profits from the globalized pornstitution industries, to anyone who knows that prostitutes are brutalized by men more than any other group of women and still encourages vulnerable women to put their bodies in control of dangerous men who show no willingness to respect their basic human rights, I have some things to say.

    Mostly it boils down to, “Stop pushing women to pain-filled lives highly likely to culminate in early and violent deaths because you can’t muster up the courage to tell men they have no right to masturbate with another person’s body and their abuse will no longer be tolerated.”

    Women who are prostitutes have my sympathy and my extended hand for the help they want. Anyone who pushes to have men’s right to demand sex from women at all times even more accepted and formalized in culture than it is gets my extended middle finger.

  114. cicely says:

    Pack sexual assaults may be common in absolute numbers, but as a percentage of all assaults they aren’t.

    Sorry Alon, but I have to ask – And? Because that they’re common in absolute numbers is what I’m addressing. What set of ideas about women do so many groups of men share that ‘sharing’ an unwilling, terrified, drugged or otherwise comatose woman between them for their sexual pleasure and amusement seems like an ok thing to do?

    And Sam, prostitutes are the most ‘available’, the easiest targets for male violence, (and all the more so the more hidden their workplaces) but as you know, no girl or woman is actually safe – not even an eighty year old woman in an aged care facility. (A case pending in Australia) I don’t see how criminalising prostitution is going to eradicate male on female violence in general. Sex isn’t violence. Violence is violence. We don’t entertain criminalising marriage in any way to eradicate wife-battering do we? Or do you think that the fact that prostitution exists is the root cause of all violence against women?

  115. Alon Levy says:

    I push for the right of a buyer and a seller to exchange goods or services for an agreed price, unless the exchange involves externalities or is at an unfair price or quality that can be improved via collective bargaining. So far evidence for externalities resulting from prostitution (e.g. AIDS transmission, trafficking) has been too weak to justify criminalization; and the greatest barrier to collective bargaining has been the stigma attached to prostitution.

    Mostly it boils down to, “Stop pushing women to pain-filled lives highly likely to culminate in early and violent deaths because you can’t muster up the courage to tell men they have no right to masturbate with another person’s body and their abuse will no longer be tolerated.”

    Well, what I’m gonna say to that boils down to, “Stop telling people what to do. It’s none of your business if a woman chooses to sell sex. If a woman sells sex because that’s the only job she can do then that’s a problem, and the state should definitely intervene to give her better opportunities; but that’s orthogonal to the question of whether prostitution should be legal.”

    Sorry Alon, but I have to ask – And? Because that they’re common in absolute numbers is what I’m addressing. What set of ideas about women do so many groups of men share that ’sharing’ an unwilling, terrified, drugged or otherwise comatose woman between them for their sexual pleasure and amusement seems like an ok thing to do?

    Alright… I should discuss this in more detail. I don’t think that the said groups think it’s “an ok thing to do.” Gangs tend to operate outside conventional morality, so they don’t think in terms of “okay,” “moral,” or “good.” They think in terms of what gives them power or indulges them in immediate pleasure.

    That’s the main reason I disagree with the assertion that there’s “an ideology of rape,” to use Brownmiller’s term: gangs rape women not because of an ideology that says it’s justifiable, but because of a criminal view that does things without concern for whether they’re justifiable.

  116. Sam says:

    “prostitutes are the most ‘available’, the easiest targets for male violence, (and all the more so the more hidden their workplaces)”

    That’s not true. Kids are the easiest (least able to defend themselves emotionally or physically) targets of male violence, which is why the average age of entry into prostitution is 13. How many women have pimps with a moneyed interest in “protecting” them from other men’s violence like an estimated 80% to 90% of prostitutes do? Why are there burly bouncers in strip clubs but not the average beer-swilling establishment? Strip clubs are legal and very open, but that hasn’t lessened the amount of violence men commit against strippers.

    I know you read my question about why legal, open, regulated brothels have “panic buttons”, so it isn’t true that if prostitution is made more open then men will be less violent towards prostituted women.

    “I don’t see how criminalising prostitution is going to eradicate male on female violence in general.”

    I thought we were talking about male violence against prostitutes not male violence in general, but the amazing gender equity successes Sweden has had in other areas of its culture would certainly seem to tie into their rejection of men’s coercive control of prostituted women or any other woman. Too many men think all women are basically whores, just some more than others.

    “Sex isn’t violence. Violence is violence.”

    I keep saying that to pimps and tricks but the boogers don’t seem to understand. How are you going to make prostitute-using men and pimps believe this when they show no inclinations of changing their fusion of sex and violence into sexual violence? I’m pretty sure these guys already know rape and battery are wrong and illegal, so adding to existing laws “…and that goes for sex workers, too” isn’t effective at reducing men’s violence, as every country that has legalized prostitution or decriminalized men soliciting has discovered.

    “Or do you think that the fact that prostitution exists is the root cause of all violence against women?”

    Men and their sense of superiority and entitlement are the root cause of violence against women and violence against prostituted women. You leave out men as the agents of the actions when you speak of “prostitution exists” as if there weren’t actually people, men, who make it exist. I know some people say that about God, that he always has been and always will exist, but prostitution exists because men want it, not by some eternal mandate.

  117. CR says:

    Sam,
    I don’t know who you are but i thnk you’re great and very brave. You’re going to hear and read alot of very well crafted pro-protitution stuff by very clever and highly educated people. You’re going to get exhausted by it. Your eyes may start to cross and you’ll want to make that “rasberry sound”. You may start to feel lonely- like you’re the last person left on the planet who feels the way you do- and knows what you know. I don’t want to get into this conversation as I think it’s a “striving after the wind” especailly given the way some of the people on this thread think- but i just wanted to write to you and say “Thanks”. You are not alone.

  118. Violet says:

    So far evidence for externalities resulting from prostitution (e.g. AIDS transmission, trafficking) has been too weak to justify criminalization

    So the murder, rape, assault, coercion, and misery of millions is “too weak” to justify criminalization?

    The only tenable defense of prostitution is the libertarian argument, which is what Cicely advances. But trying to defend prostitution because “it’s not harmful enough to regulate” is the wrong horse to back.

  119. cicely says:

    I am going to take some time out to consider and respond thoroughly to your collection of posts in this thread, Sam. I have collected some information to read, from all sides (broadly – radical feminist, liberal or libertarian feminist and sex worker testimony) and actually I appreciate the opportunity to clarify my own thoughts on the subject.

  120. Alon Levy says:

    So the murder, rape, assault, coercion, and misery of millions is “too weak” to justify criminalization?

    It is, until someone produces conclusive evidence that criminalization reduces these. For this purpose, any data that ignores underreporting is not conclusive evidence.

    The only tenable defense of prostitution is the libertarian argument, which is what Cicely advances.

    There’s nothing libertarian about the help-them-instead-of-telling-them-what-to-do argument. Its most visible proponent, the UNDP, also happens to be one of the largest anti-neo-liberal organizations in the world. And so far that policy has produced clear-cut results, something that policies based on criminalization have not.

  121. Burrow says:

    I would suggest *We’re Not for Sale,* *Only Words,* and *Prostitution, Trafficking, and Traumatic Strress.*

    Good luck on your reading.

  122. cicely says:

    Burrow says:

    I would suggest We’re Not for Sale, Only Words, and Prostitution, Trafficking, and Traumatic Strress.

    Good luck on your reading.

    Thankyou Burrow, I will look these up.

    If the readers here will pardon my indulgence, I might be doing this a bit piecemeal. It’s a *huge* subject involving so many related issues like class, poverty, race and racism, sex and sexism, the state of nation’s economies – as in – are they able to provide the necessary support to women who actually have no choice in the matter if they hope to survive and/or feed their children? (if they followed Swedens example), what is sex?, is there a place or a need in the world for commercial sex?, can it ever be eradicated? as well as the question, to me, of how tightly should I hold on to liberal principles that are very important, for the benefit of the few in the face of so much suffering for the many in this case?

    I have long been a great admirer of Swedish social policy, (maybe I should just trust that they know what they’re doing) but have hit this snag re prostitution, even as I applaud the arrival in the world of an official, government approach that confronts men with the consequences to girls and women of their overall demands for access to our bodies for their sexual pleasure and gratification and makes them responsible.

    You see, my thing is to stop looking at poverty-stricken, desperate women and asking them why they do desperate things for money they desperately need. My thing is focusing on men with disposable income who could freely choose not to sexually exploit drug addicted, sexually molested teen girls and asking them why they insist on their “right” to do so.

    Your focus on prostituted women is not where the problem lies so you will not find the solution there either. You need to start talking about the men who choose to use prostitutes just because they want to and it gives them pleasure. Pro-prostitution advocates consider talking about the men who use prostitues anathema, so they focus on the women as if changing women is going to change how violently and abusively men treat prostitutes, and all women really.

    You can’t read my mind Sam and you’re right, I haven’t responded to this here. That doesn’t mean I don’t think about it. Long before I was aware of the Swedish solution I’d always felt that because male demand drove prostitution, trafficking and all the rest, it has always been a huge injustice that prostitutes suffered the social stigma and the legal punishment. I wonder too how Australian and kiwi men (for example) can possibly justify waving goodbye to their 14 year old daughters as they head off on sex junkets to Thailand to buy sex from someone elses 12 year old daughter. Or buy sex from girls and women where there is *any* possibilty that these women may not have chosen to do sex work, for whatever reason. This enrages me, make no mistake.

    If legalising prostitution or de-criminalising it actually *increases* the participation of girls and women in prostitution, and yet most want to get out even now – this is of great concern.

    No conclusions yet, but I feel myself leaning.

  123. Sam says:

    Thank you for the kind words, CR.

    Cicely, for most of my life I believed legalizing prostitution was the way to go, and it may be hard to believe but I only changed my mind about three years ago. Before then I supposed legalization was the only way to go because arresting prostitutes was obviously pointless but I didn’t know what else to suggest beyond regulation. I hadn’t thought to question men’s sense of entitlement to sex on demand in the first place until hearing about the Swedish model and getting much further on my feminist path.

    I believe that anyone sincere about their concern for prostituted women will eventually find their way through the research, through the testimonials, and through feminist and class theory. Best wishes to you, and I mean that because you’re about to wade through some nasty, evil shit as you further educate yourself about prostitution from women’s point of view. Eat a light lunch before cracking open those books Burrow recommends, and maybe we can chat about it again sometime soon in one of these here blogs.

  124. cicely says:

    I hadn’t thought to question men’s sense of entitlement to sex on demand in the first place until hearing about the Swedish model and getting much further on my feminist path.

    Yes, no matter what, the Swedes have done the women of the world a great service with this shift in focus. I *had* asked myself how this might be addressed – the demand side – particularly for victims of the atrocity of forced sex work – and just thought I guess that no-one would be so bold or be willing or able to make anything happen in my lifetime. That’s why I almost literally cheered the roof off when I first heard of it – which, surprisingly, was actually only last year when I was following the fortunes and misfortunes of the Swedish Feminist Initiative political party – which should be fielding candidates in the election this year.

    Eat a light lunch before cracking open those books Burrow recommends, and maybe we can chat about it again sometime soon in one of these here blogs.

    Thanks for the warning – off to the library – and yes, I look forward to further conversation a little bit down the track.

  125. Michael says:

    …is to get off on the objectification.

    This is exactly why men get prostitutes. Yes, men like to objectify women. Men also generally wish they were themselves objectified a little more often. Men like both objectifying and being objectified. It is not a double-standard. For some reason some women think that it is the evil heart of men that we like to objectify women. I disagree. It’s just that part of men that women will never understand. It is not, as I said, a double standard.

    I’ll add that I have never been in the company of a prostitute but it is not at all hard for me to understand why some men do.

    I’ll also add that yes, there are some severely fucked up men in the world where it is all much worse than this.