A New Generation of Sex Work


Recently I did two things. 1. Listened to the Dan Savage Podcast #175 – Check it out! And the Savage Love column and 2. Read Elizabeth Pisani’s Wisdom of Whores Blog- Entitled “Do Chicago Sex Workers need Swedish Laws”.

Both of these thing intrigued me and ignited an idea about legalized prostitution. Dan Savage was responding to a caller that was describing how awesome his monogamous relationship is and how it can be so amazing and wonderful. Dan Savage replied as usual, in an intelligent and logical manner. I will paraphrase. He basically said that the reason this caller’s monogamous relationship was working was because both parties wanted monogamy and were both extremely happy. It wasn’t monogamy that made it work. It was the 2 individuals. Just like how 2 individuals (or more) can make nonmonagamy or polyamory work. And also how some people cannot be in those relationships or can’t be in them with certain people. Basically saying don’t blame the institution, blame the people. Which I think is exactly correct.

This brings me to Pisani’s blog post. The main issue was how Chicago is coming down harder on sex workers. Increasing penalties for buying and selling sex. Which is so damn irritating. Because these lawmakers are pushing their lifestyles or lifestyles they deam most appropriate or “right” on everybody else. Just like how religion, sexual orientation, culture, etc is pushed on people.

So I thought of a great idea. Legalize all prostitution. Do it. Think of the possibilities. There could be all different types of brothels. There could be quick n dirties, wining and dining, conversation, etc. There could even be classes or counselors to help clients with relationships, communication, dating to help those who want to be in relationships or have partners. They could have hetero, female, male, bi, tri, queer, lesbian, gay houses. It would be awesome. Think about the booming economy and the increasing rates of happiness our country could experience. We could give just 1% of proceeds to education and think of the improvements! There could even be houses for married couples, polyamorous couples, monogamous couples, just datin’ couples, singles, just endless possibilities. Kinks, fetishes.. I can’t stop coming up with ideas! There could even still be street walkers. People who like the idea of picking someone up like that. The workers could have a chosen level of security if they desire. Once again more jobs! There could even be escort services that go to the clients. Van drivers, secretaries, etc.

The houses could have medical insurance, regular testing, birth control, condoms, education, etc. Think of the jobs! This could create 100s of jobs. Doctors, nurses, bouncers, educators, counselors, therapists, etc! Think of the economic possibilities.

I would totally love to run any number of these awesome places. To me that would be a dream job. Love to incorporate all aspects of sexuality into one place with knowledge, pleasure, education, fun and openmindedness.

  • kmiriam

    I don’t know what the blogger on Chicago is saying–but you are definitely fudging the facts. The Swedish approach to prostitution is to criminalize the pimp and the buyer of sex, not the prostitutes (I won’t get into here why “sex worker” is an obfuscating euphemism).  This approach is based on the premise that it is the demand–men who want to buy use of women’s bodies for sex–that creates the “supply.”

    The reality of prostitution is nothing like the “utopia” you are revelling in. Aside from the fact that I do not see anything utopian about a world where sex is commercialized–(why would that be desirable in a utopia? why not free love, i.e. *free*, including free of existing social relations of subordinationand domination?)– the reality today is that the vast majority of women who are prostituted are in fact young girls–the average age of recruitment is about 12 these days (maybe a tad higher in U.S). Why do men demand younger and younger girls for their sexual arousal? The average girl who is prostituted, furthermore, is a survivor of sexual abuse in teh family, and/or comes from a poverty class. There is nothing “free” in a girl’s or woman’s choice to be prostituted when obvious economic coercion is involved, and/or when in conjunction with economic coercion, there is a history of being made to feel like a piece of sexual trash.

    Finally — men do not just want to jerk off on *any* girl/woman by means of the sex trade—they want girls/women who fulfill the men’s fantasies of “sexy” women. This points to the fact that this trade is about men’s sexual fantasies, stoked by pornography and the media, and has nothing to do with the kind of la la land sexuality that you are projecting here. Prostituted women also suffer the highest rate of rapes: why? because they are seen by pimps and men who buy sex as already rapeable, as sub-human. It won’t help to wave a fairy wand and say– these women are full wonderful human beings and whoosh, the problems with prostitution will go away. Prostitution runs as an institution on men’s dehumanization and objectification of women. This is what men get off on when they buy sex!

     

  • mommaterra

    The Swedish system is a matter of de-criminalizing prostitutes, and criminalizing johns, pimps, and traffickers.  Legalizing prostitution (which really means legalizing johns and pimps) only makes it worse for the women involved; this has been clearly demonstrated in the Netherlands.  The women already in are in far greater danger, and the slave-trafficking of women and girls only escalates under legalization.

     

    The ‘experts’ on the system are not men who advocate prostitution and pornography, nor are they the women who’ve bought into it — but they aren’t people like me who have opposed both for decades, either.  The experts are the women who have had the courage to get out, and who tell what it’s really like.  The level of dissociation required to endure the routine degradation and physical punishment of prostitution does not allow truth-telling, especially the revelation of the deeper truths.  Just as current users/abusers of women have an interest in the continuation of the dehumanization of women, current prostitutes are not allowed to be off the job, and so when interviewed or surveyed they are necessarily ‘on.’  The punishment for disloyalty is severe. 

     

    Most women in prostitution want most to get out (at least 80%).  It’s already hell, with the ever-present rape, necessary dissociation, PTSD, repeated trauma, and the years required for the beginnings of recovery.  Why on Earth would anyone wish it to be a legalized hell?

  • letstalk
    You paraphrase Dan Savage’s endorsement of prostitution with the words “some people cannot be in those relationships or can’t be in them with certain people”. So? Are we men entitled to use our extra cash to force women’s hand whenever we can’t get exactly what we want? Do we deserve a State-supported industry that will put at our disposal women or boys that suit every one of our tastes?

    Contrary to your happy musings, the reality of prostitution is well-documented throughout the world – including in countries where it is being tolerated or encouraged to bring in tourist dollars. It is no gift to women or to the poor and nothing like the pipe dream you describe.

    I suggest you read Jeffreys’ The Industrial Vagina, Sullivan’s Making Sex Work or Stark & Whisnant’s Not for Sale, before giddily endorsing what in fact constitutes the literal enslavement of millions of your mostly Black and Brown sisters. I will never support further harm to prostituted women, such as punitive legislation & enforcement, but I think telling men where their privilege stops would be a great step forward.

    Indeed, this may push us to work at building relationships if we want sex that much – instead of merely buying it at the lowest possible prices from the women with the least choices. I haven’t heard of any Swedish or Norwegian men exploding for a lack of a commercial release…

  • crowepps

    If some clever inventor can come up with an adequately realistic set of VR goggles linked to an “artificial vagina” that men can have a “personal relationship” with, maybe the entire problem will evaporate. Which would not, of course, miraculously offer any new, more positive choices for supporting themselves to the women currently doing sex work.

     

    I cannot imagine anything, banning prostitution, banning pornography, banning stripping, anything at all which would ever push these men into “working at building relationships” in order to have sex. The whole POINT of prostitution, pornography, stripping, etc., is that our culture trains men that ‘masculinity’ appropriately wants sex with precisely those roles, that domination and despising the person who allows you to do ‘dirty things’ is what sex is all about, and so they see no reason to tolerate the difficult give and take or extend the level of respect and courtesy required to persuade an actual real woman to WANT to be around them.

  • ack

    I used to be ambivalent about sex work; if a woman is truly choosing it, then who am I to judge her? Then I learned how little choice is ever involved. Coercion, whether economic or emotional, creates a situation where a nearly negligible percentage of women are truly chosing sex work. 

     

    The average age of entry into prostitution in Arizona is 13. They are coerced into it by pimps who convince them of the existence of a romantic relationship that doesn’t exist. And once they’ve been working, there is virtually no escape route. Even if they can leave physically, which almost never happens, how exactly do you expect a 13 year old to just go back to her family and her school when she’s likely had sex with hundreds of men?

     

    Legalizing adult prostitution won’t eliminate the demand for sex with teenagers. It won’t magically create a sex-positive nation. The reality of the sex trade in this country makes it clear that johns aren’t purchasing sex because they enjoy sex, or want partners who enjoy sex. I appreciate your vision of a sex-positive nation, but I believe the first step is TALKING about sex, not just doing it.

  • pheasantweber

    I agree with you. We should TALK. But not a lot of people want to or even care. I would love to work towards ending underage prostitution. I realize there is a demand for sex with teenagers. How do we go about reducing that?

  • pheasantweber

    In no way do I support underage prositution, rape, enslavement, etc. I know there is no “magical solution” and I can’t just wave a wand. I would love to work towards ending underage prostitution. Would love to hear some thought on that subject. But obviously my post wasn’t about that, although it is a real issue that needs addressing. I agree with everything you said. I understand how the real appeal of prostitution is that men want to dehumanize and feel in control, whatever. That is the real problem and those wanting sex with young girls. Love to hear more thoughts on how we can work to address those issues.

  • pheasantweber

    I agree with what you are saying. Love to hear more about how to end such hell. My post did not address the negative aspects obviously and I know its not some magical solution. I just don’t think all aspects of sex work are negative and horrible like you are portraying. Of course I do not support rape, assault, underage prositution, etc. But I believe there is a market for consesual sex with adults that isn’t plagued with horror. Love to hear more about what can be done to work towards ending these issues.

  • pheasantweber

    Of course NOT! Sheesh. I really wasn’t trying to paint some perfect solution with this post. I of course do not support rape, enslavement, assualt, etc. I agree with you, lets tell men where their priveledges stop. What can be done to work towards that! Thanks for the comments and would love to hear more about what can be done!

  • pheasantweber

    Okay agree with you. So then what can be done to work towards solutions of that? Since there are men who want to just take advantage and do “dirty things” .. Like your artificial vagina idea. What else will it take. Education? Parenting classes? I of course do not condone rape, assault, enslavement and think it is horrible the effects of prostitution on women who are forced, coerced, underage, etc. I in no way was trying to paint some magical solution.

  • pheasantweber

    I of course am aware of the epidemic of young girls being forced, coerced by whatever factors into prostitution. And in no way do I support underage prostitution. I also do not support rape and/or enslavement.

    I really wish we could TALK about sex. TALKING is what I want to happen everyday.

    I would love our society to be sex positive. Sex affects everyone is some way. Everyone.

    I would love to hear some solutions from the people who obviously hated my post.

    Of course what I am saying isn’t some magical solution. I was thinking about alternative solutions. Underage prostitution and forced prostitution is horrible and I would love to work on ending that! Give me some ideas! What is the solution? More education? Parenting classes? More birth control!? Money? I think it is appalling that men want to have sex with teenagers who are forced into prostitution.. How do we end that?

     I just think there is a market for consenting adults out there. C’mon people! It is a blog and it was focusing on 1 single idea. I could write several more blogs daily about all the negative aspects of everything the comments touched on. Those problems have very complicated solutions that should be addressed. These issues should be talked about constantly. Sex should be the focus of conversation, news, media all the time because it affects everyone in SOME way. Some aspect of sex will touch on everyone. I am very open to all new ideas of working towards a more sex positive culture that is free from or working towards reducing underage prostitution, rape, assault, pedofiles, etc.. I guess with this post I was focused on a small, positive possibility.

    Thanks for the comments although I did feel attacked.

  • mommaterra

    Honestly, until the liberal left begins to educate itself with harsher truths and discomforting realities, nothing’s going to change because the left works far too well as an apologist for, and an enforcer of, the sexual abuse of women and children in the guise of being “sex-positive.”  But even the framing of the sex-pozzies is flawed.  The whole concept is founded on sexual inequality, male-as-norm — and nowhere do women (and children) truly claim their own sexuality, own bodies, own rights to something as fundamental as framing the discussion!  For the best overview I can think of, read Sheila Jeffreys’s amazing book, “The Spinster and Her Enemies.”  It is, at least, a shakeup of the conventional framing that leaves women’s authentic voices silenced so that men’s voices seem natural in the void.

     

    If you’re really brave, follow it up with her “Unpacking Queer Politics,” which is another jolt down the same line of thought, only brining it into a more current context.  This whole “sex-positive” frame didn’t happen in a vacuum.  Nor did it simply evolve from linear progressive ideas expanding toward positive change.  It came about in an effort to silence the profound effects (including challenges to patriarchy and to male privilege, fundamentally) that radical feminism, especially radical lesbian feminism, would have if people began to understand its implications.  And do read Andrea Dworkin’s “Intercourse,” too.

     

    And then let’s get past the framing of paid-for rape as “work.”  Certainly there are many parts of capitalism that fall into the coercion category, but generally even then, body parts, and one’s internal being, and one’s psyche, are not immediately assaulted.  That women who have left prostitution face tremendous PTSD and must work to recover is well-documented.  That prostitution is damaging to women’s bodies and psyches is, too.

     

    In my view, undermining patriarchy, including men’s “rights” to women’s (and children’s) bodies is the first huge step in ending these atrocities.  But this means honestly looking at the “sex-positive” perspective with a willingly critical eye.  The opposite of the sex-pozzie view is not, as the boys wish to frame it, “anti-sex.”  It’s sexual levelness, with no one’s rights honored over anyone else’s.  And that right there is a terrible assault to patriarchy. 

  • vineeta

    “I would love to hear some solutions from the people who obviously hated my post.”

     

    No you wouldn’t. Solutions like Sweden’s model have been mentioned and you keep on talking about talking but nothing you’ve written suggests you’re listening.

     

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  • kmiriam

    but the reality of prostitution is that the vast majority of women are *recruited* as children. The very word “underage prostitution” like “child prostitution” is misleading, as it assumes that most prostitution is engaged in by adult women who have abundant choices but happen to choose this “profession” (being jerked off on) out of others.

    THere are many organizations and activists that have been working to end prostitution and have numerous articles towards this end on their sites. Check out CATW and Janice Raymond’s articles that criticize the view that says prostitution should be legalized.

     

    Finally- what would be so desirable about a world such as you write about in which everyone were selling sex? Why would anyone choose to sell sex or buy it?

  • crowepps

    how exactly do you expect a 13 year old to just go back to her family and her school when she’s likely had sex with hundreds of men?

    I’m not sure exactly what you’re trying to say here.  If my 13 year old daughter were forced into prostitution and had sex with hundreds of men I’d take her back in a split second and wouldn’t love her one iota less.  There isn’t anything about having “had sex with hundreds of men” that would make her unable to be part of the family or that would somehow contaminate her so that she couldn’t go to school.

  • crowepps

    Finally- what would be so desirable about a world such as you write about in which everyone were selling sex? Why would anyone choose to sell sex or buy it?

    I can certainly understand why she feels ‘attacked’. First, she didn’t say everyone would be selling sex. She said SOME women might voluntarily decide to have sex with strangers for money and my assumption would be that they were doing so because they enjoy sex but make the practical calculation that getting paid for providing it is better than giving it away for free.

     

    As for why anyone would choose to buy sex, as I understand it, the men (and women) who do so want the physical sensations of pleasure without the messy entanglements and emotional demands of a relationship, or are unappealing and cannot find people who voluntarily choose to have sex with them.

     

    You might want to consider how much difference there really is between ‘selling sex’ through prostitution for cash and the ‘selling sex’ that occurs in being a ‘mistress’ or a partner in a marriage in which the woman is emotionally detached, since women in either case make the calculation that their ‘career’ is to grant access to sex in exchange for support. The fact that they have only one exclusive ‘client’ at a time doesn’t make it any less of a quid pro quo exchange.

  • crowepps

    The ‘experts’ on the system are not men who advocate prostitution and pornography, nor are they the women who’ve bought into it — but they aren’t people like me who have opposed both for decades, either.  The experts are the women who have had the courage to get out, and who tell what it’s really like. 

    While certainly there isn’t going to be much useful information coming from the men in the system, the rest of your statement is illogical.  Your assumption that women who don’t like prostitution are the only ones who can speak to the issue because the women who do like prostitution have “bought into it” denies the experience of precisely the population her post addresses – those women who choose sex work.

     

    There are indeed a lot of problems with prostitution, and absolutely society should put a great deal more effort into stamping out child prostitution in particular perhaps by charging the pimps/johns with sexual abuse of minors, but to insist that voluntary prostitution would also be horrible based on the distress of those who are involved INvoluntarily doesn’t make sense.

  • crowepps

    I would love our society to be sex positive. Sex affects everyone is some way. Everyone.

    Unfortunately, you’ve apparently attracted the attention of someone whose responses seem to indicate that he/she sees sex as pretty overwhelmingly negative, especially for women. 

  • mommaterra

    In a coercive culture, just which options to accede to power are those that are truly “free,” again?  And given, as another poster has pointed out, most ‘women’ get sucked into prostitution as children … how, again, is that a ‘choice?’

     

    It’s that courageous side of feminism, the radical side, that says *women’s* voices have the say, and men can offer suggestions.  But it’s women who pay the price for patriarchy, and so it’s women, of course, who get to theorize.  (Possible agreement so far.)  That it might be women out of the immediate control of men-in-patriarchy seems like a pretty logical first step, to me.

     

    Now, books debunking the whole abusive concept of “sex work” have been mentioned.  I’m very happy to discuss further with those who actually are willing to consider perspectives offered by those who have actually analyzed the sex-reality side, who don’t lean on sex-pozzie propaganda, alone.  But to debate “choice” in a coercive society is framing beyond logic.  To me.

  • mommaterra

    Talk to girls and women who’ve been there.  The level of coercion required to get a girl to ‘perform’ in this way means she has to also internalize a helluva lotta hatred, which gets turned on herself — where else can it go??? — in the form of self-hatred and guilt.  *You* might not love her one iota less, but her self-view, and the view of the culture around her make up a huge portion of her world.

     

    Plus, depending on how brutally she’s been re-trained to think and to see herself, and depending on how well she is helped through all of the hell she’s endured, she’s going to do things from minor acting out events (appearing to ‘come on’ to any man she’s alone with, which is taken as evidence of sexual interest when it is really just a screamingly silent plea for help) to truly believing that sex abuse is all she’s good for (and so ‘coming on’ to everyone around her).  You don’t get your same daughter back.

     

    You’re right, abuse doesn’t “contaminate” anyone — but it does change people, hugely, possibly permanently.  We are resilient; we are never quite resilient enough.  Add to that the dismal ‘care’ or even ‘understanding’ of sexual abuses in this sex-pozzie culture, in this culture deep in denial about the effects of abuse because enacting them is just so damn much fun … yeah, I’m furious that the left doesn’t understand the abuse, the effects, the actualities, and the pernicious damage done.

     

    I hope you never have to pull your daughter back from the edge of this abyss.  But I do think if you’re going to post this blithely, you have an obligation to listen to others with daughters thus-rescued, and to listen to the daughters, yourself.  And, btw, it’s not “sex with hundreds of men” for a 13-year old.  It’s *rape* by hundreds of men.  Think about it.  It should scare us all into action.

  • kmiriam

    Well, the argument that there might be negligible difference between marriage and prostitution is not hardly an argument for the desirability of prostitution.

     

    the argument is not against *everyone* paying for or selling sex–the argument is that there is something troubling about paying for or selling sex period. 

    There are surely other ways to have sex that is free of emotional connection than selling it- but again, is that really desirable and isn’t that more a reflection of a society where every emotion and every part of the body is commodified and objectified?

     

     

    I don’t understand why the writer would feel attacked? Nobody made any personal attacks. The point of publishing is to put your ideas in a public forum and it follows that you are vulnerable to criticism.

  • crowepps

    Thanks for clearing that up. I was hoping you didn’t mean that the way it sounded.

    You don’t get your same daughter back.

    You don’t “get your same daughter back” after she’s had cancer or been injured severely in a car accident or suffered physical abuse or been involved in any other trauma.

     

    Traumatic experiences have terrible effects and change people and make it difficult to reintegrate into so-called ‘normal’ society. The point I was trying to make was that you are insisting that what is a traumatic experience when it is abusive sex wtih minors is going to be equally traumatic when it is (theoretically) non-abusive voluntary sex between adults.

     

    I understand that you’re focused on minors suffering from abusive sex and the terrible consequences of it, but although you perhaps don’t mean to convey that, it comes across as “ALL sex is abuse”.

     

    You might also consider that when someone is willing to engage with you in an exchange of posts about an area where you have particular knowledge, using pergorative terms like “the left” or “sex-pozzie culture”, insisting that people who have different opinions shouldn’t feel themselves ‘qualified’ to post anything, and dismissing opinions as ‘blithe’ isn’t likely to encourage anyone to want to learn from you.

  • crowepps

    I don’t understand why the writer would feel attacked? Nobody made any personal attacks. The point of publishing is to put your ideas in a public forum and it follows that you are vulnerable to criticism.

    the “utopia” you are revelling in

    the kind of la la land sexuality that you are projecting here

    Honestly, until the liberal left begins to educate itself

    the framing of the sex-pozzies is flawed

    Contrary to your happy musings

    nothing like the pipe dream you describe

    before giddily endorsing what in fact constitutes the literal enslavement

    “I would love to hear some solutions from the people who obviously hated my post.”

     

    No you wouldn’t.

  • elyzabeth

    I don’t how sex work is inherently exploitive to the workers.  Every time a politician gets busted with a $5000-a-night call girl, I don’t see how the girl is being “coerced.”  For many of those girls, it’s just something they do to make extra money during college (as opposed to a normal, less glamorous job), or something they enjoy doing in their twenties before they settle down and get a real job.  These girls clearly have choices and can get out any time they want to.

     

    I realize that this is not the reality for the vast majority of prostitutes.  I’m just saying that a business model for sex work exists where the workers aren’t being coerced.

  • elyzabeth

    They don’t have the VR goggles yet, but for $7000 you can get this…

    http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/02/01/sex.robot/index.html

     

     

  • crowepps

    Looking down the road a ways, I can see franchises that make Roxxie available by the hour being as ubiquitous as tanning salons. It will be interesting to see what happens next! Aside from Concerned Women for America and Focus on the Family having a fit, of course. Donating a Roxxie to the football team locker room would save wear and tear on the coeds. And certainly the fact that Roxxie can’t get pregnant would be a real plus!

  • vineeta

    Will the term “prude-shaming” ever become as sexy a commodity in thirdwave feminism as “slut-shaming” has become, or is it just sooo 1970s?

  • prochoiceferret

    Looking down the road a ways, I can see franchises that make Roxxie available by the hour being as ubiquitous as tanning salons. It will be interesting to see what happens next!

    Judging from the photo, I don’t think Roxxxy franchises are going to be a big hit. *shudder*

     

    The way I think things will eventually go are “sex booths” like those seen briefly in Minority Report. You climb in, have your fun, get out, and the system resets (read: sanitizes itself) for the next person.

  • colleen

    The way I think things will eventually go are “sex booths” like those seen briefly in Minority Report. You climb in, have your fun, get out, and the system resets (read: sanitizes itself) for the next person.

    Funny, when I looked at the photo of roxxy (presumably only one of her 5 ‘personalities’ which range from “Frigid Farrah to Wild Wendy” I thought about sanitation too.

  • crowepps

    Well, yeah, certainly doesn’t turn me on, and neither would a male version, but just think about the typical young male — the type that has no problem having a ‘personal relationship’ with a slab of raw liver, a cherry pie, a dirty gym sock, the knothole in a fence. For them it would be a huge step up!

  • vineeta

    I would totally love to run any number of these awesome places. To me that would be a dream job.

     

    Running a brothel is your dream job, not working in one. You would love to pimp my daughter in the name of economy, nation, and feminism but can envision no place for yourself in the vast, varied profressions of sex work enumerated in your post.

     

    It must be unrealistic to dream that the valorization of pimp culture hasn’t perverted how you view women, yourself as a woman, and yourself in relation to all other women. I’m a Pimp, he’s a Pimp, she’s a Pimp, we’re a Pimp, wouldn’t you like to be a Pimp, too?

     

    Please send “Hustle & Flow” back to Netflix and go volunteer at the nearest homeless shelter.

  • prochoiceferret

    the type that has no problem having a ‘personal relationship’ with a slab of raw liver, a cherry pie, a dirty gym sock, the knothole in a fence.

    There’s something to be said for a means of safely sating one’s sexual urges, without needing to resort to an otherwise unwanted sexual relationship, and yet in a more “fun” manner than one’s hand. Today, men have pies/liver/Fleshlights and women have vibrating dildoes with twirly clit-ticklers; better options will hopefully come along in the future. I don’t think there’s any substantive critique that can be made of options like these—while real sexual relationships may be more fulfilling, they’re not in a zero-sum game with “artificial” alternatives, after all.

     

    Of course, this isn’t going to kill the market for prostitution. People who want to take out their anger on a weaker person, and don’t mind paying for it, won’t be buying a toy or patronizing these futuristic “sex booths”; they’ll still be ringing up their local pimp.

  • ack

    Crowepps, I know you understand that we live in a culture that has a tendency to vilify both consensual and abusive sexual experiences of women. Girls who are PERCEIVED to have had sex with multiple partners are shamed. Middle school and high school are climates of social insecurity and exclusion, and I really don’t think that the education system in this country is capable of keeping prostituted children and teens in a safe emotional environment upon re-entry. 

     

    A girl with someone like you as a mother (or a lot of posters on this blog) would be lucky to have the support helpful in processing the abuse. Most girls who are targeted by traffickers don’t have that level of support. They may have experienced abuse in their family of origin; it’s may not be a safe place to return. Anecdotally, when police manage to rescue a prostituted teen and attempt to return her to her family, she bolts within 48 hours and returns to the pimp.

     

    They’ve also essentially been brainwashed by pimps to think that they’re providing for a different family consistening of the pimp and the other girls working for him. They’re sometimes enchanted with “the life” in the beginning; he buys them things and offers levels of freedom they don’t experience with their families. (Of course, it’s gifts and freedom in a context of coercive control, so it’s really just a setup.)

     

    I appreciate your comment about support, and I’m totally with you on raising awareness and reducing shame and blame. But the reality for most victims, as it stands now, is very different.

  • ack

    Thanks for catching that; I’m generally very conscious of the language I use, and I wrote that post quickly. You’re right; it’s rape. (There’s a group that refers to it as “child rape for profit,” which is wordy but apt.)

  • ack

    Like I said, I used to be really ambivalent about sex work. After I wrote that post I almost wrote a follow up to reiterate that I appreciated what you’re working toward (a sex positive culture) even if I don’t agree with the methodology proposed. I’m sorry I didn’t write it.

     

    I think part of the problem is that when we do talk about sex, or it’s presented in media, it’s almost always framed in a way that sends harmful messages. Movies depict sex with NO conversation (they pant, they paw, they get naked, they smile), sex in an almost exclusively heterocentric way, or sex as a power struggle. Cultural messages put girls and women in a Madonna/whore dichotomy, and boys and men in a situation where having sex is valued far more highly than not. (Think about the words used for males who aren’t sexually active.) That just sucks for everyone. 

     

    I think the first step to sexual abuse prevention is having conversations about sexual behavior and gender in our society. If we’re willing to have the tough conversations about consent and coercion, then we might be able to start having real dialogues with teens and adults. We need to talk about objectification and the commodification of women’s bodies, and how those types of oppression play out in our daily lives. We need to talk about the construct of masculinity and how that harms boys and men.

     

    I also believe strongly in parental education, so I’m glad you brought it up. Parents are generally uncomfortable talking about sex with their kids, and could use help! Parenting classes that address how to have age-appropriate talks with your kids can help normalize the topic, and make it less awkward than “OMG SHE GOT HER PERIOD NOW I HAVE TO HAVE THE TALK!”

     

    I think that teaching about empathy and boundaries could have a profound effect on perpetration, but it has to start young. And when I say “young,” I mean at birth. Talking about sexuality is an evolutionary process. Parents need to know that they won’t always have the answers, but that finding them with or for their children is preferable to ignoring it. 

     

    I hear you on moving toward a more positive, healthy attitude about sex. Since the beginning of my post presented some pretty lofty goals, can we start with comprehensive, medically accurate sex ed?

  • elyzabeth

    Hey, if I had to choose between working at McDonalds or working at one of these places…

    http://www.cracked.com/article_16305_6-most-innovative-brothels-from-around-world.html

  • pheasantweber

    Definitely for comprehensive medically accurate sex ed.

  • pheasantweber

    I have volunteered at homeless shelters. I also voluteered and worked in a domestic violence shelter. Was also a peer educator for rape and sexual assualt. Also a peer educator for sexual education in general.

    I really am just interested in working in the sexual health field for my entire life. One of those jobs does include being an advocate for sex workers and or working in a relevant position. I of course do not want to be a pimp and control and/or enslave women.

    I’m glad my post sparked such a vibrant discussion.

    Thanks for the comment, appreciate it.

  • pheasantweber

    The post has sparked a dicussion, so I’m glad about that. I am not ignoring Sweden’s model nor have I ignored any of the posts.

    Thanks for commenting.

  • mommaterra

    Except that the lack of coercion is supposedly occurring where no part of female sexuality is free from coercion.  And the exceptional women who are actually getting some money out of the deal are trotted out to assuage the atrocities of the women, the huge vast majority of women, for whom prostitution is just a continuation of the childhood sexual abuse previously endured?  Besides, no one knows they can get out until they’ve tried, and if anyone else is involved in the process, I’m extremely skeptical that they will be *allowed* to leave unless they’re no longer useful somehow.  And who videotaped them without their consent (or even with) and is ready to use that to extort further performances?  Yeah, we’re all ‘free’ until we discover we aren’t.  Which belies this “business model” for commercialized rape … or if you prefer, prostitution.  That women ‘willingly’ enter into rape says a great deal about options in a patriarchal culture.

  • mommaterra

    I really did find your response blithe and not to the point.  I really do think that we begin framing about sex from a perspective that is laden with patriarchal framing — and this becomes very clear when the phrase “sex-positive” comes up.  The only realistic different side to take then is the one I’ve been accused of — sex negativity.  I also wrote “sex-reality” but somehow (maybe in the profusion of words sparked here, in fairness to us all) that got overlooked.  But “sex-pozzie” didn’t, did it?

     

    Whatever it takes, realistically, to get my sisters to take a look at the larger picture, I will try, short of coercion (hypocrisy) but with all due irritation intended!  Because the fundamental framing of this is so patriarchally-loaded, and anti-woman.  Seriously, read Jeffreys’s “The Spinster and Her Enemies.”  There is nothing I’ve ever read that so clearly shows that the foundation of our discussion is skewed far toward male privilege and prerogative.  Start there, and then let’s have a real discussion.  Does that sound demeaning of others’ ideas?  I-honestly-don’t-care — because the danger I see is a slant that is deeply anti-woman; that danger overrides my sisters’ irritations.

     

    Follow that read up with “Unpacking Queer Politics.”  The two together give the most amazing overview of how the left has been coopted by what I insist on calling “sex-pozzie” thinking.  Read, discuss, prove me wrong, and I’ll shut up with that phrase.  Until then ….  And, btw, you won’t learn from me.  You don’t have any impetus to do so.  You have the weight of the culture, and a century-plus of sexology (tho most don’t call it that, now) on your “side.”  I am “just” a working-class woman, and an old radical feminist, at that; these things disrupt my ‘credibility’ in the patriarchal world, and yes, they do come up readily.  I’ve never expected you to listen to me.  But the cites and sources — yes, educate yourself via those.  And then we can level-up the conversation.

     

    As to sex?  I think everyone can benefit from the radical lesbian feminist model of care, community, and levelness.  I think Paula Gunn Allen’s and Judy Grahn’s relational experiences of deep-intimacy travel are illuminating in the same way that pornography and prostitution will always be shallow, abusing, phallocentric and patriarchal.  I think what we could have is so very different from what we’re allowed now.  Back in the days of the S&M takeover (murder) of the vibrant lesbian community that did exist, I kept saying we needed to wait until we’d worked thru the revolution to talk sexual diversity — that what we had was tainted by patriarchy.  What I hadn’t realized is that the revolution had begun, and what radical lesbian feminism brought to human lives was a gift overlooked by all — sadly, me included.

  • mommaterra

    Because it’s only those anti-sex prudes that oppose women’s sexual subjugation, eh?  Oh, wait, there’s a whole group of radical feminists (of the Dworkin/ Daly/ Lorde stripe, plus the brilliant Sheila Jeffreys) who give lie to your dichotomy.  And what about us?  And then there are the pro-feminist men who also oppose the sexual subjugation of women (Derrick Jensen among ‘em).  Not all men see getting off on misogyny (or any other-ization) as part of their sexual identity.  So maybe it’s not innate, which makes it a choice — and a bad one.  And one that can be questioned.  Without the unnecessary dichotomy.

     

    And why are you ready to condemn to death football teams?  Wouldn’t this Rocksie fest mean the ready spread of HIV eventually?  And other stds?

  • crowepps

    And why are you ready to condemn to death football teams?  Wouldn’t this Rocksie fest mean the ready spread of HIV eventually?  And other stds?

    Well, I kind of assumed, old Roxxie being PLASTIC and all, that a quick spray with Clorox Cleanup could be used between ‘clients’.  Something which just isn’t possible with those biologically more fragile co-eds.

  • colleen

    And why are you ready to condemn to death football teams?

    from establishing a meaningful relationship with Roxxy…

    Wouldn’t this Rocksie fest mean the ready spread of HIV eventually? And other stds?

    Thus the conversations about sanitation. As an added public service the owner of Roxxy (and the other 4 personalities) could have rapid STI screening AND another opportunity for Mike and the Discovery channel program ‘Dirty Jobs’

  • crowepps

    I suppose the inventor of this bizarre item must have equally bizarre accessories that can be special ordered, like a unique scrubbing brush or a miniature steam cleaner.  Certainly there must be a line of Roxxy lingerie if she can’t wear the standard sizes from the store.  However, so far as I understood from the article, Roxxy does not come preinfected with AIDS or any other STI.  And if the football players ALREADY have AIDS or STI’s, certainly it would be preferrable for them to pass the diseases back and forth among themselves without the coeds whom they usually use as intermediaries also being infected.

     

    Considering what is known about the damage that playing college football does to the players’ bodies and brains, I think Roxxy is a minor danger.

  • colleen

    I suppose the inventor of this bizarre item must have equally bizarre accessories that can be special ordered, like a unique scrubbing brush or a miniature steam cleaner.

    that seems unlikely unless there is a Mrs Douglas Hines and that seems even less likely.

    Certainly there must be a line of Roxxy lingerie if she can’t wear the standard sizes from the store.

    hum, I like this. 5 wardrobes for each of the five distinct personalities. Frigid Farrah

  • pheasantweber

    I’m sure this will upset people. Just another post from the blog I read by Elizabeth Pisani- epidemiologist who wrote “Wisdom of Whores” which discusses HIV/AIDS at depth.

    http://www.wisdomofwhores.com/2010/04/30/happy-hookers-come-celebrate-in-chicago/

     

    Thanks for all the comments again