A very short conversation with a radfem friend of mine today got me thinking about prostitution and sexual assault.
The conversation began about TV, then moved on to serial killers, then prostitution. The case of Aileen Wuornos sprang to mind.
It gave me something very interesting to think about on the way home. It certainly was better than being plugged into the same old boring iTunes playlist.
When pondering this issue, several things are important to define. First, what is sexual assault? There are several schools of thought on this subject, but I’m only going to explore my own.
That being that any unwanted sexual contact is assault. The best way to negotiate this hurdle is to a: know the person you are going to be intimate with and b: make sure you’re clear on what is acceptable before any bedroom type situations occur.
Clearly there are a few situations that would preclude this from happening. One night stands and the selling of sex would be two prime examples of this.
Obviously a prostitute can make it clear before any giving of services, just what she will and will not do. This is a prudent step but by no means a guarantee that anyone buying services from her will pay any attention to what she said.
The principal issue here is the differentiation between a legal standpoint and a moral one. In a utopian society, laws would be based on ethical/moral standpoints. Or better still there would be no need for prohibitive laws, as people would be taught philosophy and critical thinking and would develop generally an attitude that would stop them from screwing people over.
That obviously hasn’t happened yet. What we have is the dichotomy of moral and legal (patriachy at one it’s highest forms) thinking.
Legally, prostitution seems to negate a womans right to protection. Where I live in the U.K, solicitation of sex is illegal and kerb crawling for prostitutes is also. Prostitution (being paid for sex) is itself not illegal.
With the exception of the Ipswich murders, there has been little evidence of the legal system benefiting women who work in the sex industry. The media obsession with the aforementioned case speak volumes more about the public obsession with murderers and death than it does about it does about any effort to protect women working on the streets of cities in a desperate attempt to earn money.
Women in general are not taken very seriously by the legal system, the police specifically. A man once exposed himself to myself and a female relative when we were walking. We weren’t sure whether to report it or not, as we knew almost instantly that indecent exposure, despite being a form of sexual assault in this case, was not likely to be taken seriously. As a stance more than any actual expectation of outcome, we reported it anyway. We were greeted by laughter and barely concealed mocking contempt. Needless to say, we received the lowest level of care possible without us being able to say they disregarded their duties. All we received in due course of our report was a brusque letter saying (to paraphrase) that nothing was going to be done about it.
Despite being demanded to be sexual objects through media brainwashing such as adverts and magazines, women that control their own sexual destiny are feared. The independent control over any aspect of your life as a woman is a fearful thing to a man, and when you throw sex into the mix, that makes a very formidable character. And someone like that must be quashed at all costs because SHE IS A THREAT. The more women get control of their lives, the better an example they can lead, and the less men will be able to control our destinies. We may not be their slaves in the kitchen anymore (at least not to the same degree as in previous decades) but we’re still their slaves in the bedroom, in the workplace and in the reproductive sense. And women choose sex more often than not for what I believe is two principal reasons. One; women are taught from puberty or maybe even birth to only value themselves sexually. Secondly, it’s an area where women have the opportunity and talent to exploit male weakness. Maybe it’s a tit for tat mentality? Maybe women are so sick of being exploited for their weaknesses that they are trying to get their own back? Or maybe women sense that this incredible flaw (the obsession with the phallus) is one that can give women the upper hand if tactics are correctly applied?
Forgive me for being too general, but women don’t seem to be ruled by their libido in the same way that men are. We seek out intimacy, conversation, lovemaking, common interests and companionship. Sure there are women who do the casual sex thing. I’ve done it and found it to be quite liberating. However through my extensive conversations with a large group of diverse women, casual, promiscuous damaging sex never seems to be done as constantly and pathologically as men do it.
So maybe prostitution seems like a golden opportunity? Money, sexual liberation, control over the penis instead of it controlling you?
When you reveal the flip side of the sex industry though, you’re revealing a dark cavern which people seldom dare to venture into.
The truth is, despite the surface appearance, prostitution is just another way of exploiting women. It exploits our fundamental weaknesses, it manipulates us through our brainwashed conditioning, it lets us THINK WE ARE IN CONTROL whilst they carry on controlling us.
With less sexism/more equality, teaching of women to see themselves as valid people, less encouraging us to force ourselves into maternal roles, there would be no need for us to prostitute ourselves in this fashion. We would not have to take the penises of men often have no attraction or even respect for into our vaginae. Without drug dealers targeting vulnerable women, prostitution would go down. If women weren’t forced, for a whole kaleidoscope of reasons (the umbrella term being male incompetence), to raise families by themselves with only paltry sham offerings of help, there would be less worn down women around for the pimps to force into prostitution. If women were taught to value their intelligence AND their bodies as much men do, there would be less women vainly seeking self esteem by letting strangers take perverse liberties with their bodies. If women didn’t see their sexuality, their bodies as the only tool they have at their disposal, we would see a marked reduction in prostitution rates.
Basically, the only impetus to not harm prostitutes is moral/ethical. When you factor in that a large majority of men are unyieldingly incapable of moral thinking when it concerns their penis AND add to that the common and SOCIALLY ENFORCED concept that prostitutes are whores, are subhuman…well it really doesn’t bode well does it?
To think of prostitution as simply the exchange of money for sexual services makes us realise that in some ways, we are ALL PROSTITUTES. When you dress sexy in a little short skirt and low lying blouse for a job interview you are prostituting yourself. You are getting money for giving your interviewer a boner. So when you think about the despicable treatment of prostitutes and then realise that you ARE a prostitute, that sorts of puts a different slant on things doesn’t?
I loathe expression ‘sex positive’ I am very sex positive, I adore sex. I strongly do not believe that pornography, prostitution and other forms of sex work are not a type of sex that I should feel positive about. If that makes me sex negative, then so be it.
Some might say that when I say PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF THE GODDESS DO NOT PROSTITUTE YOURSELVES, that I’m removing female autonomy and privilege. You can call the ability to prostitute yourself autonomy and privilege if you want, but that doesn’t make it acceptable. If you think prostitution is a privilege, you need to open your eyes and take a LONG HARD look around you and realise, to start off with, that we don’t live in a fucking bubble. You may be happy to do it, but as long as there are women HAPPY TO DO IT, we are betraying to ones who suffer through it. For every prostitute who loves her job, there are probably twenty, fifty, a hundred or maybe more who would give EVERYTHING they have to escape it.
My suggested solution is this: all women need to stop whoring themselves out and start living their lives under their own redefined terms.
Sexual assault of prostitutes won’t be stopped overnight. It’ll only reduce when we do a few simple things.
1. Exercise whenever possible our right to deny sex to men.
2. Competently, concertedly, actively and consistently take issue with the objectification of women. We are not sex dolls, we are people.
3. Dress comfortably, burp, fart, swear, kick people, be ambitious, bossy, be caring, be ourselves and not our masks. Be anything to achieve at least a vague lingering concept that our sex/gender does not make us less valuable and try to bring about the realisation that we deserve respect.
4. Stop bitching and criticising the whores out there. What you’re really thinking, unless you’ve made a detailed and concerted effort, is thank god it’s not me. Thank god I don’t have to do that. Prostitutes are a victim of male misogyny and patriachy, and you are a victim too. You’re no better than them. Deny it all you want but it’s true. Start making the effort, living your life as YOURSELF, call out male bullshit, stop accepting the sex industry as a valuable form of work and kick the arse out of the people who make their living out of exploiting women.
5. Complain when you see a rape/assault scene in a fiction. Don’t let prostitution and pimp culture work their way into the mainstream.
6. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that a heavily regulated prostitution industry will stop the harm of these groups of women, don’t be dumb enought to think that these regulatory bodies aren’t exploiting women as well.
7. Next time you wake up, don’t straighten or curl or lacquer or hairspray or mousse or gel or blow dry your hair. Hell, if you can run a comb through it, you’re doing well honey. Put on a comfortable pair of pants and socks, none of that tights/pantyhose/thongs/stockings bullshit. Wear comfortable shoes, no bra and a sweatshirt. If you go to work in an office, wear a trouser suit. Don’t let men stare at your breasts. Find out how much the men you work with get paid and create havoc if you get paid less. Shop in local female run business. Punch a guy on the street if he wolf whistles at you. You might love it but for every woman like you there’s probably a hundred more…can you sense where this is going? Enjoy your first day not being a corporate whore/prostitute.
Most prostitutes are women.
Most women are prostitutes in some form, whether they give head to their boss or give blow jobs to punters in back alleys. Whether they have sex so they can a big house and jewels or whether they have sex so they can buy drugs.
Prostitutes issues are our issues. Realise this and and just maybe, some time before I die, my friend and I can finally stop having this conversation.