Dominant Culture, Feminism, Drowning out the voices of sex workers

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Infosaturated
Dominant Culture, Feminism, Drowning out the voices of sex workers

I think we all agree that what some people refer to as prostitutes or that interpretation of the term "sex worker" should never face arrest for what they do.

There have been numerous accusations that voices against the decriminalization of the rest of the prostitution industry are drowning out the voices of sex workers who are a minority.

Sex workers if interpreted in the most restricted sense are a minority, but the voice of the Sex Industry is loud and insistent. 

People against legalized pimping and brothels are consistently attacked as attempting to impose their morals on others.

Feminist voices (some) are being attacked as man-hating academic theorists.

As a group, we are accused of representing the Dominant Culture, but do we? 

The view that prostitution (or sex work) should be legalized, regulated and taxed is widespread.  The claim that it is a victimless crime is accepted almost without question.

So who's voices are being drowned out?

Infosaturated

This is not my voice, this is not the voice that dominates the debate publically:

http://beyondfeminism.wordpress.com/2008/03/14/ex-prostitutess-voice/

I so sick and exhausted by the noise of the pro-prostitution lobby. They do drown out the voices of women who survive the sex trade and attempt to speak out.
The women who choose to be pro-prostitution have no compassion. For whilst women and girls in the sex trade are being raped, mentally abused and tortured, they will ignore the suffering to promote their propganda.
I, as an ex-prostitute, have spent my life being silenced.
I am silenced by my family who say that I am a liar or that I have a mental illness.
I am silenced by my class, saying “nice middle-class girls” don’t become prostitutes.
I had to live with silence, and it was killing me.
When I chose to speak out, I did it with great of pain and confusion,
I had through the trauma of the violence that men choose to do me, had to blank out many years of my life. So, when I remember it was all new to me.
When I first spoke out it was with a pro-prostitute group who sent me back into denial. For they told me that “if” was as violent as I said then I would be dead. And, because I was middle-class, I could of brought my way out. I was then told that prostitution wasn’t that violent.
I went back into silence.
Only, I could not rid my mind of memories of male violence. I could not stop the body memories getting more and more painful.
Finding radical feminists save my life.
I found women who let speak in my own words. I found women who listen and heard. They did not translate my words to suit their views.
I found that I was believed and I was seen as a full person.
I also found women who were prepared to see that prostitution is male violence against all women. That prostitution is a violation of prostituted women’s and girls’s rights to dignity and safety.
I want prostitution to be abolished, not tinkered with, but abolished.

 

susan davis

i met mebers of expals, so again they refuse to acknowledge they have met at least one sex worker who chose sex work and who does not want to exit. i have always expressed my support for survivors of violence and am a survivor myself. i have always worked towards inclusion. none of these groups are doing any of the hard work, sitting on police and government committees for years. their focus remians abolition with no real plan axcept to end all sex work, consentual or not.  if we could find some middle ground that respects both perspectives i believe we would be alot closer to decreasing violence experienced by sex workers.

infosaturated, i have cited many different organizations but you are only quoting a few select groups who are all related to one another over and over. how can you assert that it represents the majority opinion of sex workers when in fact i have provided links to diverse groups on a national and global scale that say differently?

Infosaturated

susan davis wrote:

i met mebers of expals, so again they refuse to acknowledge they have met at least one sex worker who chose sex work and who does not want to exit. ...

It's not an expals link as far as I know. I'm not sure if the sites link or not.  When it comes to personal testimonials like the one I just posted, all it proves is one person's experience anyway.

susan davis wrote:
i have always expressed my support for survivors of violence and am a survivor myself.

I know you are not some evil monster who doesn't care about what has happened to other women and I hope that you can see I too care deeply. Maybe that is why it is so difficult for us not to get hostile with one another. When people care passionately and believe others are being hurt emotions are bound to run high. I think one thing I have been guilty of is not recognizing the depth of your pain which was stupid of me.

susan davis wrote:
  if we could find some middle ground that respects both perspectives i believe we would be alot closer to decreasing violence experienced by sex workers.

What I see as middle-ground is full decriminalization of soliciation and sex work/prostitution but continued prosecution of johns and brothels etc. For you I think middle-ground means attempting to ensure that only willing women work within the industry, that workers are protected from violence, that women aren't trafficked against their will. I don't think that your vision is possible.

I also don't believe that the harm to women ends with assaults commited by johns or pimps within the context of delivery of services.

I object when the issue is dismissed as one of personal choice as though it is disconnected from the rest of society and affects no one but the two consenting adults.  If two people are in a bedroom and money changes hands no one will know about it so it makes no difference beyond those walls. When society deems it acceptable for a woman to sell her sexual services, and a man to buy them, the ramifications go beyond the four walls. What those ramifications are I won't argue here.

One of my purposes in starting this thread was to engage so-called sex-positive feminists. I don't know a lot about it but I find the term offensive.  The implication is that other feminists aren't sex-positive which I find insulting. Aside from the terminology it seems as though sometimes the ideology takes precedence over the well-being of oppressed women, or at least is so loud that it drowns them out. 

 

 

susan davis

your way will not prevent trafficking and exploitation either, as proven in sweden. i never put workers by choice in front of exploited workers. the entire point is to protect workers and to creat choices and meaningful supports for workers who have experienced violence.

i want to share with you why i do advocacy in the first place. about 6 years ago my husband left me after 12 years of hell. i was devastated and could not manage my independent escort business. a "friend" invited my to work for an escort agency where she was a booking girl. promising me $1500 a day etc....i worked there for 2 years, was almost killed numerous time, on one occassion the man was charged with unlawful confinement and attepted murder. my "madame" did not even bother to come to court to support me. the man was aquitted. he didn't even have a lawyer, he was so confident of there being no consequences to his actions. the man who tried to kill me got to question me in open court!!

i was the chairman of an NGO supporting sex workers and should ave been credible but the judge looked down his nose and over hiss glasses at me and chose to decide i was not credible.aquitted.

i tried everything under the sun including phoning police, the city business liscensing department, drug policy section, social planning....there was no way for me to report of close down or complain about the agency owner who put workers as the lowest priority, systematically robbing clients, and puting workers lives at risk every day. i was shot at, chased down the highway by an angry customer trying to run us off the road, been sent out with security who were so messed up on drugs they would have been useless if i needed them to hel me never mind they were not fit to be driving.....

i began my journey because i want to close an unethical business. i couldn't. the system would not allow it. she was believed over me...and untrustworthy whore, a liar, not to be trusted. this"woman" remains in business to thhis day. i am working towards a complaints process which is accessible and confidential for workers experiencing exploitation and harm, as well we need customers to feel safe reporting dangerous conditions. they see what is happening, they know where potentially trafficked women are being held, if they felt safe reporting we would have greater insight into and success finding victims of exploitation and trafficking.

we could implement for instance sex offender status for men who frequent exploited youth or trafficked workers or are the ones explointing as a business owner. if a ethical consumer could report safely, police wowuld be ble to do surveillance of a location before executing a raid, to take note of men using services of unethical business owners.

if we criminalize all customers, this valuable link will not be possible.

as a person who is not only an active sex worker, but who has experienced the barriers to reporting or holding accountable bad business owners i see serious problems with your criminalize all cutstomers model.

as far as all criminalizing all business owners as "pimps" you do not respect the traditions of our culture. older, more experienced workers tradionally become madames and teach safety, security, seduction to new or un experienced worker. no person should work alone in the sex industry when they first start out. it is the most dangerous time as inexperience can be fatal. you would deny us access to this most valuable information and leave us to work alone in a "sink or swim" situation by painting all business owners with the same brush.

i am not only about indoor "a list" escorts. i just know why workers end up on the street and in the cycle of addiction. bad business owners, violence at the hands of customers because of lack of knowlegde and experience, lack of safe ethical indoor jobs.

you mentioned upstream downstream.....you leave out the middle stream.yes, go up stream and see why so many bodies are in the river,  but what about those still alive in the water? should we not try to help them too?throw out a line? or should we say, "too bad you are already in the water"? i have walked along the river bank, been in the water, climbed out on my own.....i would not leave my fellow workers to the same....

i made some calculations based on numbers of trafficking victims estimated to be in the world. not our numbes...the 27 million number. i calculted the percentage of the world's population that represents.....0.004%.

if we apply that to canada. you would have us destabilize and ignore of sector of the population in order to supposedly protect the o.oo4% of people traffiked. that is not just sex work, that is textiles, migrant farm workers etc.

an approach designed to protect the few will not help to stabilize the many and prevent harm to people in the sex industry. you talk about an experiement...at least the new zealand model has been tried and is showing success. sweden's model is under review as the government there are already seeing gaps in their approach emerge.

so, you tell me which experiemnt will be likely to cause more harm? they are both experiements after all...no?

 

susan davis

and it is the same expals link you always post. on their front page is an attack against the coop.

Infosaturated

What happened to you was horrible and your fight was and continues to be courageous. I can understand why you believe with all your heart that decriminalization is the answer.

The examples I see around the world illustrate that when decriminalization/legalization occurs the illegal industry grows with it. While some individual women may end up better off it is at the expense of the majority of women and minors whose suffering increases. I know that you have reports claiming that the Swedish model does not work the way supporters claim it does. I have rebuttals against those claims. I'd love to explore the Swedish model but in one thread, not in bits and pieces all over the place.

Personal stories are just that, personal, but they can provide snapshots of the perspective of workers that we don't see from advocacy groups.  For example, your story that you just shared here was illuminating for me. Even though I am still going to look at the issue from a more distant perspective, from the perspective of large numbers of women, your experience will stay in my mind and will influence me on some level.

I had a link which I can no longer find of an ex-prostitute who presented at a feminist conference in London. I thought her perspective was very interesting as she didn't just condemn so called "sex-positive" feminists, she pretty much lit into everyone concerning stereotypes of drug-addiction and class assumptions. She spoke of the individuality of women working as prostitutes/sex workers.  I am going to search for the link.

I'm not even familiar with all the different categories of feminists. There are entire university departments dedicated to feminism. It's a huge topic to try to learn about and we are not all academic geniuses. So I am interested in exploring how feminism relates to to the sex industry and how the rights of individual women versus women collectively balance against one another. It's all very well to support individual empowerment but that doesn't help women who are being collectively victimized a whole lot. We don't ask every rape victim to defend herself as an individual.

 

 

susan davis

try this link...it works

www.firstadvocates.org

feminists for decrim

Infosaturated

susan davis wrote:

try this link...it works

www.firstadvocates.org

feminists for decrim

I am not looking for "feminist who support decrim" or "feminists who are against decrim".  Those are easy to find. I would like to have a discussion with feminists concerning their answer to sex workers who are angry at feminists for not listening to them.

susan davis

you are talking to one.....i am a feminist and i am angry some feminist chose to ignore sex workers voices....

contact first, i am sure they will be able to discuss your position and discuss sex workers who are angry that some feminists chose to ignore us.... also, please stop saying the majority of sex workers are abused. no where is that proven and it is propoganda. until you have concrete data, please refrain from making broad sweeping statements that cast us all as victims, unable to look after or speak for oursleves, or damaged goods.

Infosaturated

susan davis wrote:
you are talking to one.....i am a feminist and i am angry some feminist chose to ignore sex workers voices....

contact first, i am sure they will be able to discuss your position and discuss sex workers who are angry that some feminists chose to ignore us.... also, please stop saying the majority of sex workers are abused. no where is that proven and it is propoganda. until you have concrete data, please refrain from making broad sweeping statements that cast us all as victims, unable to look after or speak for oursleves, or damaged goods.

Susan, if you are going to accuse me of something please quote me.  I did not start this thread to debate which side is right on the decriminalization battle.

Rather, I am interested in the inter-relationship between various kinds of feminism and how they reconcile their views with the two sides on the decriminalization divide.

Infosaturated

To my mind "sex workers" isn't a synonym for prostitute but as those who defend it as a viable professional prefer that term I will use it here to refer to them, that is, sex workers who are content in their choice of work and see no harm in it. I will use "prostitute" to refer to women who are coerced into the trade and do suffer harm as a result.

Both prostitutes and sex workers accuse feminists of not listening to them.  I found the following interesting:

There are many feminists whose views on prostitution do not fit in either the anti-prostitution feminist or the sex-positive feminist viewpoints, and in some cases are critical of both. These feminist authors have criticized what they see as the unproductive and often bitter debate that characterizes the two-position analysis of prostitution. Such authors highlight that in allowing arguments about prostitution to be reduced to a stale analysis and theoretical debate, feminists are themselves contributing to the marginalization of prostitutes, simplifying the nature of the work they carry out and the personal circumstances that involve each individual.[27]

Feminist scholar Laurie Shrage has also criticized the haphazard nature of feminist views on prostitution. Shrage claims that in a determination to undermine patriarchy, pro-sex feminists have advocated a reckless and "Freidman style" deregulation of laws surrounding prostitution, without considering the implications that this may have upon women involved in sex work, particularly given the nature of the sex trade, which is more likely to be plagued by exploitation and poor working conditions, concerns that must be of importance to any feminist.[28]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminist_views_on_prostitution

I agree with that. I think feminist theories are very important and do play a part in the debate.  But I also think it's important to look at the reality of what prostitutes are actually doing and the outcomes including stigmitization etc.

That is, while in some cases what they do is the equivalent of having sex with a boyfriend or husband only getting paid for it, I don't think that is the norm.

I think real "listening" on the part of feminists starts there.

Infosaturated

I have been running about the internet trying to get a handle on the two-position feminine analysis on the topic and came to the conclusion it doesn't matter. To me feminism is fighting for equality as a group. That can be realized through individual empowerment but not exclusively because on an individual basis there are lots of women who have more power than individual men. The fight for women's rights is based on our position as a collective not as individuals. The evaluation of prostitution must include the individual lived experiences of both sex-workers and prostitutes but the implications go beyond the individual. 

What the community as a whole accepts or rejects is a reflection of it's values. If selling sexual services is just like selling anything else, then rape can be viewed as theft of services.  Date rape is no big deal because the woman isn't losing anything, an idea that is already prevalent in the minds of many men.  Invading a woman's body is no different than invading her wallet. If you pay for a woman's dinner, she owes you sex.  If she won't hand it over, taking it is just taking what you are owed. The victim is not even losing anything other than a bit of time so what's the big deal? 

This is where the idea comes from that prostitutes can't be raped. Their sexuality isn't something personal, it is for sale. Therefore, prostitutes can't be raped, only robbed.

If a community decides that women's sexuality is a product that can bought and sold it doesn't just affect sex workers. It affects all the men and women of the community, but especially women. It places a monetary value on our sexuality. It doesn't matter if a blow-job from me is deemed worth 5$ or 500$. It doesn't matter whether or not I do it as a job. What matters is that it has been deemed no different than washing dishes or any other chore. It's just another service that women perform for men.

skdadl

Infosaturated wrote:

The fight for women's rights is based on our position as a collective not as individuals.

 

That is partly true, but to me not broken down well enough according to deep principles and then the means we are forced to use to achieve their promise.

 

The fight for any group's human rights, equality rights, civil rights, is "based" in the belief that all human beings are fully human.

 

It's true that members of a marginalized group learn to fight most effectively when they recognize that they have been marginalized as members of that group, and therefore must fight back as a group, demand recognition, compensation, defence, as a group, for however long that may be necessary. That's when we learn how to free ourselves, and in my experience (now regrettably long), it's the only way that oppressed peoples ever are freed. (Lord save us from people who think they can free us in spite of ourselves -- I'm not an Iraqi or an Afghan, but I suspect that many of them would echo that sentiment)

 

That is talking about means, however. That's politics, and that's how we fight teh power and teh prejudice.

 

But anyone who has ever been marginalized knows a deeper kind of rage, the rage that drives you to say sometimes, "Goddammit, I was here; I am a person; I lived."

 

No collectivity or community or group can ever speak entirely well to that feeling, or should ever attempt to rule it or suppress it, imho.

 

Infosaturated, you said in an earlier reply to me that you try to stay away from the language of "values" (because I had warned about how sloppy and right-wing that rhetoric tends to be), but then you pile up above a whole series of examples of how "community" "values" would authorize wholesale crimes against individuals. You don't seem interested in attributing specific crimes to the criminals who commit them, in violation of what I believe should be the general recognition of the human dignity of every individual as an individual, not as a member of a marginalized group.

 

The implication of what you have written seems to be that you would prefer a different set of "community values." You seem confident that your notion of "community values" would not be oppressive to those who don't share them.

 

Infosaturated, "community values" are ALWAYS oppressive.

 

I gotta tell you: Given the bigotry that I've seen in my lifetime, I'm here to say "F**k community values"; we're not having a referendum on individual liberties; and long live section 2 of the Charter.

susan davis

i just want to say, my job is alot more than sex....to diminish my work as merely trading sexual services for money is unfair. i give alot to the men who are my clientel and friends.comforting, compassion,understnading, love....yes love. i have alot to give.

sure, i give a pretty decent blowjob but that is hardly a fair description of my role as a sex worker.

 

Infosaturated

skdadl wrote:
I gotta tell you: Given the bigotry that I've seen in my lifetime, I'm here to say "F**k community values"; we're not having a referendum on individual liberties; and long live section 2 of the Charter.

I am not presenting reasons prostitution should be against the law; we have other threads to do that.  I am not making a moral judgement.

I am trying to explore feminist theory and sex work/prostitution as individual and collective experiences.  Women should understand one another's concerns and how women as a whole are affected by what women do as individuals. Every interaction doesn't have to be a battle.

The way that I am viewed by men affects me directly. Women have fought for equality for generations. Attitudes, not just laws, affected the ability of women to get jobs and to get paid what we were worth, and that is still true. I think I (and other women) have a right to have an opinion about how prostitution impacts me and my place in society.

There has been some suggestion that decriminalization will lead to destigmatization but I don't think it will. Maybe we could explore the reasons for the stigma.

Lee Lakeman

"It's true that members of a marginalized group learn to fight most effectively when they recognize that they have been marginalized as members of that group, and therefore must fight back as a group, demand recognition, compensation, defence, as a group, for however long that may be necessary. That's when we learn how to free ourselves, and in my experience (now regrettably long), it's the only way that oppressed peoples ever are freed. (Lord save us from people who think they can free us in spite of ourselves -- I'm not an Iraqi or an Afghan, but I suspect that many of them would echo that sentiment)"

 

I too find this argument compelling. Although of course we build things like the Charter to also protect some from the state no matter how small or insignificant the society may designate the group or group of one.  And I think you might agree that the larger the group that can self identify as the similarly oppressed the better the hope for recognition, defence and compensation. That is a key reason for me to argue that prostitution is a matter of violence against women and of women's equality.  In that circumstance I can bring the forces organized against other sexist violence to bear on this question and I can reapply the lessons learned about fighting to release women from abusive marriage, incest and so on.  It seems to me this is the best political tactic and movement building for those of us currently caught in prostitution as well as those of us who have escaped or managed to evade the institution of prostitution in spite of being women

But the Charter recognizes too that women's individual rights are not accessble unless the group rights of women as a disadvantaged group are recognized and taken into account.  It says that any discrimination against women built into the laws of the land and the public policy will adversely affect each individual woman trying to access her individual rights.  Over and over, these discussions have decumented that it is women who are disadvantaged by the ills of prostitution even if some women sem to or claim to benefit.  Almost none disagress with that now.  And these days most progressive Rights activists agree on a notion of the obligation of the state to do more than nothing.  That is that there is a resposniblity on the part of the state to act toward establishing the equality for women that does not yet exist as it has an obligation toward all the herstorically disadvantaged members of a discriminated group and this case the group is women not only those women who are caght in prostitution.  Clearly some of us are arguing that women as a group are not served by decrimnalizng the behaviour of men who act in predatory ways toward our group (clearly we consider and can see that most of those badly affected by the institution of prostitution are members of our group).

But in this case of buying sex the debate gets a bit reversed We keep agreeing that we want those being prostituted to be decriminalized and we are only debating with each other about the wisdom and usefulness and the political value of criminalizing those who buy sex, buy women outright to sell as sex objects, set up businessess to sell or rent women or sell sex or sell sex with children as the case may be.  And we are saying with some evidence that allowing that sale will increase the demand for more such sale, So it seems a mishapen discussion to talk of the rights of the individual women when on the whole, what we disagree about is the individual and group "rights" of men to have sex on demand for dollars or the "right" of anyone to buy or sell access to bodies of children and women.

Lee Lakeman

"It's true that members of a marginalized group learn to fight most effectively when they recognize that they have been marginalized as members of that group, and therefore must fight back as a group, demand recognition, compensation, defence, as a group, for however long that may be necessary. That's when we learn how to free ourselves, and in my experience (now regrettably long), it's the only way that oppressed peoples ever are freed. (Lord save us from people who think they can free us in spite of ourselves -- I'm not an Iraqi or an Afghan, but I suspect that many of them would echo that sentiment)"

 

I too find this argument compelling. Although of course we build things like the Charter to also protect some from the state no matter how small or insignificant the society may designate the group or group of one.  And I think you might agree that with and without the Charter, the larger the group that can self identify as the similarly oppressed the better the hope for recognition, defence and compensation. That is a key reason for me to argue that prostitution is a matter of violence against women and of women's equality.  In that circumstance I can bring the forces organized against other sexist violence to bear on this question and I can reapply the lessons learned about fighting to release women from abusive marriage, incest and so on.  It seems to me this is the best political tactic and movement building for those of us currently caught in prostitution as well as those of us who have escaped or managed to evade the institution of prostitution in spite of being women

But the Charter recognizes too that women's individual rights are not accessble unless the group rights of women as a disadvantaged group are recognized and taken into account.  It says that any discrimination against women built into the laws of the land and the public policy will adversely affect each individual woman trying to access her individual rights. 

Over and over, these discussions have documented that it is women who are disadvantaged by the ills of prostitution even if some women seem to or claim to or do benefit.  Almost noone disagress with that now.  And these days most progressive Rights activists agree on a notion of the obligation of the state to do more than nothing.  That is, that there is a resposniblity  a positive obligation on the part of the state to act toward establishing the equality for women that does not yet exist (as it has an obligation toward all the herstorically disadvantaged members of a discriminated group and this case the group is women)including by not only those women who are caght in prostitution.  Clearly some of us are arguing that women as a group are not served by decrimnalizng the behaviour of men who act in predatory ways toward our group (clearly we consider and can see that most of those badly affected by the institution of prostitution are members of our group).

In this case of buying sex the debate gets a bit reversed. We keep agreeing that we want those being prostituted to be decriminalized and we are only debating with each other about the wisdom and usefulness and the political value of criminalizing those who buy sex, buy women outright to sell as sex objects, set up businessess to sell or rent women or sell sex or sell sex with children as the case may be.  And we are saying with some evidence that allowing that sale will increase the demand for more such sale, So it seems a mishapen and misinforming discussion to talk of the rights of the individual women when on the whole, what we disagree about is the individual and group "rights" of men to have sex on demand for dollars or the "right" of anyone to buy or sell access to bodies of children and women.  These rights do not exist yet and are in fact the aspiration of the current cases in my opinion.

Infosaturated

So this is the theoretical approach you are aiming at?

"In Sweden prostitution is regarded as an aspect of male violence against women and children. It is officially acknowledged as a form of exploitation of women and children and constitutes a significant social problem... gender equality will remain unattainable so long as men buy, sell and exploit women and children by prostituting them." http://www.justicewomen.com/cj_sweden.html

If Canada agrees with the above, the state has an obligation to step in. However, crazy though it may seem, a lot of women in Canada think the battle has been won, that we are basically equal now.  Given that sex workers are denying that it is violence against them it isn't a really strong argument without some explanation as to why it should be considered violent.

Most people only get to see the "Pretty Woman" version, and while they know that's not real, they still don't know what really happens, or don't stop to think about it.  Until I took the trouble to come online and do some research I was firmly on the legalize/regulate/tax bandwagon. 

I'm still finding a lot of information difficult to come by.  We pretty much know universally that street work is horrible but 70 to 90% of work occurs indoors.  I've gotten hints of information but not enough.  Ignoring Susan's perspective isn't right. I feel this is like that story about the blind men and the elephant.  Susan rejects the idea that she is a rare A list type sex worker that isn't typical of profession. Some ex-prostitutives insist Susan's version is not representative of the majority of sex work.

In fairness people are going to write graphically about the horridness of what happened to them or how they experienced it.  If a sex worker is having positive or neutral experiences there really isn't anything to write about it other than it wasn't a negative experience.

I'm still having some trouble with accepting the premise that prostitution is male violence against women.

 

Lee Lakeman

Well of course we are talking about how to think politically so everything can be debated, but I think there are many good arguements for approaching prostitution as a form of Violence Against Women.  I think most of us would accept that it is nearly always also a form of objectifying women and adds to the objectification of all women in that if one can buy women like an object and sometimes not only similar to but actually buy her body for use, that to approve of that encourages one to think of all women as objects.  It seems unlikely that you could have an equality seeking regime in which you sold some women and it had no impact or a positive impact on other women.  The exception of course is that governments can (and do) designate some women as saleable by calling them prostitutes or by saying informally by what they tolerate that it is ok to sell this kind of women: asian or black or women without papers or women who are addicted or poor women. 

But since feminism is trying to stick up for and gather all women on the premise that none of us is free until all women are free, it seems contrary for many feminists to accept the sale of any women and it seems obvious to us that to do so will diminish how all women are viewed and treated by society at large.  One of the anti-prostitution feminist slogans used to be "no disposable women"

In recent years many feminists have also had to shift our understanding of prostitution as globalization advanced and became more and more entrenched. In my organization we literally debated when is prostitution more usefully thought of as objetifcation and when more usefully thought of as Violence Against Women.  Under new conditions of imperialism/colonization/globalization it became obvious that numerically it is aboriginal women, women of the poorest parts of the world and the poorest of the first world who are being prostituted.  I think no one can refute that now.  In the Lower Mainland of Vancouver for instance about 80% of the illegal indoor trade is of asian women from the poorest parts of asia.  Even the police confirm that.  It was always so but perhaps not so obvious to us.

Women as a group and most women individually do not have econmic or social equality anywhere: pay rates, social nuturing responsibility, stigmatization etc and in addition, in those populations there is a huge force or set of forces further limiting their choices.  From birth, each woman with very few exceptions endures the prescribed life of a person oppressed by sexism: one with enforced limits on her options.  Enforced by men and social institutions. 

I would point to Richard Poulin's research at the University of Ottawa for documentation of the forces that pile up against women in the international sex trade. Of course his research goes further and documents how women are treated not like objects but actually as objects to be bought and sold on the inernational market.  He, being a socialist emphasizes that laissez faire politics is opposed by progressives against any other multinational industry and it should be in this case.  I have written about this too in Marjorie Cohen's latest book on Public Policy for Women

In rape law and rape theory for social change Canadian feminists say that choice is unavailable to us if it is not meaningful choice for instance if we are over powered by restraints, by physical force but also by breach of trust, by limited circumstances created by by social/political policy and so on.  We say the solution is to work for equality and to criminalize the use of rape and other forms of violence against women not only becuse it is harmful to the individual woman but also because it impedes her and other women's  progress and exercise of freedom.  We say that Violence Against Women as social control operates much the same way that lynching did at the end of slavery for blacks in north america.  When law less often constrained blacks, violence was used to terrorize them into prescribed behaviour and to defeat claims of entitlement to power.  Lynching went up for a while when slavery was no longer legal.

So why would we not apply that same feminist thinking to the institution of prostitution?

I don't think every single moment of each prostitution event is conducted with a fist or gun but I do think that most of those moments are not constructed or chosen freely by the ones being prostituted.  I do think that every incident of using a woman this way diminishes all of us.  We know now that most women in the trade were sexually assualted before adulthood and that that sexual assualt was commercialized by someone.  We know those events shape the self and sense of self and even our interior dialogues.  We know that most prostituted are women of colour and aboriginal, we know that of world wide forced migrations of women and chidlren most are for purposes of prostitution.  Those facts are well documented now. 

We know that many if not most express a sense of being trapped in poverty and do not wish their daughters to suffer a similar plight.  We know that large numbers are held by enforcers who threaten them, their families and their friends.  We know that women everywhere prostituted suffer greater injury and death at the hands of pimps and johns and traffickers.  The only higher incient is the deaths of women in the family.  (And yes we have argued for the end of the family economic and political unit as it was once known and to end the romanticization of it's realities and the compusory heterosexual  basis of it).  We know that diseases are rampant among the prostuted but that it is men who infect women more easily and quickly but women who are charged with keeping the industry safe for men just as it is women who are left pregnant or ill when men insist that their desire requires no condoms and their pocket books full of the unequal pay permit them to buy what they desire.  We know that women are advised by health agencies to be careful with mind numbing drugs and alcohol, vagina freezing agents and halucinogins used in self medicating with such things to endure their life.  It is only common sense that being double and triple penetrated by two or more men as is the much sought after mimicry of gonso pornography is health harmful to say nothing of the damage to the body of thirteen year olds vaginally and anally raped in prostitution.

But I would say one more thing in defense of naming and dealing with prostitution as violence agaisnt women. VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN is a political category.  As Dorothy Smith articulates well, categories have a purpose of revealing and helping us see or of closing down obscuring and separating information so that the overall power relations of a situation is more hidden.  Violence Against Women is a political category invented by the second wave of the Women's Liberation movement to express the interconnection between the incidents where individual women were hit, threatened, coerced or killed by men so that we could see for ourselves more of the nature of oppression of women as a group and by the group men.  Doing so allows us also to see more of the force at work on each incident each woman's life.  Calling each wife assault, rape or incident of incest part of Violence Against Women helped us to see that the characteristics of each woman and the minutia of her personal behaviour had little to do with the fact of the abuse or how to end it or how men were using it.  It collectivized the experience in a way that revelaed more about how each woman was defeated and about social control of women and it grouped us in common cause. Globally that analysis has been widely acccepted as helpful and progressive but it took everyday for  for three decades for us to get here

Of course some women and mostly men refuse that even today.  They say women are resopnsible for what was heppened in a partifular case, they say "but this man loved this woman" even if they are beating them to death, they say a particular event is not "rape rape".   That a particular man is not a rapist or batterer becuase somehow he is exceptional.  Just look at what happend with Polanski (although in the end popular opinion turned the tide there too as it is turning on prostitution entrenched men)

I think this last reason is an important one to keep in mind.  If we say prostitution is ok just a job, why would the government supply exit services or incomes?  Why would they not return to criminalizing those women they awant to hassle for other reasons like property development or border security?  If we say it is choice isn't it more likely that women will be blamed for choosing the wrong "job" or "customer" or company to "work" for?  Won't we move backward away from the consensus now established that women prostituted and trafficked are not the problem but may need protection and that it is men and profiteers who are needing to change not the women?

If we appraoch it as Violence Against Women, won't we be more likely to look more diligently for the controls exercised, for the services that support, for the blameworthineess of particualr oppressive behaviour, for the ethical and egalitarian solutions to loneliness and isolation that men seem to need and for the ways to protect the vulnerable women and children and to reduce the vulnerability imposed on women and children worldwide?

martin dufresne

Thank you for this awesome summation of what's true and we need to do, Lee!

susan davis

so, you would be for government control over women's bodies? legalized sexual constraint placed on women? it is not your body, it belongs to all women and therefore we decide what is best for us all, not you? sounds like the same old rhetoric that's got us the situation we see currently.

please post a link that shows ethically gathered data supporting your assertion that 80% if indoor sex work in canada is migrant/trafficked workers from south east asia.....

respectfully,it is not a real number and i challenge you to produce a link to support your claim....bejamin perrin does not qualify as his data also was never subjected to research ethics board review.

many industries receive "exiting" or retraining miney as well as incomes such as unemployment insurance. why would we as sex workers not qualify? you say they support exiting but its' proven they barely do at all.i can count on 2 hands the number of exiting programs in canada. if sex workers could have access to programs such as EI or victims compensation we would have more choices...but you would waste money and time trying to get the government to create new programs and we have all seen what a priority we are to the government....last in line and first to be cut....always.

why do we need to seperate sex workers from other workers? why 2 programs? oh right, because we are different, and do not deserve equal treatment....

especially sex workers who do not repent and try to exit or accept rescue. we are the worst and need to be completely excluded. after all we are the ones causing violence against women....and the ones who covort with the enemy....men.

i believe you are completely backwards and that decriminalizing sex work will begin to erase the stigma we must endure and will raise the safety of all women, not destabilize it....by raising our perceived value, we will raise the value of all women.

 

susan davis

also, the assertion that all sex workers were molested as youth is aa myth. you would cast all of our families as pervert child molesters and us as damaged goods so broken and abused we couldn't possibly know what we need.

i come from a good family and was a virgin until i was 18 and i know many workers who were never sexually abused by family members or anyone else.my parents were good teachers and even better human beings.

once again, please privide a link to research ethics board reviewed data supporting your claim. 

remind remind's picture

Frankly, I am quite willing to take Lee's words as statements of fact, she after all is posting from her own name, with professional credentials behind it to protect, so I doubt she would be slapping up false information.

susan davis

fine, believe what you want, don't do any research.take what rape relief say on face value. ignore evrything i have said.

having exprienced the way they defamed our coop and brothel project, i  am not prepared to take anything they say in face value. i am all too familiar with their "truth". this group are the same whom i mentioned earlier knwoing our intentions but going ahead as if they did not. i notice no one is denying that. i also notcie they never bother to post links to so called data proving their assertions but perhaps thats simply because i am a sex worker and not worth answering.

ironic you would choose to believe lee over me considering the nature of this thread. the biggest problem we face is debunking unproven claims such as made above. no one believes us, everyone believes the white, wealthy educated woman with credentials...it working well, for them.

remind, you seem to be jumping from one horse to another here...i thought we had found some common ground, no? do you support rights for workers? or was i mistaken?do you not see some promise in our plans for transparency?

i just can't believe i am still hearing the consentual sex workers are diminishing all women and must be eliminated.after all, ending sex work means ending my existance. do you really think it's helpful to continue to demonize one group of women in order to save another? do you really think i am the only sex worker working by choice? what will we do to all the workers who choose?

people pretense to want to protect women but in trying to "end sex work" you eliminate us. people, and not just women.in orser to win, you must eliminate all sex workers....is that what we want? or are we an inclusive society which works to protect all of it's citizens?

i am so tired of this merry go round....i guess that's what's wanted though, for me to get tired and give up.....

 

susie

remind remind's picture

It is not an either or, susan, and it is not something that I am going to jump into either way, I am listening and reading all sides,  and talking to people I know on both sides. But I have to say I do not appreciate you calling Lee a liar and your post feels like your attempting to muscle me into a position against Lee.

This is a very serious matter, that I am not taking the least bit lightly, throwing accusations of falsehoods around against Lee does it great disseervice. Personally, I am very  well aware of the good work Lee does in VAW, and for you to defame her so, speaks ill of you, not her.

So be careful about that, if you want to be taken seriously as a credible voice. She has in no way defamed you in such a manner.

 

Lee Lakeman

Well thanks "remind" but in case my credentials are important to anyone: I am a working class woman who raised a child on welfare, I have no degrees and had no opportunity for university.  But I am well enough established in my work to be asked to teach some classes. My main source of information on this subject is the women who call our center everyday and have done so over my thirty plus years of work and the stories I hear of women who call other centers.  I add to that with reading and conferencing

I have been a special advisor to a UN meeting on violence against women but usually I remain completley independent of government or state jobs.  I opened one of the first shelters in the country for abused wives and in the old days i helped found OAITH and was elected as head of the NAC male violence against women committee.  I more recently was honoured by the women at the University of Windsor women studies program and have been one of the spokespersons for CASAC for some time now. 

I am an active member of the collective at Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter where there are currently several women in the shelter and several women in the collective who have had to endure prostitution and reject it as a liberty for women.  I am also a founding member of the Abolition Coalition of Vancouver   blah blah blah but yes I do know what I am talking about and I do try not to bullshit stats or statements we should not rely on.  I think i was quite careful in that post to claim as fact those things that are well documented and a little beyond contesting. 

This is an important debate especially on a site like rabble and I am interested in getting as much real information out between us as we can and am happy for correction and improvment on my thinking but I don't fall for crappy arguements too easily and insults don't change my mind

susan davis

prostitution is still not illegal in canada and you have still provided no links for research ethics board reviewed data to support your claims....

i never insulted anyone, but it seems you would call my arguments crappy.it is important people here understnad that it is not a huge group of people against us, it is a small group of workers from front linerape crisis lines and that these groups do not take part in any committees or groups working towards real change.

if you think the city of vancouver's action plan is a crappy arguement, where were you when it was created? if you are so concerned about exiting opportunities, why did you undermine the coop and all of our proposed activities? and no i'm not talking about the brothel, i am not working on the brothel, there never were any olympic brothels.

i am fighting for inclusion of active sex workers and for information and statistics that are proven, not conjecture or based on cambodian numbers.

please provide links that state that 80% of adult sex workers were abused as children so we may all be clear as to the context , author and politics surrounding your assertion.

it is not an insult for me to ask you to prove your statement.i have every right as a sex worker to challenge statements made about my community especially when they are so broad and sweeping. i have challenged info saturated, martin and will continue to challenge anyone making claims and statements i know to be questionable in origin. it is compounding the harms we are experiencing. do i need to repeat horror stories of raids, deportations, public humiliation and arrests? or how destabilization is forcing workers to choose areas of the sex industry outside of their comfort levels because of a lack of jobs?

it is my duty to my community to make sure people do have the facts and that any statements made are based in reality and research. lee lakeman is free to post a link to the source of her assertion but has not done so. please, post the link. i provide links for my assertions....i mean i have to, i have no credibility. i am a sex worker.

you have a job and a salary and will not be arrested for going to work. you have ei benefits, workmans compensation and a toilette to use at work. compared to the workers you say you represent you are a person of great privelege.

 

remind remind's picture

Susan...do not be going down this nasty road, seriously. As again you are stating that Lee is lying about what really is well known evidence of what she says.

 

susan davis

i am asking for a link.....is it too much for me to want a link? what are you afraid of....that there is no link? how is it well known? please enlighten me and provide a link.....

like this, an exptremely credible witness, a person i do not know...is she lying?

 

http://www.nswp.org/pdf/KINNELL-FEMINISTS.PDF

 

WHY FEMINISTS SHOULD RETHINK ON SEX WORKERS' RIGHTS

Hilary Kinnell

UK Network of Sex Work Projects

My personal background

 

I am 54. I took a degree in history at the University of Sussex in 1970. My employment history

has been varied, covering race relations, community development, youth work and sexual health.

In 1987 I began working in the Department of Public Health in Birmingham, on developing HIV

prevention strategies. This brought me into the field of prostitution. I set up and managed the

Birmingham HIV prevention project for sex workers until 1996.

My approach to this enterprise was grounded in principles of community development work: to

start from the expressed views of the target group about their own needs and perceptions of

problems, and to involve the target group in the development and running of the project as far as

possible. I also built on four years experience of working in clinics for sexually transmitted

diseases. During those four years, I learned about the Contagious Diseases Acts of the

nineteenth century, and the provisions of DORA1 that were applied in both world wars, but from a

very clear standpoint that these forms of coercion to combat sexually-transmitted diseases were

not only abusive, but also ineffective. The mantra of the STD service I worked in was that

treatment and prevention could only succeed where the service was voluntary, confidential and

free.

During my nine years with the sex work project in Birmingham, I was marginally aware that there

were feminist views that defined sex work as abuse of women, but not that HIV prevention work

with sex workers was often viewed as a direct inheritor of the provisions of the Contagious

Diseases Acts: that the ECP2 expressed views of this kind I did know, but as they also adopted

the view that HIV was a myth designed to stop black people reproducing, I considered their

opinions irrelevant. However, I never imagined that feminists of any persuasion would initiate,

embrace or endorse policies towards sex work that actively endanger sex workers' health and

safety, increase their criminalization, or define them as incapable of making their own judgements

about their own best interests. Neither did I ever expect to see feminist analyses of sex work

bolstering sexist and racist law enforcement and immigration agendas. Over the past several

years, however, all of these - to my mind - perversions of feminism, have become impossible to

ignore.

UK Network of Sex Work Projects

 

I am now the network co-ordinator of the UK Network of Sex Work Projects (formerly Europap-

UK). This network brings together projects that are actively and daily engaged in promoting sex

workers' health and safety. The UKNSWP aims

To promote the health, safety, civil and human rights of sex workers, including their rights to live

free from violence, intimidation, coercion or exploitation, to engage in the work as safely as

possible, and to receive high quality health and other services in conditions of trust and

confidentiality, without discrimination on the grounds of gender, sexual orientation, disability, race,

culture or religion.

remind remind's picture

Well now susan, you just dismissed something, either in this thread or the other, because it was from the USA, and not Canada, but here you are slapping up a link from the UK.

Plus it does nothing to discredit what Lee stated.

susan davis

excuse me? i was demonstrating that it is possible to post a link....it is lee lakeman's business whether she chooses to back up her assertion with a link or not....

as i stated before, i have posted many links from many countires and different agencies.i am merely continueing to demonstrate we are not the minority. many people feel as we do. and if you read the link i provided you would hear many of my sentiments echoed. posting inaccurate or unproven data harms us.

i tried to find any such link myself, but could not....no where could i find a statistic statig 80% of adult consentual sex workers are child abuse survivors....

from the parliamentry sub committees report-

Some witnesses who appeared before the Subcommittee, including the Regroupement québécois des

Calacs, Lyne Kurtzman of the Alliance de recherche IREF-Relais femme, and Rose Dufour, an

independent researcher and author of a book on prostitution, argued that there is a close link between

incest, sexual assault and prostitution. The statistics used to support the connection have been heavily

criticized. Some researchers, including Frances Shaver of Concordia University, questioned the

connection: "If we really want to know whether an experience or a history of childhood sexual and

physical abuse has something to do with ending up in prostitution, then we need to do a study that

starts first with a sample of Canadians. Then we want to sort those according to who has been abused

and who hasn't, and then we want to look at the proportions of those who were abused - at what

proportion ends up in the sex trade and what proportion don't - and the proportions of those who were

not abused and what percentage end up in the sex trade and what percentage do not. This research

has not been conducted." Frances Shaver, testimony before the Subcommittee, 7 February 2005.

trishabaptie

I want to thank Lee Lakeman for taking the time to articulate the amazing points she shared. They are wise words that must be heard ay all.

remind remind's picture

And so have infosaturated and martin, posted many links debunking your links, which you also ignore. So calling claims against people, is pretty difficult for you to do, and it does this topic a disservice, which is what I am stating, and nothing more.

Stick to facts and less attacks.

500_Apples

Infosaturated wrote:

I think we all agree that what some people refer to as prostitutes or that interpretation of the term "sex worker" should never face arrest for what they do.

There have been numerous accusations that voices against the decriminalization of the rest of the prostitution industry are drowning out the voices of sex workers who are a minority.

Sex workers if interpreted in the most restricted sense are a minority, but the voice of the Sex Industry is loud and insistent. 

People against legalized pimping and brothels are consistently attacked as attempting to impose their morals on others.

Feminist voices (some) are being attacked as man-hating academic theorists.

As a group, we are accused of representing the Dominant Culture, but do we? 

The view that prostitution (or sex work) should be legalized, regulated and taxed is widespread.  The claim that it is a victimless crime is accepted almost without question.

So who's voices are being drowned out?

Obviously those of sex workers.

There may be a different ratio of voices on babble, but in general society, prostitution is effectively illegal, sex workers are called whores not sex workers and they have no legal recourse. They can't unionize, they're alienated from the police, etc etc and they're only remotely safe when they can cater to extremely wealth clients.

martin dufresne
susan davis

remind wrote:

And so have infosaturated and martin, posted many links debunking your links, which you also ignore. So calling claims against people, is pretty difficult for you to do, and it does this topic a disservice, which is what I am stating, and nothing more.

Stick to facts and less attacks.

they posted links to what amounts to the same organization over and over. explas=rape relief=awan=reed.....all the same people. and links to ben perrin and melissa farely...neither of whom's research was subjected to research ethics review board scrutiny as per canadian laws. all i am asking is for one link proving 80% of sex workers are survivors of child abuse.....could you not find it either remind? i looked. it doesn't exist. so my demand for a link is justified. i will not stand by and allow people to cast us all as damaged goods, or our families all as pevert pedophile child abusers. i demand proof in research ethics board reviewed data. did lee lakeman provide a linke....? no. so is her assertion correct? no.....you would take her word at face value?...yes....why?it is completely unjustified for her to make broad sweeping statements casting us all.

ihave posted different links over and over from all over the planet to support my position...where is lee lakemans link to data supporting her assertion? you defend her as if her word is gospel....it isn't. don't try to silence me as i stand up for truth and dignity.i will not stand by while the myths about our lives are perpetuated for the sake of fundraising and fear mongering. i am a person and exist.

you stick to facts, and less attacks of me.i am justified. if it was your community being painted as lee lakeman painted me, you would want proof and would challenge her assertions. she has not produced any link to justify her statement and can't as such data does not exist.

nice to see trisha baptie....an ex sex worker who has not worked for years. i respect miss baptie and her expeirences as a street entrenched survival sex worker but must point out she is not a current sex worker and belongs to the same organization as lee lakeman. this group go out of their way to silence active sex workers and deny our experinces. they even deny ever meeting me, a sex worker doing this job freely and by choice- stating they ave NEVER met a sexworker who does not want to exit sex work.....you tell me?did i meet them? did we debate?did i tell them i like my job? did they listen? they profess to represent ALL "prostituted people"....why do they pretend i don't exist?

i am not making "claims" i am asking for proof and numbers....as i am asked to provide constantly.i want people making claims such as lee lakeman did to provide proof. or to not make broad sweeping statements with no basis in reality.

remind remind's picture

I don't know susan, I find the links provided to Sweden's and other socialist countries findings pretty compelling and now here you are denying the voice of a former sex worker, as illegitimate because she is a "former one", and are basically stating that only your voice is authentic, in fact sadly you just called her a liar, too.

 

martin dufresne

i respect miss baptie and her expeirences as a street entrenched survival sex worker

it doesn't show.

Ghislaine

There are lots of institutions and things that have a high rate of VAW. One of those is marriage. Should women's individual rights to choose who they marry be called into question for the good of the "collective of women" because of this? 

What about women who are raped when out alone and drunk at 3 am? They are asking for it, right? Just like the sex worker? How can they engage in such inherently risky behaviour? 

We better formulate a list of all the things women should not be allowed to do with their own bodies - for the good of all women of course.

And what is exotic dancing if not "a woman selling her body"? Do people think women should  be "protected" from doing that as well? 

susan: thank you for your continued patience in providing an alternate perspective. 

remind remind's picture

You going to be supportive of your daughter going into such a field, when you have stated here you are going to advise them to be chaste until marriage, ghislaine?

Or do you feel that "your girls" would not choose such a thing, or be forced into it because of poverty?

 

martin dufresne

Quebec anthropologist Rose Dufour is one feminist that the pro-prostitution lobby will find itself hard-pressed to discredit. She will not allow prostitution apologists to drown out the voices of the street and escort agency-experienced women whose life stories she transcribed. Almost all of her respondents WERE sexually abused as youths, and they themselves point out the links that some are so intent to deny. After four years of intensive qualitative research with a number of women whose words she transcribed and ran past them in order to support their healing process and reflect their analysis accurately, she published the book Je vous salue... Marion, Carmen, Clémentine, Eddy, Jo-Annie: le point zéro de la prostitution (Éditions Multi-Mondes, Québec, 2004).

I now fully expect Davis to claim that Dufour's research probably hasn't been vetted by a front-line sex work organisation, as she does with that of Melissa Farley. She would be wrong if she did. Quebec's PIPQ (Projet d'intervention prostitution de Québec) has entrusted its advocacy work to Dufour, who represented them before the Subcommittee on Solicitation Laws of the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, on April 18, 2005:

Ms. Rose Dufour (Associate Researcher, Collectif de recherche sur l'itinérance, la pauvreté et l'exclusion sociale, Université du Québec à Montréal): Good evening, Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen.

My position is rooted in field research that I have been doing for the past four years. The research report that I have brought with me has 646 pages. I will be tabling it at the same time as my brief.

It is difficult to make a presentation on the findings of this research in 10 minutes. Moreover, I believe that my position will without a doubt require an explanation of some of these findings.

First of all, I would like to say that I have been working with female prostitutes for the past four years. I help them take stock of their lives. This has enabled me to collect data to update the process leading these women into prostitution. I have looked at 20 life stories. I have reached what is referred to as the saturation point with respect to street prostitution and I have concluded that sexual abuse is the key factor explaining how someone becomes a prostitute. After working with these women for a year and a half, I then decided to investigate the johns. I examined 64 johns and, in doing so, I was the first person to conduct research in America on this subject. As a result of this research, I was able to define client types and update the systems categorizing prostitutes and prostitution. I will try to touch on this issue as well. After documenting the two main players in the prostitution system, I did a life history on two pimps to try and understand how others get into this line of work.

So there were three basic questions. First of all, how do women wind up turning to prostitution? My research budget was limited and therefore I was not able to work with male prostitutes. Secondly, why do men seek out prostitutes? Thirdly, how do people become pimps?

The answers to these three questions enabled me to define the ground zero for prostitution, namely the departure point of the systems producing prostitution.

How do women wind up turning to prostitution? My research showed that 17 times out of 20, namely in 85 per cent of all cases, the girls were repeatedly abused in their own family or in their immediate neighbourhood. In addition, I brought to light the fact that the little girl is abused, and since she does not define the conditions of sexual abuse, she is not able to say no to her abuser, generally someone she loves, who has earned her trust and is someone she wants to please. She does not give herself in this relationship: she makes her body available. That is exactly the type of relationship that exists between the prostitute and the john. She does not give herself, because to do so requires a sharing of intimacy, something that the child does not do and that the female prostitute does not do. She simply makes her body available.

In the prostitution relationship, the female prostitute goes through this same motion, namely making her body available. She has learned to be at the sexual service of someone else rather than at the service of her own needs. To be a prostitute means to have a public body, to no longer have a private body. In this sort of representation, the prostitute becomes, to some extent, the most abused of the abused.

I was also able to reveal how poverty is a part of the backdrop to prostitution. In examining the conditions of sexual abuse, I was also able to show that, in some instances, prostitution was the only option available to the abused person. This was because the individual internalized her identity as a prostitute, resulting from the words spoken during repeated sexual abuse and as a result of the exchange of money derived from the activities she was asked to perform.

In another group, there were four women who had no other choice but to become prostitutes, seven others for whom sexual abuse was the main reason leading to the prostitution and six others for whom the sexual abuse was related to the prostitution without however being the primary factor.

This is a very complex issue, and I cannot explain it to you in a few words. I can, however, tell you that the degree of relationship, the intensity of the relationships, the type of rapport established between the abuser and the abused does create a particular type of relationship.

» +-(1745)

Since the female prostitute is an abused person, I would recommend that this committee no longer view her as a criminal, but instead help her because she has been abused sexually. Most of these women are showing symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Source

More here.


 

Snert Snert's picture

Also, would you urge your daughters to get a great big tattoo on their faces?  If not, can you, in any good conscience, continue to support someone else's right to do that?

remind remind's picture

Back agains snert to fill us up on how men can do nothing other than support their right to male privilege?

If someone would not want their daughters to have sex without marriage, they can hardly support prostitution as a means to make money, it is hyprocritical in the extreme. It is an "othering" stance.

 

 

martin dufresne

I find very telling all those libertarian analogies between prostitution and things people do to themselves. The invisible men are among us...Wink

Caissa

Let's turn it around then and look at it from the other end: "What limitations can a state put on how a person uses their body?

martin dufresne

To really turn it around and reflect the current challenge, you would have to ask "What limitations can a state put on how a person uses someone else's body?"

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
If someone would not want their daughters to have sex without marriage, they can hardly support prostitution as a means to make money, it is hyprocritical in the extreme. It is an "othering" stance.

 

Nonsense. I don't have to want for my children everything that I support the legality of. My tattoo analogy is an example of that.

 

Quote:
Back agains snert to fill us up on how men can do nothing other than support their right to male privilege?

 

Back again to try to re-frame this as "male privelege", as opposed to the right of adults to do as they choose with their bodies?

 

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I find very telling all those libertarian analogies between prostitution and things people do to themselves.

 

It should be "telling" you that adults have an inherent right to do as they choose with their bodies. If you oppose that, now's your chance to speak up.

Caissa

You ask your question,  Martin, I'll ask mine. They are both important questions.

martin dufresne

And they reflect the privilege of who defines the field of engagement, the divide between libertarian theorizing and anti-oppression politics.

 

Snert Snert's picture

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"What limitations can a state put on how a person uses someone else's body?"

 

I would start with "none that supercede the limitations that the someone else has put on their body.

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