How to Respect Sex Workers

Monica Shores on Alternet writes a great short piece with links for further research on how to respect sex workers:

Most women have strong feelings about the sex industry, be they for or against. (And many, of course, remain undecided.) When dealing with such an emotionally volatile topic, it’s easy to inadvertently silence or even insult sex workers themselves. (As a participant in sex worker activism for the past four years, I’ve seen that in action and on the page.) There’s a way to debate commercial sex while respecting the industry’s laborers. Here are some suggestions:

1) Don’t diminish or mock sex workers’ agency. When discussing a person coerced or forced into sex work, a sensitive recognition of the violation they’ve suffered is definitely in order. However, it’s important to let individuals themselves make this distinction, rather than automatically assigning them a label that indicates lack of agency. For instance, referring to all sex workers as “prostituted” or “used” can be violating in and of itself if the person identifies their work as a free choice.

Similarly, language implying that sex workers are defiled or disgusting will quickly alienate them — for instance, calling porn an “institution that systematically uses the bodies of subordinate groups as sheer sexual objects at best, and open toilets at worst,” as this Ms. blog comment does. Even abused workers don’t want the public analogizing them to waste receptacles…

Continues at Alternet

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  • Butter Knife

    Wait, so you mean that the best way to respect and empower women isn’t to dictate the nature of their experience or how they feel about it, regardless of what that experience may be?

    Wow, that really makes me reevaluate my life.

  • Butter Knife

    Wait, so you mean that the best way to respect and empower women isn’t to dictate the nature of their experience or how they feel about it, regardless of what that experience may be?

    Wow, that really makes me reevaluate my life.

  • Hadrian999

    i salute them

  • Hadrian999

    i salute them

  • Rwright05

    ugh, we need some sort of non-offensive etiquette to speak to “sex workers” with? Obviously the author understands neither “sex” nor “workers” as real terms.

  • Rwright05

    ugh, we need some sort of non-offensive etiquette to speak to “sex workers” with? Obviously the author understands neither “sex” nor “workers” as real terms.

  • gemmarama

    1) “When you hear that 60 to 100 million females are missing in the current population, we thought that number compares in the scope and size. And then you compare the slave trade at its peak in the 1780s, when there were 80,000 slaves transported from Africa to the New World, and you see there are now 10 times that amount of women trafficked across international borders, so you start to think you are talking about comparable weight.” – Sheryl WuDunn, co-author of “Half the Sky”.
    (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/aug/19/women-slavery-half-the-sky)

    2) “In 2003, a study published in the Journal of Trauma Practice interviewed 854 working prostitutes (including male and transgender prostitutes) in nine countries. It is a saga of battery and desolation. Behind the dry percentage figures we find punched faces, beaten bodies, broken ribs, black eyes and strangled necks.

    The report found that 70%–95% of the interviewees were physically assaulted while working as prostitutes. 60%–75% were raped while working as prostitutes; of these, more than half were repeatedly raped. 65%–95% meanwhile were sexually abused as children; the line of continuity between being used as a child and being used as an adult is clear.

    Over two thirds of those interviewed – 68% – developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). That is more than twice the number of Vietnam war veterans who developed PTSD. The report details that prostitutes are, unsurprisingly, riddled with physical and mental illness and the longer one works as a prostitute, it informs us, the more one’s health deteriorates.

    A prostitute’s chance of an early death is, according to a 1985 report, 40 times higher than that of a woman who has never been a prostitute. In the shadow of these facts, prostitution seems less of a carefree career choice – Shoes! Stockings! Sex! – and more of a manifesto for misery. And the interviewees know it. 89% wanted to get out.” Tanya Gold, The Guardian.
    (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/nov/17/belle-de-jour-tanya-gold)

    3) i personally find “sex worker” one of the most horrifying terms of the lot, when you think about it.

    4) agreed, the exploited deserve only our respect, compassion and help. but the only way out of this mess is to dramatically step up our criticism – and more importantly prosecution – of those who neccessitate and control the sex industry.

    • emperorreagan

      The problem, with respect to #4, is that sex workers will always be the most visible part of the industry. They are the easiest to snare, so police forces & prosecutors go after them (afterall, the American justice system is driven by laziness, quotas, conviction rates, etc.). That leaves sex workers in a particularly vulnerable position, where they’re prone to being victimized by johns & pimps and authorities aren’t likely to offer any help.

      Generally, the token efforts politicians & their lackeys on the justice side make towards the issue just decrease the visibility of sex work. Taking down the section on craigslist did nothing; chasing a couple of hookers off of a street corner in a gentrifying neighborhood does nothing.

      The first step to really dealing with sex work is legalization. US policy towards consensual crime has been shown to effectively increase violent crime, allow people willing to engage in said violence to make a ton of money, and fill prisons with nonviolent & petty offenders (since they’re again the easiest to nab). Legalization allows the focus to shift away from the petty offenders and towards people who are trafficking other humans or robbing, assaulting, and raping others.

      Not that I think sex work is a particularly great thing in general and think we should just legalize it and forget about it. Some people may enjoy it and more power to them – I’m sure they’ll still have a strong customer base and be able to go to the police if they’re raped or assaulted, which would be a definite improvement in the quality of their lives.

      The way to divert people who don’t fall into the “enjoy it” subset from sex work isn’t using cops & prosecutors. The step after legalization is to identify the factors that drive people into sex work and work to mitigate those factors. Off of the top of my head, I would say that would lead towards improving response to domestic violence, addressing lack of economic opportunity, & creating more drug rehabilitation programs.

    • Hadrian999

      i say go the less government pro business rout and make it a legal business.
      i would bet that countries that treat it as a regulated business have much different stats than countries where it is a street crime.

      • gemmarama

        “Ten years ago, Australia made a risky policy move it thought would help protect women and children: it legalized prostitution. Today, only 10% of the prostitution industry operates in Australia’s legal brothels. The other 90% takes place in underground, illegal sex markets thick with forced prostitution and human trafficking victims.”

        Amanda Kloer.
        http://humantrafficking.change.org/blog/view/legal_prostitution_in_australia_a_failure

        “Legalized or decriminalized prostitution industries are one of the root causes of sex trafficking. One argument for legalizing prostitution in the Netherlands was that legalization would help end the exploitation of desperate immigrant women trafficked for prostitution. A report done for the governmental Budapest Group* stated that 80% of women in the brothels in the Netherlands are trafficked from other countries (Budapest Group, 1999: 11). As early as 1994, the International Organization of Migration (IOM) stated that in the Netherlands alone, nearly 70 per cent of trafficked women were from CEEC [Central and Eastern European Countries] (IOM, 1995: 4)…

        …The sheer volume of foreign women who are in the prostitution industry in Germany, by some NGO estimates now up to 85 per cent, casts further doubt on the fact that these numbers of women could have entered Germany without facilitation…

        …Another argument for legalizing prostitution in the Netherlands was that it would help end child prostitution. In reality, however, child prostitution in the Netherlands has increased dramatically during the 1990s. The Amsterdam-based ChildRight organization estimates that the number has gone from 4,000 children in 1996 to 15,000 in 2001. The group estimates that at least 5,000 of the children in prostitution are from other countries, with a large segment being Nigerian girls (Tiggeloven: 2001).

        Child prostitution has dramatically risen in Victoria compared to other Australian states where prostitution has not been legalized. Of all the states and territories in Australia, the highest number of reported incidences of child prostitution came from Victoria. In a 1998 study undertaken by ECPAT (End Child Prostitution and Trafficking) who conducted research for the Australian National Inquiry on Child Prostitution, there was increased evidence of organized commercial exploitation of children…

        … Advertisements line the highways of Victoria offering women as objects for sexual use and teaching new generations of men and boys to treat women as subordinates. Businessmen are encouraged to hold their corporate meetings in these clubs where owners supply naked women on the table at tea breaks and lunchtime…

        …Brothels in Switzerland have doubled several years after partial legalization of prostitution. Most of these brothels go untaxed, and many are illegal. In 1999, the Zurich newspaper, Blick, claimed that Switzerland had the highest brothel density of any country in Europe, with residents feeling overrun with prostitution venues, as well as experiencing constant encroachment into areas not zoned for prostitution activities (South China Morning Post: 1999)…

        …Most women in prostitution did not make a rational choice to enter prostitution. They did not sit down one day and decide that they wanted to be prostitutes. Rather, such choicesare better termed survival strategies. Rather than consent, a prostituted woman more accurately complies to the only options available to her. Her compliance is required by the very fact of having to adapt to conditions of inequality that are set by the customer who pays her to do what he wants her to do…

        …We hear very little about the role of the sex industry in creating a global sex market in the bodies of women and children. Instead, we hear much about making prostitution into a better job for women through regulation and/or legalization, through unions of so-called sex workers,and through campaigns which provide condoms to women in prostitution but cannot provide them with alternatives to prostitution. We hear much about how to keep women in prostitution but very little about how to help women get out.

        Governments that legalize prostitution as sex work will have a huge economic stake in the sex industry. Consequently, this will foster their increased dependence on the sex sector. If women in prostitution are counted as workers, pimps as businessmen, and buyers as consumers of sexual services, thus legitimating the entire sex industry as an economic sector, then governments can abdicate responsibility for making decent and sustainable employment available to women.

        Rather than the State sanctioning prostitution, the State could address the demand by penalizing the men who buy women for the sex of prostitution, and support the development of alternatives for women in prostitution industries. Instead of governments cashing in on the economic benefits of the sex industry by taxing it, governments could invest in the futures of prostituted women by providing economic resources, from the seizure of sex industry assets, to provide real alternatives for women in prostitution.”

        Janice G Raymond.
        http://www.prostitutionresearch.com/laws/000022.html

        and for the possible solution, thank you sweden:

        “In just five years Sweden has dramatically reduced the number of its women in prostitution. In the capital city of Stockholm the number of women in street prostitution has been reduced by two thirds, and the number of johns has been reduced by 80%. There are other major Swedish cities where street prostitution has all but disappeared. Gone too, for the most part, are the renowned Swedish brothels and massage parlors which proliferated during the last three decades of the twentieth century when prostitution in Sweden was legal.

        In addition, the number of foreign women now being trafficked into Sweden for sex is nil. The Swedish government estimates that in the last few years only 200 to 400 women and girls have been annually sex trafficked into Sweden, a figure that’s negligible compared to the 15,000 to 17,000 females yearly sex trafficked into neighboring Finland.”

        Marie De Santis.
        http://www.justicewomen.com/cj_sweden.html

        DO read the rest of the articles, especially the sweden one. apologies for the cut’n’paste job, vox penii has NOT hacked my user id, there’s just too much to say about this one. the oldest profession, bullshit…

        • Hadrian999

          i’ve never understood why sex for money is illegal,
          violence for money is wildly accepted, a majority of the ills of prostitution are derived from it’s illegal status forcing it underground into the realm of pimps and organized crime. If you have a problem with human smuggling the root causes not the end destination should be worked on.

          • gemmarama

            because sex is a wonderful and powerful aspect of the human experience, and money is the root of all evil? oil and water if you ask me.

        • Tuna Ghost

          A very enlightening and informative post, but this bit

          “Instead of governments cashing in on the economic benefits of the sex industry by taxing it, governments could invest in the futures of prostituted women by providing economic resources, from the seizure of sex industry assets, to provide real alternatives for women in prostitution”

          may be a bit too optimistic. Otherwise, fascinating stuff, especially the Sweden article. Why DIDN’T anyone think to do that before?

          • gemmarama

            we can but live in hope.

        • http://www.facebook.com/uriahz Uriah Maynard

          I appreciate your perspective on this, and I found that article on Sweden very interesting. That said, I don’t support criminalization of prostitution, precisely because I don’t think there’s anything more exploitive about sex work than most other kinds of work, other than the fact that it’s 97% women doing the work, and it’s sexual in nature. Compare a job in a recycling plant where you stand there all day long with ear muffs on because it’s 130db inside, picking through garbage as it passes on a conveyer belt capable of killing you if your clothing got caught. For this you get paid 10 bucks an hour, which means you will never afford to have a car loan on even a cheap car, or own your own home in the bad part of town, or even rent a home for your family. That’s exploitation, too. Or working as a subcontractor, walking around dangerous job sites, exposed to the elements, busting your ass every day all day without any sort of overtime pay or workman’s comp, never mind health insurance or mileage. And you will never make enough doing that to work your way out of it.

          My point is that exploitation is the norm within a capitalist system. The standard of living enjoyed by middle class Americans until now has been entirely built on exploitation. It just happens that sex work is the only kind of exploitation that actually pays well. It’s the only job where an uneducated but conventionally attractive woman can make a comfortable life for herself, which is not to be overlooked in a nation that doesn’t provide free education for all those who qualify.

          I would argue that the key to Sweden’s success is ACTUALLY FUNDING the avenues for women to get out of sex work. Accordingly, I would propose treating it like a profession:

          Legalization and taxation of sex work, with brothel licenses only given to operations wholly owned and operated by sex workers’ unions, and requirements that all sex workers join a union, which would be given mandates to provide training, health insurance, STD testing, drug treatment, and educational benefits to their members, while requiring client confidentiality, as with any other serious profession.

          Taxes gathered can provide for job placement, and other programs promoting successful diversion from sex work, as well as programs to support trafficking victims.

          A ban on advertising sex work outside of union-sponsored websites and publications, with advertisers liable for the content of their ads.

          A serious crackdown on non-union sexwork, with small fines and opportunities for voluntary entry into diversion programs and/or unions for sex workers, but extension of the already stiff penalties for pimps and traffickers, as well as criminalization of patronizing non-union workers. Additionally, unions should be restricted to no less than 65% American citizens, counted not by total membership but by monthly income. Unions should be required to provide potential members with a complete breakdown of all fees, dues, and taxes, and full accounting transparency.

          Fairly loose rules about the conditions for forming a union and low government fees for starting or joining a union should keep any one group from becoming dominant and overly predatory. Strong competition is the key to making sure they do right by their members.

          Taking this approach is a means of addressing the problem of human trafficking, organized crime, and violence towards sex workers. It makes it more difficult to get started in sex work, while making it easier to get out. More importantly, it is designed such that it will increase the power of a group that has been extremely oppressed for the last century.

          Under such a system, I’d guess that total prostitution would remain about the same, but trafficking and underage prostitution would collapse. It is a useful means of separating coerced sex work from those workers who specifically choose the profession, while legitimizing that choice, and lending a greater degree of dignity and and respectability to those women who make it.

          I’d be interested in meaningful debate on this proposal.

  • gemmarama

    1) “When you hear that 60 to 100 million females are missing in the current population, we thought that number compares in the scope and size. And then you compare the slave trade at its peak in the 1780s, when there were 80,000 slaves transported from Africa to the New World, and you see there are now 10 times that amount of women trafficked across international borders, so you start to think you are talking about comparable weight.” – Sheryl WuDunn, co-author of “Half the Sky”.
    (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/aug/19/women-slavery-half-the-sky)

    2) “In 2003, a study published in the Journal of Trauma Practice interviewed 854 working prostitutes (including male and transgender prostitutes) in nine countries. It is a saga of battery and desolation. Behind the dry percentage figures we find punched faces, beaten bodies, broken ribs, black eyes and strangled necks.

    The report found that 70%–95% of the interviewees were physically assaulted while working as prostitutes. 60%–75% were raped while working as prostitutes; of these, more than half were repeatedly raped. 65%–95% meanwhile were sexually abused as children; the line of continuity between being used as a child and being used as an adult is clear.

    Over two thirds of those interviewed – 68% – developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). That is more than twice the number of Vietnam war veterans who developed PTSD. The report details that prostitutes are, unsurprisingly, riddled with physical and mental illness and the longer one works as a prostitute, it informs us, the more one’s health deteriorates.

    A prostitute’s chance of an early death is, according to a 1985 report, 40 times higher than that of a woman who has never been a prostitute. In the shadow of these facts, prostitution seems less of a carefree career choice – Shoes! Stockings! Sex! – and more of a manifesto for misery. And the interviewees know it. 89% wanted to get out.” Tanya Gold, The Guardian.
    (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/nov/17/belle-de-jour-tanya-gold)

    3) i personally find “sex worker” one of the most horrifying terms of the lot, when you think about it.

    4) agreed, the exploited deserve only our respect, compassion and help. but the only way out of this mess is to dramatically step up our criticism – and more importantly prosecution – of those who neccessitate and control the sex industry.

  • Vox Penii

    “once a whore, always a whore.”

    George Orwell

  • Vox Penii

    Thanks for posting this information; I’m glad someone else was able to rebut the rose-colored glasses view of “sex workers.”

  • Andrew

    Hey, it’s laissez-faire capitalism!

  • LucidDreamR

    Almost sounds to me like the writer of the original article might be considering a second ‘job’…

    To see one of the most precious and spirit-fulfilling experiences we can have as human beings reduced to a commodity is (W)horrifying a best. In cases where a person is voluntarily pursuing this as a ‘career’, it’s clear to me they have no respect for themselves; so why in the world should they get an ounce of respect or decency from any of us?

    Another beautiful example of capitalism at work I guess….

  • LucidDreamR

    Almost sounds to me like the writer of the original article might be considering a second ‘job’…

    To see one of the most precious and spirit-fulfilling experiences we can have as human beings reduced to a commodity is (W)horrifying a best. In cases where a person is voluntarily pursuing this as a ‘career’, it’s clear to me they have no respect for themselves; so why in the world should they get an ounce of respect or decency from any of us?

    Another beautiful example of capitalism at work I guess….

  • Chlod

    The best way to respect “sex workers” (now how’s that for a ridiculous political correct term?) is by not making use of their services. Imagine if it were your sister or mother walking the streets, how would that make you feel? Worse, it’s the bad state of the economy which forces more women to make money this way, so the politicians and businessmen should be held responsible for the artificial crisis they have created.

  • Chlod

    The best way to respect “sex workers” (now how’s that for a ridiculous political correct term?) is by not making use of their services. Imagine if it were your sister or mother walking the streets, how would that make you feel? Worse, it’s the bad state of the economy which forces more women to make money this way, so the politicians and businessmen should be held responsible for the artificial crisis they have created.

  • emperorreagan

    The problem, with respect to #4, is that sex workers will always be the most visible part of the industry. They are the easiest to snare, so police forces & prosecutors go after them (afterall, the American justice system is driven by laziness, quotas, conviction rates, etc.). That leaves sex workers in a particularly vulnerable position, where they’re prone to being victimized by johns & pimps and authorities aren’t likely to offer any help.

    Generally, the token efforts politicians & their lackeys on the justice side make towards the issue just decrease the visibility of sex work. Taking down the section on craigslist did nothing; chasing a couple of hookers off of a street corner in a gentrifying neighborhood does nothing.

    The first step to really dealing with sex work is legalization. US policy towards consensual crime has been shown to effectively increase violent crime, allow people willing to engage in said violence to make a ton of money, and fill prisons with nonviolent & petty offenders (since they’re again the easiest to nab). Legalization allows the focus to shift away from the petty offenders and towards people who are trafficking other humans or robbing, assaulting, and raping others.

    Not that I think sex work is a particularly great thing in general and think we should just legalize it and forget about it. Some people may enjoy it and more power to them – I’m sure they’ll still have a strong customer base and be able to go to the police if they’re raped or assaulted, which would be a definite improvement in the quality of their lives.

    The way to divert people who don’t fall into the “enjoy it” subset from sex work isn’t using cops & prosecutors. The step after legalization is to identify the factors that drive people into sex work and work to mitigate those factors. Off of the top of my head, I would say that would lead towards improving response to domestic violence, addressing lack of economic opportunity, & creating more drug rehabilitation programs.

  • Hadrian999

    i say go the less government pro business rout and make it a legal business.
    i would bet that countries that treat it as a regulated business have much different stats than countries where it is a street crime.

  • gemmarama

    “Ten years ago, Australia made a risky policy move it thought would help protect women and children: it legalized prostitution. Today, only 10% of the prostitution industry operates in Australia’s legal brothels. The other 90% takes place in underground, illegal sex markets thick with forced prostitution and human trafficking victims.”

    Amanda Kloer.
    http://humantrafficking.change.org/blog/view/legal_prostitution_in_australia_a_failure

    “Legalized or decriminalized prostitution industries are one of the root causes of sex trafficking. One argument for legalizing prostitution in the Netherlands was that legalization would help end the exploitation of desperate immigrant women trafficked for prostitution. A report done for the governmental Budapest Group* stated that 80% of women in the brothels in the Netherlands are trafficked from other countries (Budapest Group, 1999: 11). As early as 1994, the International Organization of Migration (IOM) stated that in the Netherlands alone, nearly 70 per cent of trafficked women were from CEEC [Central and Eastern European Countries] (IOM, 1995: 4)…

    …The sheer volume of foreign women who are in the prostitution industry in Germany, by some NGO estimates now up to 85 per cent, casts further doubt on the fact that these numbers of women could have entered Germany without facilitation…

    …Another argument for legalizing prostitution in the Netherlands was that it would help end child prostitution. In reality, however, child prostitution in the Netherlands has increased dramatically during the 1990s. The Amsterdam-based ChildRight organization estimates that the number has gone from 4,000 children in 1996 to 15,000 in 2001. The group estimates that at least 5,000 of the children in prostitution are from other countries, with a large segment being Nigerian girls (Tiggeloven: 2001).

    Child prostitution has dramatically risen in Victoria compared to other Australian states where prostitution has not been legalized. Of all the states and territories in Australia, the highest number of reported incidences of child prostitution came from Victoria. In a 1998 study undertaken by ECPAT (End Child Prostitution and Trafficking) who conducted research for the Australian National Inquiry on Child Prostitution, there was increased evidence of organized commercial exploitation of children…

    … Advertisements line the highways of Victoria offering women as objects for sexual use and teaching new generations of men and boys to treat women as subordinates. Businessmen are encouraged to hold their corporate meetings in these clubs where owners supply naked women on the table at tea breaks and lunchtime…

    …Brothels in Switzerland have doubled several years after partial legalization of prostitution. Most of these brothels go untaxed, and many are illegal. In 1999, the Zurich newspaper, Blick, claimed that Switzerland had the highest brothel density of any country in Europe, with residents feeling overrun with prostitution venues, as well as experiencing constant encroachment into areas not zoned for prostitution activities (South China Morning Post: 1999)…

    …Most women in prostitution did not make a rational choice to enter prostitution. They did not sit down one day and decide that they wanted to be prostitutes. Rather, such choicesare better termed survival strategies. Rather than consent, a prostituted woman more accurately complies to the only options available to her. Her compliance is required by the very fact of having to adapt to conditions of inequality that are set by the customer who pays her to do what he wants her to do…

    …We hear very little about the role of the sex industry in creating a global sex market in the bodies of women and children. Instead, we hear much about making prostitution into a better job for women through regulation and/or legalization, through unions of so-called sex workers,and through campaigns which provide condoms to women in prostitution but cannot provide them with alternatives to prostitution. We hear much about how to keep women in prostitution but very little about how to help women get out.

    Governments that legalize prostitution as sex work will have a huge economic stake in the sex industry. Consequently, this will foster their increased dependence on the sex sector. If women in prostitution are counted as workers, pimps as businessmen, and buyers as consumers of sexual services, thus legitimating the entire sex industry as an economic sector, then governments can abdicate responsibility for making decent and sustainable employment available to women.

    Rather than the State sanctioning prostitution, the State could address the demand by penalizing the men who buy women for the sex of prostitution, and support the development of alternatives for women in prostitution industries. Instead of governments cashing in on the economic benefits of the sex industry by taxing it, governments could invest in the futures of prostituted women by providing economic resources, from the seizure of sex industry assets, to provide real alternatives for women in prostitution.”

    Janice G Raymond.
    http://www.prostitutionresearch.com/laws/000022.html

    and for the possible solution, thank you sweden:

    “In just five years Sweden has dramatically reduced the number of its women in prostitution. In the capital city of Stockholm the number of women in street prostitution has been reduced by two thirds, and the number of johns has been reduced by 80%. There are other major Swedish cities where street prostitution has all but disappeared. Gone too, for the most part, are the renowned Swedish brothels and massage parlors which proliferated during the last three decades of the twentieth century when prostitution in Sweden was legal.

    In addition, the number of foreign women now being trafficked into Sweden for sex is nil. The Swedish government estimates that in the last few years only 200 to 400 women and girls have been annually sex trafficked into Sweden, a figure that’s negligible compared to the 15,000 to 17,000 females yearly sex trafficked into neighboring Finland.”

    Marie De Santis.
    http://www.justicewomen.com/cj_sweden.html

    DO read the rest of the articles, especially the sweden one. apologies for the cut’n’paste job, vox penii has NOT hacked my user id, there’s just too much to say about this one. the oldest profession, bullshit…

  • Hadrian999

    i’ve never understood why sex for money is illegal,
    violence for money is wildly accepted, a majority of the ills of prostitution are derived from it’s illegal status forcing it underground into the realm of pimps and organized crime. If you have a problem with human smuggling the root causes not the end destination should be worked on.

  • Tuna Ghost

    A very enlightening and informative post, but this bit

    “Instead of governments cashing in on the economic benefits of the sex industry by taxing it, governments could invest in the futures of prostituted women by providing economic resources, from the seizure of sex industry assets, to provide real alternatives for women in prostitution”

    may be a bit too optimistic. Otherwise, fascinating stuff, especially the Sweden article. Why DIDN’T anyone think to do that before?

  • gemmarama

    we can but live in hope.

  • gemmarama

    because sex is a wonderful and powerful aspect of the human experience, and money is the root of all evil? oil and water if you ask me.

  • Rs4436

    I used to be a prostitute.

    I was 22 when I started. My mother was killed by a drunk driver when I was 19 and my father had Alzheimer’s. I took care of him alone for 3 years, and then I couldn’t anymore. He was put into a horrible place by the state. I had some college, but no degree. The only job I could get was waiting tables. On a bad week I made less than $200 working full time – and there were a lot of bad weeks.

    A friend of mine made more than that on a bad night of dancing. I auditioned, but I wasn’t a good enough dancer; however they offered me a job as a waitress. Unlike the restaurant, they paid me over minimum wage, and the tips where much better. Now a bad week meant between $500 and $600. That paid the rent and other bills, but my father was still in that hell hole.

    I took some dance lessons, but it was hopeless. The friend who had gotten me the job was now my room mate. In addition to dancing, she was “turning some tricks”. One of her clients wanted to take her to Europe for a few weeks, and she talked me into taking care of another of her regulars while she was gone. At first I balked, but she told me that there would be no actual sex involved. She felt sorry for this guy (she actually liked him too) and didn’t want to turn him over to just anyone.

    he had a strange quirk. Once a week I put on a conservative business suit and went to his office. I would sit on the edge of his desk and verbally humilliate him while he knelt down, licked my shoes and masturbated. For that I was paid $500.

    I felt sorry for him too. I couldn’t understand why he needed something like that, but he did. I also understood why he needed to hire someone to accomodate him. That was my start. Over the next 5 years I made almost $2 Million. I own my home and I live comfortably off of the interest and dividends from my investments. I don’t regret any of it.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XFMMVBQQFHSWBLHZR5T74P564E memries

      and this is the exception that proves the rule– the vast majority of adult workers will NOT have this experience– at best they will have an ugly memory of a handful of ill paid encounters, at worst- slavery and violence.
      criminalization is NOT the answer– regulation and proper policing of the traffickers & pimps would remove to a great extent that slavery and violence.

      that Rs4436 HAD to resort to what turned out to be a lucrative and ‘positive’ line of work is more an indictment of failed economic prioirites.

  • Rs4436

    I used to be a prostitute.

    I was 22 when I started. My mother was killed by a drunk driver when I was 19 and my father had Alzheimer’s. I took care of him alone for 3 years, and then I couldn’t anymore. He was put into a horrible place by the state. I had some college, but no degree. The only job I could get was waiting tables. On a bad week I made less than $200 working full time – and there were a lot of bad weeks.

    A friend of mine made more than that on a bad night of dancing. I auditioned, but I wasn’t a good enough dancer; however they offered me a job as a waitress. Unlike the restaurant, they paid me over minimum wage, and the tips where much better. Now a bad week meant between $500 and $600. That paid the rent and other bills, but my father was still in that hell hole.

    I took some dance lessons, but it was hopeless. The friend who had gotten me the job was now my room mate. In addition to dancing, she was “turning some tricks”. One of her clients wanted to take her to Europe for a few weeks, and she talked me into taking care of another of her regulars while she was gone. At first I balked, but she told me that there would be no actual sex involved. She felt sorry for this guy (she actually liked him too) and didn’t want to turn him over to just anyone.

    he had a strange quirk. Once a week I put on a conservative business suit and went to his office. I would sit on the edge of his desk and verbally humilliate him while he knelt down, licked my shoes and masturbated. For that I was paid $500.

    I felt sorry for him too. I couldn’t understand why he needed something like that, but he did. I also understood why he needed to hire someone to accomodate him. That was my start. Over the next 5 years I made almost $2 Million. I own my home and I live comfortably off of the interest and dividends from my investments. I don’t regret any of it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/uriahz Uriah Maynard

    I appreciate your perspective on this, and I found that article on Sweden very interesting. That said, I don’t support criminalization of prostitution, precisely because I don’t think there’s anything more exploitive about sex work than most other kinds of work, other than the fact that it’s 97% women doing the work, and it’s sexual in nature. Compare a job in a recycling plant where you stand there all day long with ear muffs on because it’s 130db inside, picking through garbage as it passes on a conveyer belt capable of killing you if your clothing got caught. For this you get paid 10 bucks an hour, which means you will never afford to have a car loan on even a cheap car, or own your own home in the bad part of town, or even rent a home for your family. That’s exploitation, too. Or working as a subcontractor, walking around dangerous job sites, exposed to the elements, busting your ass every day all day without any sort of overtime pay or workman’s comp, never mind health insurance or mileage. And you will never make enough doing that to work your way out of it.

    My point is that exploitation is the norm within a capitalist system. The standard of living enjoyed by middle class Americans until now has been entirely built on exploitation. It just happens that sex work is the only kind of exploitation that actually pays well. It’s the only job where an uneducated but conventionally attractive woman can make a comfortable life for herself, which is not to be overlooked in a nation that doesn’t provide free education for all those who qualify.

    I would argue that the key to Sweden’s success is ACTUALLY FUNDING the avenues for women to get out of sex work. Accordingly, I would propose treating it like a profession:

    Legalization and taxation of sex work, with brothel licenses only given to operations wholly owned and operated by sex workers’ unions, and requirements that all sex workers join a union, which would be given mandates to provide training, health insurance, STD testing, drug treatment, and educational benefits to their members, while requiring client confidentiality, as with any other serious profession.

    Taxes gathered can provide for job placement, and other programs promoting successful diversion from sex work, as well as programs to support trafficking victims.

    A ban on advertising sex work outside of union-sponsored websites and publications, with advertisers liable for the content of their ads.

    A serious crackdown on non-union sexwork, with small fines and opportunities for voluntary entry into diversion programs and/or unions for sex workers, but extension of the already stiff penalties for pimps and traffickers, as well as criminalization of patronizing non-union workers. Additionally, unions should be restricted to no less than 65% American citizens, counted not by total membership but by monthly income. Unions should be required to provide potential members with a complete breakdown of all fees, dues, and taxes, and full accounting transparency.

    Fairly loose rules about the conditions for forming a union and low government fees for starting or joining a union should keep any one group from becoming dominant and overly predatory. Strong competition is the key to making sure they do right by their members.

    Taking this approach is a means of addressing the problem of human trafficking, organized crime, and violence towards sex workers. It makes it more difficult to get started in sex work, while making it easier to get out. More importantly, it is designed such that it will increase the power of a group that has been extremely oppressed for the last century.

    Under such a system, I’d guess that total prostitution would remain about the same, but trafficking and underage prostitution would collapse. It is a useful means of separating coerced sex work from those workers who specifically choose the profession, while legitimizing that choice, and lending a greater degree of dignity and and respectability to those women who make it.

    I’d be interested in meaningful debate on this proposal.

  • Lukinda Skye

    there’s only one prostitute who reacted to this and hers was a success story. so is it a case of “to each his own”? especially of desires and kinks and the market for such?

  • Lukinda Skye

    there’s only one prostitute who reacted to this and hers was a success story. so is it a case of “to each his own”? especially of desires and kinks and the market for such?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XFMMVBQQFHSWBLHZR5T74P564E memries

    and this is the exception that proves the rule– the vast majority of adult workers will NOT have this experience– at best they will have an ugly memory of a handful of ill paid encounters, at worst- slavery and violence.
    criminalization is NOT the answer– regulation and proper policing of the traffickers & pimps would remove to a great extent that slavery and violence.

    that Rs4436 HAD to resort to what turned out to be a lucrative and ‘positive’ line of work is more an indictment of failed economic prioirites.

  • Andrew

    Hey, it’s laissez-faire capitalism!

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