I’m a Hooker! I’m a Sex Worker!

I’m a Hooker!

The blog posting platform Medium has a useful reading statistics organisation. Unlike on WordPress, it differentiates between people who have clicked on your post, and those who have actually read it. I don’t know exactly how it works this out – perhaps it is just taking an educated (or random) guess – but I do know that a great number of the hyperventilating people who tweeted angrily at me about my recent post on said platform, were in the category of ‘haven’t bothered’.

Not that it matters. Because the post was about married (or paired up) men who use prostitutes. And the angry-s were members of the ‘ain’t sex work pretty’ Twitterati; those vested interests, their drooling male patrons and purported libertarian feminists who have come to ride the wave of populism.  They are usually the type of feminists that are nifty with a select bunch of stock phrases and sentiments and think dying their hair turquoise and having once kissed a girl, makes them mega mavericks.

The type of postpostpostpostmodern maverick-ism that is still more or less constructed around a bourgeois, conservative lifestyle and outlook, but occasionally visits strip clubs, has a predilection for burning incense and buys ‘bohemian looking’ floral print cushion covers from House of Fraser. Like, totally Radical.

Or if they are the ‘sex workers’ themselves – the usually white, Western, good at feigning middle classness ‘sex workers’ who like to make an awful big meal out of themselves -they are the types that have reduced the feminist, civil and gay rights movements into a grim performance of self glorification, tinged with predictable photographs of their tan slicked bodies in shiny underpants and their legs kicked out into the air like they have just fallen elegantly from a tall building.

Combined they are like bad hippies, because at least the hippies had Joni Mitchell, comfy Nordic sweaters and a vague sense of collective optimism. Oh, and they ‘discovered’ the avocado.

And yes I can be so mean and catty because I am sure I used to be this narcissistic and self interested when I was younger. I used to muddy every delicate fraction and indentation  of the world into being Something to do With Me; I used to project out into the cosmos my own tediously thundering image of myself. And if what was occasionally reflected back at me wasn’t as painstakingly manufactured as the self-image I had created  in my own head, I would get pretty narked. Its this kind of psychopathology that ultimately leads people without any discernible talent to go on reality TV, before getting terribly upset when it doesn’t work out for them. I feel for us all, really, in this way, because mortality does often look and feel terribly bleak and life so aimless, that it is understandable that we try to make something… anything… out of it.

And also because writing that some people, these days, have vain and post-modernity pickled brains,  is at least no worse than being called a Bitch. Cunt. Prude. Pearl Clutcher. Moralist. Whatever that means. Oh I remember…its “Someone who has a different outlook to me.” Or it is Peter Hitchens. Or on this occasion, me.

I’m not entirely certain what response you are supposed to give to such epithets, other than “You know that never really hurt me much the first time I heard it. Certainly nowhere near as much as that article I wrote giving information to women about the behaviours and attitudes of married men who pay for sex, seemingly hurt you.”

The article didn’t actually say much at all about prostitutes themselves, other than to point out the fact that when a man rents a woman for sexual interaction, there is a pretty decent chance that she doesn’t really want to do it and what is more… he knows that. And doesn’t care. And possibly doesn’t much care if she is addicted to drugs, pimped or coerced either. He only knows that she needs the money. And even if a prostitute does loooovvvvve her ‘work’ she cannot reasonably deny that many don’t, and that that  makes the paying for it from any punter, inherently morally problematic. Because he can never accurately know which are which, seeing as there is an economic prerogative for all women involved to mask their truths. But again, I put it to you, that he mostly doesn’t give a sod.

(Oh and you might say, ‘but most people don’t want to be doing the work they are doing!’ In which case I implore you to spend a minute thinking about how you’d feel about insisting someone fetch you a cup of tea, or a fax, or a dog lead…and then  on them sucking on your genitals or licking your anus. The decent among you will feel a difference. )

Some of these pro prostitution agitators will often admit that many women in prostitution don’t want to be there, but they won’t draw the lines of the logic together. They would NEVER denigrate punters as a group, especially seeing as many of the most vociferous and outspoken use the same names and platforms to be ‘activists’ as they do to plug their wares.

But ultimately, what they don’t get, is that the article about punters and their personal lives was not about them. My piece was about the other women (who comprise a larger statistic, incidentally) who are married or with male partners and are not, even in a hipster tangential fashion, chouette about being in a  relationship with men who enjoy acting out sextube videos  with women who can’t wait for it to be over so they can go spend their 100 bucks on drinking away their childhood dreams. Oh that was close to the muscle, wasn’t it? Well I’ve been there. And I’ve seen it.

Women who have found themselves married to a punter, will have lived through  years of lies and condescension and  may often have developed, subtly or overtly, a deflated self esteem. If they do begin to develop an inkling and drop the question, they will have been gas-lit, stonewalled and furtherly and more endemically lied to. In other cases they will find out – having had no small clue – by being hit by a proverbial block of bricks that will smash them into the conscious realization that their conception of their own world was based on a scurrilous fib.

And  I don’t blame the women involved in prostitution at all, I just don’t think saying these things to other women has much, directly, to do with them. My ‘critics’ felt angry because they saw me paint a negative image of the world they seek to defend, but ultimately what women who are not in prostitution choose to think about it, in relationship to their own personal lives, is not their fucking business.

No, being a prostitute is not like being a racial or sexual minority. Those ‘sex worker’ critics of radical feminists are keen to assure everyone that they are not victims of the patriarchy and make a willful and happy choice. In which case it is  richly convenient to suddenly become a victim because someone else have a negative view on the industry that you are openly choosing to engage in. Especially if the negative view has specifically to do with your patrons or profiteers. You are welcome to argue that no-one should criminalize your punters, but you don’t have a right to say that no-one can criticize your punters. That is the line to be drawn between activism and lobbyism.

Those lobbyists are quick to tell silly wives that monogamy is not feasible, that it would be preferable for women to butt out their husband’s sexual business, or even that their presumed expansive attitudes to sex are something that all women should adopt. But they have no  right to impose their social values on to other women, or to dictate what conversations or knowledge exchanges that other women have, who don’t have such a romantic view of prostitution as they do.

But like Napolean the pig, they are intent on hacking to death  Snowball – the architect of the initial rebellion –  who simply wanted to de-stigmatise those women involved in prostitution, and create that heartfelt of all things, a better world.  Now, like the Stalin pig, they have a new mode of acceptable being for women. A new female ideal, a new do as we say,  a new  we-know-better landscape. But its over your parochial, domestic head, loves. You who gave up your job at 30, raised three children and made dear hubby a nutritious meal each night. Or heated up one squelched inside of freezer bag. Not that it matters. Because seemingly you don’t matter.

 

I’m a Sex Worker!

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We have to listen to Sex Worker’s Voices. Quite who ‘We’ are and quite who ‘They’ are has yet to be solidly established. I guess on the surface the We is anyone who happens to be having any kind of discussion about prostitution, who has never been paid to flap about in gaudy knickers or been infiltrated by other folk’s body parts, at any stage in their pearl clutching, blue stocking, dry cunting lives.

Even if that discussion isn’t happening whilst your hovering over a bit of legislation. Even if your casually chatting in your back garden, with your radfem mates, who hate sex and who perpetually wear a special form of mosquito net to prevent so-called ‘Men’ from touching their damsel flesh. Yes whilst you are having that radfem garden party and you veer on to the topic of prostitution, a Sex Worker will be shipped over the wall  to ensure that you understand just how pathetically ignorant you are on this and, probably, any and all topics.

‘They’ of course are the opposites of ‘We’. They are the sugar coated, candy canes of postmodernist sexuality, who are largely made up of middle class PhD students, transwomen and heterosexual Chippendales, who sell intimacy and affection and counselling and  legal advice and vegan recipes, to disabled virgins  and poor hen pecked husbands, who spend the rest of their money on keeping their hag like wives happy. Despite the fact that said wives purposefully had their own vaginas sewed up just to spite them. Bitches.

I’m being facetious now, of course. Bad form. This is a serious topic.

Of course in reality who ‘We’ are, is rather more difficult to define, as is the case of who ‘They’ are. If anyone has spent any time fingering around the debate, you’ll notice how easily permeable those membranes are, how quickly and efficiently those boundaries can shift. A Sex Worker Voice might not only be someone who works in prostitution or stripping or pornography or webcam modelling. It might become someone who runs a brothel, who manages a strip club or who directs porn films. It might be someone who has worked for twenty years, or only two days.

Contrary wise the person who works in the sex industry but hates it, and openly criticises it, might have their story nullified as a ‘lone voice’ whose bad experience is an anomalous misfortune; sad, but not really of interest.  A charity or advocate who has worked for decades with women, damaged and troubled by prostitution, is a pesky interferer, who cannot be trusted to account for themselves/herself as witness. A former prostitute can be disregarded, at best, because her feelings ‘no longer count’. At worst, her whole public character may be  ruptured by accusations of duplicity, fraudulence, bitterness or insanity.

The Sex Worker who has been a webcam model for six months may find her voice counting more, than a former prostitute who has been schlepping about in the trade ever since that hallowed time before you could buy soft pornography at Poundland. That brothel keeper’s convenient advocacy for that apex of hyper capitalism – the Mega Brothel – considered of more value and authenticity than the women advocating for exit services.

Indeed, this flighty and idiomatic phrase seems to me to be predominately used to shore up a person who has their cards in the full, absolute no questions asked or futures considered, decriminalisation of profiteering hat, and to undermine anyone who has even the smallest shred of ambivalence. To reiterate, for actual prostitutes who might disagree, there will be found another little crack for them to be pushed down. Heck, I’ve been witness to debates where a bloke who ostensibly has no stocks in the pro-prostitution conversation (ostensibly being the key word) mouthing off unabridged, and yet anyone who voices concerns has their tongues snipped at the root. Perhaps he once took photographs of his girlfriend in her underwear and then showed his mates down the pub. Perhaps that makes him a sex worker.

Look, I agree, it is a good idea to consider the experiences of those working, or have worked, in prostitution. But people are not ideas, and it is intensely problematic to try and utilize them as such. Such orchestrations of protest, sit dubiously and dangerously atop the thin floor of purported  objectivity. We are so petrified to express, openly, ideology, notions of morality, codes of ethics and philosophical questions, in our neoliberal culture, that we just pretend that they simply don’t exist. The pro prostitution protest has done a phenomenal  PR job of selling itself as ideology free, as supported by Sex Workers, who don’t just have insight but Absolute Authority. Statistics that support them are in service of The Great Truth of pimp decriminalisation and any statistics that problematize their view are the flimsy nay sayings of troubled and troublesome women whose predominate interest in prostitution is really about defending their husbands from temptresses. Whilst also, curiously, hating men.

But the pro-prostitution argument is ideological. And ethical. And subjective, and so too are the opinions of those who flog it. In the end, prostitution is not simply a private matter – it is a matter of commerce and social policy,  and everyone to greater or lesser degrees has cause to take interest. Everyone has their say.



To read installments of my memoir visit my Patreon account, and subscribe from $1 per month.

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