Amnesty International (AI) recently released a statement that makes it appear they support total decriminalization of the sex trade. They do not yet have an official stance, which is why exited women and their allies are rallying AI to support the Nordic model. If you are not yet familiar with the Nordic Model, I suggest reading this.
Some women enter prostitution out of financial desperation, but how many leave by making enough money to get out? We virtually ever hear about this, because it doesn’t happen.
This piece first appeared as a comment by Karen123 to this article:
“You don’t see animal rights activists advocating for the rights of animals to be exploited at circuses and for entertainment. Animal rights activists seem to know that you can defend the animals without defending “their rights to be exploited.” Just as animals learn how to “enjoy and appreciate” their abuse in entertainment (see the happy faces on the dancing elephants / see the happy faces on the Camels in Christmas parades), women can give the impression that they willingly participate in their abuse. The women’s movement is supposed to be against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, regardless of the situation. The bottom line is that being a sex worker (prostitute/stripper/exotic dancer/porn performer) itself is sexual abuse. A prostitute doesn’t have to be punched in the face to be abused – the act of being prostituted it the abuse itself. “
“In the short time I have been following some of these exchanges on twitter, I have noticed that baseless charges of racism against radical feminists are part of a wider strategy to discount radical feminism’s critique of the sex industry by painting radical feminists as a homogenous group of pearl-clutching, bourgeois white women who want to both silence women of color and “rescue” non-white, non-Western women from prostitution. This narrative completely discounts and erases the critically important roles of radical women of color in the struggle against sexual exploitation. For example, in the midst of the frenzied (and mindless) twitter assault on Meghan, the radical feminist group Indigenous Women Against the Sex Industry (IWASI) issued a press release condemning the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in the Bedford case. This press release expressed support for the Nordic model and urged “all those who seek justice, freedom, and equality to view prostitution as a colonial system and as a form of violence against women and girls that must be abolished.” The press release was also published on Feminist Current, but it does not fit with the pro-sex industry lobby that paints radical feminists as only privileged white women so it was ignored by them, as was the position of the Asian Women Coalition ending Prostitution, which also supports the Nordic model and has highlighted the sexualization of racism in prostitution.
When the sex industry lobby paints radical feminism as a bourgeois white women’s movement, they erase Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, a woman of color and France’s Minister of Women’s Rights who fought tirelessly to ensure that France adopted the Nordic model; they erase Kamala Devi Harris, a woman of color and San Francisco, California district attorney who has done more than any other official in the United States to educate the public about the reality of prostitution and who passionately opposed efforts to legalize prostitution in San Francisco; they erase the women of Apne Aap, an NGO founded by Indian women in prostitution, which supports the Nordic model and has started a global campaign to oppose the move of some UN agencies’ to promote the decriminalization of pimping and buying sex. The list of women who are erased by the pro-sex industry narrative goes on and on.
Listen to what Alice Walker said in an interview in Ms. Magazine when asked about the resurgence of prostitution in Cuba:
“When I see older white men with these primarily young, educated women of color, it is hard on the spirit. The women are too naive and inexperienced to know that they are engaging in an ancient system that oppresses women. They think of what they’re doing as a lark because it enables them to get a new tube of lipstick or some shampoo. But it’s very dangerous for them.”
Is Alice Walker a moralizing “whorephobe” who is denying young women of color their agency by claiming they are the victims of “false consciousness”? Or is she engaging in a critical and radical analysis of racial and sexual oppression in the institution of prostitution? The sex industry says the former; radical feminism says the latter. But it is in the interest of the sex industry to ignore, erase, or misrepresent, Alice Walker and other radical women of color, because to acknowledge them is to acknowledge that the insights and contributions of radical women of color are vital in the fight against sexual exploitation and that radical women of color bring a critical analysis of racism and colonialism to the discussion that is often otherwise missed.
This narrative means to erase radical women of color. That is its purpose. If the sex industry can characterize feminist opposition to it as coming only from privileged white women who are on a rescue mission, it is much easier for them to claim to speak on behalf of those most affected by the sex industry – i.e., poor women of color.
As you have probably figured out by now I could go on and on, but I will stop here and simply say that for me the erasure of radical women of color is the central issue, as well as the erasure of the voices of survivors, which I have not touched on here but is also critical.”
This article is translated from a Danish paper. You can find the original here: http://www.welt.de/vermischtes/article123793374/Ich-ekelte-mich-vor-Euch-und-Euren-Fantasien.html
For you, who buy sex
by Tanja Rahm
If you think that I ever felt attracted to you, you are terribly mistaken. I have never had any desire to go to work, not once. The only thing on my mind was to make money, and fast. Do not confuse that with easy money, it was never easy. Fast, yes. Because I quickly learned the many tricks to get you to come as quickly as possible, so I could get you off of me, or from under me, or from behind me.
And no, you never turned me on during the act. I was a great actress. For years I have had the opportunity to practice for free. Actually, it falls under the concept of multitasking. Because while you lay there, my thoughts were always elsewhere. Somewhere where I was not confronted with you sucking out my self respect, without spending as much as ten seconds on the reality of the situation, or to look me in the eye.
If you thought you were doing me a favour by paying me for thirty minutes or an hour, you were wrong. I would rather have had you in and out as fast as possible. When you thought yourself to my holy saviour, asking what a pretty girl like me was doing in a place like that, you lost your halo when you proceeded to ask me to lie down on my back, and then put all your efforts into feeling my body as much as possible with your hands. Actually, I would have preferred if you had gotten down on your back and had let me do my job.
When you thought you could boost your masculinity by getting me to climax, you need to know that I faked it. I could have won a gold medal in faking it. I faked it so much, that the receptionist would nearly fall off of her chair laughing. What did you expect? You were perhaps number three, or number five, or eight that day. Did you really think I was able to get turned on mentally or physically by having sex with men I did not choose myself? Not ever. My genitals were burning. From lubricant and condoms. And I was tired. So tired, that often I had to be careful not to close my eyes for fear of falling asleep while my moaning continued on autopilot.
If you thought you paid for loyalty or small talk, you need to think again. I had zero interest in your excuses. I did not care that your wife had SPD, and that you just could not go without sex. Or when you offered any other pathetic excuse for coming to buy sex with me. When you thought I understood you and had sympathy for you, it was all a lie. I had nothing but contempt for you, and at the same time you destroyed something inside of me. You sowed the seeds of doubt in me. Doubt as to whether all men were just as cynical and unfaithful as you were.
When you praised my appearance, my body, or my sexual abilities, you could just as well have vomited on me. You did not see the person behind the mask. You only saw that which confirmed your illusion of a raunchy woman with an unstoppable sex drive. In fact, you never said what you thought I wanted to hear. Instead, you said what you yourself needed to hear. You said that, which was needed to preserve your illusion, and which prevented you from thinking about how I had ended up where I was at twenty years of age. Basically you did not care at all. Because you had one goal only, and that was to show off your power by paying me to use my body as it pleased you.
When a drop of blood appeared on the condom, it was not because my period had just come. It was because my body was a machine, one that could not be interrupted by a monthly cycle, so I inserted a sponge into my vagina, when I menstruated. To be able to continue on the sheets. And no, I did not go home after you had finished. I continued working, telling the next customer exactly the same story that you had heard. You were all so consumed with your own lust that a little menstrual blood did not stop you.
When you came with objects, lingerie, costumes or toys, and wanted erotic role-play, my inner machine took over. I was disgusted with you and your sometimes quite sick fantasies. The same goes for the times when you smiled and said that I looked like a seventeen-year-old girl. It did not help that you yourself were fifty, sixty, seventy, or older.
When you regularly violated my boundaries by either kissing me, or inserting our fingers into me, or taking off your condom, you did it knowing perfectly well that it was against the rules. You were testing my ability to say no. And you enjoyed it when I did not object clearly enough, or when I too often would simply ignore it. And then you used it in a perverted way to show how much power you had and that you could cross my boundaries. When I finally told you off, and made it clear that I would not have you as a customer again if you could not respect the rules, you insulted me and my role as prostitute. You were condescending, threatening and rude.
When you buy sex, it says a lot about you, your humanity, and your sexuality. To me, it is a sign of your weakness, even though you confuse it with a sick sort of power and status. You think you have a right. I mean, the prostitutes are out there anyway, right? But they are only prostitutes because men like you stand in the way of healthy and respectful relationship between men and women. Prostitutes only exist because men like you feel you have the right to satisfy your sexual urges using the orifices of other people’s bodies. Prostitutes exist because you and your peers feel that your sexuality requires access to sex whenever it suits you. Prostitutes exist because you are a misogynist, and because you are more concerned with your own sexual needs than the relationships, in which your sexuality could actually flourish.
When you buy sex, it reveals that you have not found the core within your own sexuality. I feel sorry for you, I really do. That you are so mediocre that you think that sex is all about ejaculating into a stranger’s vagina. And if one is not handy, it is never further away than down the street, where you can pay an unknown woman to be able to empty yourself into a rubber while inside of her. What a petty and frustrated man you must be. A man unable to create profound and intimate relationships, in which the connection runs deeper than just your ejaculation. A man, who expresses his feelings through his climaxes, who does not have the ability to verbalise them, but prefers to channel them through his genitals to get rid himself of them. What a weak masculinity. A truly masculine man would never degrade himself by paying for sex.
As far as your humanity goes, I believe in the good in people, also in you. I know that deep down you have a conscience. That you have quietly wondered whether what you did was ethically and morally justifiable. I also know that you defend your actions and likely think that you treated me well, were kind, never mean or did not violate my boundaries. But you know what? That is called evading your responsibility. You are not confronting reality. You delude yourself in thinking that the people, you buy, are not bought. Not forced into prostitution. Maybe you even think that you did me a favour and gave me a break by talking about the weather, or giving me a little massage before you penetrated me. It did me no favours. All it did was confirm to me that I was not worth more. That I was a machine, whose primary function was to let others exploit my sexuality.
I have many experiences from prostitution. They enable me to write this letter to you. But it is a letter, which I would much rather not have written. These are experiences I wish I could have avoided.
You of course you thought of yourself as one of the nice customers. But there are no nice customers. Just those who confirm the women’s negative view of themselves.
Take my hand and see me for the person I am on the inside. Let us go together to make a difference in the future. Let us raise our voices to our friends, our girlfriends, our business associates, our bosses, our politicians, and last but not least, to the prostituted. Let us raise our voices together and say that sex is private. Let us shout that sex is not a product on a shelf, but that it can cost dearly if it is treated as one. Let us scream to the world that money and sex do no belong together, and that sex belong to all together different and mutually reciprocal relationships. Because in this case, you will re-concur my respect and I will see you as the person you are, and not just as a buyer of sex, seduced by an illusion.
Sex trade propagandists endorse the sexual use of prostituted women in a myriad of seemingly creative ways. One of these is by putting forward the notion that sex with prostituted women may be the only path for a disabled man seeking sex.. This pulls a sympathetic heartstring in many people working towards a more egalitarian society; no one should be discriminated against, based on ability, right? I question the notion that legitimizing the sex trade for men on behalf of men with disabilities is the bold path to equality.
One place the sex-trade propaganda surrounding this issue came to my attention was in the thread comments at this post over at Feminist Current. More than one “john” spoke up, saying they paid for because they was unable to form a sexual relationship with a single woman. Specifically, one man opined that his physical appearance is so shocking no woman will sleep with him. No woman he hasn’t paid that is. Yet, this same man goes on to state he has never forced women to do anything they don’t want, nor is he is asserting any form of power-over. After all, he pays them $200 an hour, so he is really the one getting ripped off. Never mind that this is typical “john” aka rapist speak: “the woman is controlling me” “the woman made me do it:, “she got more out of it than I did”. It’s enough to make one think Mr. Disabled John isn’t so different from your average sex predator/purchaser after all.
So, he can’t get any woman to sleep with him. And many, if not most, people consider sex an important, enjoyable, part of their life. Yet, there are many, many people who are celibate, whether by choice or otherwise. In my own life, I know a man with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). He is paralyzed from the waist down, so presumably, he can’t have sex. This man also has one of the most positive attitudes of anyone I’ve met. True, he isn’t sexual. Instead, he spends his time making things more accessible for people with disabilities. This man told me he doesn’t go to MS support groups, because they are too negative. He describes rooms of people fully sighted and able to walk, complaining bitterly about every negative thing in their life that week. His response? “If these people didn’t have MS, they’d find something else to complain about.” He further went on to tell me about a friend of his with an extremely severe, rare form of MS. This man’s entire body is paralyzed. He is in his forties, and is reliant on his mother for care. He has also found incredibly creative ways to find enjoyment, including sky diving (!!!). Presumably, neither of these men are spending laborious amounts of time and energy whining on feminist blogs about how horrible their life is because they can’t get laid. Rather, they are just going out and doing things they enjoy, and in the case of the first man working to build a more just society at the same time.
Moving onto the second argument from Mr. Disabled John on Feminist Current–Sex is a need, sez he. Not to be reduced to a mere want, it is actually necessary for life. Well, yeah, in a certain sense, pro-creative hetersex is indeed necessary for the continuation of the human species, but somehow, I don’t think that was what he was referring to. What he meant was that sex was a need for him personally, going so far as to invoke Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. What then, does Mr. Disabled John make of women and men that are celibate? Are these people not really humans after all, but some sort of super-human entities? He is capable of getting himself off, but sex with oneself, the one person who could choose to love him, isn’t what he’s after.
As with the other johns AKA sex predators who post on FC and other feminist blogs, including and perhaps especially those written by women who have exited the sex trade, Mr. Disabled John S. Predator goes on to assert how he is a gentle john, never forcing a prostituted women to do anything she doesn’t want to. As if prostitution itself isn’t coerced. Disabled men, certainly the type whining on blogs about how much their disability negatively impacts them, must realize at some level that people do not leave in a vacuum. Disabled people know that while disability may be physically real, it is especially the real-world, social, impacts of the way society is designed that are most damaging. Well, dudes, the same goes for women. Women, most certainly those in the various strata of the sex trade, are there first and foremost as women in a deeply sex unequal society. I’m not going to go over all the reasons women get into the sex trade; this is feminist 101 material and can easily be found elsewhere.
The bottom line, disabled men, as much as society is constructed for abled-bodied people, you are choosing to take advantage of people, those called women, ultimately because you are men. What is wrong with you that makes you think you have that right? See all the rage I feel towards you as a woman??,I imagine you feel that towards the able-bodied, and justifiably so. Join a movement for an egalitarian society, one where all people are treated compassionately and with dignity. The very dignity you so long for.
I am further reminded of hearing about a group of poor white men holding signs saying, “We may be poor, but at least we’re not black.” In other words, these men are clinging to their privilege over blacks, instead of working towards a more egalitarian society for all.
It appears most “johns” who post on the forums of exited women, as well as feminist abolitionist blogs, believe they are unique. They are all different than the sex buyer who coerces a woman into doing sex acts she doesn’t want to do. That men, let alone male sex buyers, may not have an accurate idea of what coercion is in the real world doesn’t seem to occur to these johns. Hell, almost all rapists of non-prostituted women and children don’t believe they did anything wrong; the victim “wanted it.” If they truly can’t find any woman without pay to have sex with, why do they think a prostituted woman “wants” to have sex with them?
Ultimately, men with disabilities have a choice: they can align with other marginalized people, including women, and especially prostituted women, or they can exercise the power-over that all men can choose to abuse. And persons outside of the sex trade can choose to stop using “those poor men with disabilities” as a defense for the sexual use of women in prostitution. Interestingly, these people never discuss disabled women’s “right” to sex; it’s men that are supposedly unable to go without. Men’s right to sexual access is not more important than women’s right to live as human beings.
 Yet for some reason these people are not the ones going out and having sex with men who “need” it.
This is one of the most remarkable lectures I’ve heard debunking myths surrounding prostitution. I highly recommend listening to it. Note: This podcast is available via Itunes, by searching for “Feminist Current”.