Archives for posts with tag: paying for sex

In the United Kigdom it is legal for adults (those aged 18 years and older) to engage in prostitution. Many of the activities associated with prostitution are, however illegal. For example one man or woman may work as a prostitute from premises, however where two or more individuals operate together (even if one of those persons is only taking bookings, answering the door etc rather than working as a sex worker) then the premises is classified as a brothel and those working there are breaking the law. In 2008 Sweden took the radical step of criminalising the purchasers of sexual services while leaving sex workers free to ply their profession without fear of arrest. In contrast to sex workers, their clients are (if convicted of paying for sex) subject to a fine and/or six months in prison. In 2009 Norway introduced similar legislation to that in Sweden.
The philosophy underpinning the legislation is that women are the weaker party and, as such they should be protected from men. According to this perspective men have no right to “buy women”. Women do not voluntarily choose to sell their bodies, consequently those who avail themselves of the services provided by sex workers are guilty of “exploiting” prostituted women. The Swedish law has been held up by British politicians such as the Labour MP Hariet Harman as a model which should be followed in the United Kingdom (it is not currently illegal to purchase sex in the UK provided that the person offering sexual services is 18 or older and he/she has not been forced into prostitution). Let us leave aside for a moment the issue of whether men (and women) should be criminalised for purchasing sexual services. Instead let us turn first to whether the law has the effect claimed for it by it’s proponents, namely making the lives of prostitutes safer by detering men from purchasing sex. According to a recent article in “The Local” the legislation enacted in norway has made the lives of sex workers more dangerous than was the case prior to the legislation coming into force
“The 2009 prostitution law prohibits the purchase but not the sale of sexual services, with legislators seeking to stymie the trade by targeting demand.

But the Pro Sentret report indicates that the law has in fact made prostitutes much more susceptible to violence at the hands of their clients as the sex
trade moves further underground.

What’s more, prostitutes have become less inclined to seek help since the law came into force, with many now perceiving that they too are viewed as criminals,
the report says.

Many of the women also said the new law had scared off many of their more reliable customers, while troublesome and violent clients were relatively undeterred.

According to the study, titled Farlige Forbindelser (Dangerous Liaisons), 59 percent of prostitutes in Oslo have fallen victim to some form of violence
in the last three years.

”Violence against women in prostitution is brutal and frequent,” said Ulla Bjørndahl at Pro Sentret.

”Often the violence is extreme. Eleven people have faced death threats, many have been threatened with weapons, or have been exposed to robbery, rape, or
were threatened into participating in non-consensual sex,” Bjørndahl told newspaper Dagbladet.” (see http://www.thelocal.no/page/view/rip-up-prostitution-law-says-top-oslo-politician).
The research for the report was carried out between January-March of 2012 and entailed interviews with 123 women engaged in prostitution. Those interviewed included street prostitutes, ladies working in flats and women selling sex in massage parlours. Consequently the researchers interviewed a representative sample of those engaged in prostitution and their findings should be treated seriously.
Turning to the issue of whether prostitution necessarily entails exploitation, the reaction of French intellectuals to the French government’s proposal to prohibit the purchasing of sexual services is instructive
“Responding, the intellectuals said any move to liberate women from sexual slavery or the clutches of organised crime would be welcome.

But they argued that talk of “abolishing” prostitution was based on “two debatable assumptions: that charging for sex is an affront to women’s dignity
and that all prostitutes are all victims of their bastard clients.”

They added: “A women who prostitutes herself, whether she does so occasionally or full-time, is not necessarily a victim of male oppression.

“And the clients are not all horrible predators or sexual obsessives who treat the woman as disposable objects.” (see http://www.thelocal.fr/page/view/french-intellectuals-slam-prostitution-ban-plan).
Precisely so, I couldn’t have put it better myself. The idea that all prostitutes are victims and all clients are “bastards” is rissible. Having used the services of escorts over a number of years I know that the ladies do in the overwhelming majority of cases freely choos to enter the world of escorting. No big bad pimp is threatening them with violence, they see easy money and they take it.
None of the above is intended to deny that prostitution can (and often does) have harmful effects on those who engage in it. Dig behind the smile and one often finds deeply damaged individuals. However there exist other equally damaged persons who choose not to engage in sex work. Again by no means all who engage in prostitution suffered abuse as children. Despite what some would have us believe prostitution is (in most cases) a freely entered into choice. It may not be (and in most instances it certainly isn’t) the first choice of the majority of those who engage in it. It is, however still a choice.

“Maria, lonely prostitute on a street of pain,
You, at least, hail me and speak to me
While a thousand others ignore my face.
You offer me an hour of love,
And your fees are not as costly as most.
You are the madonna of the lonely,
The first-born daughter in a world of pain.
You do not turn fat men aside,
Or trample on the stuttering, shy ones,
You are the meadow where desperate men
Can find a moment’s comfort.

Men have paid more to their wives
To know a bit of peace
And could not walk away without the guilt
That masquerades as love.
You do not bind them, lovely Maria, you comfort them
And bid them return.
Your body is more Christian than the Bishop’s
Whose gloved hand cannot feel the dropping of my blood.
Your passion is as genuine as most,
Your caring as real!

But you, Maria, sacred whore on the endless pavement of pain,
You, whose virginity each man may make his own
Without paying ought but your fee,
You who know nothing of virgin births and immaculate conceptions,
You who touch man’s flesh and caress a stranger,
Who warm his bed to bring his aching skin alive,
You make more sense than stock markets and football games
Where sad men beg for virility.
You offer yourself for a fee–and who offers himself for less?

At times you are cruel and demanding–harsh and insensitive,
At times you are shrewd and deceptive–grasping and hollow.
The wonder is that at times you are gentle and concerned,
Warm and loving.
You deserve more respect than nuns who hide their sex for eternal love;
Your fees are not so high, nor your prejudice so virtuous.
You deserve more laurels than the self-pitying mother of many children,
And your fee is not as costly as most.

Man comes to you when his bed is filled with brass and emptiness,
When liquor has dulled his sense enough
To know his need of you.
He will come in fantasy and despair, Maria,
And leave without apologies.
He will come in loneliness–and perhaps
Leave in loneliness as well.
But you give him more than soldiers who win medals and pensions,
More than priests who offer absolution
And sweet-smelling ritual,
More than friends who anticipate his death
Or challenge his life,
And your fee is not as costly as most.

You admit that your love is for a fee,
Few women can be as honest.
There are monuments to statesmen who gave nothing to anyone
Except their hungry ego,
Monuments to mothers who turned their children
Into starving, anxious bodies,
Monuments to Lady Liberty who makes poor men prisoners.
I would erect a monument for you–
who give more than most–
And for a meager fee.

Among the lonely, you are perhaps the loneliest of all,
You come so close to love
But it eludes you
While proper women march to church and fantasize
In the silence of their rooms,
While lonely women take their husbands’ arms
To hold them on life’s surface,
While chattering women fill their closets with clothes and
Their lips with lies,
You offer love for a fee–which is not as costly as most–
And remain a lonely prostitute on a street of pain.

You are not immoral, little Maria, only tired and afraid,
But you are not as hollow as the police who pursue you,
The politicians who jail you, the pharisees who scorn you.
You give what you promise–take your paltry fee–and
Wander on the endless, aching pavements of pain.
You know more of universal love than the nations who thrive on war,
More than the churches whose dogmas are private vendettas made sacred,
More than the tall buildings and sprawling factories
Where men wear chains.
You are a lonely prostitute who speaks to me as I pass,
And I smile at you because I am a lonely man.”

What makes ladies and men for that matter turn to the world’s oldest profession? One may answer money and to those who have few (if any) financial resources prostitution may appear to offer them a way of obtaining financial security. However to state the blindingly obvious there exist ways for those lacking in resources to obtain money which do not entail becoming a sex worker. For example the domestic help industry is booming in the UK. In London a cleaner can earn between (approximately) £6-10 an hour for general housework including cleaning and ironing. I have employed a cleaner for many years and my current helper earns £6.50 an hour for 3 hours making a total of £19.50. No academic qualifications are required to enter the world of domestic cleaning and the market is, as I said above booming. Given the health of the domestic cleaning sector why do large numbers of ladies choose to become prostitutes rather than availing themselves of the opportunities offered by the domestic cleaning sector?
One obvious answer is that of money. While a small number of cleaners may earn £10 (and, very occasionally more) per hour, most domestics receive between £6-8 as their hourly rate. In contrast ladies who work as professional escorts can receive upto £1000 for spending the night with a client and, of course providing what is known in polite society as “personal services”. Many ladies will charge rather less for an evening’s company (anywhere between, approximately £500-800), this is however still a significant sum of money. Some may ask why given the lucrative nature of high end prostitution do not more ladies (and men) enter the world of sex work? Having used both cleaners and escorts/prostitutes I sometimes speculate on that very issue. My answer to the question for what it is worth is that most people have a deep seated aversion to becoming a prostitute (indeed the very idea would never enter the minds of the majority of people). The majority of ladies would rather launder my dirty socks for cash rather than service my more personal requirements and I can’t say that I blame them! To most individuals money is not the most important factor. They would rather earn £6.50 an hour and feel good about themselves than earn a great deal more but feel worthless.
No doubt some escorts will respond that they take pride in their work and do not feel worthless. I wouldn’t dispute this, however having used escorts for many years I know through having built up professional relationships with a number of ladies that beneath their smiles there often lurks deep unhappiness. A number of ladies have confided in me that they suffered abuse as children while others have been in (or still are in) abusive relationships. Abuse does no doubt act as a factor leading some ladies (and men) to sell their bodies. However many individuals who have suffered abuse do not go down this road, consequently abuse can not be sighted as the determining factor in explaining why people enter the world’s oldest profession      .
The fact of the matter is I simply don’t know why people enter the world of sex work. In truth there are many and complex reasons, however there appears to be no overarching explanation as to why ladies (and men) take this momentous decision.
I would be interested to hear your views on this interesting and contentious subject.

Our bodies entwined in my bed, I know not what thoughts fill your
head. Your skin is warm soft and near, but are “you” truly heare? Is
your mind in this place? No you inhabit another space.
Another guy pawing your intimate parts, something shrivels and dies
deep in your heart. Do you sense the pain I feel, or is your sadness
all that is real?
There is pleasure in your kiss, moving inside you brings temporary
bliss. You make me feel good for a while but as I fuck I die inside.
Prostitutes come and go the bliss of release fleeting as summer snow,
this pursuit of whores I must let go.

On 20 July I wrote about how Mercbaby, a working girl who advertises her services on adultwork.com had stolen the sum of £120 from me (see https://someonesomewhere00.wordpress.com/2012/07/20/theft-by-mercbaby-of-adultwork-com/). This post is by way of an update on the situation. Unlike in fairy tales the story has not had a happy ending!
I did report the theft to the police, however there advice was not to press charges as it would not be in the public interest to do so. The argument of the police is that they have limited resources and it is more productive to use them in solving crimes of violence. As a secondary issue the policeman with whom I spoke advised me that the media might well take an interest in the case (if it came to court) with the obvious potential for embarrassment to yours truly in terms of having my face splashed across the media. Being a retiring kind of soul I acted on the premise that discretion is the better part of valour and opted not to press charges.
I am still angry over what happened (who wouldn’t be)! however I am a believer in the old saying that “what goes around comes around”. Sooner or later Mercbaby will be faced with a client who steals from her or refuses to pay for a service which she has provided. When this happens Mercedes will have no right to complain (although, doubtless she will do so loudly) as the customer will only be doing to her what she has done to me and, for all I know to others also). Life has a way of repaying both the good and the bad turns we do and Mercbaby will, I’m sure find that out sooner or later.
One of the points which the police made concerns the fact that the world of escorting/sex work operates in a legal grey area (I.E. it’s not illegal but it is on the margins of legality). This is a big problem the answer to which is, surely to decriminalise prostitution thereby protecting both sex workers and clients. Sooner or later this will, I think come to pass but the moral police who wish to control what consenting adults do in private will fight it tooth and nail.
With decriminalisation must come properly funded help for those who wish to exit prostitution. This should include training in a variety of occupations together with counselling for those men and women engaged in sex work who feel that they would benefit from it.

Julie Bindel is well known for her advocacy of legislation criminalising those who pay for sex. Bindel’s argument goes as follows: prostitution is a form of modern day slavery. We abolished the slave trade and we now need to prohibit the buying of human beings for sex. Most of those engaged in prostitution did not (Bindel contends) enter the industry out of choice, most did so out of poverty and/or due to the sexual abuse which they suffered as children. Men need to be educated out of the belief that they “have a right” to pay for sex. Education combined with laws punishing those who pay for sex are, according to Bindel the answer to the problems associated with the oldest profession. If one goes after the punters then the demand for paid sex will decline to the benefit of prostitutes and society as a whole. (For an example of Bindel’s perspective see http://www.thefifthcolumn.co.uk/the-agitator/julie-bindel-on-why-paying-for-sex-is-wrong/).
There are a number of problems with Bindel’s perspective.
1. Slavery is the ownership of one human being by another person with the master possessing absolute power over the slave. On seeing a sex worker who has not been forced into prostitution (the majority of those engaged in the oldest profession enter into it voluntarily) the client is purchasing a sexual service (he is not, contrary to Bindel’s claim buying the sex worker).  Throughout the transaction the prostitute remains a free person and at the end of the encounter he/she departs as a free individual.   Having seen many escorts I can vouch for the fact that prostitution was not, in most cases  their first choice of career, however they have visited me and provided sexual services of their own free will, Bindel may not accept this statement but it remains true for all that.
2. Granted some of those engaged in prostitution suffered sexual abuse as children which is, of course a matter for utter condemnation. However the fact of childhood abuse does not render the prostitute incapable of making informed choices as an adult. He/she chooses to enter the profession and the customer can not be held responsible for that choice. Our upbringing no doubt predisposes us to certain courses of action but we retain the ability to override our childhood experiences (this is often hard but by no means impossible).
3. As for Bindel’s statement that no one has a right to pay for sex I’d turn this around and ask “by what right do you, Julie Bindel seek to criminalise those who are willing to pay for a service which is offered without coercion by many millions of sex workers?” Men (and women) do indeed have a right to purchase sex provided that those offering said service have not been forced into doing so.

In “Mirror” the Beautiful South sing about the experience of a prostitute selling sex in a brothel. The prostitute acknowledges that the customers have feelings “… They do have feelings but just right now I feel, a feminine recepticle, that’s just what I am, these things are above us whores. Just a best target practice for a misguided man, these things are above us whores …”. I won’t waffle on any more, here is the song http://www.last.fm/music/The+Beautiful+South/_/Mirror