Category Archives: sex industry

Poor, poor, johns

I swear. Most of the “sex worker” activists I have met constantly talk about how we shouldn’t “demonize” the johns, because they’re usually married/partnered*, etc, and they are simply seeking understanding for a sexual act that their steady partner cannot or will not provide.  Men aren’t just looking to “bust a nut,” they’re seeking the love and understanding every human wants.  Or that some people are just “incapable” of relationships with the opposite sex.  And they’re normal men just like your coworkers and friends. So they need an outlet.

If I don’t have, or can’t have a relationship, I don’t feel like I should have the right to exchange money for sex. I don’t. Especially since there would be no way for me to know if they had “chosen” sex work, or had only chosen it from a range of other shitty options (minimum wage jobs, etc, etc). Essentially, no one has the right to buy sex or sexual acts-we know that a great amount of abuse exists in this industry, and anyone who risks the chance of raping someone so that they can “get some” is sick.  No one has the right to sex, period.

However pitiful some women are, however lonely they feel, I don’t see them thinking they have a right to sex.  Women want love and understanding just as everyone does, but we never get it.  Yet somehow, we don’t use prostitutes.  Women, FOR SOME REASON, generally don’t purchase sex; women represent sex, thus they are usually sellers.   Why are the roles in prostitution so gendered?   Who has the resources and the money?  Men.  Who has the prestige?  Men.  Who has the power?  Men.  Who represents sex?  Women.   Most men believe they are entitled to sex, and as a result they make up most rapists and most johns.  Women are not raised to think of themselves as “entitled” to sex- sex is something women give and men take.

Wanting love and understanding does not make johns understandable or sympathetic, unless you’re the type who “understands” MRAs.  Yeah, they’re human, but so are rapists.   Wanting love and understanding means get a goddamn therapist, or failing that, talk to people.  Hell, you could even just talk to the prostitute, and not fuck her.  It does not mean you should fuck women.  The fact that people say johns are just seeking understanding and love is disgusting.  If they were, they wouldn’t have the sex, they wouldn’t need it, they wouldn’t demand it, and they wouldn’t be violent, they wouldn’t ask for unprotected sex.

These men aren’t seeking understanding: they are seeking the image of it.  A woman, nurturing like a mother, but also a whore, who will nurture the man through whatever sick fetish he’s developed.  A yes-woman, who will agree that his wife is a bitch, frigid, stupid, whatever.  Consequently, the image for a “sex worker” is that of a college-educated middle class white woman (preferably aryan) who drops every career opportunity and hobby to fuck men for money.  Her image is no different from that of “good mom,” who leaves her potential career behind “by choice,” because she wuves her kids so much and wishes them to have the best.

But, here are a few large differences:  children have a need for someone to care for them, men, on the other hand, and specifically johns, have jobs and the full development necessary to take care of themselves.  No one needs to take care of grown men. However much they seem or act as helpless as babies, they aren’t.  It’s an act.

This whole outlet thing is the same bullshit that says men’s sex drives are natural and unstoppable;  therefore they have a right to an outlet.  God forbid we raise men to NOT feel entitled to sex, so that they will not rape or purchase “sex.”

No one has ever died from lack of sex.   Ever.

So can it about men’s sexual and emotional “needs.”  Women’s right to not be raped and used sexually is more important than some douchebag’s orgasm.

*So are most child molesters, rapists and serial killers.  I doubt this is a coincidence.

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By Any Other Name: Mail-Order Brides and Sex Trafficking

I’m sorry for disappearing again.  The influx of trolls wasn’t that bad-only one comment really hurt, because it said I deserved it in a certain way.   I always felt that the only thing that would pull me away again would be being hurt again, and guess what?  That happened in a way.

My period hadn’t come for 80-something days, so I went the gynecologist to try to figure out if this was normal for someone coming off of the pill and maybe check my hormone levels.  I made it clear from the start I didn’t want a pap smear, and she didn’t say I had to have one, until I was already on the exam table.  I still said I didn’t want to but she said I had to, and I guess I froze up from there.  I haven’t felt that violated in years.  It feels stupid because it’s just an exam and they all say it doesn’t/shouldn’t hurt, but it did.  I felt, and still feel, like I was raped again. 

I’m not sure how to label it or anything-that word feels too extreme, maybe.  Just feels like it shouldn’t have happened, because I thought I wasn’t as “weak” as I was before, when I didn’t fight back.  But I still froze up, and didn’t fight really. 

I avoided radical feminist stuff for months-I didn’t read a single book or article.  I didn’t even talk about radfem issues, unless it was blatantly shoved in my face.  I can’t really explain why, I guess, but I think it maybe just felt pointless in a way, since I thought I was stronger for it and, look what happened?  I still let myself get hurt.  I knew the medical establishment was shit, yet I still let it win.  It’s not really the same, but I imagine it might be how Dworkin felt after she was raped the last time.  Knowing so much about the issues makes it worse for me.

Anyways, I figured I’d share the one thing I did write during this space: my term paper for Global Feminism.  It isn’t as radical or angry as I felt about the issue, because college (and liberal feminism) discourages that sort of thinking, but the approach I think couldn’t come from anywhere but radical feminism.  I started with the idea that marriage is basically prostitution, and you can see where it goes from there.    Warning: It’s loooong.  And by the way, I got an A.

        The “mail-order bride” industry, as it is known, has grown significantly since the advent of the internet and represents many of the forces of globalization.  Estimates on the number of marriages orchestrated by mail-order bride agencies vary and many suffer from methodological problems, but generally report around a few thousand marriages a year in the United States.   Concerns have frequently been raised about the exploitation involved in mail-order marriages, resulting in media and scholarly attention to the issue.  Reading the literature, it becomes apparent that there are connections between the mail-order bride industry and human trafficking.  Some of these connections are concrete, such as the use of mail-order bride services for recruiting victims, while other connections lie in the forces behind the trades and the people involved with it.

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Some “Sex Workers” Aren’t Just That…

So, someone got to my blog recently by searching for “terri bradford” + prostitute.  If I see a search term where I don’t understand how the hell someone could get to my blog by googling something, I google it myself to see what’s up.  (Unless they’re looking for porn-then I’m happy and sad at the same time.)

I had no idea why that search combination would lead someone here.  So, as per my usual habit explained above, I copy and pasted what they searched and put it in google.  And oh my, I think I found a slight conflict of interest regarding at least two of the plaintiffs on this case.

I would like to warn everyone reading this that this post is super long, so much so that I’m getting lost in it myself, trying to edit and everything.  I’m not sure if that’s because of all the citations I’m making, how long this post is, or if it’s simply poor writing on my part.   Apologies if it’s the latter.

According to the article I posted, “Ms Bedford said she hoped to work as a dominatrix.” According to a few BDSM sites and the official court document, however, she already was a dominatrix, as far back as 1993.   The court documents confirm this, as well as that she’s been charged on various prostitution-related offenses (more on that later).  The articles make it sound as if she is currently a street prostitute-which is not true, and it hasn’t been true since the early eighties.  She hasn’t even been in “sex work” since 2000, and maintains that this is due to illness.  [52]

Interestingly, the BBC article (or any other I could find) makes no mention that the exact portions of the anti-prostitution laws challenged by the plaintiffs are those same ones for which she stood trial for breaking.  More than once.  There was no mention that she had been convicted of operating a “bawdy house” in 1998 had been mentioned in any of the news articles covering the ruling that I found.  [30] This is the arrest and prosecution for which she claims was the “financial and emotional toll” was “devastating.”  Interestingly, she doesn’t mentioned being similarly devastated by her several arrests for being an inmate at a bawdy house.  This is one of many things that suggest to me she doesn’t wish to merely return to working indoors as a dominatrix, but to run an brothel or an agency herself.

On the “bawdy house” Bedford operated, she contested that the acts performed were not sexual, despite the testimony of “Princess” in that trial which suggested that they were.  In the case of where acts were sexual, her defense argued that the men were “guests,” not clients, and thus did not constitute prostitution.

When it was suggested that the activities were limited to personal guests (rather than clients) Princess was clear: They were clients.  It was a business.  Whatever they wanted , if they wanted something like that, it was done.

I found it interesting that one who claims to stand for “sex workers” went against the testimony of her own “employee” to try and save her skin in court-but that’s a bit irrelevant to the present.  Princess’ testimony, as well as the presence of a “training video,” provide evidence  that she trained the dominatrices there on how to perform in this bawdy-house.  Which obviously to me that she was more than simply a protector of “sex workers,” and was the person who ran the joint.  Most importantly, she never did contest that the “bawdy house” existed for profit and under her ownership:

It is obvious from the testimony of Princess, which the trial judge accepted, that the pain and humiliation resulted, and was intended to result, in sexual arousal culminating in orgasm.  That the operation was commercial and the keeper of the house was the appellant was uncontested.

Speaking of commercial operations-reporters have also failed to mention she ran an escort agency in the mid-80s, and had even served time in jail for doing so.  Although, it is important to note that in this case she only served the time upon returning to face the charges-she had fled and avoided prosecution for two years.  [28]

There’s something else I find especially odd, considering she claims to want to protect “sex workers” and people who make a living off of the industry.  If as she contests, the “work environment [at her agency] provided the escorts with a sense of security, dignity, and self-respect”, then she would likely know of other women in the industry who support her effort and be close to those she met.  Yet, none of her former “employees” who worked as escorts, or in the bawdy-house she ran, appear to give any testimony for her case or even as evidence that the house she ran was safe.

Ms Scott also wishes to “reenter the sex industry,” as the court phrases it.  However, her wishes are:

If this challenge is successful, Ms. Scott would like to operate an indoor prostitution business. While she recognizes that clients may be dangerous in both outdoor and indoor locations, she would institute safety precautions such as checking identification of clients, making sure other people are close by during appointments to intervene if needed, and hiring a bodyguard.

Oh goodie, how kind of you to implement some precautions!  Does anyone ask why the hell so many precautions are required in order to reduce the vulnerability of prostitutes to violence?  Maybe that kinda shows that the men who do the buying are violent?  Or that the trade itself is violent, if these precautions are that necessary to people ont being murdered?  You don’t see mailpersons or hot dog vendors having to hire bouncers to protect them on the streets, do ya?

Both Bedford and Scott claim to have quit “sex work” due to illness, and express an interest in returning to the trade only if it is allowed indoors and the provisions against pimping removed.  Because it seems that both of them have a chronic illness (from 2000 for Bedford, the 1990s for Scott)-an illness that’s lasted this long likely will not recover.  Because of this, Bedford’s history of pimping, and the stated intentions of the women, I feel that they aren’t likely to return to the prostitute-level of the sex industry.   Instead, they are most likely to establish (or return to owning, in Bedford’s case) a brothel or escort agency.

To me, it seems as if the plaintiffs involved in this case used their pasts as street workers to gain credibility on the issue, simply because they wish to make money.  I believe I’ve heard of similar things happening in other countries, where prostitutes will sort of “rise in the ranks” and become madams themselves.  Although the press does not report this, let’s call it like it is: two of the three plaintiffs in the case are not currently prostitutes. They want to be pimps.

C’mon, journalism.  There’s more in depth coverage in an article from a 19 year old girl who’s never read a real newspaper or taken a journalism class in her life.  That’s just pathetic.  Hopefully this article doesn’t totally suck, despite my inexperience with this sort of thing-I’ve been working on it on and off since yesterday afternoon, and I’m fucking exhausted.   Phew.

——

A little aside for those interested in what other prostitutes were heard by the court:

The applicants submitted affidavits from eight witnesses who described their perceptions and experiences of working as prostitutes….to provide “corroborative voices” to demonstrate that the applicants’ experiences are shared with many other women…..The affiants recounted that they entered into prostitution without coercion (although financial constraints were a large factor) and most reported being addiction-free and working without a pimp.[7]

The respondent tendered nine affidavits from prostitutes and former prostitutes, whose stories painted a much different picture. The respondent’s witnesses gave detailed accounts of horrific violence in indoor locations and on the street, controlling and abusive pimps, and the rampant use of drugs and alcohol.

What a convenient sample for the sex industry, eh?

Court case: From the Canadian Legal Information Institute

Some details on Bedford’s bawdy-house: Same place

Well, shit

From the BBC:

Ontario judge overturns Canada anti-prostitution laws
The judge found the laws force sex workers to choose between safety and liberty

A judge in Ontario has overturned key Canadian anti-prostitution laws, finding they force sex workers into the streets at risk to their safety.

She ruled with three prostitutes who had challenged bans on brothels, pimps and solicitation.

The ruling applies to Ontario province but could, if upheld on appeal, allow the rest of Canada to follow suit.

One sex worker said she no longer had to fear rape, robbery and murder. The government is weighing an appeal.
‘Emancipation day’

Finding the laws unconstitutional, Justice Susan Himel called on the Canadian parliament to regulate the sex trade.

“These laws… force prostitutes to choose between their liberty, interest and their right to security of the person,” she wrote in a 131-page ruling in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

Plaintiff Terri Bedford, described in court documents as a prostitute who had been beaten and raped while working in the streets of Windsor, Calgary and Vancouver, said: “It’s like emancipation day for sex trade workers.”

Ms Bedford said she hoped to work as a dominatrix.

“The federal government must now take a stand and clarify what is legal and not legal between consenting adults in private,” she said.

Justice Himel found national laws banning brothels, forbidding solicitation of clients, and banning Canadians from managing sex workers as pimps or madams violated a provision of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guaranteeing “the right to life, liberty and security”.

Supporters of the overturned laws fear the ruling will make Canada a haven for human traffickers.

The ruling will not go into effect for 30 days, giving the government time to appeal if it chooses.

Street prostitution in Canada has been under increased scrutiny in recent years following the trial of Robert Pickton, a Vancouver pig farmer convicted in 2007 in the killings of six sex workers.

Pickton is suspected in dozens more killings. A Canadian court this summer denied him a new trial.

—————

Various thoughts and comments I had, besides just sheer horror at the implications:

Emancipation? Really? Again we see the language of freedom adopted by those defending the sex industry.

One sex worker said she no longer had to fear rape, robbery and murder.


Oh yes, because now you’re absolutely immune to everything. No prostitute who works indoors has ever been raped. Just as women who don’t walk alone at night no longer have to fear rape, right?

Justice Himel found national laws banning brothels, forbidding solicitation of clients, and banning Canadians from managing sex workers as pimps or madams violated a provision of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guaranteeing “the right to life, liberty and security”.

I can understand, at least, where the argument that prostitution is safer indoors is coming from, thus denial of  “security” argument, however much I feel it’s a load of crap.  But seriously-how in the hell does not being allowed to pimp, have brothels, or solicit deny the right to any of those three values?

“These laws… force prostitutes to choose between their liberty, interest and their right to security of the person,” she wrote in a 131-page ruling in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

Perhaps the Canadian court should consider the economic structures and patriarchal society that force women to chose between being prostitutes and not having a livable income.  In fact, considering the dangers of the sex industry, it seems that the real “choice”  is between prostitution itself and “liberty, interest and their right to security of the person.”

Sex-Positive Bingo

Until I finish the posts I’m working on, I figure I might as well share a “bingo card” I made quite a while ago modeled after similar cards for racism, sexism, rape-apologism, et cetera.   (Don’t look forward to new posts-the one I finish will most likely be the one on fanfiction, pffft.)

It would be more aptly called “sex-industry apologism bingo,” but that’s too fucking long of a title so I just went with “sex-positive,” although the term is problematic.  Suggestions on what to change or anything else are welcome, of course.  Click for full size!  Sorry the preview is so blurry.

Battered Women vs. Women in Porn

Any feminist of merit knows what frequently happens with battered and otherwise abused women: they blame themselves, they rarely leave immediately, and they often love their abuser.  “It’s bad most of the time, yeah, but the good times are really great.”  I know.  I’ve been there too (though he only “battered” me via BDSM and rough sex).  She often stays, and we don’t blame her for that, even when she’s rationalizing it.  We don’t say she “agreed” to be hit in exchange for money if she chooses to stay out of economic necessity.  We know battered women’s syndrome and Stockholm syndrome, and a lot of us have been there.  We understand.

But when a woman is in porn, somehow the standard feminist narrative is that they chose it, and they stay because they like it.  When someone feels that women in porn or are being abused, or even just points out that they are paid to act, we are accused of “victimizing” them and accusing them of false consciousness by pro-porn ‘feminists.’  Or worse, being “unable” to handle the idea that a woman might like having sex with strangers for money.  (Because we’re prudes, basically.)   They might be treated badly, but they make good money (better than most other entry-level jobs), they get attention, adoration, and affection.* It can make you feel fuckable or lovable.  If they chose to make money by working in porn or prostitution, even when it’s violent or she has a lack of economically feasible alternatives, most of these feminists would say she consented.

Isn’t saying battered wives who say their partners are wonderful “assuming” they’re a victim and arguing that they have a false consciousness?  Isn’t that just as “patronizing,” to say that a woman is being abused when she says she isn’t?

What is the difference, then, between an abused porn actress and an abused wife?

One stays out of love or fear; the other out of a need for money, drugs or attention.  One is a “good girl”; the other a “bad girl.”  The slut is ok to hurt and punish, the virgin should be taken care of.  What am I trying to say?  Either the “sex-positives” need to blame women for staying with their abusers and defend the rationalizations they make for them, or they need to acknowledge that all kinds of abused and hurt people will deny their pain and situation.  It’s hypocritical to do otherwise.  Unless pro-sex industry feminists mean to favor “good girls” and “prudes” over whores–you know, that thing they always accuse us of.

I am sick of all this “rational choice” shit.  Unfortunately, I know that we’re heading towards blaming women from what I have seen on sites such as feministing and at the feminist club on my campus.  I am sick of empathy going out the window, and all we talk about are the pay gap or birth control.  I am tired of settling.

* What I mean here by “affection” is not actual affection, but the conflating of abuse/love that often happens with rape, especially with incest from what I understand.

Ignore the man behind the curtain (NSFW Image for point)

from some post on how burlesque can save the world (and stop rape and misogyny too I assume)

The sex-positive rallying cry, at its most basic, is that our culture is profoundly sex-negative.  The evidence?  Abstinence education, the slut shaming of women, and overly religious values.  If you look at only these things, it becomes easy to prove and condemn the “sex negative” attitude of our culture, and outline the harms it does: increased amounts of unwanted pregnancy, the spread of STDs, the crushing of young women’s reputation and self-esteem.  But you know what else causes those things?  Rape and sexual harassment.  Mandatory intercourse.  Unsafe intercourse.  Pornography and the sexualization of young girls.  The fashion and beauty industeries.  Yet somehow, these are all ignored so that “sex-positives” can cry about abstinence education, despite the fact that STDs cannot be directly caused by ignorance–they are caused by intercourse and especially intercourse without a condom (which is demanded of most females).  The idea that education will solve this problems is laughable, just as the idea that education will stop men from raping is.  Men want to rape and men like dangerous fucks.

While related, that was a tangent on a single problem with the “sex-positive” approach.  Lets look at the evidence in our culture and see how “sex negative” most things are.  The simple act of looking at a magazine rack, however, will prove the situation is more complex than it seems.  Maxim.  Playboy.  Cosmo.  Celebrity magazines.  What do all of these focus on?  Looking at and talking about women men would like to fuck, becoming the women men want to fuck, how to fuck (for women), how to get a woman to fuck (for men), who’s fucking who, what to wear when you fuck, when to fuck, how often to fuck to not be a prude but not be a slut (for women), and so on and so forth.  You could not honestly tell me that sexuality is taboo in America.  It would be just as ridiculous as saying rape is taboo, that racist jokes are taboo, or that drinking is taboo.  Whenever someone says that our culture is anti-sex, I laugh.  In their face.

Is it publically condemned?  Of course it is, but again, only in certain ways.  I remember D.A.R.E. and the other stupid shit attempting to keep us out of drugs.   Yet, somehow, people do drugs anyway.  Tobacco and alcohol, along with illegal drugs, are widely consumed and glamorized.   To think that official programs advocating abstinence makes our culture sex-negative is just as ridiculous as saying the US is anti-alcohol and anti-drug.   As always, it’s only anti-badthings in the case that the nonwhite, nonrich, nonmen use them for their own benefit and pleasure.  Its ok for a woman to have sex, so long as its for a man and under his conditions, whether those are marriage, kinks, or anal.  Just as with drugs, sex is a billion dollar industry with a lobby.  The only difference is that the advertising for the sex industry (porn) is also one of its products, making it self-perpetuating.

Maintaining the belief that America is sex-negative, however, is vital for “sex-positives” to have a point.  It obscures the real power and the real system, under which hetero sex is mandatory, enjoyable or not; women’s submission is mandatory, willing or not.   The politicians who condemn prostitution use and abuse escorts; the anti-gay crusaders have sex with men; the Church which condemns lust while molesting children and protecting their rapists.  Does that sound “anti-sex” or “prudish” to you?  To believe the words that come out of men’s mouths-that they are against “sexual liberation” as its taken place- is ridiculously fucking stupid.  Our culture is not anti-sex: it’s pro-fucking, pro-rape, and pro-misogyny.  “Feminist” porn is still status quo, lesbian porn is male-centered, and lesbian BDSM is even more so.   Our culture is only “prudish” about sex outside of how males conceive it. That is, without domination and submission, without hate, without intercourse or penetration, with emotion and mutual desire.