Blog of Feminist Activism

The feminist activism of charliegrrl and co

Feminist resistance to prostitution

Posted by charliegrrl on February 18, 2008

Feb 11th saw the first meeting of the Feminist Coalition against Prostitution. I have heard lots of good feedback from the event and that feminists really feel the tide is turning and with campaigning, we have a good chance of making it illegal for men to pay for sex.

They are planning actions to lobby MPs and to get support from the Unions. Keep an eye on the website for model letters to send.

If you’re still of the opinion that banning men from purchasing women for sex is a bad idea and you still think that ‘sex work’ is a job like any other, then read below voices of resistance from women who actually have experienced prostitution or read the above book.

Andrea Dworkin

I want to bring us back to basics. Prostitution: what is it? It is the use of a woman’s body for sex by a man, he pays money, he does what he wants. The minute you move away from what it really is, you move away from prostitution into the world of ideas. You will feel better; you will have a better time; it is more fun; there is plenty to discuss, but you will be discussing ideas, not prostitution. Prostitution is not an idea. It is the mouth, the vagina, the rectum, penetrated usually by a penis, sometimes hands, sometimes objects, by one man and then another and then another and then another and then another. That’s what it is.
…prostitution comes from male dominance…male domination needs to be ended, not simply reformed, not made a little nicer, and not made a little nicer for some women.

…Any man who has enough money to spend degrading a woman’s life in prostitution has too much money. He does not need what he’s got in his pocket. But there is a woman who does.

http://www.nostatusquo.com/ACLU/dworkin/MichLawJourI.html

Rebecca Mott

The idea that women or girls choose to be a prostitute is a way of ignoring the realities of prostituted women’s and girls’ lives. This safe concept can only work if society ignores these women’s and girls’ life experiences. There are many and often very complicated reasons why women or girls enter prostitution. It can be poverty. It can be that she has experienced male sexual abuse in her home. It can be that the woman or girl is escaping from domestic violence. It can be that they want to push themselves into being a “bad” woman. It can be a “boyfriend” saying “do this to show you love me”. There are so many reasons but few are choices. Choice for me comes from a place where you can understand the consequences. Choice comes from a place where there is self-esteem. These are things few women and girls have experienced when they enter prostitution…
I use myself as an example. I had been sexually abused by my stepdad since I was six. Part of my abuse was to teach me that my sole object was to be a sexual object. I was shown hard-core porn. This taught me that I should smile when I being hurt sexually. Like the photos I learned to appear dead when were forcing sex on me. All this happened before I entered prostitution. So, when I entered prostitution at the age of14, I already believed it was my choice. I thought it was my way to rebel. I was bad. I was now the “whore” that my stepdad had always said I was.

Debunking the Happy Hooker Myth, by Rebecca Mott

Why I hate Fun FAQ

I became a prostitute at nineteen in order to pay for my apartment and car the best I could with no degree, no work experience, and with what anybody who tried to hire me for anything else would be willing to tell you was a terrible attitude. I was part of a community of moral relativists who believed that prostitution was a completely valid and even desirable choice for women young and pretty enough to make lots of money at it…The idea was that it was all my choice, and any discouragement would be deleterious to my freedom, but for some reason encouragement was okay.
During my time as a prostitute, especially as someone who felt intense economic pressure to go into sex work and intense social pressure to lie about how that felt, I would make a lot of the same statements that young sex workers make to me all the time. I know where these ladies are coming from because I used to live there. I know what I’m talking about because I’ve done what they do.
..

…Sex work is bad for you. No really.

Anonymous woman

The majority of what this industry is about is a lot of pain, misery and distress. It annoys me that the media like to highlight only the prostitutes who say how empowering this is. There might be a few out there who think that at this moment in time, but that is not true for the vast majority. What pisses me off about [Belle de Jour] is that you’re very rarely going to have a client that you like having sex with. You have to learn to disassociate your body from your mind which is dangerous for your psyche. For the vast majority of prostitutes, it isn’t glamorous – it is damaging and dangerous – yet it seems to be promoted as some kind of career option.
I had one guy who kept insisting that I have anal sex but I wouldn’t. He became extremely violent – he kept grabbing my hair and pulling it back. And you have to act like you’re enjoying it. How that cannot damage somebody is … you don’t know what they’re going to do if you say stop.
http://lifeandhealth.guardian.co.uk/women/story/0,,2225542,00.html

Ex-Prostitutes against Legislated Sexual Servitude (XPALSS)

Prostitution is like any other profession. Really? What other profession do you know of that requires an exiting strategy?Who will you protect?
Abolish prostitution

For other links see FCAP website

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18 Responses to “Feminist resistance to prostitution”

  1. Kelly said

    “What other profession do you know of that requires an exiting strategy?”
    Soldier.

    While husbands, sons and now daughters, are coming home wrapped in flags, shouldn’t you really be trying to help women instead of your own egos?

  2. Well I wouldn’t want people to go to war either…

    Errr..? The Feminist Coalition is trying to help women, that’s the point. More to do with fighting male violence against women than egos.

  3. Hi Kelly, the testimony of Rebecca in the post is a woman who comments on here. Maybe she needs to worry about soldiers more than her own lived reality?

  4. rmott62 said

    I do not believe that women who are campaigning to change attitudes to prostitution are doing it to boost their egos.
    Rather they have recogonise that prostitution is an abuse of women’s human right to safety and dignity.
    I do care about the terrible trauma that many soldiers go through, and the inadequate treatment that they recieve.
    But their trauma is recogonise in the public arena. Whilst prostituted women and girls who often have impacted trauma are made invisible.
    Many prostituted women have impacted trauma after a lifetime of violence and abuse. But, when women are able to exit there is little or no help for mental welfare.

  5. stormy said

    I do care about the terrible trauma that many soldiers go through, and the inadequate treatment that they recieve.
    But their trauma is recogonise in the public arena. Whilst prostituted women and girls who often have impacted trauma are made invisible.
    Many prostituted women have impacted trauma after a lifetime of violence and abuse. But, when women are able to exit there is little or no help for mental welfare.

    Well said Rebecca.

    Exit strategies work, when they are offered. Case in point: Ipswich. Sadly, exit strategies are not offered on a wide scale.

    Prostitution is NOT just a job. It is exploitative, and an abuse of human rights. Women are human too, you know.

  6. If it’s the Kelly I think it is.

    http://km.adamsspace.com/

    “A woman against feminism and for men’s rights”

  7. One very important difference between soldiers and yes there are female soldiers too who go to war and that is soldiers are not expected to have men buy their bodies in order to sexually use/abuse them. I have not heard that vast numbers of male soldiers are being sexually abused and exploited by other men but sadly this is the case with prostituted women and girls.

    Soldiers are not expected to have to endure male sexual violence inflicted on their bodies and then be told ‘you chose this work didn’t you?’ Or be told ‘but you freely chose to enter this work (sic).’ As if prostitution was simply just another form of work.

    One cannot compare soldiers with prostituted women – because the cases are never the same. Do not forget soldiers for centuries now have engaged in mass rape of women and children. Not all soldiers are ‘good ones.’

    Finally, soldiers but it is predominantly male soldiers because female soldiers are conveniently invisibilised are often lauded and treated as ‘heroes’ when they return from war. Since when have prostituted women ever been treated as ‘heroes’ particularly women who have managed to exit prostitution. Instead women who leave find it almost overwhelmingly difficult to even be treated as human beings let alone be provided with specialist care and support. Apparently prostituted women do not experience trauma since they all ‘love their work.’ Another myth promoted by the porners and Johns who think it is their right to buy women’s bodies and then abuse them.

  8. polly styrene said

    Hey I’m sure Emma the anti feminist woman would agree with her though. Do I have to spell it out for you? (sorry Charlie)…

  9. Kelly said

    Well considering how quickly the chief man hater here stifles any counterpoint, I consider that a win for me.

    You can go back to your man hating and back patting in peace.

  10. polly styrene said

    Who’s chief man hater though? I thought that was you stormy – has Charlie stolen your crown?

    Sorry I am in frivolous mood folks.

  11. Is “Man Hater” an insult these days then?

  12. Sorry about Kelly’s comments. I don’t have much time to moderate. I don’t want this to be a space where prostitution is trivialised.

    Wahooo that Steve Wright has been convicted for murdering the Ipswich prostituted women!

    I found the news coverage ok cos they kept reiterating how the women were normal women who became addicted to drugs- so not blaming them for becoming prostitutes.

    The ECP though, they get everywhere!

    It struck me as watching the ECP talk about decriminalising the sex industry, why don’t people talk about legalising heroin to be available to addicts on prescription as part of a welfare programme. Much better than decriminalising the sex industry. Then women wouldn’t need to prostitute themselves to purchase heroin. I know this practice is done by some GPs.

    The founder of Black Poppy magazine, a mag by and for drug users, is a woman who was addicted to heroin, prostituted herself to pay for it, but being able to get her heroin off the NHS saved her from prostitution and a crime-ridden world

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/3592877.stm

    Man hater- what me..? Never! 🙂

  13. Anonymous said

    when people shout “man hater!!” when women complain about being RAPED and BEATEN and KILLED by men , I am truely stunned. Men can do horrible unspeakable things and we apprently have no right to even TALK about it let alone try to change it, it makes me sick.

  14. polly styrene said

    Yeah god forbid we should actually do anything to help those addicted to heroin eh? In actual fact, heroin, in its prescription state is a fairly harmless drug (it does make you badly constipated). Which is why it’s used as a painkiller, and why it was christened heroin (geddit?) – it was widely hailed as a wonder drug. But given a maintenance dose addicts can stabilise their lives. There’s a lot of crap talked about drugs. The most harmful in real terms are probably the legal ones, alcohol and tobacco. The real reason the state wants to prevent their use is that mind altering substances reduce people’s willingness to take part in the capitalist rat race.

  15. Cassie said

    Kelly said: “What other profession do you know of that requires an exiting strategy?” Soldier.

    Fine. But not entirely off topic. I contend that in relatively stable societies, for a mentally healthy human being, killing is so unnatural (except under the most extreme circumstances usually involving duress where life and limb are truely in danger) that cultures have had to create incentives to convince men and boys to fight wars. Besides ideas of duty and honor, many of these incentives traditionally have had to do with exploiting females, e.g. women as spoils of war, or the promise of heavenly virgins for the martyrs.*

    *(images of virgins floating in the sky, in of itself isn’t exploitative, but cultures that place high value on virgin females creates further incentives to exploit young girls–as child brides, for example)

    More on topic though, war also creates demand for prostitutes.

    So if folks want to “go there” with comparisons to soldiers in a blog about sexual exlpoitation, we’ve got thousands of years of historical and anthropological evidence (and even zoological data, if you really want to get ugly) to back up the connection between male violence (including war) and female sexual mistreatment, of which prostitution is the tip of the iceberg. The only question is do you want to see human civilization go backward or forward?

    Thanks for another great post about prostitution, charliegrrl.

  16. Lara said

    If Kelly really lived up to what she believed in she would act like a “real woman” and shut the hell up, let a man talk for her, and bake a pie for her little soldier Nigel.
    There can be absolutely no comparison between prostitutes and soldiers. Soldiers rape. Prostitutes get raped. Period.
    Damnit, I thought I was the Great Manhater…shucks…
    And I cannot wait to read that book. Thanks for posting this!
    Tootles.

  17. LF said

    To Anyone Using Our Daughter’s Legacy,

    It has come to our attention that there is a group of people who wish to legalize prostitution and set up a brothel in Vancouver. As the parents of Marnie Frey, who was murdered by Robert “Willie” Pickton, we believe that both these ideas are very dangerous recommendations.

    Our daughter was forced into prostitution because of the need to feed her addiction to drugs. To think of prostitution as a ‘job’ and treat it as such is ridiculous. I am disgusted to think that anyone would think that prostitution is a job. It is not.

    It is violence against women.

    Neither legalizing prostitution nor having a brothel would have prevented the murder of our daughter. The women of the Downtown Eastside need meaningful solutions to their addictions.

    We tried on numerous occasions to have Marnie admitted to drug rehabilitation facilities, but found that to be very difficult because of the chronic lack of beds and funding for such places. When an addict reaches out for help, the resources should be available immediately. To think the best we can do for these women is giving them a safe place to sell their bodies is a joke. There is no such thing as a “clean safe place” to be abused in.

    For a man to think he can buy a woman’s body is insane, and should show us the attitudes that women have to fight against in society. Marnie did not choose prostitution; her addictions did, and any man who bought her body for their sexual pleasure should go to jail for exploiting her desperation.

    What we need are facilities to get women off and away from drugs and keep other young girls from this horrible lifestyle by helping them when they are still young. Anything else would be a cop out and further fuel the abuse of women as playthings for men, who prey on sick, disadvantaged and hurting women.

    My wife and I feel the legalization of prostitution and/or a brothel is not the answer. We ask that you IMMEDIATELY stop using the name and memory of our daughter to fight for a brothel or to legalize prostitution.

    Marnie’s name CAN be used to fight for more detox beds, more recovery beds, funding for long term counseling, making it illegal for men to buy the use of women’s bodies and enforcing these laws. Her legacy CAN help in the fight towards women’s equality, which cannot happen as long as we keep our women for sale.

    We know we have a lot of support from other families of Pickton’s victim’s, in the community as well as across our Nation, who feel as we do. Prostitution in no way should be accepted as normal or legalized.

    Yours truly,
    Rick and Lynn Frey (Parents of Marnie Frey)

  18. WhatTheDeuce? said

    Hey I see you managed to say “Ipswich”, but nobody manged to say “Antifreeze”? Any reason for that?

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