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Jan 31 2012

A few lite thoughts on rape and prostitution

Note: After writing this post, I was obliged to jettison the vaunted Facebook experiment. Still on Twitter, though, @IBlame.

Since announcing the Facebook experiment I’ve done practically nothing but approve friend requests and wince my way through a bunch of untamed emoticons and lolz, but one patriarchy-blaming discussion did happen to catch my jaundiced eye. Through the haze of jacknut gas — I believe there is no way to contain jacknuts on Facebook, so this experiment may be coming to a swifter-than-expected close — I detected an argument worth making. This argument erupted when I asserted, as I so often do, that prostitution is a system under the auspices of which rape is legitimized by introducing the element of monetary compensation as a mitigating factor. I said, in other words, that prostitution is pay-per-rape.

You can probably guess what happened next. That’s right, it was the old sex-workers-(and clueless dudes)-vs-woman-hating-radfems type-deal. The scenario goes something like this (I excerpt from the [now-defunct] Facebook thread):

Sex Worker: I’m a professional dominatrix. Sex work is not equal to rape. It isn’t that sex workers don’t get raped, but rape is certainly not the norm. In fact, just the experience of being a sex worker, just as the experience of being an extremely active, healthy sexual person, has the unfortunate consequence of increasing the chances of encountering a sexually abusive person.

Sex worker supporter: In rape advocacy, the woman defines and names her experience because to behave otherwise is to insist that her experiences are less valid than an advocates’ interpretation. Calling sex work “rape” implies that sex workers are too ignorant to define their own reality. How is that respectful?

Some clueless dude: What do you mean it’s rape? In legal prostitution (like Amsterdam) the worker always has the right to say no. Prostitution is a service, like therapy or a massage. If our puritan society would quit demonizing it, it could be regulated and the stigma removed.

[Normally it isn't useful to accommodate clueless dude commentary in any discussion of prostitution, but I include this one for comic relief. Women have the right to say "no"? Ha! Good one! Our "puritan society"? Wha? Has this guy turned on a TV in the last 15 years? "Like Amsterdam"? Dude, if Dutch prostitution is so awesome, how come so few Dutch women heed its siren call? 75% of sex workers in the Netherlands, many of them children, many of them trafficked, are migrants from Thailand, China, Nigeria, and Eastern Europe. Legalizing prostitution in the Netherlands has merely given criminal gangs a leg up and created an invisible underclass of abused, marginalized, undocumented immigrants with no access to social services and no protections under the legal system.]

But I digress.

Savage Death Island recognizes that the word “rape” rankles those with a heavy investment in the status quo. It rankles the married ladies when I aver that marriage is institutionalized rape, because their Nigels are special guys. It rankles victim’s advocates who believe I’m making light of “real” rape. Likewise it rankles the prostituted ladies because they are sex professionals, not victims.

According to sex professionals with internet access, they don’t need a bunch of do-goody theorizers telling them what their experience is or isn’t. They don’t want any radical feminists all up in their shit telling them what they can and can’t do with their lives. They are empowered to make their own choices. They are themselves feminists, so shut up already with the paternalistic jibba-jabba.

I get it. It’s like when some dude shows up to explain feminism to me. So I’d better clarify a couple of things.

If a prostituted woman wishes to describe her experience as that of a trained professional working a trade, she will get no argument from me. I am not interested in telling her how to feel about herself or her work. I don’t deny that there may well exist a cohort of contented, fairly-compensated sex workers who freely choose to find personal fulfillment in providing what they believe is a valuable service. I don’t blame sex workers for choosing to do sex work. I don’t hate sex workers. I don’t even hate women. I advocate fully human status for women in the sex industry, as I do for all female persons in any sex-class industry (including the motherhood industry, the childhood industry, and the spinster industry). I don’t believe prostitution should be illegal. Like many sex worker advocates, I’m for decriminalization.

Oh, and while I’m at it, it should be understood that when I employ such colorful phrases as “men use women as toilets,” I am not describing my personal feelings toward women; I’m describing the institutionalized, enpornulated male contempt of the sex class, which contempt has been documented ad nauseam on this here blog by many professional patriarchy blamers. I do not regard prostituted women as toilets, but it is my contention that men who use them do.

To rephrase, if you are an empowerful sex worker and you don’t feel that your respectful clients and considerate bosses are raping/pimping you, congratulations! The contingency to which I allude — that prostitution is pay-per-rape — doesn’t apply to you.

It does apply, however, to the unknowable legions of women and girls who have been coerced into the life by thugs and drugs and who remain abused and marginalized by misogynist cultural mores and antediluvian jurisprudence. It applies to all exploited women and girls for whom the bitter, grinding reality of misogyny as a human rights crisis cannot be glossed over with fantasies about women’s empowerment and delusions about agency and choice. Here’s my gist:

The patriarchal set-up has it fixed so that the practice of commodifying women’s bodies necessarily creates a rich and fetid growth medium for violence and exploitation. The persistent condition of women as an underclass of rape-receptacles (as per the Global Accords Governing Fair Use of Women) relies on this concept of bod-commodification. Abuses are not limited to prostituted women, but extend to the entirety of the sex class. Just the other day, for example, my own great state of Texas ruled that women seeking abortions must be forcibly pronged by doctors wielding vaginal ultrasound probes. That’s right, it’s state rape!*

Sex worker advocacy groups seeking to change this set-up to women’s advantage will not succeed, because patriarchy will never allow the liberation of the sex class.

Which brings us to the unfortunate disconnect between Savage Death Islandism and sex work advocacy. Though both yearn for an end to human rights abuses suffered by prostituted women, ultimately we are at cross-purposes. The Savage Death Island idea is to smash patriarchy entirely via revolution, thereby liberating women from the tyranny of the sex class, eliminating the vast power imbalance that lies at the root of fetishized and eroticized dominance, and obviating the demand for prostitution altogether. The sex workers, on the other hand, desire to make a living from patriarchal oppression. So there’s the rub: the feminist revolt scheme would ultimately put them all out of work, because, post-revolution, sex would cease to be a commodity.

Unless patriarchy is smashed, prostituted women will always be oppressed, because all women will always be oppressed.

_____________________
* The abortion sonogram law, which lawmakers passed last legislative session, requires doctors to perform sonograms and describe what they see, including the size of the fetus and the length of its limbs. The measure has been in court almost since it passed, with opponents arguing it violates doctors’ First Amendment rights by forcing them to disclose information that isn’t medically necessary and that the woman may not want to hear. [...] Gov. Rick Perry also praised today’s ruling, calling it “a victory for all who stand in defense of life.” — Texas Tribune

100 comments

1 ping

  1. Hari

    thanks for that, Twisty.

  2. Lovepug

    Dang that was some excellent blaming. Antediluvian jurisprudence? Why I hardly know what either word means let along both of them together. I had to take a detour over to Merriam Webster to complete this experience.

    Keep up the fight. Keep pointing out that it’s about calling out the institution of patriarchy and not judging women coping within said patriarchy.

    By the way, I’ve had a couple of those vaginal probe ultrasounds. They are NOT pleasant and potentially triggering. Full stop.

  3. Keri

    “Which brings us to the unfortunate disconnect between Savage Death Islandism and sex work advocacy. Though both yearn for an end to human rights abuses suffered by prostituted women, ultimately we are at cross-purposes.”

    I am glad you are able to put this into coherent thought. I, on the other hand, tend to respond with my jaw hitting the floor, a sense of inexplicable rage against the P, and a muttering of “what the fuh?”.

    And FB tends to bring out the worst. I like it way better here on my Savage Death Island Chaise Lounge coupled with nice mansplaining free mojito enjoyment.

  4. yttik

    “Calling sex work “rape” implies that sex workers are too ignorant to define their own reality.”

    No, it’s not ignorance at all. Unfortunately women are really smart and capable of weaving all sorts of elaborate rationalizations for the choices we are forced to make. (In case we ever run out of ideas, the patriarchy is always good for dropping us a few hints.) This is true in most aspects of our lives, prostitution, marriage, employment, motherhood.

    Sometimes I think if we were ignorant, uninformed, or just downright stupid, we’d take more things at face value. “That man hit me, he’s bad,” instead of spinning elaborate explanations about how abuse is really just love or we asked for it or he didn’t really mean it.

    “In rape advocacy, the woman defines and names her experience”

    Hmmm, that’s not the way we used to practice it. You might honor a victim’s request not to file charges, but rape is rape, it’s not defined by a victim’s naming of the experience. Women get fed so many rationalizations, you have to gently remind them that what they experienced was wrong. If somebody whacks you on the head and steals your wallet, you simply call it a mugging. You don’t assume the person consented to it until they finally get around to “defining their experience.”

  5. speedbudget

    Goddammit, the speculum is bad enough. I can’t imagine a transvaginal probe.

    I said it before and I’ll say it again: How about we require an anal ultrasound before we do any kind of procedures on the male sexual organs? Oh? Doesn’t sound fair or right? Then why is this okay for women?

  6. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    @speedbudget: There’s a democrat senator in Virginia who wants to make cardio stress tests and rectal exams mandatory for men who want prescription boner-inducing drugs.

    As for the euphonious transvaginal ultrasound (administered to the patient a couple hours after she drinks 64 oz. of fluid and isn’t permitted to pee it out), it’s not as much fun as the day the bears ate my baby brother.

  7. Gayle

    Does anyone else notice how if all this sex worker advocacy comes to fruition, the ones who will benefit the most are the Pimps and the Johns?

  8. Violet

    As a sex worker who’s been reading this blog for about four times as long as I’ve been selling my time to clients, I am so relieved to see Twisty’s thoughts on us empowerfulized prostituted women. I could never bring myself to ditch radical feminism for the sex-positive brand, and my complicated feelings are soothed by the knowledge that I’ve simply sold out. It’s not that I’ve stopped believing men hate me, it’s just that I’ve started profiting from it.

  9. Twisty

    Well, Violet, I didn’t expect this would win me too many friends in the sex industry. I hope you make a gazillion bucks off the fuckers.

  10. procrastinatrix

    A typically keen analysis of where radical feminism and sex worker advocacy divide. Thanks!

    Your point that sex-workers-by-choice are making a living off of the patriarchy leads me to a question: while the patriarchy continues, is there any “right livelihood” aside from fomenting revolution?

    So sad about the FB experiment, but IBTP continues, which makes me happy.

  11. Iris Vander Pluym

    One of the greatest insights I’ve had from reading this blog is this: the impulse to judge women for the choices they make in order to survive in a patriarchy is a counterproductive one. It is productive to discuss how certain choices may entrench or exacerbate the very system that oppresses all of us, but that is a very different thing from judging an individual woman’s survival strategy.

    Violet, I’ll see Twisty and raise: I hope you bankrupt the fuckers.

  12. Doctress Julia

    Oh, scrod: I followed some links via Violet’s Twitter, and… I am depressed for the day. The way that men talk about, rate, categorize, claim to ‘love’ these women, it’s just… sickening.

  13. blondie

    “I don’t even hate women.”
    Fibber. Everybody hates women. Except their pets.

    “Gov. Rick Perry also praised today’s ruling, calling it “a victory for all who stand in defense of life.’”
    ‘Cept for all those death row inmates I will never pardon.

  14. Saurs

    Post and comments are brilliant. Glad (relieved?) to read all your sensible pronouncements, Jill, what procrastinatrix succinctly calls a “keen analysis of where radical feminism and sex worker advocacy divide.”

    Our “puritan society”? Wha? Has this guy turned on a TV in the last 15 years?

    I dunno. Calling our society puritanical is, strictly speaking, not correct, but I reckon most of the received wisdom from our culture about sex and sexual pleasure is fairly repressed, in that even the most vanilla and heterosexual PIV-style acts are viewed as something naughty and more than a little decadent, hence the television and films that exist almost solely to deliver the equal mix of shock and guilty pleasure derived merely and only from bare skin or a staged dry hump. Patriarchy relies on that shame, replicates itself through that shame, and the current state of porn suggests that at least one-half of humanity is supposed to find rape, not sex, arousing. The second what amounts to bodily functions and what ought to be bogstandard fun and recreation (when it’s consensual and especially when it’s non-penetrative, in my opinion) becomes “naughty,” summat’s gone wrong. Obviously, we know all this, hence: radical feminism. But, still.

  15. gingerest

    The really, really, really awesome part about the state rape-for-abortion is that it coerces two people at once into gratuitous vaginal spelunking: the woman seeking to end her pregnancy, and the doctor (or nurse-midwife or nurse-prac) whose sole purpose is to provide safe access to abortion. Neato!

    Violet, if it makes you feel any better (hint: it won’t, because Patriarchy), all women everywhere who get ahead have, necessarily, sold out, because the system is set up that way. It doesn’t guarantee that “selling out” will get you anywhere, but in order to get anywhere you have to “sell out”, i.e. you have to compromise with the system. And don’t get me wrong – one has to be in a position of privilege even to consider resisting. We can’t win. IBTP.

  16. gingerest

    I should probably add that I don’t blame any woman for the compromises she makes to try to cope with the P, up to the point where she directly compromises the health or safety or well-being of another individual human. Even then it’s a case-by-case thing.

  17. AlienNumber

    Would it be illegal to have a page somewhere listing the names and pictures of all the dudes suspected of paying-for-rape?
    Henry Miller can be their patron saint. We can call it the Catalog of Cancer.

  18. Mildred

    Well, I can’t believe I’m saying this Twisty, but this one ruffled my feathers.
    Firstly, what about the oh so beloved Swedish Model! I abhor that in my own country of Australia prostitution has been legal and regulated for… ever. And it means prostitution is not even part of some moral discourse. Brothels are not safer or better for women, they just provide a cleaner backdrop for johns. They are NOT for women. In fact they force women to compete with one another to do more degrading sex acts for reduced prices. A brothel takes a huge cut and offers next to no protection for this. I worked in one (as a receptionist) and there was no security, just me and the other women that worked there, and none of us were man-size or carried weapons.
    And, as a former camgirl I refuse to believe that I may as well post more nudes because it ain’t no thang. Its just too defeatist, I couldn’t bring myself to reward gross dudes with my flesh, even if in pixel version. I understand survival sex, I understand a lot of women are in a bad position and have few choices but I refuse to believe that if a person has other options it is acceptable to sell out like that. I know its wrong to be judgemental of other women but when I look at white/middle class/educated ladies who are sex worker advocates I just think its even worse than sleeping with the enemy, its telling the enemy that its okay to rape us for cash, and its heartbreaking enough hearing that off men.

  19. Kea

    Mildred, NZ is even worse. Some dude wants to open a high rise brothel in Auckland’s city centre. It’s a real tourism drawcard here.

  20. Twisty

    one has to be in a position of privilege even to consider resisting.

    Then again, it’s often those with the most to lose who’ll go to great lengths to protect it.

  21. Shelby

    Nice Guys need to rationalise paying women to be toilets. The alternative is unthinkable and unsexy. That they don’t give a fuck and don’t want to hear the truth about what put the prostitute in the position of being a prostitute in the first place. That she’s not really getting off on him. That she’s thinking about what she needs to buy for dinner, what time she needs to pick up her kid, how many more clients before she can get to her dealer.

    I only know a few prostitutes. One, a P2K hottie who is very well paid and takes pills to get through it. The other two are streetwalking heroin addicts. They all hate themselves. I submit it is the rare woman who sees herself as empowered by being paid to act as toilet.

  22. Cyberwulf

    But Shelby it’s a neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed. A need I tell you! Won’t you think of the poor sexually frustrated men who are surrounded by frigid whores who won’t happily bend over and supply them with a nice warm hole for their dicks?

    Can you imagine if speccy, pimple-faced, fat bitches like me went around whining that we neeeeeeeeeeded sex and so we should be able to buy it as easily as a chocolate bar? The derision dripping from the laughter would burn through concrete.

  23. Twisty

    Alas, Shelby, tempting though it is, your anecdotal evidence isn’t admissible as proof of your thesis. There are lots of sex workers — I’m sure we’ll be hearing from a few — who would disagree with you based on anecdotes of their own. Some of them even have statistics. For instance, the UK-based International Union of Sex Workers, to which I linked in the post, has a buncha figures that suggest that percentages of trafficked women in the UK are actually much lower than pearl-clutching do-gooders claim, and that skewed data leads to harmful legislation.

  24. Shelby

    Well I stand corrected. If the trafficking of women and kiddies is MUCH LOWER than is claimed then I’m just gunna paint my door red, hang out my shingle and ask my 16 year old daughter if she’d mind laying spread eagle on her bed 4 hours a day (she’s still in school) to earn her pocket money. Very empowerfullllllll. No harm done there.

    Frigid whore oxymoron. Good one.

  25. Cyberwulf

    Shelby, I agree with you in principle, but if one feels inclined to bring statistics into a debate on prostitution, it’s a good idea to have the right ones.

  26. Cyberwulf

    Ohhhh wait, mayhap my sarcasm detector is broken and I misinterpreted Twisty’s comment. I stand by my point about having the right statistics, though.

  27. Bushfire

    Everything about this is expertly written and thought-out.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  28. thebewilderness

    FYI The IUSW is what is generally referred to in labor organizing circles as a “company union”. That is where the owners of the brothels, clubs, and escort services, call themselves sex workers and organize a “union” to represent the owners and prevent the actual workers from being represented by anyone else.

  29. Twisty

    The IUSW is what is generally referred to in labor organizing circles as a “company union”.

    News you can use!

    I hope I didn’t give the wrong impression in my response to Shelby. I was devil’s advocating. Certainly it is best to err on the side of victims, and there can be no doubt that at least some prostituted women are depressed, are addicts, and are trafficked and coerced into prostitution. The exact numbers, while useful to have, are not strictly necessary to the argument.

  30. AngelontheRiver

    I wonder what sex would be like without all this cultural crap. We will never know. People are nuts. I don’t blame any woman for trying to survive. Then, I place no value on sex. No woman should ever feel bad or “dirty.” On the most basic level, sex is dumb.

  31. Le Chat Noir

    Some recommended reading on the topic of legalization of prostitution:
    http://action.web.ca/home/catw/readingroom.shtml?cat_name=Prostitution+Law+Reform

  32. Le Chat Noir

    I’m side with the Swedish model – criminilize the buyers, decriminalize the prostituted women:
    http://action.web.ca/home/catw/attach/Ekberg.pdf

    “After several years of public debate initiated by the Swedish women’s movement, the Law That Prohibits the Purchase of Sexual Services came into force on January 1, 1999. The Law is the first attempt by a country to address the root cause of prostitution and trafficking in beings: the demand, the men who assume the right to purchase persons for prostitution purposes. This groundbreaking law is a cornerstone of Swedish efforts to create a contemporary, democratic society where women and girls can live lives free of all forms of male violence. In combination with public education, awareness-raising campaigns, and victim support, the Law and other legislation establish a zero tolerance policy for prostitution and trafficking in human beings. When the buyers risk punishment, the number of men who buy prostituted persons decreases, and the local prostitution markets become less lucrative. Traffickers will then choose other and more profitable destinations.”

  33. Le Chat Noir

    And:

    “In Sweden, prostitution is officially acknowledged as a form of male sexual violence against women and children.”

  34. Carpenter

    Saurs, I really like your comment. It seems that the state of things is to compel everyone to be obsessed with sex, without wanting anyone to really enjoy it-with the added bonus that half of us are expected to have absolutely no sense of subjectivity.
    This is a very lame comparison, but it sort of reminds me of these fucking lady-food product commercials, you know for flavorless yogurts and stuff. Some lady is told to ‘indulge’ in ‘decadent’ chocolate yogurt or something on the one hand, then on the other is fed some line about how it is guilt free because it only has 5 calories or something. There is no actual indulgence anywhere, it is all simulacra. Not only is the lady-food is a soul-less tasteless industrial product passed off as something delicious, but then there is the fact that one is really calorie policing the entire time.
    I imagine if there were a commercial for sex it would go the same way.

  35. Twisty

    Nice blamin’, Carpenter. I was home sick today watching TV, and I lost count of the decadent chocolate TV lady-orgasms.

  36. Carpenter

    Thank you ma’am. By the by, I caught this oddly relevant link on Echidne to a NYT book review on a new Henry Miller bio which end thusly,
    “The question is not art versus pornography or sexuality versus censorship or any question about achievement. The question is: Why do men revel in the degradation of women?”

  37. alamo

    “Calling sex work “rape” implies that sex workers are too ignorant to define their own reality.”

    I wouldn’t call it ignorance. But I would call it cognitive dissonance. It’s what all of us do, because some truths are hard for us to admit. The more we have invested in an illusion, the more reluctant we are to let it go.

  38. Metal Teapot

    Ugh, I think prostitution is the only job that is morally defended on the grounds the workers choose to do it. While I understand sex and murder are different, we don’t consider assassination inherently moral because some people can kill a stranger in an indirect way without being too emotionally compromised. So even in a fictional ideal world where every prostitute was wonderfully happy in their work and entered it completely voluntarily I am still not sure it could be considered moral. The big question comes up, why would you want to have sex with someone who didn’t want you? Now I guess there must be some cognitive dissociation helped by the sex workers faking enjoyment. Still I think the whole experience of buying sex would make me feel shit. That is what scares me, why do people do it? The answer can’t be pleasant. I still haven’t met anyone who’d admit to liking it, so I’m not making a fair assessment. Still the fact people can like it scares me, and that is why I disagree with prostituon even in theory. (In practice the fact a reasonable proportion of sex workers don’t enjoy and arent there voluntarily it also comes into play).

  39. Metal Teapot

    Hmm, that comment implies I think that sex workers are immoral. I don’t really, I think buying sex is disturbing. I don’t think doing something unpleasant, but not wrong for money is immoral. It is like paying someone to pick up your dog poo, the person picking up the dog poo isn’t immoral but the person paying them should pick up their own dog poo.

  40. Erinyes

    FB kills a little bit with each login. Just today a photo proclaiming some dumb shit about nice guys graced my field of vision, saying some dumb shit about how, quote

    All guys need to read this:
    When she pulls away pull her back
    When you see her crying just hold her and don’t say a word
    When you see her walking sneak up and hug her waist from behind

    Oh crap… I don’t understand how any of this is supposed to be good behaviour, regardless of how ‘nice’ some dude proclaims himself to be.

    It goes on…
    When she’s scared protect her
    When she steals your favorite hoodie let her wear it
    When she says that she loves you she really does mean it
    When she grabs at your hands hold her’s and play with her fingers :)
    When she tells you a secret keep it safe and untold
    When she looks at you in your eyes don’t look away until she does
    When she’s mad hug her tight and don’t let go
    When she says she’s OK don’t believe it
    Treat her like she’s all that matters to you
    Kiss her in the pouring rain
    When she runs up to you crying, the first thing you say is: “Whose butt am I kicking baby?”

    Guys share this if you would do it
    Girls share this if you would love a guy like this

    end quote

    I wrote something in response along the lines of “Maybe she doesn’t want a hug, maybe sneaking up on her and hugging her from behind scares her shitless because any number of reasons. Maybe your refusal to break eye contact is perceived as a threat. Maybe when she says she’s ok she really means it. Maybe when she says anything you should take her at her word. Maybe the thought of being the only thing that matters freaks her out. Maybe she doesn’t want anyone beat down so you can feel like a man.”

    The response? Some asshole “slowly creeps out of the room and starts running… haha”

    I keep forgetting that it’s hilarious when some guy is threatened by my opposition to some dumb thing on the internet when in reality, I’m far more likely than him to ever experience violence of any magnitude at the hands of a man.

    IBTP. Thank you Twisty, for being on the internet.

  41. Shelby

    Sex Worker Education & Advocacy Taskforce aka SWEAT. Seriously? I slogged my way through that sex worker advocacy link which was full of anecdotal evidence and was lite on actual statistics. They quoted and I paraphrase that no trafficking was found to have occurred during the World Cup. Ergo if no trafficking was found to have occurred then no trafficking took place.

  42. TwissB

    The heartening paradign change to which I refer is the “Swedish Model.”

  43. TwissB

    Apologies for unproofed post (which I hope gets lost in mediation). This is what I meant to say:

    A grateful nod to those who are pressing Twisty to get real about prostitution, and to those who are offering factual information about the “Swedish Model,” the most heartening paradigm change ever about prostitution.

    Why bother responding to well-worn bad faith diversionary ploys like “to criticize prostitution is to disrespect prostitutes” which echoes ol’ Phyllis Schlafly’s “to criticize negative conditions for homemakers is to disrespect homemakers”? After all, Andrea Dworkin covered that in her book “Right Wing Women” when she said of bearing in mind the context of women’s lives “A woman has to make the best deal she can.”

    So far, one aspect of prostitution that has not been mentioned is that it is men, not any women anywhere, who define what prostitution is and what is for, even suggesting that the need to degrade (or kill) women (see Carpenter above) is essential to men’s need for sexual satisfaction. And that fake need defines all women as degraded by nature and meant to be subordinate to men. You know, “Every woman has her price.” Prostitution as a visible institution defines women’s status as deservedly below that of any man. Any woman who doesn’t think that applies to her is kidding herself. C*nts don’t count.

    Suggestions: http://www.prostitutionresearch.com ;
    “Safety Tips For Escorts” at http://www.nationalblacklist.com/article2.aspx
    “The Johns” by Victor Malarek (book)

  44. KittyWrangler

    @Erinyes – at the risk of TMI, I literally just vomited in my mouth while reading that “poem.” Thanks a lot, I just had to go brush my teeth.

    “All guys need to read this:
    When she pulls away pull her back
    When you see her crying just hold her and don’t say a word
    When you see her walking sneak up and hug her waist from behind
    When she’s mad hug her tight and don’t let go
    When she says she’s OK don’t believe it

    NO! NONONONONO. Worst advice, possibly EVER. Poem should end, “When she’s kicking you in the balls out of frustration and/or terror, let her. Then give yourself a big pat on the back, you sensitive protector you!”

    The advice reads like step-by-step instructions for a man who has crumpled up Taco Bell wrappers where his brain should be.

  45. Awhirlinlondon

    The review of _Tropic of Cancer_ referenced above (“Renegade – The Male Mystique of Henry Miller”), a superb example of feminist analysis. The reviewer, Jeanette Winterson (_Oranges are not the only fruit_, _Sexing the Cherry_, _The Stone Gods, etc.), not only takes on Miller, but the reviews (& reviewers) that have come before, noting that for all Miller’s howling against the soulless, consumerist new world, no-one has appeared to notice that all of the women in the novel are commodities – “semi-human sex objects” – that “half the world has been billeted to the whore house” – but that it never occurs that “no matter how poor a man is, he can always buy sex.” Really worth reading.

    Hooray to the end of the FB experiment! Not an organisation to support, for 354 different reasons.

  46. Saurs

    There is no actual indulgence anywhere, it is all simulacra.

    Really cool and awesome comment, Carpenter. You’re right: the sexay coy funtimes telly (and the larger culture) is selling us as “dirty” is not especially fun or even satisfying to folks’ actual sexual desires and impulses (plus, naked women does not equal sex, anyway). Junk food is a great analogy; fills you up but leaves you empty.

  47. Awhirlinlondon

    Sorry – to clarify – Winterson’s review is of Frederick Turner’s book, _Renegade – Henry Miller and the Making of “Tropic of Cancer”_.

  48. qvaken

    Um, I’m going to say some dirty words that I don’t like, and talk about dangerous situations, so I’m gonna go ahead and write “Trigger Warning” here.

    I worked as a skimpy for a couple of months some time ago – that means that you pour drinks at the bar wearing lingerie or a costume, and after your shift you can pick up extra tips by being topless for a while, and chatting with the customers. In one week of doing that work, I noted that men would: gladly tell me, “I want to see your tits – and I want to see your pussy”; ask me back to their home, and repeat the question for two hours straight if I kept saying no; ask me to flash my breasts at them, and argue with me with all kinds of logic if I said that I don’t do that – in front of their wives; leer at my breasts; and touch me seductively if I walked on the other side of the bar. Also, upon befriending two men in the town, they each at different times tried to rape me – though thankfully(?), they were the sort to give up when you say, “I said ‘no, I don’t want to have sex with you’ and then you pinned me down and forcibly tried to have sex with me – that’s called ‘rape’ and that’s you trying to ‘rape’ me. You will leave now – goodbye.”

    It taught me that men make the assumption that if you work at a “sexy” job, then you’re automatically making yourself sexually available to them – for company, viewing, dirty talk, touching, and sexing. I know that they do this with women anyway, however it’s like in non-”sexy” situations they at least have to come up with some “seduction” or “romancing and dating” scheme, or win a “power struggle”, or speak “nice guy” talk, to gain access; but “sexy” workers, in their minds, have waived those minimal boundaries and are primed and open for access.

    I’ve complained to many people about those disgusting attitudes, and many responded, “Well, what did you expect?” So, when society isn’t congratulating men for violating women, it’s giving them a nod of acceptance.

  49. IBlameRonPaul

    We’re not going to make any progress in patriarchy smashing in our lifetimes, not when there’s a whole Internet full of male-identified women bending over backward to scream about why patriarchy is necessary and why there’s no one in America who’s currently more oppressed than the upper-middle-class white male: http://aloftyexistence.wordpress.com/2011/07/18/male-identified-woman/. (Really worth a read.)

    And those women don’t JUST enthusiastically endorse women being sex toilets. They’re offended by basic issues of sustenance – like some women having a job, and not wishing to function as state-mandated zygote repositories. What’s interesting about that, though, is the hordes of irate housewives who want me out of the workforce and chained to the stove, like they are, sure ain’t making the whole ordeal look like a whole lot of fun. If scrubbing their husbands’ boots while functioning as 24/7/365 wet-nurses, maids, and sex toilets is really as fun as they say it is, why don’t they extol the virtues of all that instead of screaming shrilly about how all women with jobs are “hairy man-bitches?”

    50s fetishists and other he-man women-haters sure think they’re being clever and erudite with their whole “women don’t belong in the workforce” gag. Only they’re not. The same rule that, in an “ideal world” should apply to abortions should also apply to careers: Offended by careers? Don’t have one!

  50. qvaken

    Also, @Erinyes, the poem that you posted is truly retch-worthy. Yesterday I saw a screenshot posted on Facebook, of a girl who had written her status update as “I’m sick of boys being such dicks.” A boy had given a lengthy response about the numerous efforts that he had made to romance her from school years 7 right through to 11, including begging the teacher to be her partner in projects, sending her unwanted Valentine’s flowers, accosting her at social functions for intimate dances, and buying her unwanted concert tickets in the hope that she would be guilted into spending time with him, and she had rejected him each time and that made GIRLS the dicks, not boys. If that wasn’t creepy and rape culture-y enough, the screenshot came with an added congratulatory tagline: “THIS BOY is my hero”.

  51. Hari

    Twisty and sister blamers, I need to take a moment to express my pure gratitude for all of you and the space we make here. It has turned out to be so much more than simple refreshment of knowing there exist other feminists like me in the world, and sharing in the blaming fun–though those things are refreshing indeed! Please indulge me in an almost purely personal bit of rambling here, to illustrate the much deeper reason for my gratitude.

    The other night, I had yet another dream about the sociopath who wreaked havoc in my/kids lives over a period of 4yrs (3 of that post-separation, fighting him in the courts and in my community)–the sick fuck who invaded our lives, whom I finally defeated by figuring out how to get him to hang himself with his own rope (as neither the courts nor my community were going to stop his abuse/stalking/harassment). My family deals still with the fallout from the fully life-shattering impact of his actions, but at least we haven’t seen or really heard from him now in more than 10yrs. All this is to say–I had yet another dream of him, which blessedly happens far less often than once it did, but this dream was markedly different than all in the past.

    In my dream, finally, upon enoountering him accidentally at a sort of reunion with my former ‘friends/community’, I was cool and calm. I was no less clear about exactly what he is, no less powerfully angry at him, than ever. But what was significantly different is that I was calm and collected and absolutely clear–instead of wildly terrified, instead of completely beside myself with rage, fear, shame and self-doubt. Upon seeing him, and realizing that he and our old buddies were blankly innocent about their mistake in failing to warn me in advance that he would be there, I could say to them: “No. Don’t even go there, don’t pretend, don’t waste my time.” When I said I was leaving immediately, he and they all tried to make nice, to say shit like “gosh, after all this time, you still haven’t moved on? Why can’t you forgive, that was all so long ago…”. And I just repeated, “NO. Don’t even. If you still have no idea, that’s only because you don’t want to. But I know. I KNOW.” And I left.

    Thinking about this when I awoke, I realized something so important about the difference between that dream and the many others I’ve had about him over the years. That difference is, NOW I KNOW–firmly, unshakeably; there is no more doubt whatsoever. I always knew, of course–but that ‘completely beside myself’ feeling was so previously intractable because NO ONE ELSE KNEW–and they DIDN’T WANT TO KNOW–no one, not even the womyn I’d been friends with for years before that guy arrived in town. That crazy, hopeless, powerless, utterly traumatized feeling existed in the first place because everyone else REFUSED TO KNOW–they worked hard to prevent me from knowing–there was no affirmation of my feelings or the reality of all the harm he inflicted. So there was ever a razor-wire of doubt in myself, of shame and masochism that ran through my knowing and still had the power to cut me so deep.

    But see–here, other people KNOW what I know. Twisty and you other sharp eyed, open hearted, raging blamers all know in crystal clarity and bottomless depth, exactly what the fuck is going on for us in the P. You know it personally, politically, sexually, economically, socially, and in all aspects of our lives. And the value of that shared affirmation and stunning breadth of understanding is for me, for all womyn, truly priceless.

    So I thank you all from the bottom of my wild womyn’s heart. And I tell you–this is not just a blaming place, it is a healing place. The simple refreshment of like-minded company and fun, intelligent blaming would have been gift enough–a healing balm of a sort in itself. Now I see the deeper healing power of this space–and with my story hope to grant you all a clearer understanding of the much deeper healing power here.

  52. buttercup

    US culture is weirdly smutty and puritanical at the same time. Like a less drastic version of that awful “my gypsy wedding” show where the little girls dress up like porn stars and do pelvis-grinding, booty popping dances but they aren’t allowed to even kiss a boy before they’re married. Groomed to be property. Women in the US are groomed to be a commodity but we are not allowed any joy in it. That we are desired by men is supposed to be joy enough. Bullshit.

    I want to move to Sweden now, but I hear they don’t like fatties there. Plus, it’s cold.

  53. JenniferRuth

    I’d be careful regarding the International Union of Sex Workers (IUSW) as an authentic voice for sex workers. Anyone claiming can take up membership and they allow punters and escort agencies to take membership.

    toomuchtosayformyself.com/2009/01/09/the-great-iusw-con/

  54. The Nerd

    Erinyes (late reply, I know): my teenage sister “liked” that disturbing bit of “poetry” on Facebook. Sometimes I fantasize about whisking her away to Savage Death Island, but alas, she already has her first protoNigel. Oh that age, when the vigor of youth which could be applied to the revolution is instead spent on quelling one’s sense of insecurity with bowing to the prejudices of peer groups! Still, I’ll be waiting for that next inevitable betrayal by the patriarchy, to offer support and guidance and hopefully a jolt to the obstreperal lobe, as only an older sibling can.

  55. qvaken

    @Hari, I’m still working it all out.

    It’s these things:
    “You teach people how to treat you.”
    “You’ve got to respect yourself first, and other people will follow.”
    “If you keep on talking about the bad things that have happened to you, you’ll only let them control you forever. You need to forget about them.”
    “Did it ever occur to you that if you’re always having problems with other people, then it’s probably you who needs to change?”
    “Your thinking is maladaptive. You need to change it.”
    “You obviously don’t respect yourself – you prefer to gravitate toward people who don’t respect you, and you leave the good friends and nice people behind.”
    “Have you considered seeing a professional about your problems?”
    “You’re just running away from your problems rather than dealing with them properly.”
    “Be careful – you’re burning all your bridges.”
    “I know that you’re trying to assert yourself, but you should be more nonchalant/gentle/humorous/clever/obstinate/tactical about it.”
    “You’re emotional and you’re overreacting.”
    “He [this]‘d you? Why didn’t you leave before it got that far?”
    “[That] is such a strong word. Be sure that you KNOW that that’s what it is before you go around saying it.”

    It’s like, “I’m your friend, and this is going to be really profound and helpful for you, so take heed: If anything bad ever happens to you then it’s your own fault, and it’s a sign that you’re crazy. If you talk about it, then you’re creating the problem or making it worse. If it’s really really bad and you talk about it, then you’re being insincere or inappropriate (and disrespectful to people who have been through horrible things). If you stand up for yourself or try to leave, then you’re making something big out of something small (and you’re being hurtful to somebody). If you don’t leave, then your choice not to leave is incomprehensible, because it should have been obvious to you all along that it was as bad as it was (and that leaving is easy).”

    And that’s just one small area of discourse aimed at females that has a lot to answer for.

    I guess that what I’m really trying to say is… it’s so, so good to find a community where nobody is being constantly and systematically bombarded with this stuff… everyone just gets to… Blame! (Blame somebody ELSE for once!)

  56. Twisty

    Twiss B, I’m not real about prostitution? How am I not real? Maybe I haven’t been clear, but I name prostitution as the cornerstone of patriarchal oppression. Do you allude to my lip service to sex worker advocates? I address them only to invite them to butt out of the discourse because their agenda is antifeminist.

  57. Twisty

    I’d be careful regarding the International Union of Sex Workers (IUSW) as an authentic voice for sex workers.

    Your point is taken. The IUSW nevertheless positions itself as a sex work activist body, the agenda of which is, as I mentioned in the post, incompatible with radical feminism.

  58. Hari

    qvaken–oh yes, I’ve heard all those things, too, in sometimes different, sometimes the very same words. And there was just enough teensy spark of truth in just enough of them, that it kept me hooked into the shame for so long. TEENSY spark–that spark being all people would look at, while studiously ignoring the gigantic conflagration FROM WHICH THE SPARK EMANATED.

    Oh, for instance, was I a masochist who drew a sadist to me? To a degree, yes. And that was spark came to me, and was nurtured in me by the hellfire of patriarchy whose only game is S&M. Masochism was NOT willingly chosen by me, FFS.

    What people don’t get is this: The whole world is patriarchy. Everything in it, everything. I was a good citizen of patriarchy–until him, when I finally fully saw patriarchy inside me as well as all around me in all its raging destructive glory.

    For what happened to me and my kids, and the grinding endless problems we’ve dealt with ever since, IBTP, because the truth is that P is to blame.

    For my endurance, my survival, my ability to make such lemonade as could be made from poisoned lemons (or to go thirsty rather than drink it), for my sanity and love, only I am now responsible…with the help of angels and friends along the way.

    Here is one thing friends said/implied, which helped me save my own life: “… people who have been through horrible things.” Meaning, people who’ve been through much more horrible things than me. Yep, I chose to live through it, because I knew some people managed to live through the Holocaust, Kosovo, etc–if they could, then I certainly could. At the worst of moments, I remembered that even though we were poor and beset, I was never hungry, always had a home and much more than than millions on this wretchedly patriarchy-bombed Earth. It did help in a small but significant way.

    And it is the one thing that I also absolutely, most adamantly REFUSED TO ALLOW TO CONFUSE ME about my own situation. My situation, the abuse that my family endured, was plenty important to me, to us. It was plenty real enough, plenty horrible enough, to fight against it with all I had.

    I know now that there is only ONE reason people say those idiotic, cruel, shaming things: because they are terrified of knowing what you know, and I know–the truth of patriarchy and how it’s killing us all. It is not a truth I’ve had the luxury to ignore. Now, I most certainly do claim the luxury–and necessity, for my survival–of ignoring those people because I know they only tell the LIES they need to hear to get by.

    IBTP

  59. Keri

    @Hari- I feel ya sister. I hope that I will get ten years of my stalker leaving me alone. Even then, I don’t think I will ever get to completely let my guard down. As it is, I still walk to my car with phone in hand and look all around before I get out of my car when I get home. Then rush in and shut garage and lock the door.

    I understand that all women are marginalized and that many women in prostitution are forced into it, and then some may “choose” that for a number of reasons including economic.

    Even for those that choose though, I would think that one must never ever ever feel safe. There are plenty of psychopaths to make your life a living hell without being a sex worker, like just trying to go to the damn grocery store as a woman.

    So if one were a sex worker even by choice, I am postulating that the chance of encountering a psychopath and being harassed by all manner of crazy dudes must go up exponentially. Given my own terrifying dude experiences, I can’t even imagine.

    “cornerstone of patriarchal oppression” indeed.

  60. gwyllion

    all i can say is – i LOVE you guys! All of you! and Miss Twisty most of all!

  61. stickypaws

    Adding to qvaken’s comment about men harassing and attempting to rape her when she worked as a “skimpy” (Aussie?) and Keri’s comment about being stalked:

    When I was 20, a man I had gone out with twice stalked me for about 3 years. Because the incidents initially occurred a few weeks apart, I didn’t understand what was really going on. I just knew that I was constantly on guard. So I didn’t talk about what was happening because I thought people would think I was vain or paranoid – I wouldn’t be believed. Naturally, the incidents progressed. Nothing violent – just showing up many of the places I went: parking just around the corner from my apartment, waiting in a car nearby when I went to classes, following me in a car when I walked down a street.

    Why didn’t I report this to the police? Because he was a police officer. A few of his police buddies also joined in the fun.

    Because of this, I had no idea what to do except hide. I rarely put the lights on in my apatment at night so it would appear that I wasn’t home. I didn’t even think of hiring a private detective, and if I had, I would not have had the money to pay one.

    It took me a very, very long time to find the words to talk to anyone about what had been done to me. My family wasn’t helpful. When I finally did talk about it, I made an ugly discovery: the men I told began to make sexual overtures towards me. They would stand too close to me. They would whisper ugly things under their breath – just loud enough for me to hear – when I was near. They were turned on by what this other man had done.

    I had discovered that many men are turned on by lack of consent. They are turned on by our discomfort and fear.

  62. Twisty

    Stickypaws,

    Holy shit!

  63. TwissB

    Twisty – Your “few lite thoughts” essay has inspired a thread worthy of the Blamer Hall of Fame. What momentarily shook my confidence in your solid grasp of the reality of prostitution was this: “I don’t believe prostitution should be illegal. Like many sex worker advocates, I’m for decriminalization.”

    Later posts clarified the essential distinction between the decriminalization the sex industry calls for that puts prostituted women wholly at the mercy (!) of traffickers, pimps and buyers without any form of legal intervention, and the Swedish model which criminalizes buyers and pimps and decriminalizes persons used in prostitution as well as providing rehabilitative services for them.

    I’m sure that you know all this, but it was your appearance of going along with the sex industry position that startled me.

    Maybe it’s time now to out the sneaky guys like NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristof who deplore the prostitution of very young girls (always described in titillating and infantilizing terms) but will not reject prostitution as such. Same goes for the male policymakers like Kevin Bales who head anti-trafficking organizations like “Free the Slaves.” Feminist abolitionists are silenced while these men and their handmaidens are welcome on human rights platforms everywhere.

  64. Mildred

    @ TwissB

    “So far, one aspect of prostitution that has not been mentioned is that it is men, not any women anywhere, who define what prostitution is and what is for, even suggesting that the need to degrade (or kill) women (see Carpenter above) is essential to men’s need for sexual satisfaction. And that fake need defines all women as degraded by nature and meant to be subordinate to men. You know, “Every woman has her price.” Prostitution as a visible institution defines women’s status as deservedly below that of any man. Any woman who doesn’t think that applies to her is kidding herself. C*nts don’t count.”

    THIS THIS THIS a thousand times!
    I just keep thinking, whether a prostituted woman enjoys it, whether she is counting the seconds, a dude is still getting off and sexually benefiting from RAPE.
    When they defend their rights by saying “I CHOOSE THIS” they’re neglecting the fact that most men don’t care!

  65. cin17

    Stickypaws, Holy shit indeed!

    Like many women, I’ve spent a large portion of my life being treated like a squeeze toy by complete strangers. Your comment reminded me, most unpleasantly, of confiding in co-workers one physical assault too many when I finally gathered the nerve to call police. The assault started with a stranger asking for a hug, the answer was no but, naturally, he didn’t take no for an answer. Having shared what was for me a terrible experience, one of my male co-workers found it amusing to taunt me with “Give me a hug” and feigning to come after me. (He did this on a regular basis until he finally moved to a job in another city.) Humiliation and degradation squared. Sadly, I never understood his behavior until I read your comment.

  66. AlienNumber

    A prostitution abolitionist, this is what I am!

    TwissB, you’re right that this is a thread worthy of Blamer Hall of Fame.
    Except a little snippet from IBlameRonPaul, who, I’m sure didn’t mean to, but comes across as woman-hating. IBRP says: “We’re not going to make any progress in patriarchy smashing in our lifetimes, not when there’s a whole Internet full of male-identified women bending over backward to” be handmaidens of the Patriarchy etc.

    This is a personal pet-peeve of mine: really, it’s not the right-wing women who are our biggest problem. That, and it’s extremely difficult to parse out, when living in the Patriarchy, the difference between women-hating and women-hating. Can we try to not blame women, even male-identified women, whenever possible? Please.

    Had to get that off my chest.

  67. cin17

    Mildred and TwissB, yes. And not only do men define prostitution, they also refer to it as the “oldest profession.” Because of course, when humans came up with paid employment, women were first to volunteer for sex work. This is the seed of the entire virgin/whore mythology: In the beginning, women were whores. Men had to save us from ourselves by creating social structures and religious narratives to keep our virginity and virtue intact.

    Reclusive Leftist has a fairly recent post “The ease with which men imagine women as prostitutes” that explores the androcentric narratives that promote the marginalization of women as prostitutes.

  68. Heather

    @ cin17

    I think we must have worked with the same jerk. I had what I thought was a good working relationship with a male co-worker and when I was assualted (by someone else) and confided in him about it he proceeded to taunt me in the same manner calling me a car crash waiting to happen because I was having a really difficult time at work after the assualt. Crying jags and everything else that follows a traumatic experience. The references to being a car crash were so hard to take I’d leave my desk to cry in the bathroom. I finally told him enough is enough, this has got to stop. I thought he was listening to me and understood the joking around about my mental state had to stop. The next time he was about to say it again, in front of another co-worker, I gave him a look like, “Really? Don’t dude, just don’t go there”. What’s he do? He motions with his arms and hands like he’s driving wildly off a cliff, leaving my co-worker to wonder what the heck is he on about and looking at me for clarification. That was officially the end of our working relationship. Thankfully he was fired a few months later. Unrelated to his jerky behavior.

  69. Heather

    @ cin17

    I forgot to add that when the taunting began so did the flirting. Yuck.

  70. Hari

    The thing that most stands out for me in your post, Twisty, and in comments, is the exceedingly clear distinction between hating prostitution’s existence as a function of patriarchy/misogyny, and continuing to care about womyn–including acceptance without judgement whatever womyn do to get by within patriarchy. This is so important for us to remember.

  71. TwissB

    The outraged response of male readers to Jeannette Winterson’s review of Frederick Turner’s book on Henry Miller is only too predictable – and very revealing about the way these men take seriously Miller’s critique of American values but see nothing but comedy in his dehumanizing treatment of women in his books.

    http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/27/book-review-podcast-the-legacy-of-henry-millers-tropic-of-cancer

  72. yttik

    Good point Hari, because I hate the existence of prostitution but I don’t judge women who are involved in it. I don’t view them as stupid or feminist sell outs, either. They have found a way to profit from what is usually just taken from women anyway. I don’t even accept the notion that they have more cognitive dissonance going on then say a wife does. In some ways those who engage in prostitution have looked reality straight in the eye and figured out how to try and make the best of it.

  73. Cyberwulf

    The assault started with a stranger asking for a hug, the answer was no but, naturally, he didn’t take no for an answer.

    About a year ago our jujutsu class was winding down for the evening, and our sensei decided to show me and the only other woman in the class at the time (she was emigrating to Australia at the end of the month) what to do if some drunk guy puts his arm around your shoulders in a bar and invades your personal space. The male student on which our sensei was demonstrating the move started up with “Ah but he doesn’t mean anything by it, he’s drunk, he’s only trying to get to know you.” Our sensei (also male) cut him off with “NOBODY has the right to touch someone without permission.”

    I loved him a little bit in that moment.

  74. AlienNumber

    TwissB, thanks for that link. I made sure to thank the NYT for publishing that absolutely amazing essay by Winterson (and took a second to take a jab at those dude commenters too. Let’s see if my comment gets approved).

  75. Mildred

    @ yttik

    I can’t stand for that one bit. You’re basically saying that women usually get raped anyway so they may as well get paid to be raped and I find that fucking…. misogynistic as fuck.

  76. yttik

    Well gosh Mildred, of course it’s misogynistic as fuck, but I didn’t invent the system. Women have different ways of coping with the hand they’re dealt and prostitution is one of those ways.

  77. Hari

    yttik–”I don’t even accept the notion that they have more cognitive dissonance going on then say a wife does. In some ways those who engage in prostitution have looked reality straight in the eye and figured out how to try and make the best of it.”

    Yeah. I can’t speak for the prostituted–at all; I can only go on info I’ve read about prostitution. But I have been a wife, and known a hellofalot of other wives–so what you say makes sense to me.

    It’s the reality that is hateful–not those who try to see it and name it.

  78. Doctress Ju'uulia

    Hari, stickypaws, cin17… all of y’all. WOW. This here lady has had every imaginable abuse heaped upon her due to her sex. All those bullshit things, dismissing the seriousness of what was being done to me? Folks said them to me. Nobody would help me, nobody would listen. I went to the police and filed a report (including the fact that he stole things from me), which did nothing. Who lost her job, her apartment, her place in the community? Who’s known as “crazy”, “violent”, etc? Yours truly. My stalker gets to have an income, a “social life”. The Doctress is blacklisted. She is verbally attacked in public places like grocery stores and bars. And on the street. GRR. I. AM. PISSED. OFF. I FUCKIN BLAME THE PATRIARCHY.

  79. Keri

    Stickypaws: “I had discovered that many men are turned on by lack of consent. They are turned on by our discomfort and fear.”

    Brilliant. This is what my friends and I have coined as “the shining”.

    Men sense it. When you have been victimized they smell vulnerability and there is that much more potential for you to be victimized again, and again, and again. Unfortunately, we all have a case of the shining and are trying hard to switch it out to an aura of “don’t fuck with me!” May you have that too!

  80. qvaken

    @Doctress Ju-uulia – That reminds me of an ex-housemate of mine. He told me stories about ex-girlfriends who had demanded his attention so strongly and felt so scorned that they damaged his property and attacked him, even going so far as to smash through windows to get through and lunge at him. Of course, in his stories, it was all their fault, and the foolish police had the nerve to suspect him of committing violent acts himself, only to later realise that He’s Innocent!

    I couldn’t help but question these stories when one night, suddenly and unexpectedly, he informed me that it was time for me to move out, told me that he’s been through a lot of shit with women and he suspected I was the same as them and now he knows for sure, came into my bedroom, kicked and punched my furniture, and chased me into my chosen hidey-hole behind the chest of drawers repeatedly demanding that I hit him in the head. (My repeated response was, “No – if I do that, then you’ll kill me.”)

    I knew that I was a statistic after that, and that he would make up a story about my attraction for him, my rejection, my aggression and violence, and that everybody would support him. On the bright side in my case – although it was uncomfortable to know that he would continue doing what he was doing (a week after I had run away from his house I accidentally came across his new on-line ad for “housemate wanted, preferably female”) and that he was saying untrue things about me – I had complete distance from him and his supporters from the moment that I moved out (everyone – I brought somebody with me to pick my things up. If you’re in the least bit concerned about any possible danger involved in going back on your own, don’t feel embarrassed to do the same).

  81. Hari

    Rape, prostitution, wife/GF–they share more in common than not, in the P. This is no doubt why Twisty’s post/this thread prompted my personal connecting-of-dots posted upthread.

    Adding that I do not intend to minimize the experience of those who have been forcibly raped, actively assaulted/stalked (short of actual rape) or prostituted at some point in their lives–vs merely being the partner of a Nigel. This is only to say that Twisty’s thoughts/other’s responses prompted my clearer understanding of the underlying fabric of P that link womyn’s reality profoundly, within it.

    Stickypaws: “I had discovered that many men are turned on by lack of consent…by our discomfort and fear.”

    Exactly so. Earlier in my life, I had an encounter w/a different sociopath and got out before the worst could happen. In processing my deep attraction to him afterward, I saw what Stickypaws said–except I related this solely to him and me as an unfortunate collision of ‘my neuroses’ w/’his neuroses’. Now the generalizations made more manifest to me.

    Twisty puts the hammer to the nail: “Unless patriarchy is smashed, prostituted women will always be oppressed, because all women will always be oppressed.”

    Doesn’t matter if we’re forcibly raped or merely have to make our peace with male-defined sexual terms. Doesn’t matter if we’re forced into prostitution and held there w/drugs and overt violence, or willingly choose it as a viable profit industry. Doesn’t matter if we’re partnered to a Maiming Monster or a Non-respecting Nigel.

    What matters is that in real ways, it’s all against our innate will to be wholly free, wholly respected, fully choosing beings. That’s because in the P, we simply *are* the sex-class–which includes being the slave class as mothers, housekeepers, therapists and cheerleaders to those deemed by the P as the Real Class of Humans–men.

    It’s purely hateful and it hurts so much to see it! And I submit that to get free, and become womyn who might actually smash the P, we have to deal with that pain and move beyond it to healing…which is wholeness.

  82. stickypaws

    Holy shit indeed.

    Bah. I had written a longer comment late last night, but as late night comments are wont to be, it was maudlin and egocentric.

    Doctress Ju’uulia – that is the game. You can “complain” (express indignation, rage, vitriol) only so much or so often. Beyond some indeterminate point, you become the dangerous one.
    Can’t hold it together because of fear or stress? You become the crazy or needy one.

    Thanks all. Vivez les internet feministes!

  83. StayingAlive

    Thank you.
    I’ve been a sex worker before and I think you’re quite on point with all that you said.

    Even if a Man comes in and wants to be “dominated”, the truth is, he actually wants to “top from the bottom”. They’re after THEIR version of possessing my body, and I just have to perform the fantasy they’re looking for.

    It is rape like.

    But I made enough money to live on my own, and eat well that way. It was the same kind of dehumanizing as any other job. Machines and Assembly lines and Servers aren’t people. They’re functioning parts of a business. Churning out that dollar bill.

  84. ivyleaves

    It was eye-opening to me how much even my sisters didn’t believe me when I described the abuse I was getting from an ex. I didn’t realize this until I got some equipment and made a recording of it and played it back for them (think Mel Gibson). Their astonished reactions made me realize that it is important to get witnesses to the actual stuff, because no one believes you without proof, even if they should be on your side.

  85. Twisty

    Their astonished reactions made me realize that it is important to get witnesses to the actual stuff, because no one believes you without proof, even if they should be on your side.

    This makes me think of the tragic flipside, wherein I am on their side and take their word for it, and then they insist “Oh, he’s really not that bad, you just don’t know him like I do.”

    What a fucken mess.

  86. Hari B

    Twisty: ” “and then they insist “Oh, he’s really not that bad, you just don’t know him like I do.” ”

    Been there too often, listening to that. Can’t give the extent of loving patience anymore that I once did.

    StayingAlive–thanks for posting with an insider’s perspective.

  87. stickypaws

    Vivent les internet feministes. Yeah.

  88. Alex

    I agree with most of this post but am not sure about one aspect: that “to smash patriarchy entirely” would “obviat[e] the demand for prostitution altogether.” Could it not be that “eliminating the vast power imbalance that lies at the root of fetishized and eroticized dominance” would not, in fact, lead to eliminating prositution? Is a possible outcome that people of all genders continue to seek sex as a commodity from all genders?

    Also wonder about fetish sex work – since some people of all genders have powerful inclinations towards kink that can’t always be fulfilled by partners, I find it hard to imagine a world in which there is no market in fetish sex.

    I’d be interested to hear more about the link between smashing patriarchy and eliminating prositution (as opposed to preserving a kind of revised prostitution.)

  89. lizor

    This is a brilliant post and thread. Thanks so much Twisty for this refuge. As Hari says, it really is a healing space. I have been raped, stalked, harassed on the job and assaulted in the street more than once. It helps to hear others’ stories, even though being reminded of the prevalence of these horrid experiences is devastating.

    I am an abolitionist. I support the Swedish model as a transitional measure to undermine the industry, but ultimately I want a world where there are no Johns to charge and no sex for sale.

    Yeah, I know. Way to state the obvious.

    I also want a world where victims like me can cut the junk off our rapist and let them live the rest of their lives disarmed and disfigured. I know it’s a fantasy – that they’ll just use an object next time and that they really should all be exterminated, but I like to indulge the picture from time to time.

    I hope it’s OK to share a piece from a sex worker directed at non-industry women that underlines the continuum of sexual service to so many heterosexual encounters that don’t directly involve commerce.

    A jillion years ago I saw a presentation by Carol Leigh, who is credited with coining the term “sex worker”. It was back in my naive youth when I and lots of others thought that a vision of asserting our own sexuality and representation could lead to progress. So much for that delusion. But this poem of Leigh’s stuck with me and I offer it up as a discussion point.

    In her preamble, she talked about how the label “whore” can be conveniently applied to any woman any time to remove her humanity when that humanity an “inconvenience”, but that “whore” as an insult amongst sex workers just doesn’t fly. If you want to call down someone inside the trade you say “cheap”

    Her poem:

    CHEAP

    Cheap is when you fuck them to shut them up.
    Cheap is when you do it because they are worth so much.
    Cheap is when you suck them until your jaws hurt so they won’t say you
    are uptight.
    Cheap is when you do it to keep them home at night.
    Cheap is when you want less than pleasure, a baby, or a hundred dollars.
    Cheap is when you do it for security.
    Cheap is what you are before you learn to say no.
    Cheap is when you do it to gain approval, friendship, love.

    Carol Leigh aka Scarlot Harlot

    Hope this is OK Jill, despite all my leading “I”s.

  90. lizor

    Just one last thing. I have a lot of ambivalence about P-compliant women and the tenet that we must never criticize them. Some slaves fought on the side of the South in the civil war. If enough had done so, the South would have won. So what do you do as a black person fighting for abolition when a fellow slave is pointing a gun at you on behalf of the institution of slavery?

  91. piratequeen

    @lizor, I struggle to keep my blamin’ pointed at the P instead of the P-compliant, and sometimes feel ambivalent about my sistren. So, I feel ya. That said, comparison of racial oppression and gender oppression, even as a thought experiment, never takes the discourse to a good place.

  92. Hari

    lizor–that poem of Leigh’s is fantastic. She names all the things I’ve seen in operation…in myself and most other womyn who see themselves as so different than prostitutes when it comes to sex. Painful truths there.

    Otherwise–there have been many moments in my life when I wanted to hate on P-compliant womyn. In situations ranging from words/actions of my BFFs to colleagues or clients, politicians, doctors–womyn in every area of life. Ultimately, I see in them the same thing we’re all forced to contend with: the P. Too many womyn are blind to it, and have no idea how much harm they do to themselves, each other, their daughters by their P-compliance. No matter–it’s enough that I see it. In the end, IBTP. That’s what deserves the blame and the rage. Womyn get my compassion, even if sometimes that is a compassion more intellectual than active, and practiced from a safe distance where those womyn can’t actively hurt me.

  93. Hari

    To clarify, if I may: in situations political or economic, more generally-applicable issues that is, some womyn do recognize (though not all) the P-compliance of a chosen position. Politics and money have played a huge part, e.g., in my profession of homebirth midwifery which has been struggling for legal recognition nationwide over the last 40yrs. These womyn feel they simply must work as best they can within the existing structure to get anything at all, even if it means upholding male privilege and power over us.

    In more personal situations, such as the womyn who gave social support to my abuser and refused to believe me about his abuse: they simply could not see their automatic privileging of a male, and their internalized misogyny.

    Can’t truly hate any of them for this. IBTP, totally.

  94. lizor

    @ piratequeen. Yes, point taken re: racial comparisons. Just reaching for a model, but it was heavy handed and perhaps inappropriate.

    I have been thinking a lot recently about compliance within social hierarchies and in particular looking at the “breakdown” – more reshuffle, really – of the class system in England in the early 20th century. Many people in service believed in the honour of service and that understanding and accepting their place was the most virtuous mindset. In that belief they resisted the erosion of the rigid class hierarchy in a very real way.

    When Hari writes “Womyn get my compassion, even if sometimes that is a compassion more intellectual than active, and practiced from a safe distance where those womyn can’t actively hurt me.”, I get that totally. But what about when you are not at a safe distance and a P compliant woman is using the P to deliberately hurt and undermine you? How much compassion must we have? My stores are feeling a bit low these days and my “higher self” wants a vacation already.

  95. Hari

    lizor–honestly, I spend a lot of time alone, because my compassion stores are low, too–and my BS-detector is tired from constantly ringing. It’s a luxury only purchased by having just enough work to get by, at poverty level. Not everyone can or wants to be so often alone, or this poor.

  96. Boadie

    Well, as a female professional tantric massage therapist who’s currently in an educational program to become a Certified Sexological Bodyworker, I 100 percent agreed with this article right up until the very end. I do enjoy my work, but most women in the sex industry do not, and most of them are basically living lives of sexual slavery. But I think there are a few privileged ones who really do enjoy it. Many radical feminists don’t understand how I could be doing the work I’m doing or how I could enjoy it, but I do. But I’m not really sure what you’re defining as “sex work” and whether or not you would consider me a “sex worker.”

    I was really loving this article, actually, right up until the end when you said something about the empowerful sex workers wanting to profit from patriarchy. First of all, we all depend on patriarchal structures for survival because we are in fact living in a patriarchy. If you work for a big corporation, then you are no less a part of the patriarchy than I am, and you are arguably even more a part of it than I am.

    Second of all, it’s not my ultimate goal in life to profit from the patriarchy. Part of the reason why I’m this profession is because I’ve never wanted to be part of the corporate world chasing after money. What I really want is to help make the world a better place, especially for women. I’m learning therapies that can be used to help both women and men heal from sexual trauma, and learn healthier ways of being sexual. Believe it or not, much of what we are learning is actually quite critical of pornography and the surrounding culture in which we live.

    So tell me, is there a place for tantric massage in the post-patriarchal panacea, or must we eliminate our genitals completely in order to eliminate sexism?

  97. sarah

    Twisty, do you support the Swedish model as an approach to prostitution? It’s still not clear. Or are you arguing that the industry should be decriminalised across the board?

    There are sex industry advocates using your support of what looks like full decriminalisation to argue against anti-john, anti-pimp laws, so it would be interesting to clarify.

  98. Twisty

    do you support the Swedish model as an approach to prostitution?

    I don’t support any model as an approach to prostitution. I support the complete and unequivocal elimination of prostitution, as outlined in the post. Meanwhile, I condemn throwing prostituted women in jail for the so-called “crime” of having been exploited. I support throwing johns and pimps in jail for obvious reasons.

    If sex industry advocates are using my commentary to bolster their argument, they are taking it out of context to further the interests of a system of exploitation.

  99. janedoe7

    Couple of things, this is a topic that triggers the fuck out of me, so..I’ll try to maintain some composure here…me personally, hate prostitute in all it’s forms, and would prefer to just begin exterminating men. that aside, and yes I have a son and those feelings are hell for me but I have them neththless. ANYHOO, A COUPLE OF THINGS THAT ARE SERIOUSLY OVERLOOKED, in the debate whether to legalize sex industry or not, and first being,

    Once it is Legalized it is then socially morally or Ethics, Normalized in ALL IT’S FORMS, including Forcing women, children into the industry when the State deems fit. once that legis is ther, what little even if delusional at best, protections females have against forced sex slavery, is GONE. case on point, Germany, when benefits were cut, women were TOLD, go into sex work or else no benefits. This, is state rape, no ands ifs ORS buts about it…Just because we live in a hellish world in PatriARCy, does not mean we should aid the pagriARCy Phallocracy STATE in enslaving all of us deeper in the matrix…because ONCE we allow this, consent that is, we give up ALL our fighting ground for ALL FEMALES FOR THE REST OF THE FUTURE.

    IN NO WAY WILL ANY sex slave, improve their lot…the Johns, Pimps, but MOST IMPORTANTLY, the STATE as CORPORATE PIMP STATE will have a systematic sanctioned LICENSE to enslave us all, in temples, snuff farms, at a snap of a finger.

    The problem with these so called left solutions to oppression of women, is how I term it, is that they are too often nothing more than a ruse, a sinister ruse hiding an even more sinister agenda in the future. Why yes, I do agree with criminalizing Johns and ending the criminalizing of sex workers, the FACT OF THE. ATTER IS,

    You can do that WITHOUT LEGALIZING SEX SLAVERY/RAPE INDUSTRY. I refuse to term it sex work, in my strong opinion it is exploitation, not work. Work produces a product, even in nature work produces a product, a life force that BENEFITS ALL…sex slavery does NOT benefit all, there is absolutely NOTHING bio centric and LIFE GIVING about men raping and dominating and dehumanizing the FEMALE HUMAN. IF it was natural, then animals would do it by far…they do not. Therefore, it is in my opinion, against nature and is DEATH WORSHIP…they say prostitution is the oldest profession…it was WHEN, and this is important, the kings of old formed the temples of SACRIFICES to demons and gods, for the benefit of

    WAR.

    The temples, all that goddess bunk aside, we’re for taking in monies, gold, that the same SLAVES were beat to mine (ancient Sumer, Assyria, Babylon, history, not religion here..but if you know the occult you know the ritual psychology involved here) oh by, same way for India too, don’t let the ooh empowered sex goddess crap fool you, IT is an evil HIERARCHY in the world it self and butchering children IS their final aim…blood sacrifices. see too many think it’s Just for the trade of sex, wrong…there is far more occultist powers of MIND BINDING that work by the higher ups to MIND BIND, the entire slave populous, including the WAR fodder they intend to use. You cannot separate the WAR RITUALS FROM PROSTITUTION because they are TWINS. The infants born by these mass temple rapes, that old profession, if they were not WAR worthy or RAPE worthy or SLAVE worthy they were horribly tortured in the most sadistic ways…for the rape pleasure of despotic SADIST KINGS…FACT. This was their BLOOD SPORT. in fact, in many Occults and BDSM, aka Jesuits and inquisition, etc was and still is DIRECTLY RELATED TO ALL OF THESE AANCIENT POWER RITUALS…they Mixed the blood of sacrifices with that of animals and Drank it…fact. This went on in Rome, Greece, all over Middle East, and in parts of South/Central America as well..so when they Talk of the Oldest PROFESSION they NEGLECT the other side of that profession, the WAR sacrifices aka blood sport.
    And while we may not have the physical temples today, as fr as the zigguarats, etc, the Rituals are still in place, the hierarchies and the blood feasting.

    now, crazy as that sounds…take the bigger picture of global corporate State fascism, and the UN wanting to Legalize prostitution…the Trafficking along with drug and ARM SALES, MILITARY are in place, world wide. The Police structure and P HARM A is in place…now all they Ned is to normalize global forced sex slavery,

    Under the ruse of helping victims which we know, is bullshit. the issue I take with the whole sex workers rights bink, is that they in no way in hell represent the majority, the REALITY of sex slavery…the upper crust in the Mafiaosa Catholic Fascist backed Occult Capita
    It’s world do NOT care about the masses…ESP women. The dark knights, that’s what they are, the dark strong arm boys of the global elites, aka religion, power houses, who TERRORIZE women, for the purposes of either hoarding resources (sex slavery is and always has been about pleasing Business, Men, not the poor slave, usually) which is why sex slavery, ESP of children, is huge in Business Chambers districts, aka the Pharoahs Kings Bed Chambers. the other is WAR…and when the masses are too many, then

    Genocide, or Genetic Experimentation, camps, Mengele shit….

    It is directly linked to the psychology behind prostitution, this is WHY gambling, aka Mafia Dark Knights of the priesthood are all about this…same with assassins, we call them MONARCHS, it’s the sme system. State marriage Contracts, same damn system…collect those TEMPLE TRIBUTES to de gawds and gawd eases.

    The CLASS issue is the biggest issue, neglected by sex work advocates. Like Mafiaosa and gangs, there is an ENTIRE WORLD of a Pyramid system run by numbers, BODIES ARE NUMBERS…every stripper is given a number and is TRACKED through a huge data base, she not only is OWNED by the one club, but by ALL the clubs. FACT, she may not be aware of the matrix that owns her, bu it is there. IF she speaks truth of the corruption, she is dealt with, it is BY DESIGN, nothing is

    Accident.

    men who stupid in their being controlled by their dicks, I’m referring to the working classes here, are gullible in that while the Temple Lords may be appealing to their most debase nature…like how Trainers feed pit bull dogs bloody meat…they are being groomed, to normalize not only the oppression of their sisters, class, race, but of them selves. ESP for war fodder…WE don’t hear this much because the powers to be have done exceptional job at covering up their MIND BINDING techniques…they are, indeed, manipulated…NOT that these men are not responsible for their debasement of nature, they are,

    But occult wise, these boys, because they begin grooming these men as boys, are in fact, being brainwashed. using the Temple women, slaves, to do so. it is a type of dehumanizing training…now, expand that, to an ENTIRE SOCIETY, where prostitution is so normalized, even Sanctioned. They already did this with marriage, a STATE created institutuion, what do you think, they will do, with sex work?

    They will reduce all these workers as slaves, like wives, and they will be at the MERCY of the pimps and sadists, and there will be no help for them…other than a few tokens, a few lawyers who get rich off of cases, and the female will be at the private mercy of her OWNER…more than it is now. At least now, there is I’ll regard, a slight door of Some protection, remove that,

    She will have absolutely none and not only that…society will see nothing wrong with mass rapes and forced sex slavery…we have gone Backwards, in time. next, there will be auction blocs where females are sold, in the open market…wait and see. and they will be trafficked, because they are POOR, few will care. this is the future, what they DON’T want brought into the debate…and they. Scoff and call me crazy for all this, so be it…but this IS their true agenda.

  100. Twisty

    @janedoe7: Wow. I hardly ever publish 47,000-word comments overrun with caps, and I never read them. If you could condense the gist of your screed in a single paragraph, I would be glad to consider your views.

  1. The world’s oldest oppression | SCREAMING IN ALL CAPS

    [...] Or, to quote the always-awesome Internet feminist Twisty Faster: [...]

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