That Guardian piece about prostitution last week

It's taken a while to finish this, partly because of other stuff, but mostly because I went 'argh, what crap' so often when reading it.

One of the problems is that it's a bit like the situation with bisexuality – you can get people thinking that ALL bisexuals are closeted married men having sex with men in 'public sex environments' and others going 'bisexuals are evil women who leave lesbian relationships for men' and more who… etc etc without any of them acknowledging the real diversity. And because of various political agendas (Liz Kelly, for example, is rabidly against all sex work) there is minimal meeting of minds.

So as ever with sex work, the stereotypes come out:

".. a world conveniently free of crack.."

Ha! There is indeed a group of women doing it because of drug addictions, but almost all of them are doing streetwork because they're too chaotic to do anything else. If you tell a bunch of escorts that they're exploited because of their addictions, they piss themselves laughing.

Or if you look at male escorts (which most of these 'look at these poor exploited women, aren't we so much better than them? Something Must Be Done' articles never do) then about two thirds of them are doing drugs: but they're doing the drugs two thirds of the gay scene do! (So cocaine rather than crack, ketamine rather than heroin etc.)

"The writer .. clearly has a rare ability to separate sex from emotion"

Ha! What crap. The reality is that if you can happily do anonymous casual sex with men, you can very probably do it for cash with few problems.

".. after graduating, working as an escort for £300 an hour seemed far preferable to badly paid temping work."

Duh. Doing sex work is not everyone's choice, but it amazes me is that there are people who think that choosing to be sexual with a random stranger for an hour, rather than ask 'Do you want fries with that?' in a McJob for ten, twenty, or even more hours, is morally objectionable.

"Politicians are conflicted about what to do: some think the solution is to legalise brothels…"

What the Home Office suggested for small operations in 2006, for very good safety reasons. No sign of them actually doing it, though.

"… while others point to what has happened in the Netherlands, where legalisation has increased trafficking and violence against prostitutes.


Last week it was announced that ministers were considering plans to criminalise the men who pay for sex, which brought a mixed reaction – many seemed irritated that it was women ministers behind the idea.

It's been on Harriet Harman's agenda for ages, and she's now Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. She, or one of the other handful of ministers who wants this, was clearly doing some briefing a fortnight ago.

Bet they all pay someone to clean their toilets. Anyone else see the contradiction between them paying someone to wipe up their shit (usually for not much money) and saying it's not ok for others to pay someone happy to help them have orgasms?

Some see it as a step in the right direction away from punishing the women; others fear it would force prostitutes to work in less visible, less safe places.

Abso-fucking-lutely. Remember that in the UK, selling sex is legal. (What's not is offering to do so on the street, or owning/running a brothel or agency.) The idea that soliciting will be legalised is sadly laughable, so this is bash the workers, bash the clients. Of course it's going to create more problems – the experience of Sweden where they've done this tells us that – but some people would feel so proud of themselves because they've Done Something.

The desperately unsafe working conditions typical in prostitution aren't in focus

Most of these are problems caused by the illegality of working together / streetwork.

must play down the reality that the independence attributed to "call girls" is largely illusory. They have little or no control over their clients and limited control over the sexual services that have to be performed.

What utter crap. He's talking about a group of people who've typically thought extremely carefully about what to do and who to do it with. Offering more money to cross those boundaries would lead to being kicked out and reported to other escorts as someone to avoid.

One of the paradoxes of prostitution is that the women who work on the streets can exercise some degree of control over the selection of clients, the services available and the price charged.

Has this man ever met an independent escort?

the same demographic who use prostitutes: virginal schoolboys and lonely losers who fancy a cheap thrill.

Crap. Still, the Home Office deliberately avoided the research on clients when it did its patronisation, erm, consultation too.

Even high-class call girls know that if they are attacked, the police and courts are likely to treat them as though they "asked for it" and put them on trial rather than their assailant/s.

Annoyingly, the ECP has agendas above the interests of sex workers too. Things have improved incredibly in this area, as several people who tried it on with the male and trans escorts I used to work with could tell you.

The one quote I like is apparently from 'Belle' herself:

"Unless you have been a sex worker, or know one intimately, you have No. Fucking. Clue."

A while back, there was 'have / would you' meme that included buying sex. A pile of people where happily going 'yes' to a variety of things, including some that'd end up with them in jail if they were unlucky, or a simple 'no' to some taboo others.

But to the 'buying sex' question, it was 'OMG NO WAY' – people were going out of their way to say they'd never, ever do that.

So I posted something about what that meant. I expected a number of people to come out about having done sex work, but I was surprised at how many did.

What's really needed is for clients to come out. Clients include some very lovely people. I say this every so often on the various prostitution related message boards, but there's little sign of it actually happening, alas. But unless the real diversity of workers and clients speak out, the stereotypes will rule, and they're very uncomplimentary about both sides.

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