Columns: Friday the Thirteenth

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Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

This coming Friday will be the first Friday the 13th since I’ve been writing for Cliterati; most of you are probably wondering what that has to do with anything.  Well, it’s just this:  from soon after the beginning of my own blog three years ago, I’ve asked those who aren’t sex workers to speak up for our rights on that day.  The gay rights movement didn’t really take off until the friends and families of gay people got involved, and it’s the same for us; since only about 1% of Western women ever formally work as whores, we’re going to need a lot of help to make our voices heard.  We need all the sex workers (such as strippers, dominatrices and porn actresses) whose fields aren’t currently criminalized, and the sugar babies and other women who have informally or indirectly taken money for sex at least once (which might be as high as 10% of all women).  We need all of the men who hire us at least occasionally, which comes to about 20% of the adult male population.  We need all of the women who recognize that cops can’t tell the difference between professionals and amateurs, and that laws which can be used to arrest us will also work to arrest you.  We need all of those who love porn, polyamory, BDSM or kink, because even though policing of sex usually starts with harlots, it never stops with us.  We need all of the public health and human rights experts who understand the necessity of decriminalization in light of their respective fields, all of the libertarians who recognize that governmental prohibition of consensual behavior is both indefensible and dangerous to individual liberty, and all of the feminists who recognize that a woman’s right to control her own body and make her own sexual and economic choices is the primary feminist issue.  And we need all of the decent human beings who don’t fall into any of those categories, but are simply disgusted by the idea of armed thugs arresting, humiliating and ruining people for the “crime” of consensual sex.

I understand that many of you, especially the men, are not in a position of being able to speak out publicly without suffering some sort of censure or risking the hostility of wives, girlfriends and female co-workers.  But fortunately, we live in an age where it’s easy to speak anonymously:

…talk about the issue with someone who will listen, make a post on a discussion board, comment on a news story which spreads disinformation, or even just post a link to this column.  If you aren’t confident in your ability to debate, even a simple phrase like “I think adult women should have the right to decide why and with whom they want to have sex” or “everyone has the right to equal protection under the law” might have a tiny but important impact on those who overhear.

If you’re in a position to speak or write but you’re at a loss for strategy, my column for International Sex Worker Rights Day had some useful suggestions that might inspire you.  And if you have a blog of your own, I’m asking you pretty-please-with-sugar-on-top to try; even just a short post would help to amplify the message.  Last year, Dr. Sarah and Amazing Susan heeded the call, and this year I’m hoping for a veritable crowd; whenever one of y’all posts, be sure to email me, “tweet” me or announce it in a comment on my blog so I can share the link on Twitter.  Furthermore, every single post y’all make Friday will be announced and linked in my next Friday the 13th column, only three months down the road on December 13th.  And yes, reblogs of this column are acceptable, and will get your name on the honor roll come December.  It’s time we let the prohibitionists know that if they want to pick on sex workers, we have a whole lot of brothers and sisters they’re going to have to face as well.

(A slightly different version of this post will appear this coming Friday in The Honest Courtesan.)

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  • Steersman commented on September 12, 2013 at 03:29

    Great post, great idea; I hope that it gathers some serious momentum.

    And, apropos of which and to add my shoulder to that wheel, I will cheerfully and readily, although still somewhat semi-anonymously, admit to having hired more than a few sex workers over a not inconsiderable period of time, and have generally appreciated the services rendered – and which frequently extended to rather more than the typical “wham, bam, thank you m’am”. Something which, from the evidence, seems if not the rule then certainly more than an infrequent exception. For instance, there was this story in Macleans magazine (1) several years ago about a woman who became:

    … New York’s number 1 escort — a hooker who commanded up to US$2,000 an hour, and received 10-out-of-10 ratings from the politicos, captains of industry and pro athletes who used her services

    And that seems to have been predicated on something quite a bit more than her talents in bed:

    “They were coming to me looking for a vacation, a little break from their lives,” she told Maclean’s. “I think I made them happy.” ….. “The guys were really nice, they treated me well. We’d talk a lot about their lives.” Drawing on her training as an actress, she immersed herself in the new role. “I was always there and present. I didn’t separate or detach myself.”

    While there seems to be, as in many situations, a spectrum of reasons why men, primarily, hire escorts, it seems that making connections of more than just the physical variety motivates many “Johns” at least some of the times. It seems also that not all of us are particularly enamored with all of the tradeoffs required in traditional relationships, or are otherwise interested in or have access to them, but still have a non-trivial if infrequent need for some of the, admittedly limited, intimacies afforded by the “neighborhood professionals”. My hat is off to all in the profession.

    As I’ve argued elsewhere (2):

    Ethically, it seems that, as several have argued, as long as there is no particularly odious levels of coercion and that there are adequate alternatives and protections, [prostitution] is no worse or no better than being, for example, a tennis pro. Really only a quid pro quo, something we all do.

    Unfortunate though, to put it mildly, that society’s attitudes towards the profession tends to make it about 7 times more dangerous, in terms of homicides per capita, than the next more dangerous one, male taxicab drivers (3). While changing the laws to make it legal would probably improve that substantially, in the interim various actual and potential technological solutions, one of which I’ve suggested here (4), may at least reduce that danger.

    1) “_”;
    2) “_”;
    3) “_”;
    4) “_”;

  • Great respinse. I would love to add it as an article to get it more visibility on Cliterati if that’s ok with you?

  • Steersman commented on June 29, 2014 at 20:28

    My apologies for the delay in responding to you. But if it’s still an option or something you’re interested in doing then yes, please do post it as an article. I really do believe there would a lot less grief in the world if prostitution got a lot better press than it does, and I’m happy to contribute whatever I can to promote that.

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