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3 posts categorized "Prostitution"

September 19, 2008

A Job Like Any Other???

This post will probably have some sex workers up in arms. I don't really mind their profession; what they do is their business (preferably private), but it's quite strange to reconcile the fact that many of them expect their jobs to be viewed on the same level as other jobs when they're not like other jobs. To say, 'it's a job like any other job' simply doesn't ring true no matter how many sex work activists say it is.

What made me think about this? The rising popularity of 'hooker' television, the type that glamorizes the industry, and it did make me mentally explore a high school situation. It's a hypoethical situation, but imagine if a girl entered a career guidance counselor's office and said, "I want to be an escort/hooker/prostitute.' Imagine that? But is it possible in the future? Television tends to glamorize sex. There are no wet spots, fanny farts, butt farts and the sweat is carefully applied. There is seldom any male arse hair. There are no lop-sided penises, droopy boobs or occasional stretch marks. Thus, if a girl – after a constant diet of 'hooker TV' (like Secret Diary of a Call Girl) and the array of perfect-sex sex worker diaries/blogs – arrived at the real deal, what would she experience? Would she be shocked, horrified or disillusioned?

At UNSW, I had the misfortune of picking a general education topic in my third year.  It was called "Social Aspects of Deviance," and to tell you the truth, I hated this class after the first class I attended. Everything was so politically correct. Everyone knows that legalizing prostitution does little to persuade the average person. Call it the Madonna/Whore Syndrome, whatever takes your fancy, but people prefer to live life within clear lines; they have their work, they have their play. They have definitions. There is nice and there is naughty, and so on. You can legalize prostitution but you won't alter the inner definitions of the individual. Prostitutes may say (until they're blue in the face), "my job is like any other," but really, who believes that? I'm not going to pretend and say that I believe it, because I don't, because it's not like any other job or a conventional job. For starters, ordinary jobs don't require a person to show their short and curlies, or their waxed genitals. And that's just the start.

In some countries, there is a 'bring your children to work day,' or something along those lines. Now, don't tell me that you can do this in the sex industry. You can't. Hence, it isn't like any other job. It's not like you can explain the 'punters' or 'johns.'

"Why are you wearing that mummy?"
"Because he likes the texture of PVC, darling."
"But why are you carrying a whip?"
"He likes the occasional smack every now and then."
The child frowns in confusion.
"Is he naughty?"
"He likes to pretend being naughty."
"But what if I pretend to be naughty? Will you whip me with that?" asks the horrified child.
"No darling, this is a pretend whip. It doesn't really hurt. It's only for grown ups, now come along so you can see what mummy does for work." The door opens to an average room in a suburban brothel (if you think everything resembles a glam TV show, then you really need a reality check – most punters can't afford five star brothels).
"OMG…he's not wearing any pants. Ew…yucky!"
"Now, now…let's not be rude to the nice man."

It wouldn't really work would it? Average job like any other? Who are we trying to kid? Ourselves? But that's not to say that it's a morally 'wrong' choice. If a person can handle it, then sure, whatever works to bring home the bacon, but don't push the envelope up my ass and call it a 'job like any other.' Prostitution is about as ordinary as working in a S.W.A.T. team. Imagine bringing your kid to work during a hostage siege?

"That's a big gun!"
"Careful. Don't touch it! It's dangerous!"
"Is it like the movies? Are you gonna break the door and charge through like the Feebies?"
"Feebies?"
"FBI," child rolls their eyes.
"No…"
"Are you gonna kill the bad guy, are you?"
"That all depends…"
"On what?"
"If he tries to kill us."
Kid starts crying..."I'm scared. You're going to die...We're going to die...I want my mummy!"
"Stop your grizzling! I can't concentrate!"
S.W.A.T. team parent thinks, 'whose idea was this stupid take your kid to work day?"

~~

To come: my weekly roundup of my frustrated diary of a television viewer. Yes, housemate did it again. Stole the television to perve at Billie Piper, and I don't mind Billie Piper. Which woman carries a roll of cash?...but...that's for later.

May 18, 2008

From Madam to Slave Owner

The definitions can change depending on the work conditions. An appeal in Australia's High Court concerns one Wei Tang, and while some argue that Tang's methods didn't amount to slavery, the conditions indicate otherwise:

They were told they were "contract girls" who owed a "debt" of between $40,000 and $45,000 that they had to work off (a figure much higher than they had been led to expect). This would involve providing sexual services for no payment for up to 900 men. They were housed in bedrooms in which they slept up to four at a time on mattresses on the floor. Their passports and return tickets were taken from them and locked away and their freedom of movement was restricted. They worked 10-to-12-hour shifts six nights a week just to reduce their "debt", and if they worked a seventh night could keep that money for themselves.

Servicing 900 men for no pay at all. Wow! I'd call that exploitation. If a conventional company did this, employ a person to put in the equivalent amount of hours for no pay, then they'd be in for hefty fines and prosecuted in accordance to labor laws, but Tang (and some sex lobbyists) doesn't think of herself as a slave master.

Scarlet Alliance's Elena Jeffrey's downplays the trafficking numbers, and says that all these workers are sex workers in their home country's. So what Elena? Maybe they didn't want to be sex workers to begin with, and it could very well be that the only option they had in their countries, countries like Thailand, was prostitution, but in a country like Australia, women do have more options if they have the chance to choose, and have opportunities to expand their skills. This is the side of prostitution that angers me, the notion that, 'they were sex workers before, and so what?' When the reality is that countries like Thailand don't have millions of Belle de Jours living allegedly glam lives, which is why I'm not one to be easily thrilled with anonymous call-girl biographies. They tend to spread a glamorous generalization that mutes the real issues that plague other countries with few labor laws for sex workers - which has led to a rise in HIV, among other things.

Yes, believe it or not, prostitution (and sex work conditions) does vary from one country to the next. There are women, in some parts of the world, who become sex workers because they have to, not because they want to, and this issue is seldom discussed by prostitutes or sex workers in the western world.

One would have to be an idiot not to see the elements of sex slavery in the Tang case, and the argument of 'well they were sex workers in their home land,' doesn't justify the fact that this sleazy madam exploited women for her own ends.

May 13, 2007

Chinese Whispers

When I sat down and wrote a post titled ‘Whores, Politicians and the Urban Myth of Feminism,’ in March I didn’t think it would end up being linked in three places, one of which is an article that has been doing the rounds, written by Cathy Young for Reason Magazine. I really love it when clever essayists downplay a person's situation, as I feel has occured in this case. Sure, I did thank her for including my blog post (weren't there any North American bloggers who wrote about their experience on the other end of prostitution?), but the follow up sentence after the link to my post remained in my mind all this week:

"It is sometimes claimed that the true victims of prostitution are the johns' wives. But surely women whose husbands are involved in noncommercial—and sometimes quite expensive—extramarital affairs are no less victimized."

I’d like to take the opportunity to say that I didn’t use the word ‘victim’ within the post, but the strange world of blogging can also be one of Chinese Whispers, where people interpret things the way they desire to interpret them. I wouldn’t call leaving a relationship a victim-like behavior, and yet there were some who linked to my post (prior to Cathy Young’s article) who insinuated this.

Like Young (in her concluding paragraph), I tend to agree with the following:

“selling sex should ever be seen as an empowering or liberating way of life, or an affirmation of female sexuality.”

Continue reading "Chinese Whispers" »

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