Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Body Rental - Part Three

I didn't plan to write about this again, but read an article about Organ markets...

so final thoughts...

I sort of see a list of physical services that undereducated poor people's bodies provide:

Ranked in Order of the social "good" they provide the developed world:

Ranked in order of harm done to the developing world:

Questioning potential trajectories for the development of each industry, I see

Transplants: Hopefully, if post-mortem organ donation normalizes across the developed world, the industry of harvesting organs from live donors will disappear.
Prostitution: Dubious. There are simultaneously increases in sex tourism AND in demand for more authentic, more emotionally fulfilling sex work. And there are a bunch of women who aren't sex workers. Don't see this skyrocketing. Or in other words, I don't see sexual services being completely outsourced to the poor/third world countries.
Surrogacy: I can totally see a society where all middle and upper-class women, with a few exceptions, outsource carrying babies to the third world/poor. I mean, that's sort of the last step gender equality needs to take, right? Freeze some eggs, work, have a great career, at 40, ship your eggs and your husbands sperm to a clinic in india to be carried by a woman there. I'd do it if the idea wasn't so horrific.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Antis.

So - Amanda Brooks' last blog post was on Craigslist's dismantling of the erotic services page.

The post included a general rant over frustration with "Antis." Generally, prohibitionist groups. Who dominate discourse on Prostitution in America and use bogus research to construct arguments to heighten penalties against prostitutes/clients and heighten law enforcement activity.

The topic of prohibitionist Advocacy Groups in America is something that I've increasingly become interested in, thanks to a little miss I met dabbling in the club environment in Berlin last fall who made the unfortunate decision of taking a lot of sexual identity courses and studying commercial sex, broadly, when she returned from DE.

Poor America.

Anyways, Little Miss sent me a link to a very insightful article on abolitionist groups, advocacy research, and prostitution mythologies that get circulated in the press. Apparently, little miss sent an email to her father, who replied with:

"The most reasonable argument (and coincidentally my own view) about the effect of paid sex on the women (and men) involved is that it destroys all that is rewarding, challenging, life-enhancing, about intimate interpersonal relationships...the infinitely interesting negotiations between prospective lovers is replaced with cash and play-acting, the only remotely interesting questions remaining being a) the man's deluded question of whether she would "really" like him even without the cash and b) the woman's question of how much money she can make from the man.  This sort of more or less reasonable position is held by more or less reasonable people.

I'm guessing many ardent prohibitionists are (unreasonable) Homely And Over-Educated (HAOE) women.

HAOE women resent men and women who are having loose or paid sex: they resent men because men reject them. They resent "loose" women because loose women "unfairly" employ physical attractiveness to snare (gullible, stupid) men.  Most of all, they resent that their homeliness and over-educatedness completely rules them out of the paid-sex arena. (Men with money choose attractive and educated women; men without money are too "low" for HAOE women.) 

Because they aren't getting any, HAOE women have a great deal of energy available to agitate for their position, they're angry. The "reasonable" argument stated above in the second paragraph isn't the sort of position that anyone can agitate for or get get worked up about.

So HAOE women have to create a fantasy world in which their anger (at being rejected by men, at being excluded from the paid-sex world) is justifiable. 

For HAOE to direct their anger at paid-sex women would expose their jealousy and make them look silly.

But while (loose and) paid-sex women are merely unfair competition, paying-for-sex men actively reject HAOE, and thus come in for the worst attacks.

So what is generally a routine, freely bargained cash-for-fun transaction is transformed in HAOE fantasy to brutal exploitation by the paying man, and desperate helplessness in the paid woman.   

In this way can the HAOE woman express in a socially acceptable way her rage at being rejected by men and excluded from the paid-sex arena."

Thank you, Father of Little Miss.

And then, there are a few other Ardent Abholitionists:

-Women who have had traumatic, exploitative experiences in prostitution. I empathize with this group. I do. And in no way do I question the depth of their pain or the legitimacy of their subjective experiences.

At this point, it's important for me to state: in no way do I believe my own experience as an escort is entirely representative of sex work. I do believe, based on meeting an increasing number of escorts, reading blogs, and reading this really fantastic british escort discussion forum that the number of women in sex work who enjoy sex work or at least don't hate it and who are almost solely harmed by the stigma of participating in sex work (harm=difficulty in finding romantic partners and employment, hiding a large part of their life from friends and family, the threat of arrest and fear of reporting rape and physical assaut to police) is not insignificant. 

Returning to this group: just as I do not say that all hookers are happy hookers, I find it unfair and irresponsible for this group to claim that all hookers are underaged, coerced into sex work, and abused in sex work. Angela Dworkin, I feel for you. I do. But ask yourself why your writing on prostitution becomes the literary flag of all prohibitionist groups, whereas your writing on marriage and heterosexual sex is ridiculed.

Honestly, if banning prostitution entirely would prevent 14-year-old girls from being emotionally manipulated by pimps, abducted and traded into sex slavery, I would support that. It is banned. It doesn't. Essentially, I hope that in the future, this group will work with the happy hooker group to advocate for social and child-welfare services and for policies which best promote the safety and welfare of vulnerable groups in prostitution.

-Pie-in-the-sky philosophers.  Prostitution inherently objectifies women. Legalizing prostitution will enforce gender inequalities, institutionalize gendered labor, and sexualize society so that male bosses, colleagues and classmates will feel comfortable offering all women money for sex. (This is too much to delve into right here. A later post.)

-Wives and Husbands Remember Spitzer was New York's Antitrafficking Crusade's number one man. America, and perhaps western society in general, is so obsessed with physical fidelity, and views physical infidelity as a cataclysmic event in an emotional relationship. (This will be another post.) Thus, young, attractive women who are available for physical infidelity are an existential threat to partnerships.

-Evangelical Moralists I believe the true-in-words-and-spirit-and-acts evangelical moralist is a rare creature. A rare rare creature indeed. But hey, if you truly believe that handing out pamphlets and hugs on street corners and in strip clubs will save women and souls, power to you.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Wives and Whores...

Found in the New Internationalist...

"The whore-stigma ensures that the Good Woman and the Bad Girl stick to their separate spheres. For what might happen if it were suddenly OK for housewives and hookers to get together?

A friend of mine, a working prostitute, comments: ‘I think a lot of men are afraid that if their wives cottoned on to how much we make in this business, they wouldn’t put up with the old man anymore. I’ve had clients say as much. It’s the money – women don’t have the money to get out of a boring marriage, or whatever, and these men know it. It’s how they keep ‘em down.’"

Saturday, May 21, 2011

"I like to believe I have some kind of free choice. Some choice in my life. That
I chose a lesser evil. I wanted to do it. And somehow I want that to be respected.
I wanted to do that. Somehow their pity deprives me of my freedom of choice.
. . . Something in me just resents this moralism, their uplifting. I’d like so much
to have the illusion that I had some freedom of choice. Maybe it’s just an
illusion, but I need to think I had some freedom."

Female Body Rental, Part Two

Right right right.

Motherhood is noble.The desire to give a child a good household is...noble. Having Children is a right. Yeah yeah yeah.

But let's backtrack here: how is this right constructed?

1a. It is the right to have a child with your own DNA
1a. It is the right to have a child from your CLASS, of your race.
2 (for couples that can concieve) It is the right to avoid the burden of pregnancy.

For 1a, there is always the option of adoption. There are LOTS of options...and yes, knowing people who have adopted, it's a round-about process with long wait times.

For 2, it's especially problematic.

Supporters of surrogacy for group 1 support (my assumption is largely middle and upperclass women)'s desires to posess a child of their own DNA makeup.
Supporters of surrogacy for group 2 support middle and upperclass women's desires to posses a child of their own DNA makeup and to outsource the physical burden of creating that child to another woman.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Female Body Rental

Women's bodies can be rented for gendered purposes. They can be rented for sexual purposes. Or reproductive purposes.

Since the cash incentive of prostitution and economic exploitation of empoverished women in prostitution is already well documented (I mean, noone in their right mind would argue that women have sex in prostitution for altruistic reasons or because they...just enjoy it.), I'll leave that fact out and focus on the cash incentive and economic structuring of surrogate purchasers renters. Then I'll compare the physical and emotional risks and benefits of selling your womb versus selling your vagina, and ask some open-ended questions about how each is understood.

Surrogacy Facts:

-There are fewer surrogate mothers in states and countries where commercial surrogacy is banned.
-The average surrogate earns between $10,000 and $35,000 for surrogacy.
-The average surrogate’s annual income is between $6,000 to $55,000.
-And while a survey of surrogates indicated that 80% of respondents said that money wasn’t the main motivator, the following questions on a surrogate mother forum indicate that money actually does…sorta…matter.
-The average cost of surrogate pregnancy for a couple desiring a surrogate child is $100,000.
So it’s…wealthy couples. Wanting reproductive services. From lower-class women.

Comparison between physical and emotional risks and costs of surrogacy and pregnancy:

-Time Nine month, 24/7 rental, hormonal and physical changes; Hormone injections.
-Control factor If complications arise, couple might want you to abort the baby. You cannot abort the baby past the second trimester. Lifestyle changes and constant monitoring by "couple."
-Physical Risk 10.43 per cent chance of experiencing complications for women aged 20-29 (This is not including C-sections, random minor complications), 3 months of physical discomfort and 4-35 hours of intense physical pain. Permanent physical alteration, damage (loose breasts and skin on stomach, stretched out vagina).
-Emotional Damage: Preparing yourself to be detatched from a human being that has been growing inside of you for nine months and to which your body is releasing a bunch of attachment hormones.
-Power relationship: You are being monitored, and are being pressured into maintaining obligations by lawyers, a married couple, and a host of doctors. Pure objectification - the act of harvesting a baby involves, purely, providing a good, drug free enviornment for a future child.
-Pay Rate: (considering median surrogate fee of $20,000 for 9 months, 10 days of 24/7 on-duty, we'll add another month of 8 hour/day for dietary and health constraints and hormonal injections) Appx. $3.00/hour
-Fraction of total fees paid to woman rented: appx. 20%

-Time: Most frequently, between 10 min and an hour of continuous and purely physical services.
-Control: The possibility to terminate provision of services if pain/physical discomfort arises.
-Physical Risks: If we assume standard work conditions, physical risks include minor vaginal or anal tearing, jaw or hand cramps, and minimal possibility of STD transmission via Oral sex or if a condom slips off or breaks during vaginal or anal intercourse.Generally, none. Possible minor laxity of anus and vagina.
-Emotional damage: detachment from someone you most likely weren't attracted to anyways. Possibly closing your eyes and imagining that George Clooney, rather than very sweet but quite fat 60 year old banker, is on top of you. developing a different attitude towards sex. possible trust issues.
-Power relationship: at best, it's you and the guy.
-Objectification Factor At worst, pure objectification. No conversation, the guy walks in, he fucks you, he leaves. At best, you're a temporary girlfriend and your personality, interests, speech and movements are all cherished.
-Pay Rate (assuming a women with the same socioeconomic stability, health, and education as the average american surrogate mother) $350.00/hour.
-Fraction of total fees paid to woman rented: 
Independent: 100%
Agency: 50-75%
Brothel: 40-60%

Why is surrogate motherhood legal in the United States while prostitution is illegal? Why is the former illegal in Canada, the UK, and the EU, while the later is either completely or partially legalized?

What makes it acceptable for upper-middle class couples to provide financial incentives to young, lower class women to perform reproductive services and why is this practice construed as “noble” and “not exploitative?”

Also, what makes it unacceptable for upper-middle class men to provide financial incentives to lower class women to perform sexual services, and what makes this institution “dirty,” “exploitative,” and “abusive towards women?”

A bit of literary candy...

In a beige hotel room. Satin curtains blowing.

I was blowing him. About an inch and a half in, focusing on the tip, not very much head movement, rotating hands. Licking, exploring the crease of the tip, the scar mark from circumcision, the little line that pulls the tip downwards...

I glance up. He's gripping the back of his head. The white pillows. He sees my pupils.

"God, that's absolutely amazing."

I flip up. Jut my face forward. Grin.


"Yeah, you're avoiding the common problem. Girls make it all the time. Most girls go really fast up and down, you know, jam me against the back of their throat. The tip, though, is the most sensitive part. So having lips and tongue around the base of my cock and the back of her throat against the tip doesn't actually feel that great."

Holding his cock gently with one hand, feeling the soft skin, a teasing kiss...

"I know why. Porn. Guys watch porn. Girls watch porn. Porn is all about deep throating, pushing a woman's head down, a woman frantically going up and down."


My lips are gently pursed around him. I flicker his tip with my tongue. Resting my chin on the tip, holding him gently. Rub the tip against the dip in my chin, my lip, bring it in, lick, look up.

"Yeah, this is oh...amazing. Visually, does nothing." I grin. Move up and down, hold his hardening balls, feel pricks of freshly shaved hair push up through the skin.

"Yeah. I think that's hot because it's power. You have a girl taking it in really deep, and you get the thought, she's doing this FOR ME. But I'm not into pain. So it, yeah, doesn't really do anything for me.

A few minutes later...

"You know, if you want to get in on this at all, you better stop doing that, missie."

I get up. I kneel over, squatting on his thighs, my abdomen pointing his penis straight up, towards my belly buttion.