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.

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