Archive for May 25th, 2012

EVERYTHING NOT FORBIDDEN IS COMPULSORY.  –  T.H. White, The Once and Future King (notice posted in an ant colony)

No job is right for everyone, and as I‘ve often said sex work is no exception; some people love it, some hate it, some tolerate it, and nearly everyone who does it feels it’s the best available option.  The same rule applies within the sphere of sex work; one woman may prefer stripping, another phone sex work, still another prostitution.  And even within prostitution there are many, many ways to work, no one of which is right for every whore.  For me and many others, one of the most important advantages of harlotry is the freedom it gives; one can work as much or as little as one wants, at whatever day or time one wants, in one’s own home or some specific place, or only at clients’ places, or some mixture.  One can set a very high price and do few calls, or a lower price and do more; one can be a GFE, PSE or plain vanilla, specialize in short calls or long, and pretty much arrange things as one pleases.  If one decides she’s had enough for a given day she can sign off, if she decides to work a little longer she can, and if she decides to break or change her personal rules there’s nobody to say she can’t.  Of course, the more freedom a hooker wants the less security she has; working with others requires keeping one’s bargains, paying any agreed-upon fees, adhering to arranged schedules, etc.

All of this drives “authorities” crazy; the mind of a control freak craves being able to cram everything and everyone into neat little boxes, and to adopt a “one size fits all” approach to everyone forced into a given box.  Listen to the stupid rhetoric cops and politicians spew about hookers:  we’re “all” criminals, or victims, or psychologically dysfunctional, or slutty, or whatever.  And even those who recognize that using words like “all” makes them sound moronic insist that exceptions are few and rare, while in reality it’s exactly the opposite:  the most consistent statement one can make about whores is that it’s really difficult to make consistent statements about whores.  American policies tend to pretend we’re all streetwalkers, and many of the “legalized” or “tolerated” European regimes of the recent past (as late as the 1980s) usually dramatically overestimated the number of dates contracted by any given girl, mostly to squeeze them for as much tax revenue as possible but also to reinforce their own myths about our “dirtiness”, “sluttiness”, “degradation”, etc (hence the common “15 clients a day” myth).

This masculine obsession with control and “regulation” is the reason cops and bureaucrats are so consistently fond of red-light districts and licensed brothels; they concentrate all the uppity, chaotic, disobedient floozies into one place where they can be more easily monitored and more conveniently harassed, robbed and raped.  This is not to say that such places don’t have their advantages; as pointed out in Wednesday’s column they allow the creation of female-dominated subcultures where women can support and defend one another, and they certainly make it easier for the clients to locate women to hire.  But once “authorities” recognize the huge amount of money to be made, corrupt licensing systems favoring the wealthy and politically-connected usually develop, turning the walls that keep danger out into pens keeping whores in.  Some women still prefer the safety, the regimentation and the advantage of having a basic idea of whose arse has to be kissed and when, but others would rather gamble with cops and bad clients than work for a state-approved pimp.  This is, of course, the problem with the Nevada system, a model virtually no sex worker rights advocate or advocacy group recommends:  a very small number of licenses are held by a very small group of wealthy cronies, prostitutes are virtual prisoners who must be constantly on call and submit to humiliating “lineups” like animals to be judged at a county fair, and cannot refuse clients without severe penalties.  As explained in my column of one year ago today, these onerous requirements cause most women of “high opportunity cost” to avoid working in Nevada brothels; 70% of all Nevada prostitutes prefer to work illegally than to live under such a regime.  Of course, some men and virtually all politicians love it for the same reason so many whores hate it:  the system reduces sexually powerful, often haughty harlots to mere employees working in a different kind of cubicle.

The arbitrary character of laws imposed on prostitutes becomes obvious when one compares various legalization regimes; brothels, for example, are banned in the UK but required in Nevada.  The judicial process in Canada may soon result in decriminalization of brothels there, which would be a good thing if whores can choose to work in them or not as they please, and if the licensing procedure is sufficiently liberal and reasonable that it does not result in a corrupt cartel controlling a small number of brothels with virtually-identical conditions, thus negating real choice of work arrangements.  But apparently, that oppressive scenario is exactly what some control freaks envision for Ontario:

…Ailing Toronto strip clubs have bold plans to become glitzy high-security bordellos that feature both prostitutes and exotic dancers now that the Ontario Court of Appeal has thrown out a ban on hookers.  The bordello option is gaining steam with support from some Toronto city councillors who say it will bring millions of dollars into the cash-starved city…some advocates call for a downtown red light district.  Others want sex to be sold and packaged like the Nevada-based Moonlite Bunny Ranch…whose officials will travel here in June on a fact-finding tour…Advocates for brothels claim rooms for sex romps can be constructed to existing Toronto strip clubs, which are already zoned for sex use. Nurses will be on site to conduct medical checks on sex workers and there will be security cameras in common areas and emergency alarms in the sex stalls to protect women.  Club owners said the prostitutes will undergo training and must pass a police background security check before they’re hired.  Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, chairman of the community development and recreation committee, said the city stands to gain millions of dollars in taxes if licensed adult clubs expand into legal brothels…Mammoliti claims brothels can curb the trafficking of women for the sex trade, clean up the shady massage and sex parlour industry, place health workers in clubs, force pimps out and make it safer for prostitutes and their customers…

Leave it to politicians to figure out a way to turn a victory for sex workers into a two-tiered scheme which will exclude everyone who cannot pass a background check or won’t submit to police registration, or who won’t work in “sex stalls”, or who refuse to endure the invasive and degrading “health inspections” many countries have discarded as useless and unnecessary.  If these brothels are but one option for working girls and don’t result in stigmatization or persecution of the (probably) 70% who prefer to work alone or in private groups, I’m all for them.  But dragging in that “sex trafficking” nonsense bodes otherwise; “authorities” hate choice, and all too often yesterday’s forbidden activity becomes tomorrow’s compulsory one.

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