Archive for July, 2013

I’m an old-fashioned mature kind of guy who’s open to a relationship in whatever form it may take – platonic, dating, romance, long-term relationships, friends with benefits, no strings attached, swingers, etc. – however, I’m not entirely sure where to find a woman.  I have tried Craigslist, Facebook and online dating sites, and I try to be honest and straightforward with my descriptions and what I’m looking for, but it seems that no one wants to give me a chance.  I’m 29 years old, husky but becoming more health conscious, and self-employed; I enjoy going out to the park, movies, museums, jazz clubs, riding my bike and stimulating conversation.  My friends tell me I am articulate, generous and mannerly, I believe in treating others as I would want to be treated, and I believe EVERY woman is beautiful.  I’m not looking for pity or an easy ride, I just want to find someone who’s willing to look past the love handles and see me for the guy I really am.

confident guyThe most important single factor for attracting women is confidence.  You know how people say animals can smell fear?  Well, women can smell lack of confidence.  If a guy is unsure of himself, most women won’t give him a tumble even if he looks like a movie star.  So it’s vital you build up your confidence and never let women see you sweat (metaphorically speaking).  You’re 29 years old, which is good; the worst part of your life for attracting women is already over.  See, more boys are born than girls, but males die at a higher rate per year so by 30 the numbers are basically even; every year after that the ratio of men to women gets ever-smaller.  In other words, as you age your company becomes proportionately more valuable; time is on your side.  My advice is to concentrate on your work and try not to stress about women; keep riding your bike, going to museums and all the other stuff you do, and be friendly to the women you meet but DON’T pursue them or let them see you as emotionally needy.  I’m not telling you to play hard to get; it must be real, not a game (and certainly not Game).  If you find yourself needing sex, hire an escort; this will take the edge off and allow you to authentically project coolness.  If a woman seems genuinely interested and you think she’s unattached, ask her out and don’t let it get to you if she says no; maybe she really does have to help her friend move that night.  Just smile and say something like “maybe another time, then” and continue the previous conversation as if it really doesn’t bother you that she said “no”.  Even if you never go out with that particular woman, doing this will help you to get used to rejections so they don’t get you down and destroy your confidence, and I’m willing to bet within a relatively short time you’ll get a lot fewer rejections.

You may also enjoy the two-part interview I gave to the London School of Attraction two years ago; it covers some similar ground.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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Back Issue: July 2010

A good story…should make you think about things and feel things and maybe even teach you something in addition to merely entertaining you.
–  “A Whore By Any Other Name…

ishtarIn order to give one last formal retrospective on my columns from three years ago, and to keep my weekly “From the Archives” feature from getting too unwieldy, I’m introducing this new monthly feature.  When I first started the blog in July of 2010 I had no idea how successful it would be, nor how long I could keep the one-per-day rate going; in fact, by December of that year I was really unsure that I’d be able to make it to the one year goal I had set myself for daily posting.  But then I figured out a number of ways to make the job easier (most especially the scheduling feature), and now here I am going strong at three years.  And that’s not the only thing which took some getting used to; though I had written a number of academic papers, informal essays, letters to the editor and such over the past several decades, I had no idea exactly which tone I should strike for this blog.  It took me a few months to get it right, and in looking back at my early posts I find AdamEveAppleSerpentmany of them rather clumsy, stilted and affected; they seem unable to decide whether they’re academic or informal, and I seem to have been going out of my way to rattle people’s cages in some of them.  Another thing you may notice is that my early columns were all rather long; my initial length was 1500-2000 words, but few of these are much shorter than 2000 and three of them were multi-part.  Even the shortest, “What’s In a Name?” (on stage names and the reclamation of the word “whore”) is almost a hundred words longer than my longest non-TW3 columns these days.

pimp wannabesMany of my early columns cover very basic concepts, misconceptions, etc; “Streetwalkers” and “Pimps” are self-explanatory, “Wanna Date?” examines the lack of clear distinction between paid and purely-social dating, “Couples” looks at couple calls and “Madonna and Whore” studies the titular fallacy through the lens of the Girl Friend Experience (GFE).  Another of the basic fallacies appears in “The Myth of the Wanton”, the reason escorts lie about our age and weight is the subject of “The Numbers Game”, and “Rough Trade” is the first discussion of rape in sex work (and includes descriptions of my own experiences).  Nor was that the only “first” that month:Marry-a-Multi-MillionaireDo You Party?” (clients who use cocaine) was my first “pet peeve” column, “The Trick” my first fictional interlude, “Just Drawn That Way” my first exploration of male-female differences, “Mary Magdalene” my first special-occasion column, “Playing the Part” the first written in direct response to a reader question and “Phryne” my very first harlotography.  Rounding out the batch are “Modern Marriage” (which postulates that modern marriage bears more resemblance to traditional love affairs than to traditional marriage), and “Genesis of a Harlot” (a three-part account of my road to whoredom).

So that’s how these columns are going to look; after the first year they may change somewhat, or I may even decide to do something different.  But as I think most of y’all have probably learned by now, when I do change things I try to make the new features at least as interesting as those they replace.Phryne Before the Judges Gerome 1861

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We will strive to listen in new ways to the voices of quiet anguish, to voices that speak without words, the voices of the heart, to the injured voices, and the anxious voices, and the voices that have despaired of being heard.  –  Richard M. Nixon

Sex worker rights activism can be extraordinarily frustrating, especially in the midst of the current moral panic.  Sometimes it feels as though the majority of American activists think of this as some sort of game or intellectual exercise, a species of feminist or Marxist navel-gazing; while sex workers in other countries (especially those in the developing world) mobilize to fight bad laws and “trafficking” disinformation, those in the US seem largely content to talk about it (to each other) or to blather nonsense about “patriarchy” and “capitalism”.  And even when we do speak out, it seems as though we’re largely unheard no matter how loudly we shout.  But in the past year that seems to be changing; the protests at the International AIDS Conference last July made the national news, and decriminalization has at last entered the public discourse.

boycott Salvation ArmyA lot of this has been enabled by social media, which allows widely-separated and isolated voices to sound together in virtual protest; angry hookers on Twitter got an insulting video show cancelled in a single afternoon, and we recently attacked an old and powerful foe:  the Salvation Army, one of the most well-funded and implacable proponents of “sex trafficking” mythology.  The Salvationists are not content to paint only whores as the passive slaves of invisible, demonic “pimps”; like many trafficking fetishists they claim that all sex work, including stripping and porn acting, is “trafficking”.  This time, however, their hubris led them to bite off a bit more than they could chew:

A new documentary project…has drawn criticism from sex workers and…advocates for allegedly filming women employed in those trades without their consent.  Freelance journalist Melissa Gira Grant reported Tuesday that the film, Hard Corps, is being produced by SAVN.tv, an online network funded by the Salvation Army, and purports to link pornography, exotic dancing and other types of sex work to other forms of human trafficking.  The page also features a video statement by Salvation Army “Territorial Commander” Jim Knaggs, who calls sex work “nothing less than slavery”…The project is currently seeking funding through the online platform Kickstarter, which Gira Grant reported is “looking into” the matter, according to co-founder Yancey Strickler.  The site’s regulations do not permit projects raising money for charitable purposes, but donors have reported seeing the Salvation Army listed as the recipient of their pledges…Hard Corps has raised just over $8,000 of the creative team’s stated goal of $100,000 in funding…

In the trailer, director Guy Noland…shows off a camera hidden on a pair of eyeglasses.  The trailer also appears to show sex workers without having their faces blurred…leading to accusations online that Noland and his team were endangering the workers’ lives by exposing their identities.  Also, while the project’s Kickstarter page lists interviews with various porn stars, at least one of them, Nina Hartley, said on TwitterHard Corps…that she “did not know” that her interview would be used for this kind of film…

Melissa later shared Kickstarter’s response, stating that they would not remove the project because it had not violated any of their guidelines.  Even so, it’s highly unlikely the documentary will be made through contributions; as Frankie Mullin observed in her Huffington Post article on the subject,

Hard Corps has until August 19th to raise $100,000.  So far it has just over $8,000.  That the project will fail seems pretty much assured; even those who don’t balk at its judgemental, repressive tone are likely to be put off by the amateurish wording on the Kickstarter page.  Were it not so terrifying, the pitch for Hard Corps would be funny.  It’s badly written, nonsensical in places and uses bizarrely quaint terms such as…“flesh peddling”…

Mullin goes on to discuss the danger of exposing sex workers to whore stigma without their consent, using as an example the murder of Petite Jasmine; the worldwide protests spawned by that tragedy, organized in only a few days, are another instance of our growing ability to make ourselves heard.  That’s the real point of the Salvation Army pseudo-documentary affair:  that a bunch of anti-sex fanatics want to promote their beloved 125-year-old myth of helpless victims at the mercy of evil perverts is not news, but the fact that it took only a few hours for sex workers’ protests against the lies to spawn two sympathetic articles on major websites most definitely is.

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The doctors told the amputee he might experience a phantom limb from time to time.  Nobody prepared him for the moment, though, when he felt cold fingers brush across his phantom hand.

After three weeks, things are back to normal around here; however, I’m still scrambling to catch back up, so I hope you’ll forgive me for keeping this brief so I can get started on Tuesday’s column (yes, I’m THAT behind).  Our top contributor was Radley Balko, with everything down to the first video; that was provided by Laura Lee, and the second one is a parody of it.  The links between them were supplied by Tracy Quan (“sexting”), Harlot’s Parlour (“annoying”), I Am Curious Blue (“memories”), Stacey Swimme (“marijuana”), Carol Fenton  (“never call cops”), Kevin Wilson (“vodka”), and Mike Riggs (“guilty”).

From the Archives

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Sex workers consider the promotion of the Swedish model and other forms of criminalization not just part of an ongoing “debate” on sex work, but a matter of life and death.  –  Melissa Gira Grant

John Wesley HawkinsLicense To Rape

A West Virginia sheriff raped a teenager and sodomized her with a cucumber, threatened to kill her if she told, and subjected at least five other women to forced sex, at least once in a courthouse…Brittany Mae Keene sued Barbour County Sheriff John Wesley Hawkins and the Barbour County Commission…[who] essentially let Hawkins conduct a reign of sexual terror against women in his custody…”  Hawkins’ victims ranged in age from 16 to 19.

Cops and Condoms (February Updates)

A [Polish] prostitute with HIV has been arrested for…having unprotected sex with clients [although]…she knew she was HIV positive…Fellow sex workers tipped off cops about the woman over fears that her actions would give prostitutes a bad [name].  But officers only arrested her after two of her clients came forward and admitted they had tested positive for HIV…

Election Day (February Updates)

Kristin Davis is running for office again, this time for New York City comptroller against her old client Eliot Spitzer.  She was interviewed in The National Review  by Charles Cooke (himself an advocate of legalization), and though she claims to be a libertarian she also seems to be advocating the sort of avails and bawdy house laws which may soon be struck down in Canada because they endanger sex workers.  Every time she opens her mouth, she reaffirms her membership in my Hall of Shame.

Subtle Pimping

LupaThe law doesn’t care if you profit from sex workers, as long as you don’t have any direct contact or actually help us in any way.  In a new French video game players manipulate a cartoonish, stereotyped streetwalker who must make $150,000 to “escape her pimp” by performing fake orgasm sounds into a microphone and avoiding hazards like cops and STDs (no skill involved in the latter because whores are just stupid victims of fate).  The writer of the linked review also profits by using various prohibitionist tropes to save himself the effort of original thought.

Public Service Announcement

Anthony Weiner found himself caught in another sexting scandal…like the one that destroyed his congressional career, but…won’t drop out of the race for mayor of New York…Weiner admitted sending a woman sexually explicit photos and messages…more than a year after he resigned from the House in disgrace for the same sort of behavior…

Social Autoimmune Disorder (July Updates)

Another example of cops’ filthy efforts to subvert the means by which sex workers attract business and keep ourselves safe:  “…a Long Island couple [was arrested for]…running an international escort service called Aphrodite Companions…Vincent and Melissa Lombardo…are currently being held without bond…the only basis…was…postings on…The Erotic Review…Jeremy Moody

Counterfeit Comfort

A South Carolina man targeted a sex offender at random, killed him and his wife and later told deputies he planned to kill others on the state’s sex registry…Jeremy Moody and his wife, Christine, were arrested and charged with murder…Moody only knew 59-year-old Charles Parker in passing, but came to the mechanic’s…home…with plans to kill him…Surveillance cameras outside Parker’s home showed Moody and his wife driving up…and popping the hood on their car as if it wasn’t working…Gretchen Parker wasn’t specifically targeted, but was killed because she was in the house…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic

UCLA researchers say sex addiction does not appear to be a disorder…Nicole Prause and her colleagues monitored…volunteers’ brains while showing them erotic images.  “If they indeed suffer from hypersexuality…their brain response to visual sexual stimuli could be expected to be higher, in much the same way that the brains of cocaine addicts have been shown to react to images of the drug”…Prause…thinks that so-called sex rehabs should be examined…

Presents, Presents, Presents!

Unlearning LibertyTwo readers sent presents for my thirdAbsolutely Mad anniversary (they arrived while I was in Las Vegas, so I didn’t know about them until after I got home last Sunday):  Kevin Wilson sent Unlearning Liberty, and Krulac sent Absolutely Mad and Blak and Blu.  Thanks so very much to both of you!


A Broker in Pillage

Make a note of this one, because you won’t often see a judge side with a sex worker against cops:

A federal judge has ruled that Nebraska cops must return over $1 million confiscated at a traffic stop from a woman who saved the money $1 at a time during her 15 year career as an exotic dancer…Tara Mishra, 33…began putting aside her earnings when she started dancing at age 18…to start her business and get out of…stripping…State troopers confiscated the money in March 2012 when they pulled over Rajesh and Marina Dheri…[who] had been given the cash so they could buy a nightclub in New Jersey.  Mishra would own half of the business and the Dheris would own the other half…police did not find any evidence of drug activity…and…analysis found only trace elements of illegal drugs on the cash…[the judge] ordered that Mishra receive cash or a check in the value of $1,074,000 with interest.

Welcome To Our World (TW3 #15)

Another supposed “victim” is caged to force her cooperation in the state’s ugly little morality play:  “[An Illinois] woman who claims she was forced to work as a prostitute for her boyfriend remains held…without…bail because she is considered a flight risk and might not return to testify in her boyfriend’s trial…

End Demand

Though the story is somewhat amusing, note that “end demand” policies turn innocent whores into unwilling Judas goats:  “A man caught with a prostitute in his car told police she was there to show him where to buy tomatoes…officers found the [known sex worker] sitting inside Muhammad Ikhlaq’s car while he withdrew £20 from a cash machine, which he said was to pay for tomatoes…

Unclean Situation

The Sisters of Mercy, Sisters of Charity, Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, and Good Shepherd Sisters will not apologise to survivors of the Magdalene laundries…Neither will [they] make a financial contribution to the Government’s reparations scheme…Co-operation voluntarily given does not compel the nuns in any legal sense.  Their negative response invalidates the Government’s assertion that survivors are being afforded restorative justice.  There is no justice without the nuns’ apologyPrint and/or financial reparation…the orders expect an amnesty for gross human rights violations…

Lest you forget, these same orders still receive tremendous amounts of aid and political support from the Irish government for their anti-whore scheme Ruhama.

No Friend of Ours

Just in case you think it’s only Las Vegas “authorities” who hate whores so much they’re willing to make themselves look like idiots by parroting ludicrous prohibitionist drivel, here’s an unusually-ridiculous example from Reno:

An increasing number of the young women…began working as prostitutes while in their teens.  They are manipulated by men who control every aspect of their lives…Some girls are branded – or tattooed – with their pimp’s name…others are forced to perform while their children are held ransom, usually at gunpoint…Girls as young as 11 are being exploited…the average age…is 14…Since 2002, the FBI and local law enforcement agencies have rescued about 100 children identified as possible victims of juvenile sex trafficking…That number does not include the adult women being trafficked, which experts say would be impossible to produce because many women don’t acknowledge that they are under the control of a pimp…[Ron] Chalmers heads the…[police division] that focuses on these types of crimes…about 10 years ago, the women arrested…were generally in their 30s to 40s [and] were drug addicts, he said.  But today, the prostitution demographics are completely different…They’re much younger than they used to be, he said…”A significant number of what we see, 80 to 90%, are being exploited – forced into the lifestyle”…

You may remember that the claims made in the “Satanic Panic” similarly became much more extreme, bizarre and demonstrably false as the hysteria drew closer to the point of implosion.  That last bit is more than just Maslow’s Hammer at work; it’s an example of the incredible mathematical and sociological illiteracy of hysterics.  Whenever a person tells you there’s been a major demographic shift in any human behavior in only one decade – from nearly nothing to “80 or 90%” –  it’s a safe bet the speaker is an imbecile who is incapable of considering even rudimentary thought experiments like “where did all the old ones go?”  We see the same principle at work under the Swedish model, which claims to have dramatically decreased the number of men who have ever paid for sex.


The sex workers in the Solutions Not Punishment Coalition (SNapCO), the Atlanta group which defeated the proposal to banish arrested sex workers from the city, need to get control of their “allies”; not only is the group supporting involuntary diversion programs, its spokeswoman Misty Novitch is belching up the “average debut at thirteen” myth for the media.

It Looks Good On Paper (TW3 #311)

Yet another religiously-based “diversion program” chock full of prohibitionist rhetoric which claims to “help” streetwalkers while refusing to question the justice of the laws by which cops repeatedly victimize them:  “Prostituted women” were all sexually abused as children, pimps give us drugs to control us, blah blah blah blah blah…sauna raid

Across the Pond (TW3 #324)

Council bosses have [suspended] half a dozen [Edinburgh sauna] licences following a string of police raids…[in] a radical shift from the typically pragmatic approach to prostitution which…[kept] sex workers safer and off the streets…Peter Donoghue, 69, a former sauna operator…said:  “It was a lot of nonsense. Some girls have worked at the saunas for ten or 12 years. They’ll simply work for escort agencies instead. We’re going to appeal, but I don’t believe we have a chance”…


Save the children and the poor, innocent men from evil harlots!

[Kenyan] women…accused commercial sex workers of invading the town and “stealing” their men…[they] are planning to drive the twilight girls out claiming they are spreading sexually transmitted diseases.  The women said the sex workers have taken their men and they are left cold and lonely on their marital beds…sex workers who dress scantily have created a brothel…where secondary school and university students go for cheap sex instead of concentrating on their studies…even primary school children have fallen into the traps…

Rubbing Elbows

A 17-year-old journalism intern’s impressions of the Desiree Conference:

I was a bit timid about the idea of going into a conference that was specifically about sex, but my passion against human trafficking led me to go…with…my mom…When I entered…I was…greeted by a woman with such a cheerful presence and smile, that it put me off guard.  In fact, this was the common air of everyone there:  happiness.  Everywhere I looked I found people wearing bright colors, hugging, laughing, and enjoying themselves.  I initially thought that at a Sex Worker’s Conference that it was going to be the exact opposite.  I was expecting victims — people just out of the Taken film, tears that warned of a gruesome past, and consoling. There was none of that in sight.  The media and society has always presented the sex industry as this taboo area…where [the] only people who were in this profession were forced to be…

R.I.P. Petite Jasmine (TW3 #329)

Caty Simon of Tits and Sass interviewed Kemal Ayrikotu of the Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association on the cultural background to the murder of Dora Oezer; Ayrikotu discusses the lack of rights for both sex workers and transgenders, and criticizes LGBT activists who wish to stress that Dora was a transwoman while ignoring that she was a whore (despite the two being nearly synonymous in Turkey).  Meanwhile, Melissa Gira Grant wrote on the protests for both Dora and Jasmine:  “If you passed by the Turkish or Swedish consulates in New York on [July 19th], you may have seen…sex workers and their supporters holding red umbrellas…the…action accompanied rallies in 36 cities and on four continents…demanding an end to the stigma and violence against sex workers’ communities…

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on June 23rd; I have modified it slightly for time references and to fit the format of this blog.

camel's noseIt’s funny how people can be so familiar with received wisdom that it begins to sound trite and clichéd, yet at the same time they fail to internalize that wisdom.  One perfect example is the famous Martin Niemöller quote which begins, “First they came for the  communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist…”  I daresay few literate people in any Western country haven’t heard it, and most who have can clearly understand the implication of the grim litany:  if we don’t speak up for the rights of minorities, even small and unpopular minorities, the precedent set by their maltreatment will be expanded by slow stages until it encompasses everyone but the rulers themselves.  But it’s clear that most don’t grasp that truth fully enough to actually do anything about it; instead they say, “Oh, but surely that doesn’t apply to sex offenders, or terrorists, or illegal aliens,” or whatever other unpopular group they consider beneath basic human decency.  And then the number of groups so treated, and the scope of each group, expands until…

But rather than talking about it, let’s look at a real-life example from Greece.  It started early last May, with the police making a big show of rounding up sex workers and forcibly testing them for HIV:

Greek authorities announced the arrest…of 17 HIV-positive women who allegedly worked illegally as prostitutes, accusing them of intentionally causing serious bodily harm.  [Their] names and photographs…were published on the Greek Police’s website, angering human rights advocates who said it was unclear whether the women were aware they had HIV…The women were among 130 women screened…Hundreds more women are likely to be screened in the next few weeks…Authorities say they are concerned about the overlap between drug use and illegal prostitution…The Athens city government said at least 315 brothels are currently operating illegally…[and] renewed its call on the government to relax strict licensing rules.  Greece is the busiest transit point for illegal immigration in the European Union…

Though prostitution is legal in Greece, its strict rules result in 95% of all Greek prostitutes working illegally, as strict rules invariably do; that’s why Athens wants the rules loosened, and why persecuting sex workers is such a spectacularly bad idea.  But since virtually nobody stood up for the whores, the police were encouraged to expand their campaign of terror to the larger group alluded to in the last line of that article:

Athens police are conducting abusive stops and searches and have detained tens of thousands of people in a crackdown on irregular migration…Human Rights Watch…documents frequent stops of people who appear to be foreigners, unjustified searches of their belongings, insults, and, in some cases, physical abuse.  Many are detained for hours in police stations pending verification of their legal status…Between August 2012, when Operation Xenios Zeus began, and February 2013, the police forcibly took almost 85,000 foreigners to police stations to verify their immigration status.  No more than 6 percent were found to be in Greece unlawfully, suggesting the police are casting an extraordinarily wide net…

Greek detention center

Xenios Zeus was the aspect of the ancient Greek god who was the patron of hospitality; obviously Greek police have the same sort of warped sense of humor as their American counterparts.  But despite the jolly good time they’re having, they’ve now reached the practical limit of the number of people they can harass this way:

A year after beginning…Xenios Zeus…Greece’s detention centers are full…and there’s no room for more…Police are now just taking the immigrants from the center and transferring them to Anavyssos, a town in East Attica, and releasing them to walk back to Athens, facing the prospect of being picked up again and taken back to the center to be released again…

The police claim to be “overwhelmed”, but perhaps they just got tired of harassing migrants and decided to pick on someone else instead:

…transgender people in Thessaloniki…are arrested and detained in the police station in daily police “sweep” operations, for at least 3-4 hours, on the pretext of…ID verification and their identification as sex workers…[those who] complained…were threatened to be sued for disrespect if they did not “comply”…all arrested transgender women who [sought] the help of Greek Transgender Support Association…were found to be innocent…the court accepted the [defense] that the…presence in a specific location does not mean that the person practices sexual work, let alone that she “harasses” the [passersby]…

Advocates have asked for the harassment to stop, but I’m sure advocates for migrants’ rights and sex worker rights have asked for the same thing.  Until the majority gets it through their skulls that the police need to be reined in, the number and size of persecuted groups will only increase…and this sort of thing isn’t limited to Greece.

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The test of a vocation is the love of the drudgery it involves.  –  Logan Smith

retro dishwashingWhen it comes to housework, everyone is different; though some people are either OK with all of it or hate all of it equally, most of us are OK with some tasks and despise others.  For example, I’ve known people who will let the dishes pile up onto the counters before doing them, and others who whine if they don’t get “help” doing the laundry.  Neither of those bothers me at all; in fact my attention to both of them might be considered by some to border on the obsessive.  Though I have a dishwasher, I must wash every dish by hand before putting it in there, and it must be done before I go to bed; even if I’m about to drop from exhaustion (as I was while we were working on our house two weeks ago), every dish must be washed and the dishwasher started or I won’t be able to sleep.  While preparing feasts, I wash dishes every time I get a break so as to keep the sink clear.  And though laundry is only once per week, I have similarly-stringent procedures for it:  all clothes are sorted by color and washed in a certain order determined partly by habit and partly by relative load size.  Nobody else is allowed to interfere in the process, and previously-hidden dirty clothes dropped into the wrong color-pile after the process of washing starts are likely to result in the offending item being hurled at its owner, along with various terms of opprobrium.

But lest you think I’m some sort of paragon of domesticity, consider my bed-making (woefully inept when even attempted, which is rarely), dusting (hopelessly inadequate) and clutter management (the less said, the better); our new house incorporates design elements intended to make all of these dreadful chores as much less onerous as our current levels of technology and affluence allow.  But of all the things which need to be done to make a living space livable, none of them are as awful to me as cleaning bathrooms, and no bathroom-cleaning chore is as repulsive as cleaning toilets.  Part of my aversion is practical:  the filth that needs to be removed from bathroom fixtures in general and toilets in particular is just nastier than that which needs to be removed from other rooms.  But the worse part is a conditioned response:  my early adolescence was plagued by week-long attacks of illness characterized by violent nausea, and to this very day the characteristic odor of even a clean toilet turns my stomach; whenever I have to perform the horrid task, I get it done as quickly as possible for fear of being sickened by the power of suggestion.

toilet cleaningAnd that’s only my own toilet; the idea of having to scrub somebody else’s – or horror of horrors, a public one – is so utterly revolting that I would do almost anything else to survive before taking a job that required it.  To me, cleaning public toilets is the most degrading, demeaning job imaginable, and the irrational part of my mind tells me that a woman would have to be completely desperate, perhaps even forced or coerced, to do it.  If I were the sort of fanatic who believes it’s perfectly acceptable to force others to live according to my idiosyncratic feelings, I might even push for the profession of charwoman to be criminalized as intrinsically exploitative and degrading; in fact, I might even campaign for public bathrooms to be banned altogether on the grounds that as long as they exist, somebody will have to clean them.  Oh, I know that some people say they don’t find it any worse than any other paid work, or even that they prefer it to the other jobs available to them.  But obviously, they can’t be telling the truth if they disagree with me; because my ideas and feelings are the only right ones, anyone who says anything to the contrary is either lying or suffering from “false consciousness”.  They might even be in the employ of the powerful janitorial industry!  Did you know that 300,000 children in the US are forced into a life of toilet-cleaning every year?  And that their average age is 13?  It’s true!  They have to clean 50 toilets an hour, and make $300,000 a year for their traffickers while they make nothing and have to sleep locked up in broom cupboards at night.

Of course, I’m not that kind of person.  I realize that everyone has different likes and dislikes, different aversions and motivations, and different thresholds of disgust for different activities; I even recognize that it’s possible for other people to be perfectly comfortable with a job I would consider a form of torture, and vice-versa.  But because many people are either unable or unwilling to understand this, it’s important that we take away everyone’s ability to inflict her own skewed weltanschauung upon others; though it’s impossible to make all people tolerant and accepting of differences, we can at least eradicate the processes by which fanatics force all of society to pretend that their own subjective feelings about various behaviors have some basis in objective reality.

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A large majority of the whores I have seen have been the lower tier type.  I have always acted right, but often come across those who somehow get into it with me and then try to “demean” me and talk about how “pathetic” I am and how I have to “pay for pussy”.  Growing up I heard from experienced men that if you give a woman your money, in her eyes you instantly lose her respect like it is a biological thing.  Is that true, or is it just the level of providers and would the more upscale EROS type of provider would be any different?  These comments make me worry that they would clown me behind my back (after being nice around me) with girlfriends about how easy it is to play “these guys”.

crazy woman with knifeThough I have certainly heard some sex workers say stupid things like that about men behind their backs (though more so in strip clubs than among escorts), I’m utterly flabbergasted that any of them ever said this to your face, much less a large enough number for you to consider it a trend!  Now, if you’ve mostly hired low-priced women it’s no surprise that you haven’t received the kind of polished professional service you would expect from those who treat their business like a business, but what is a surprise is that any woman could be so clueless as to destroy any chance of repeat business by blatantly insulting her customers.  In fact, this strikes me as so weird that I wonder if you’re not somehow inadvertently contributing to it.  You said they “get into it with you”; do you mean they get into arguments with you, and the abuse then follows as part of the argument?  Because if that’s the case, I think it’s less a hooker-client thing and more just an argument thing; lots of women will throw the most cutting insult they can think of at a man, and if that man is a stranger her options are limited to physical characteristics and the situation at hand.  Furthermore, what in the world are y’all arguing about?  Though every working girl runs into clients who annoy her, most try to avoid actually fighting with them for reasons that should be obvious; if you’re getting into insult-slinging-level disagreements with “a large majority” of your escorts, I can’t help but think you’re either doing or saying something to mightily piss them off.  If that’s the case, hiring a more expensive girl isn’t likely to really solve the problem; she may cover her anger better or respond more specifically to the insult, but the issue itself will remain unchanged.

I suggest that a little introspection might be in order; mentally play back your interactions with these women and try to figure out if there’s anything that the incidents have in common, such as something you said or did that seemed to set them off.  Remember that it doesn’t have to be anything you considered hurtful; how something is intended isn’t always how it is perceived.  My intuition tells me it’s somehow related to the rather backward idea that giving a woman money causes her to lose respect for you; in truth, most women worth having will lose respect for you if you’re stingy with your money, not vice-versa.  I’m going to throw this out to my readers; perhaps one of the men has had a similar experience to yours, or one of the women has had a client to whom she reacted as badly as these women seem to be reacting to you.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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Fame often makes a writer vain, but seldom makes him proud.  –  W.H. Auden

Walk of FameAs regular readers know, all last week I was attending the Desiree Alliance convention in Las Vegas.  My specific intention was to meet readers and other activists, and I had ample opportunity to do so:  I was kept busy from morning until night every day, and well past my bedtime on several days.  I talked until I was hoarse, and met so many people I can barely remember them all!  Some of them were folks I knew by reputation (such as Carol Leigh and Stacey Swimme); others I knew from Twitter or blogging (such as Mistress Matisse, Sabrina Morgan and Joyce Arthur).  But many others were people I was meeting for the first time (such as my roommate, Ms. Kat).  Most of my time was spent with Kat, Matisse, her friend Jae, activists Tizzy Wall and Steph Wilcock, and a Swedish academic named Ida Kock who is studying the effects of the Swedish model on sex workers; however, I also tried to make as much time as possible for every one of my readers who came up and introduced themselves (and there were many).

In fact, those readers were responsible for what was for me the most profound experience of the conference.  For some time now, my husband has been telling me that I’ve become a celebrity; I’ve always denied it, saying that a celebrity has to be a “household name”.  But after this week, I’m forced to admit that, at least in the small world of sex work, he’s exactly right: so many people told me how excited they were to meet me, that obviously they couldn’t all be attempting to make me feel good.  Some even said they felt honored, but I feel I must respectfully correct them on that account:  the honor is all mine.  Many hundreds of readers, both inside and outside of our community, give their attention and their precious time to my efforts every day, despite the fact that all I’m doing is writing about how I feel or sharing information I’ve uncovered.  That’s amazing, flattering and (paradoxically) humbling; it inspires me to keep investing my energies in the project, to keep speaking out for liberty and justice, and to work even harder so as deserve the praise, respect and yes, celebrity, all of y’all have conferred on me.

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Then Mary wept and said to Peter, My brother Peter, what do you think?  Do you think that I have thought this up myself in my heart, or that I am lying about the Savior?  Levi answered and said to Peter, Peter you have always been hot tempered.  Now I see you contending against the woman like the adversaries.  But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her?  Surely the Savior knows her very well.  That is why He loved her more than us. –  The Gospel of Mary 9:5-9

Repentant Mary Magdalene by Giampietrino (c 1525)Today is the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene, long identified in Christian folklore as a prostitute (repentant or otherwise).  Now, there is no Biblical evidence to that effect; Luke describes her as a woman “from whom seven demons had come out”, presumably one of Jesus’ miraculous cures.  In fact, the four canonical Gospels say virtually nothing about her prior to the crucifixion, though all four identify her as the person to whom the resurrected Jesus first appeared.  But as I explained in “Mary Magdalene”, the canonical Gospels are not the only ones:

…Gnostics were driven from Christian congregations early in the 4th century and their doctrines declared heretical in 388.  Before this time there was no official consensus on which texts actually constituted the Bible, and among those used by Gnostic congregations (and subsequently excluded from the canon) were four more Gospels:  Thomas, Philip, Mary and Judas, all but the last of which assign a much more prominent role to Mary Magdalene than the four canonical ones; indeed, the Gospel of Mary is actually attributed to her.  These Gospels refer to Mary as Jesus’ “companion” and describe him as loving her more than his other disciples and often kissing her on the mouth; indeed, the Gospel of Mary identifies her as the unnamed “disciple Jesus loved” mentioned so often in John.  These clear expressions of favoritism appear to have perturbed the male disciples, particularly Peter, who is said to have argued with Jesus about his allowing a woman to be not only equal to the male apostles, but actually preferred to them…

This argument is portrayed in Jesus Christ Superstar, though changed in two ways:  the critic is Judas rather than Peter, and the criticism is about her being a hooker rather than a gender-hierarchy thing.  The tradition of her being Jesus’ (perhaps sexual) companion seems to have survived the suppression of the books, and “in a sermon in 591 Pope Gregory the Great identified Mary Magdalene as a repentant harlot, possibly by identification with the ‘adulterous woman’ whom Jesus rescues from being stoned in the 8th chapter of John.”

So even though Mary was never the patron saint of prostitutes (that role fell, interestingly enough, to Saint Nicholas), the legend that she had been a whore was a popular one; hence the application of her name to “Magdalene homes”, the asylums for the “cleansing” of ex-prostitutes which became popular in the 13th century and then again in the 18th.  The most notorious of these were of course Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries, the last of which only closed in 1996; the long-awaited report on the atrocities committed therein was released only last February, and the nuns who ran them are still trying to evade responsibility.  The legend also inspired me to have the sacred harlots in last week’s fictional interlude all take the first name “Magdalene”, just as regular nuns all take the first name “Mary”; in our world the Catholic Church officially repudiated that doctrine in 1969, but as you probably noticed a lot of things are different in the world where that story takes place.

But canonical or not, the legend is still a popular one; its only real rival is the theory that she was actually Jesus’ wife, and that one is of comparatively recent vintage (though its proponents claim it existed as a secret doctrine since the people it concerns were still alive).  In movies, books and the popular imagination Mary Magdalene is still the whore (repentant or otherwise) who was closer than any other person to Jesus, and I think it very likely that it will continue thus for a very long time to come.Mary Magdalene in the Cave by Hugues Merle (1868)

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