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Posts Tagged ‘Accredited Whores’

No [one]…has the right to…speak and make choices for women who have not asked to be represented by them.  –  Efrat Rubinstein

Above the Law 

Just another kind of federal cop, with behavior to match:

Brian Jeffrey Raymond…is [a CIA agent who was arrested]…after a naked woman was seen screaming for help from the balcony of his latest residence in Mexico City…in May of 2020…the woman had no idea how she got to his home and [said] she had no memory after the pair ate dinner together.  When searching his devices, the FBI discovered hundreds of images and videos taken over the the course of 14 years from 2006 to 2020.  This serial rapist had dozens of victims and all of them were unconscious during their rapes…in some of the…images…Raymond can be seen holding open the victims’ eyelids, waving their limp arms and legs around, or putting his fingers in their mouths to demonstrate that they are unconscious…Raymond resided in the Washington, D.C., and San Diego areas…traveled extensively for work and leisure, and lived in numerous countries, including Mexico and Peru…[so] there could be many other victims…

Accredited Whores

There’s nothing wrong with “sexological bodywork”, as long as you understand that the stuff described in this article is no different from what many thousands of sex workers do every day, all over the world, without the fancy title.  But you wouldn’t know it from this article, which pretends that one needs to pay an “accrediting body” money and hide under a “certificate” and a euphemized job title for sex work to be ethical; the writer’s phraseology even seems to imply that ordinary, unsanitized sex work is not consensual, which is one of the most toxic claims of 21st-century prohibitionism.  The writer breathlessly informs us that “Sex bod is one-way, which allows the client to focus solely on their own experience without the pressures that come with a partnered sexual experience.”  Sure sounds like sex work to me; in fact there’s nothing mentioned in this article that one can’t get from sex workers, but don’t tell that to Gwyneth Paltrow; “certified” whores with fancy titles who only touch you through medical gloves are celebrated on Goopy Vaginas or whatever she calls her show, but she claims the rest of us are “harmful to women”.

The Course of a Disease (#1057)

How’s Israel’s plan to force sex workers into low-paid menial “women’s work” going?

The…Knesset…held its first discussion on prostitution [of this session], attended by various representatives of ministries and welfare and [prohibitionist] organizations…[but not] sex workers…[the scheme has] led to an increase in [violence against sex workers, and]…plans to [replace their income]…have not been effectively implemented…Efrat Rubinstein, the head of Israel’s Stripper’s Union…[pointed out] that “no welfare or aid organization representative has the right to represent Israeli sex workers, and they are being given the right to speak and make choices for women who have not asked to be represented by them.”  Rubinstein also demanded that Israel’s strip clubs be reopened, saying that their closure has created unsafe working environments for strippers and that programs have only offered them employment for minimum wage…creat[ing] an impossible situation where strippers must choose between unsafe working conditions or poverty…

Rotting Fruit (#1174)

Presented without comment:

Prince Andrew has asked a New York court to dismiss a legal action brought against him by Virginia Giuffre.  The Duke of York’s lawyers said the “baseless lawsuit” should be dismissed because Ms Giuffre failed to sufficiently outline her claims against him…If a dismissal is not granted, Ms Giuffre should provide a “more definitive statement” of her allegations, [the] lawyers…said…”Giuffre has initiated this baseless lawsuit against Prince Andrew to achieve another payday at his expense…Epstein’s abuse of Giuffre does not justify her public campaign against Prince Andrew…[also, Epstein’s 2009 settlement with Giuffre included a] broad release…cover[ing] any and all persons who Giuffre identified as potential targets of future lawsuits, regardless of the merit – or lack thereof – to any such claims”…

The Cop Myth (#1179)

41% of cops admit to beating their wives. Some don’t stop with mere beating, or with just their wives:

A [screw paid to torture caged people in Monroe, Louisiana]…was…arrested for [murdering]…his wife and child [on Halloween night]…Blake Bardwell [was apparently still hanging out]…at…home [with their corpses] on [Sunday when he was arrested]…

Think of the Children! (#1182) 

This happens all over the US, but Florida is the worst:

A Florida mother who has spent the last five years volunteering at her children’s school has been banned from donating her time [because a busybody snitched to puritans at] the school district…that she has an OnlyFans page…Mark NeJame, one of Triece’s lawyers, [pointed out that]…“she kept it away from the children. You can’t access her [page] unless you’re an adult.” They plan to sue the school district for $1 million…

To Molest and Rape (#1182)

Notice how often predatory cops’ victims are underage?

A Roy [Utah cop named]…Ryan A. Estes…[was arrested for raping] a girl younger than 14 [at least twice, and molesting her many other times]…between May 2015 and May 2019…[boss pig] Matthew Gwynn [though the most important thing to comment on was that] Estes w[asn’t wearing his magical clown costume at the time of the rapes]…

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on January 19th; I have modified it slightly for time references and to fit the format of this blog.

Idealized Portrait of a Courtesan as Flora by Bartolomeo Veneto (1520)For most of human history, nobody thought of taking money for sex as a defining activity.  This is not to say that there were no whores, because of course there were; it isn’t called “the world’s oldest profession” for nothing.  But it wasn’t the fact that a woman took money for sex which defined her as a whore, but rather the fact that she made a living from it.  As I wrote in my Cato Unbound essay, “Treating Sex Work as Work”,

…It was almost universally understood that many working-class women and a not-inconsiderable number of those in higher classes would accept money for sex, at least on occasion, and it was impossible to draw a bright, clear line between behaviors that constituted “prostitution” and those (such as concubinage, mistresshood, and political marriage) which did not despite their often-mercenary basis.  The manifold laws regulating sex work were not intended to preclude pragmatic motivations for sexual behavior, but rather to keep up appearances, guard the purity of bloodlines, and maintain public order.  But as the Victorian Era dawned, a new idea began to take hold of European minds: if science could perfect Man’s tools and techniques, why couldn’t the same process be applied to Mankind itself?  The immediate result of turning (pseudo-)scientific inquiry upon sex was that taking money for it was no longer considered merely something that “unladylike” or “sinful” women did for a living or extra income; instead, the “prostitute” was defined into existence as a specific type of woman, separate and distinct from other women.

Prior to the 19th century, any sexual behavior outside of marriage was considered “sinful”, regardless of its motive, but there were also class considerations; sexual “immorality” was both expected and assumed of working-class women, and whether a girl occasionally asked for money or not could make little difference in the way she was perceived by her so-called “betters”.  This is why it was not unusual in pre-industrial cultures for a disgraced upper-class woman to turn to sex work; once she had fallen from her elevated station, taking money for sex did no more harm.  But once the idea of “prostitution” as some uniquely disgraceful activity was invented, and the “prostitute” was defined as the lowest of the low, it was inevitable that women who would previously have been considered more or less the same as whores would attempt to draw lines between themselves and the new pariah class.  And once governments began to criminalize prostitution or activities around it as a result of the new ideas, distinguishing oneself from a “common prostitute” became a matter not only of dignity, but practical necessity.

The first group to successfully shed the whore stigma was actresses, who had since classical times been considered interchangeable with harlots; after the dawn of cinema they actually moved into a de facto higher social class, especially in the United States.  Dancers whose style could be credibly represented as asexual or highbrow (preferably both) followed them, then masseuses and women who had extramarital sex for non-financial reasons.  In the past several decades, the number of such groups has exploded and now includes many whose claim to being different from sex workers is threadbare indeed; burlesque dancers, competition pole dancers, glamour and lingerie models, professional “cuddlers”, nude maids, waitresses catering to sexual fantasies  and even sugar babies insist that they are different from strippers, hookers and fetish workers in some real (and legally defensible) way.  Even people who are directly paid for a hands-on sexual service claim that being “certified” or “spiritual” or whatever makes them not sex workers, and some who cannot possibly deny that they are still pretend to be “better” than other sex workers because they are “legal”, or because they don’t have direct intercourse and parrot “trafficking” propaganda to kiss up to cops.  But this example from the January 15th Guardian takes the biscuit:  “As a professional dominatrix, I…[know] sex is a human need, and kink can be a meaningful part of the sexual spectrum.  We sex workers turn the erotic into a humane and powerful art.  [But] too many of us, particularly escorts, are miserable slaves, and we must fight tirelessly for their freedom…Mudflap Girl Tesselation  Way to go there, Margaret Corvid; boost yourself up on the backs of all us pathetic, dirty escorts…oh, excuse me, “miserable slaves”.  Because only wonderful, superior dominatrices can choose freely, while those of us who prefer to sell more mundane sexual services are clearly dysfunctional.  In my essay “Whorearchy” I wrote,

…a whore is a whore is a whore, and legal, moral or procedural lines serve only to break people into smaller groups which are more easily dominated by the power-hungry.  If you accept money from someone that he gives due to sexual interest in you, then you are a whore and everything else is just semantics.  When politicians, pundits or rulers use some arbitrary determinant like penetration, duration, location or motivation to bless some harlots while damning others, what they’re actually doing is reducing the size of the group who might oppose them and winning supporters from among those granted legitimacy.  This is why I’m harshly unsympathetic to those who vehemently maintain that their species of sex work or sensual therapy is absolutely not prostitution:  all they’re doing is throwing other women under the bus, and if we had all stuck together from the beginning of second-wave feminism…prostitution would’ve been decriminalized long ago and many women who are now dead or damaged might still be alive and healthy…

As I’ve pointed out before, gay people only won their civil rights by forming a coalition, and until sex workers stop drawing arbitrary lines between each other and accepting the lies and false divisions promoted by those in power, we will never have the same kind of success.

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Humanity has a bad track record of selectively appealing to authority to justify our biases.  –  Andrea Castillo

R.I.P. Harry Reems

Harry ReemsHarry Reems, the first male porn star, died of pancreatic cancer on Tuesday (March 19th) at the age of 65.  For his role in Deep Throat, Reems was convicted in 1976 of “conspiracy to transport obscene material across state lines”, and though that sentence was overturned a year later the stress of the trial drove him to start drinking; he spent the late ‘80s as a homeless alcoholic before sobering up in 1989, then getting married and going into real estate a year later.  Unlike his co-star Linda Lovelace, however, he never regretted his choices or blamed porn for his troubles, and went by his stage name (his birth name was Herbert Streicher) until the end.

Bad Girls

I left out the very rarest, but worst type:  “[Houma, Louisiana] police arrested 15 men…alleging they solicited a prostitute through [Backpage]…one of [two] prostitutes…[was] issued a summons…[but] the other…was not arrested [because she] agreed to be a part of the sting…”  There is absolutely no lower life-form in the whoring ecosystem than a person who collaborates with cops to ensnare others in order to save his or her own worthless hide.

Dr. Schrödinger and His Amazing Pussycat

Andrea Castillo’s “When Science Looks Like Religion” explores the territory discussed in Monday’s comment thread:  When people blindly accept scientific findings which reinforce their irrational beliefs while rejecting equally-valid results which contradict those beliefs, the result is not science but religion.  The last part is doubly germane:  it describes Norwegian social scientists’ knee-jerk denial of all data which contradicts their cultic social constructionism.

micro-drug-dogSecret Squirrel

A new low in intra-family spying:

…Suspicious moms and dads are hiring trained drug detection dogs to sniff out their kids’ drug stash…the RK Agency…[charges] $350…[to] “discreetly perform a thorough inspection of your entire property”…Jeffrey Gardere, a child psychologist …[told] the Today Show… “I don’t know if you can [have a relationship with your kids] if you’re bringing in drug-sniffing dogs”…

Size Matters

According to this post from Dr. Annie Sprinkle, Tracy Elise of Phoenix Goddess Temple has been “deemed…’incompetent’ to go to trial…she will be sent to psych ward and forced to take psychiatric drugs for about 15 months until she’s ‘competent’…I feel that if…sex workers…criticise Tracy Elise…we are in a way colluding with the [police]…and…contributing to the problem, which is exactly what the ‘sex negative society’…wants us to do…”  I totally agree.

The Last Shall Be First

[Arizona] legislators…are attempting to pass legislation that forces transgender people to only use public restrooms…associated with the gender…on their birth certificate…in response to a [Phoenix] …bill…which prohibits gender identity discrimination in public accommodations…

Lupercalia

Dr. Brooke Magnanti on the lessons we can learn from Pompeii:

…women in Ancient Rome [married] sometimes as young as 14…[but] were permitted to own land and houses and have jobs.  Women of the upper classes were educated to a high standard…It’s well known that Pompeii…boasted a large sex industry…and…open attitudes about sexuality and prostitution didn’t hold back other women from achieving

And if you just can’t get enough of Brooke, here’s a short but wide-ranging interview with her in The Age.Rong Chen

A Broker in Pillage

Once again, the British government displays its dedication to literally robbing sex workers of their life savings:

A Chinese brothel madam and her husband have been ordered to pay back £125,000 within six months or she will face another jail sentence and he will join her…Rong Chen…and her husband Jason Hinton…only [have] £125,000 of realisable assets…[namely] their marital home in…Worcestershire, which…will have to be sold or remortgaged…

Note the weird euphemism “pay back”, implying that the money is refunded to customers; in reality it is split between the police, court and Inland Revenue.

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs

If politicians’ minds weren’t befuddled by prohibitionist idiocy, they wouldn’t be so confused by wholly predictable outcomes like this:

…Jakarta…has tried…to offer sex workers ways to escape the sex industry…[for] example…sex workers…[given] a dressmaking course…did not return to their villages…but rather…to their old lives in Jakarta…the income from sewing was just too far below sex work…A high ranking health official…[said] it would be better to legalize prostitution; closing Kramat Tunggak would result in the dispersion of prostitution sites to several unidentified locations — making health checkups impossible…Surabaya…is still trying to phase out Dolly, East Java’s famed prostitution site…

But as this second article from the same newspaper explains, closing Dolly would be an economic disaster:

…Dolly…consists of at least 300 brothels…employing thousands of prostitutes…[plus] numerous supporting businesses — clinics, mini markets, sexual enhancement medicine vendors, parking lots, banks, rented houses, Internet cafes, small restaurants…University of Indonesia economist Lana Soelistianingsih said that…economic transactions triggered by prostitution [alone] could contribute around Rp 1.5 trillion to Surabaya’s gross domestic product…

Oscillation

Family Research Council…fellow Pat Fagan…claims that Eisenstadt v. Baird, the 1972 case that overturned a Massachusetts law banning the distribution of contraceptives to unmarried people, may rank “as the single most destructive decision in the history of the Court”…because it effectively meant that “single people have the right to engage in sexual intercourse…Society never gave young people that right, functioning societies don’t do that, they stop it, they punish it, they corral people, they shame people, they do whatever”…

Fokkens twinsReal People (TW3 #21)

…Amsterdam’s oldest prostitutes have retired after more than 50 years each in the business.  Louise and Martine Fokkens, 70, have decided they are too old…Louise…says arthritis now makes some sexual positions “too painful”…and Martine…admits she finds it hard to attract punters – though one elderly man still has his weekly sadomasochism session…The pair were the subject last year of a documentary Meet The Fokkens and they have written a book called The Ladies Of Amsterdam

First They Came for the Hookers…

As I pointed out recently, Nevada isn’t remotely pro-whore:  “Two [Nevada] state Senators introduced bills…[to] regulate strip clubs…Mark Manendo…wants to charge …a $10 per customer fee…[to fund] programs related to domestic violence…Barbara Cegavske…would ban anyone less than 21-years-old from performing…

The Public Eye

Caty Simon of Tits and Sass interviews well-known activist Audacia Ray on the Red Umbrella Project, speaking to the media, condom criminalization, the Long Island Killer and why sex workers need to ally with harm reduction and anti-drug war activists.

Monkey Business

Baboons have been observed keeping dogs as pets:

Birth of a Movement (TW3 #39)

French sex workers continue to push back against increased criminalization:

10 years ago, the Internal Security Act (LSI) penalized public solicitation, including so-called “passive solicitation”…[this] has reinforced the isolation of sex workers, relegating them to more remote places where they are…more prone to violence…since the introduction of the LSI, “the conduct of the police deteriorated sharply.  Their attitude is less respectful and humiliation increased…their protective function…has virtually disappeared and [they are]…most often perceived as strictly punitive”…Médecins du Monde demand the immediate repeal of the offense of soliciting…[and] rejects any proposal to penalize customers…

Women’s Rights Minister Najat Belkacem responded in a typically clueless manner; though she promised repeal of the law, she also made the absurd claim that “90% of [sex workers] are victims of human trafficking” and refused to back down on her scheme to impose the Swedish model.

King of the Hill

Portland, Oregon’s bid for the “largest trafficking hub” title isn’t a new one, but now they’re claiming that this is “proven” not only by highways, but by rivers:

…Portland [has]…one of the largest sex industries of any U.S. city…human trafficking…is a growing problem in Oregon due in part to the traffic permitted by Interstates 5 and I-84 [and] the Willamette and Columbia rivers…the problem [is] one that’s inextricably linked to gangs…“When people think of prostitution, their first instinct is a girl walking on the street,” [police spokesman Pete] Simpson says.  “They’re not thinking about the fact that she’s being traded as a commodity, sold as a product”…The change [in strategy] humanizes the victims…

Simpson robs women of agency, then claims he’s “humanizing” whores who were already human before he turned them into things to be acted upon.  It would be funny if it weren’t so sad.An Intimate Life

Accredited Whores

Charlotte Shane’s review of An Intimate Life: Sex, Love, and My Journey As A Surrogate Partner, the memoirs of sex surrogate Cheryl Greene (of The Sessions fame), covers much the same ground as my column, and that’s a good thing; the more of us there are speaking out against these artificial lines drawn between types of sex work, the more people will finally get it.

Like a Horse and Carriage

I’m glad to see that others are recognizing that “marriage equality” applies just as well to polygamy as it does to same-sex marriage, and are making good arguments for it:

I’m in favor of leaving marriage to the religious institutions, and registering households in whatever configuration people want to live.  If a same-gender couple, or a heterosexual couple, or an elderly couple who can’t have children, or any couple want to be responsible to and for each other, let them.  If three people want to be responsible to and for each other, let them.  If a gay man and his female best friend want to be responsible to and for each other, let them.  Let’s stop worrying about who is screwing who, and just make it easier for people to be responsible in their relationships.

Still More Mentoring

SWOP-NOLA posted these “Client Screening Tips and Helpful Links from a New Orleans Provider”; I already mentioned a few of these, but she provides many more I didn’t know about.

The Joy of Juxtaposition

One would never know that these claims have been repeatedly debunked:

The Georgia attorney general and other law enforcement officials kicked off a public awareness campaign…[which] bears the slogan “Georgia’s not buying it” and includes a [commercial] featuring professional athletes…”We’ll continue to go after the pimps and rescue the victims, but we know that the only way to truly eradicate this evil is by ending the demand,” Attorney General Sam Olens said…It is a problem throughout Georgia, in both urban areas and in small towns and rural areas…

Georgia is indeed “buying it”, wholesale.  I’m sure millions in federal grants and an excuse to further erode civil rights have nothing to do with all this.

Skin To Skin

An Australian sex therapist argues that disability insurance should cover the hiring of sex workers:

Sexual expression is a fundamental part of being human…Decades of research have uncovered the many benefits of sex, which include physical health, quality of life, psychological well-being and sexual self-esteem.  Unfortunately, because of social taboos and hypocrisy…barriers are created to stop people from fully realising these benefits…Some people with disabilities have limited opportunities for sexual relationships because they lack privacy and are dependent on others…Maggie in Albany

Comfort Zone

The video of the Albany Law School symposium is now available!  If you don’t have the time or inclination to watch the whole thing (4 hours), my part runs from minute 170 to 185.

An Ounce of Prevention (TW3 #310)

Earlier this month, doctors announced that a baby had been cured of…HIV…Now…it appears that 14 adults have…been successfully treated…70 people…[received] combination antiretroviral therapy (cART)…much sooner than…normal…[because] all [were] diagnosed…early…they…stuck to the [regimen] for an average of three years…[but then] stopped…for various reasons…Normally, HIV will return when patients stop taking their ARVs.  But this time…14…patients…were functionally cured…

Hard Numbers (TW3 #311)

Apparently, the proposed legislative reform in South Australia isn’t quite decriminalization (though it’s a lot closer to it than anything we’ll see in the US anytime soon):  “…it makes special provisions for sex work such as special licensing, laws about safe sex and possibly restrictions on location…once a ‘reform’ law has been passed the chances of getting better legislation in the near future drop to zero.  So many people feel it’s better to stay with a bad situation and hope to get good reform rather than settle for an unsatisfactory ‘improvement’…

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This essay first appeared on Cliterati on January 27th; I have modified it only slightly so as to fit the format of this blog.  I figured it might be a good idea to republish at least some of my Cliterati essays here so they can be discovered by future readers in the index.

Harlow rhesus monkeyFew people would deny the importance of skin-to-skin contact in the psychological, emotional and even physical health of the newborn infant; study after study since Harlow’s seminal work with Rhesus monkeys in the 1950s have demonstrated that even if all of a baby’s physical needs are met clinically and dispassionately, it will not thrive in the same way as one whose bare flesh is pressed against that of its mother.  Indeed, in some cases an infant deprived of this contact will actually sicken and lose weight.  As time goes on, the need becomes less critical; adults can survive without it for much longer periods than babies, and some people manage to go years without touching the naked skin of another person.  But though an adult deprived of such contact is not likely to die, the effect can still be quite harmful; despite the denials of prudes and others who wish to control sexuality, physical intimacy with others is indeed a basic human need, and denying people the right to obtain it from consenting partners is a cruelty verging on barbarism.

In some countries, these statements would be wholly uncontroversial and it would be difficult to find a health professional, lay person or even politician who disagreed with them.  But in others (especially the United States and United Kingdom) the idea of sex as more closely akin to food, sleep and shelter than to television watching is a politically unpopular one, and I won’t be at all surprised to see comments insisting that sex is no more vital to health than candy.  I’m afraid I must politely disagree with them in advance; even in my private life I’ve seen too many examples of the erratic behavior of men long deprived of sex to ignore it, and as a sex worker I was privileged to be a regular witness to the profound restorative effects of simple human touch.  The power was demonstrated to me most dramatically after Hurricane Katrina, when the male population in New Orleans outnumbered the female by a substantial margin and many a client was willing to pay me just to hold and touch him gently, without anything a literal-minded person would describe as “sex”.

For most healthy, socially-adept adults – especially women – the distinction is at best an academic one, because they have little or no trouble securing voluntary sex partners on a regular (or at least occasional) basis.  But this is not so for everyone; some people (a highly disproportionate fraction of them male) have a great deal of trouble attracting partners willing to give them sex for the usual “socially acceptable” reasons such as love, lust, gratitude or even pity, leaving them unable to obtain it except by purchase.  And if a society criminalizes that option (or creates so many impediments to commercial sex that it might as well be illegal), even that route is closed to the man who is too afraid of the police or social censure to take the risk.

wheelchair guy with chickBecause of the movie The Sessions and the news of retired madam Becky Adams’ plan to open a brothel for the disabled, the topic of sex work and disability is a trending one right now; I’ve probably seen more articles on the subject in the last two months than I had in the preceding two years.  And while I think this is an extremely important subject, I’ve written about it elsewhere and there are some very good charities (and in some countries, even government agencies) working diligently to raise public consciousness on the matter so that the skeptical can be helped to recognize that disabled people have the same need for intimacy as everyone else.  What I’d like to call your attention to now is a fact that may seem obvious, yet tends to get lost in the shuffle whenever the topic comes up for discussion:  not all disabilities are physical.  In my first essay on the subject over two years ago, I primarily discussed physical disabilities such as paralysis, blindness, cerebral palsy and even extreme obesity.  But in the months that followed the majority of men who wrote to thank me for speaking up for them, either in the comments or via email, suffered from “invisible” disabilities such as autism, stuttering, schizophrenia or even crippling social anxiety.  Like those with more obvious problems they found it difficult or even impossible to interact with women in the way most men take for granted, and as a result relied on sex workers for that contact.  A number of them asked my advice in finding the right sex worker for their needs, and one corresponded with me about his plans to travel to Nevada to lose his virginity in a legal brothel, and shared his joy with me afterward.

If someone were to seriously argue that it was wrong to pay for food, and that the restaurant business was by its very nature exploitative and demeaning, we would dismiss him as a crank or a lunatic; if a politician were to propose laws against the buying and selling of shelter, clothing, entertainment, medical care or other needs he would be ridiculed in the press and his chances for re-election would be seriously in doubt.  Yet sex workers are attacked thus every day; our agency is denied, our clients and employees are demonized, our profession is ridiculed and the very real social value of our work is dismissed.  And though we ourselves are the chief victims of this persecution, we should never forget that there are others as well: those people who rely upon us to provide a basic human need which, if not strictly necessary for mere biological survival, is nonetheless vital to make life worthwhile.

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Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.  –  Gertrude Stein

A whore is any woman who gets money for sexual contact with someone.  It doesn’t matter what kind of sex it is, or how expensive the price, or how long the contract, or who pays, or whether intercourse is involved, or whether busybodies declare it legal, or what either party’s primary motive is, or under what conditions the contact takes place, or whether one or both parties have a “license” from some “authority”; as I wrote in “Whorearchy”,

If you accept money from someone that he gives due to sexual interest in you, then you are a whore and everything else is just semantics.  When politicians, pundits or rulers use some arbitrary determinant like penetration, duration, location or motivation to bless some harlots while damning others, what they’re actually doing is reducing the size of the group who might oppose them and winning supporters from among those granted legitimacy.  This is why I’m harshly unsympathetic to those who vehemently maintain that their species of sex work or sensual therapy is absolutely not prostitution:  all they’re doing is throwing other women under the bus, and if we had all stuck together from the beginning of second-wave feminism half a century ago, prostitution would’ve been decriminalized long ago and many women who are now dead or damaged might still be alive and healthy.

I’m bringing this up again because of a new movie called The Sessions, based on the true story of a whore named Cheryl Greene who was able to help a man disabled by polio experience sex before he died.  Regular readers are already familiar with how sex workers like Rachel Wotton, Catharina König and yours truly give disabled men the opportunity to enjoy sex, but unfortunately some who specialize in this type of therapeutic sex work imagine themselves to be better than their sisters and, like many dominatrices, sugar babies, porn actresses, virginity sellers and “professional cuddlers”, loudly and repeatedly (and unconvincingly) insist that they aren’t prostitutes because of some hogo bullshit arbitrary reason.  In this case, it’s because they are trained by people with fancy titles and adopt one themselves:  “sex surrogate”.

The concept of “sex surrogacy” was pioneered by Masters and Johnson in 1970, and it’s a good and sound one:  it’s a lot easier to diagnose and treat some sexual problems with a hands-on approach.  Any dedicated call girl worth her salt can do this, sometimes with great efficacy; the only difference between them and surrogates is that surrogates are trained in theory, terminology and therapeutic techniques in addition to their natural abilities.  Not long after I started escorting, my friend Dr. Helena (who had studied under Masters and Johnson) started talking to me about the possibility of becoming certified as a surrogate; she felt I would excel at it, and I don’t doubt that she was right.  If not for her untimely death she might eventually have talked me into it; the main sticking point for me was that I would need to undergo many months of training in order to make literally one-third what I did as an escort.

But though surrogates’ pretense that they aren’t hookers may appease their families or their own internalization of the Madonna-whore duality, it won’t fool readers of this blog and I suspect the only reason cops and district attorneys don’t go after them is that their screening is far too thorough and a prosecution might make too many people question the validity of prostitution laws.  Here’s an excerpt from a recent New York Post article on the subject:

…Helen Hunt plays a sex surrogate in the acclaimed film The Sessions — but in real life there are sex surrogates working right here in NYC…“People tend to be ill-informed about what a surrogate partner does,” explains [Dr. Fern] Arden…“They think of it pejoratively, the same as a sex worker, but it’s not,” she adds.  “Just as you have legitimate massage therapists and people who run massage parlors, there is a huge difference between them”…But…Derrelle Janey, a defense attorney at…Gottleib and Gordon, likens the sex surrogacy practice to prostitution — after all, money is being received for sex:  “It doesn’t matter if the client is disabled, it doesn’t matter if he is suffering from some kind of emotional distress — that just makes it kind of sad.  They have agreed to pay money for a sexual experience, and everyone understands that’s the transaction.  In my view, that’s prostitution”…Arden…insists what she does is not prostitution; it’s a public service…

It’s bad enough when cops and prohibitionists spout ignorant pap in interviews, but unforgivable when someone who should know better does.  A sexologist who denies that sex work is every bit as much a public service as what she does is either a liar, a quack or a lying quack.

…“Most of the men who come to my center are sexually inexperienced, so the surrogate program allows them to progress with their treatment.”  She argues it would be “cruel” not to treat them and have them “remain dysfunctional” until they find a willing partner to accompany them to therapy…“The sessions with the surrogate evolve gradually.  It’s a very gradual, sensual process of getting used to holding hands, caressing and kissing…[The clients] could come into treatment for several visits before they even take their clothes off.”

Sensuality and gradualness are also found in several other types of sex work as well, as Arden should well know.

Sarah, one of Arden’s surrogate partners…carefully fielded questions about the practical side of her job…“I don’t feel compelled to tell everybody that I meet [that I work as a sexual surrogate],” she says.  “There are certain people in my life who understand what I do and are very supportive of it.  But there are also people in my life who there is no reason for me to even go there.”

Sound familiar?  Nobody denies that surrogates are more educated than the average whore, but so am I and so are a number of other sex work bloggers, writers and activists.  And nobody denies that the surrogate experience usually has a different goal, pace and focus than the average date with a hooker, but then PSEs, GFEs, fetish sessions, private viewings and listening to troubled men are all different from a quick blow job.  Pretending that surrogacy is not sex work merely divides our already-marginalized profession and further empowers the prohibitionists to interfere in people’s sex lives, thus undermining the sexual understanding surrogates are supposed to promote.

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