Privileged Rape?

Some good points from Jo Boobs

“And I don’t get people who make a case against sex workers’ rights activists over relative privilege, because if they think sex work is commercialized rape, what the fuck are they talking about–privileged rape? Rape feels nicer if you’re middle class? What is goal of the argument there? You can’t have it both ways, people. My whole POINT is that conditions, of which privilege is one, matter; but that doesn’t mean that the concerns of those in better conditions are then irrelevant, because their input can be the source of information about how better conditions work–and how sometimes even under better conditions, issues of class, gender, and race occur in ways that ought to make them worth exploring to get an idea of what the BIG picture is, not in ways that mean they ought to be dismissed.”

I especially like her point about how workers of privilege can be a source of info about how improved conditions can work. As a worker who enjoys relative privilege, I feel responsible to share what I’ve learned and techniques that develop with every sex worker that I meet, and appreciate the reciprocal information that I get in return. But for this to be effective, we have to be able to talk to each other. Criminalization keeps us divided and unable to help each other resist bad conditions.

-Karly Kirchner

How exactly are women being protected?

In this video, the ‘victims’ are handcuffed and lined against a wall. This is non-consensual bondage. If these women are being ‘rescued’ then why is it necessary to cuff them? This is how these laws ultimately manifest, punishing women for being ‘bad girls.’

Review of Prostitution and Trafficking in Nevada, Making the Connections

By Barbara Brents

I read Prostitution and Trafficking in Nevada, Making the Connections by Melissa Farley this weekend. From the statements of others on the back cover, this report is being read as an academic study on the extent of trafficking in Nevada. However, I have to conclude that Dr. Farley must not have intended this particular report to be the main presentation of scientific research findings. She presents none of the elements contained in social scientific peer reviewed research. There is no systematic explanation of research methods, a rather unclear set of research questions, and it is difficult to generalize from the data presented here to the findings. For example, the report offers no empirical evidence to support the existence of sex trafficking in Nevada outside of that provided in newspaper articles. Instead she broadly defines trafficking as any movement of prostitutes across borders, and starts with the assumption that prostitutes do not consent. With that definition, all prostitution is trafficking.

She has conducted 45 interviews with women in legal brothels, but for the most part she discounts their comments saying, “I knew that they would minimize how bad it was” (p. 22) and “Most of our data offer a conservative perspective on the dangers of prostitution” (p. 23). She explains that her data did not fully support her conclusions for several reasons: managers were listening through devices to interviews, women are likely “ignore bad things or they pretended that unpleasantness will go away, or they call the degrading abuse of prostitution by another name that sounds better” (p. 22). Most researchers would then turn to other research methods if they determine their interviews were so flawed. The goal of scientific research is to make sure there is no evidence out there that might disprove one’s hypothesis. Instead, in the chapter on Nevada brothels, she reports findings from interviews in tables without systematically stating what the survey questions were, or how surveys were administered. And she runs regression with an N of 45. There is no statement of the sampling techniques. And for most of that chapter on brothels, she selectively uses quotes that do support her belief that prostitution is degrading while ignoring those that don’t support it.

She also relies very heavily on secondary sources to support her arguments. In a careful reading of many of her footnotes in the chapter on legal brothels, I found that she takes quotes out of context, without stating the overall conclusions of the sources. For example, of the seven of 10 or so sources that I was able to find where she drew quotes on Nevada specifically, five concluded their research with recommendations against an abolitionist approach to prostitution and with qualified support for legalization. The two who did not included a book written in the mid 1980s by a journalist and a documentary. She also draws several times on an unpublished paper written by a student at UNLV’s law school. I have not seen that paper yet.

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Sex is Degrading

That’s the only conclusion I can draw to explain the constant hysteria over prostitution.

What is degradation?

In this feminist debate, the idea of degradation seems to rest on the assumption that a woman is degraded when she loses her “value.” I explain, keep reading.

All women in prostitution are degraded

The base argument seems to be that having sex with lots of men is degrading. (This is true even without money involved.) And having lots of sex with one man for your entire life somehow isn’t degrading – even if you’re completely miserable in the marriage and only hope he soon dies of a heart attack to free you from the holy bonds of matrimony.

I digress. The core assumption seems to be that having sex with lots of men for money is degrading for the woman involved in the equation.

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Are legal brothels the answer?

All the attention turned to Nevada brothels can be seen as a great argument for decriminalization.

Farley’s research shows the fault lines in the current legal-brothel system. (Those faults may be exaggerated for effect.) I’ve certainly done my share of reading and research on the brothel system over the past several years. Although I flirted with the idea of working in the brothels once (just to say I did it), I decided not to.

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An open letter to Melissa Farley

Dear Melissa Farley,

 

Hello Melissa. I hope this message finds you well and in good health. Although we have not yet had the pleasure of meeting in person, I think we may be working toward the same goals, however different our vision of the path to our goals may be.

That’s why I’m writing this message to you. I think we should be working together, not against each other. Now I know this may sound a little alarming, I am after all, a woman who provides sexual services for financial compensation. I know people like us kind of creep you out. Speaking to us, treating us like equals even, would force you to confront your own internalized attitudes toward women and sex. I know that can be a difficult and challenging process for all women, but it’s something that we all must go through at some point.

Many women find that confronting and owning our internalized biases against that which we do not understand can make us feel stronger, happier and more connected to our communities. Confronting these internalized biases can actually make us more effective at challenging true oppression in our society by eliminating the barriers that keep us from recognizing each other’s differences as strengths to be used toward our common cause.

To help you begin this process, I’m going to tell you a little bit about me and some of the people that I know. I will make information available, and it will be up to you to think critically and compassionately while looking inward for the answers. Ask yourself why you believe that women cannot function as equal members of society based upon their sexual choices? This is a difficult question to ask yourself, don’t be too hard on yourself if the answers don’t come immediately.

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Blurring the Lines

As usual, everyone mixes strippers and hookers.

Strippers are a delicate subject.

Bob Herbert wrote, “Many of those girls are either prostitutes or one short step away.”

Trust me, if you walk into a strip club and assume every girl in there is a hooker (and are stupid enough to say so), you’re going to get a lesson in the dividing lines between various types of sex work. Slut does not = stripper does not = hooker does not = crack whore does not = everyone in the adult industry.

Amanda Brooks