The Godwin’s Law of the sex work debate is that inevitably, someone on one side will call someone on the other side a pimp. Most of the time, the person making the accusation will be a supporter of criminalising the purchase of sex – and at least some of the time, the only ground for the accusation is that the other person disagrees. Sometimes, of course, there’s a bit more to it than that – the accused may have picked up a brothel-keeping charge, for example – but seeing as that’s happened to people on both sides of the debate, it’s a fairly unedifying accusation. Even when it’s true.
Of course, the point of the accusation isn’t to improve the debate from an intellectual standpoint; it’s to discredit the person it’s made against. And when it’s made against a person who wants sex work decriminalised, the point is to discredit their entire argument – by suggesting anyone who puts it forward is a “vested interest”, a person who (quoting RTÉ’s Prime Time) “profits from prostitution”, a person who pretends to have the interest of sex workers at heart but really just seeks to exploit them. In this way, supporters of the Swedish model can not only take the high moral ground themselves, but can also add impetus to their argument by portraying the law as an anti-pimp measure (as they did, for example, in this press release last month).
The irony is that there are plenty of reasons to think the law would actually have the opposite effect, and promote pimps and pimping. In 2003 the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and the Police went to Sweden to investigate the outworking of the law, and this is what they reported:
It has been claimed that prostitutes’ dependence on pimps has increased because street prostitutes cannot work as openly. The police informed us that it is more difficult to investigate cases of pimping and trafficking in human beings because prostitution does not take place so openly on the streets anymore….
Prostitutes’ dependence on pimps has probably increased. Someone is needed in the background to arrange transport and new flats so that the women’s activity is more difficult to discover and so that it will attract the attention of the police.
A few years later, this was echoed in a report by the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare:
According to one informant in Göteborg, there are probably more pimps involved in prostitution nowadays. The informant says the law against purchasing sexual services has resulted in a larger role and market for pimps, since prostitution cannot take place as openly.
A woman engaged in indoor prostitution in Göteborg relates that when the law took effect in 1999, about ten women engaged in prostitution from various Eastern European countries approached her business because they wanted to hide indoors. Informants from the Stockholm Prostitution Centre also mention that the law has opened the door to middlemen (pimps), because it has become more difficult for sellers and buyers of sexual services to make direct contact with one another.
Norway, meanwhile, has seen the emergence of what you might call “pimp-like” relationships – relationships of extreme dependency, in which the most vulnerable (drug using street workers) become totally reliant on a particular man or men for survival. According to last year’s City of Oslo report,
Among the women with a drug addiction who still sell sex many have changed methods for finding customers. Most of the support services have experienced that the women enter into more long term relations with men who they refer to as “friends”, “boyfriends”, “uncles”, or acquaintances. These are men they stay in contact with through telephones and that they stay with for longer periods, this could be hours, days, or weeks. They have sex with the men in exchange for the men supplying them with drugs, money, and other necessities. Many of the support services say that they perceive the women as being very vulnerable in the relationships. The women become very dependent on the few customers they have.
So where does the idea come from that pimps would oppose criminalising clients? I think in part, it’s the failure of prohibitionists to understand the difference between legalisation and decriminalisation. Admittedly, there isn’t always a clear line between the two, but an essential element of legalisation is that sex work is only lawful under specified conditions. For indoor workers, this usually means that a premise has to meet strict criteria to be deemed a legal brothel – and that certainly can promote “pimping” as prohibitionists would define it. Few self-employed sex workers have the resources or even the desire to wade through that much red tape, so if they don’t want to work illegally and/or alone (depending on the laws of the jurisdiction), they often have little choice but to work for someone else.
But, and here’s the important thing that always seems to get missed, this is not the model advocated by most supporters of sex workers’ rights. Including many of those who are regularly accused of being pimps. A more favoured model would be something along the lines of New Zealand’s, where up to four sex workers can share a premise as a “small owner operated brothel” (SOOB) without the reams of bureaucracy that a managed brothel is subject to – and where sole operators can take the safety precautions they need without putting themselves at risk of arrest, as happens in many “legalisation” jurisdictions. Does this promote pimping? No, it doesn’t. In fact, according to the 2008 report of NZ’s Prostitution Law Review Committee,
Some brothels have closed down with operators citing the lack of staff and increasing competition for workers because of sole operators/SOOBs as reasons for the failure of their business.
You see? Make it easier for people to work without someone managing them, and they’ll have less need for managers. It isn’t really rocket science. In fact, none of this is counter-intuitive, at least for anyone who doesn’t consider the sex industry to be totally sui generis (which it isn’t). I mean, think about it: most people who call for drugs to be legalised are not actually drug dealers themselves. I don’t think I’ve ever even heard a drug dealer call for drugs to be legalised, for bleeding obvious reasons. Nor does anyone ever argue that criminalising drug dealers’ customers makes a dent in drug dealers’ profits – and fewer and fewer seem to think it really deters the customers, either. Why would criminalising the sex industry have an entirely different effect?
I am fully aware that this post is an exercise in futility. Criminalisation advocates are going to keep throwing the accusation around, keep raising the spectre of the Pimp-Monster lurking behind a multitude of Twitter accounts. It’s an emotive tactic, and thus perfect for what has been a heavily emotive campaign. It’s just ironic that its success will be measured by whether it achieves a policy that real pimps may be the first to benefit from.
Good luck with the apostrophes….nice post. I write as a customer, one not too sure of the borderlines of this debate….nor even what my own hypocrisies mean. What is good about this view is that you are talking about it from the worker’s point of view – she (ususally) makes a living that way, and needs to be thought of respectfully rather than as the source of a problem. Being managed is awful and any way forward is worth trying – the NZ model sounds good, or as good as it can be.
Thanks for your comment. I don’t write from the worker’s point of view, though, only from the realist’s.
As you say it is hard to know exactly what is the reality – the terms fo the debate are quite fraught. And I know you are writing from your point of view, not as a sex worker. Good luck…
Great article, but why do so many not follow the logic of this. I despair when I read the papers and the views of the Christian rescue industry.
“Great article, but why do so many not follow the logic of this.”
Ideology my friend, ideology. And ideology is blind to logic or real life situations.
Interestingly, the radical feminist ideology which underpins “abolitionist” legislation such as Sweden’s also considers marriage as a form of patriarchal oppression against women. But marriage being a too powerful institution to attack, the abolitionists picked weaker targets such as already vulnerable sex workers.
A great lesson in bravery and protecting women’s rights.
I don’t think abolitionists are wrong. I have spoken with many of them and I really believe that they know that the laws and actions they support will mean more vulnerability to prostitutes, a worsen on their work conditions and the rule of the mafias. This will be wonderful for them bcause as the problem will never end in this way, they will always have a reason to fight for (I mean, to live getting subsidies from governments).
Moreover, what u can see in abolitionists is that very far from wanting the benefit of prostitutes, they hate them. They know the best way to make a living hell the life of prostitutes, and they are doing it.
Sure, I hate prostitutes; I really do. My sole aim in life when I wake up is to think about all the prostitutes my abolitionist views are going to piss off.
You know who I heavily dislike, though? The clients. Those who think women are there to fulfill their petty desires to have sex.
I believe in women’s liberation and I do not believe it will be achieved by letting men having access to women, taking advantage of their economic vulnerability. That’s the abolitionist view, not the nonsense you just spewed.
Oh and last time I check, living on gorvernement subsidies, really? This is utter nonsense.
And to make it clear, aboliton is different from prohibition. It’s only manipulative to write otherwise.
I don’t know about where you live, but here in Ireland the prohibitionist groups do live on government subsidies. See this article which originally appeared in the Irish Times.
And what is manipulative is appropriating the name of a noble cause, abolitionism, in the service of your ideology.
Ok, granted, some groups do that but no, that’s not the case everywhere (and no, I’m not Irish).
As for the rest of your comment, excuse me? Abolition is not prohibition and I don’t see how we are manipulative since we are very clear about our goals and desires.
I just explained above that the client are the problem and you whirl accusation of being manipulative at me (and abolitionists), I can’t even…
You and I are feminist, our aim is put an end to male domination and the patriarchy, could you please explain to me how we’re supposed to do that when when pro-sex feminists keep having at it at abolitionists when we are not the enemy.
In these views, no, I don’t see how being ok with an institution (prostitution) which is totally patriarchal and have been exploitative of women’s bodies for centuries is in accordance with defeating patriarchy, unless you think men have these urges they have to satisfy, maybe.
Don’t waste your time answering because I don’t think it’s possible to discuss anyway since our views are so different. If you think it’s ok for punter to get sex they way they do, if they’re nothing wrong, for you with a privilege guy imposing his desires on other people, well, no, in this case, we definitely don’t have the same ideologies when it comes to feminism.
Glad you are open about your hatred. You seem to know a lot about clients, like the two who sent me money yesterday becasue I cant work at the moment and they wanted to help.
Where do you get your ideas from, the latest rad fem all men are evil handbook? Yes clients want sex, and cuddles, and someone to talk to and a whole host of other things. They seek out someone who offers these services in a consensual setting, one where consent is more negotiated than the average relationship, and pay for what they understand is a privilege. If they didnt understand this they wouldn’t pay would they?
I have a job, without clients my children wouldnt eat, my rent wouldn’t be paid, they treat me decently and with respect, unlike those who would turn me into a faceless mindless victim.
Oh and that petty desire to have sex? Says everything about your understand of and lack of empathy for humanity
My hatred? Excuse me?
Yes I have radical leanings, I don’t see what’s wrong with that and I certainly don’t hate guys. I recognise they are the privilege ones, that they find it perfectly normal and tend to abuse it, that’s all.
I’m glad everything is ok for you in your work but you know that’s not the case for everyone. Lots of prostitutes are distressed by their experience, what do we make of it? Do we ignore them and say “too bad, for others everything is going well”?
As for petty desires, yes, having sex is not a right, last time I checked. Everybody experiences frustration at some point or another, men and women alike. I don’t see women lining up to buy sexual services though, so why do men think they are entitled?
Anyway, I’ll leave it at that as I didn’t came here to experience conflicts with everyone.
Sorry to have intrude on you, that was a mistake to react and comment in the first place.
One, I’ll respond to what I want to respond to on my own blog, thanks very much.
Two, prohibitionists don’t get to define what the problem is, sex workers do.
And three, we certainly do seem to have very different feminisms. Mine is centered on actual women and their real-life experiences and the material effects of policy and legislation on them.
First, when I told you not to waste your time it was to be understood as “We disagree so much, I’d understand if you wouldn’t want to answer”. In other words, I was telling you that I wasn’t expecting an answer and that I was ok with it. English is not my mother tongue, you will excuse me for not expressing myself accurately, sometimes.
Second, I’d be really interested in knowing why you keep lumping together prohibitionists and abolitionists. I have no common ground with prohibitionists (who want to criminalise prostitutes) and I find it very disrespectful of you to do so despite what me or other can say.
Third, I’m a materialist feminist too, and as such, I recognise that women are systematically put at a disadvantage economically, by the system. What makes you think that abolitionists are not centered on women’s real-life experience. We have support groups who listen to prostitutesn help them cope, provide legal assistance, etc and help those who want to exit and who run campaign to educate people as to what prostitution can be (contrary to what the mainstream media do, which is glamourising it).
There are lots of prostitutes (former or not) who give testimony as to what their lives are/were. I fail to see how abolitionists are not taking these women into account.
I do agree on one thing, that we don’t hear prostitutes publicly as much as we should, and yes that’s a problem. But each time the media give voice to one them it’s so that she will describe her “happy hooker” life and thus reassuring the good people who don’t care in the first place about social dynamics and how and why it’s mostly women who end up in prostitution.
Anyway, you and I are talking from 2 different perspectives since, clearly, things are not the same in your country and mine.
As for the Godwin law, I didn’t accuse you of pimping, as far as I know, but yes, I stand by the fact that buying sexual services is exerting male privilege and this I’m against.
I will be happy to use a word other than “prohibitionist” if you would like to suggest one. However, I will not call you an “abolitionist”. I stopped using that word after a sex worker pointed out to me that it stigmatised her as a slave.
As to what makes me think that you’re not centred on women’s real-life experiences, well here’s one example: replying to a blog post which is all about the real-life negative effects of the policy you advocate without addressing any of the actual points in that post, and instead concentrating on theory and terminology.
I do agree the media’s portrayal of sex work is a problem, but it’s not simply the “happy hooker” depiction, it’s the false binary of happy hooker vs helpless hapless victim. In the Irish media, BTW, the latter image is by far the dominant one.
Ok, I see your points. I never heard about prostitutes complaining about the word “abolitionist” though but I understand where it’s coming from. I have no other word to offer you just that we’re not prohibitionists and so it’s not accurate to label us as such.
I tend to be carried away by theory, that I know, and it’s always a good thing to be reminded that. However, it doesn’t mean I’m not centered on women’s life even if my speech doesn’t reflect it accurately.
Though I define myself as “abolitionist” it doesn’t mean I don’t care about what my views entail. I think I wouldn’t have come here if that was the case.
We happen to have the same binary in my country (I’m from France) but the debate is entirely centered on the “happy hooker” and how glamorous prostitution is. Women actually suffering from it are totally thrown under the bus for the sake of this representation.
All in all, what I’ve noticed is that even people who say that others (meaning women, of course) have the right to enter prostitution don’t want to hear about it except if it reassures their views that the normal order of things (i.e. women seen as sex providers) is kept as it should be. People are all for women selling sexual services, but of course, they wouldn’ t do it, nor would they want women they know to do it either. There’s lot of hypocrisy going around and that really sickens me (this does not include you or people working with prostitutes).
In a more egalitarian context, I would have nothing to say about prostitution. As it is, I just see it as the continuity of what has been done for centuries
Anyway, as I said in another reply, I’m sorry I’ve intruded on your space. I recognise that was a mistake, that it was pointless and quite stupid of me, obviously.
I will leave most of this with Wendy’s comments as she is doing just fine. But has it ever crossed your mind that sex workers might have their own attitudes and belief systems and find “support groups who listen to prostitutesn help them cope, provide legal assistance, etc and help those who want to exit and who run campaign to educate people as to what prostitution can be” centred around indoctrinating them with your extremist fad ideology (because that is all it is I have lived long enough to see these crazy philosophies come and go) irrelevant and emotionally abusive?
I have seen your “campaigns” (even in France where I have worked in the past) and every single time I am struck by your total absence of awareness of what sex work is or can be (that is why it is so easy to spot the fake “survivors” sometimes trotted out to support it, they know everything about your misconceptions and nothing about reality). Yet you presume to educate those who have lived it first hand? Can you not see how arrogant and insulting that is?
Sexworkers do not need arrogant indoctrination in your misconceptions. They need the income they are willing to work hard for. They need their homes, they need to pay their bills, they need to feed their children. They need their market left unimpeded.
How they do, or do not feel about their work is absolutely none of your business because it is part of the choice only they are entitled to make for themselves.
All in all, what I’ve noticed is that even people who say that others (meaning women, of course) have the right to enter prostitution don’t want to hear about it except if it reassures their views that the normal order of things (i.e. women seen as sex providers) is kept as it should be.
I find this a very strange comment and it certainly doesn’t reflect what I have observed in this debate (I mean the debate generally, not this particular one in this thread). I see those who advocate for sex workers’ rights, by which I mean decriminalisation and the extension of labour and OSH rights to those in the industry, emphasising that sex workers are much more than just “sex providers” and indeed that many are not even women. Whereas it is those who you refer to as abolitionists who invariably mean “women” when they talk about people in sex work, and who constantly reduce those women to mere “sex providers”, or even worse.
And you are more than welcome to comment here, but if I disagree I’m going to say so.
By people I meant those who are not involved in the debate, one way or another. Like those who are going to comment a newspaper article saying “prostitution is totally ok, no harm done, consenting adults, ect, etc”. They don’t care one bit about the lives of prostitutes, they just want to make sure that the vision they have of it (mostly the “happy hooker”) is going to stay the same (don’t know if I’m clear there).
For all you care, abolitionists, in France, are for decriminalising prostitution too (well it’s not a crime per se but the reality says otherwise) and extending them rights too.
Mots of them are feminists and as such, focus on women first, since this is what feminism is about. Also, the majority of prostitutes or exotic dancers, etc ARE women, I think that deserves some bit of exploring as to why.
As to prostitutes being sex providers, well, punters seem to see them that way, don’t they? You just have to look at their message board to see it where they are f*ck*ng assessing and marking their “performances”. I’m not going to say they don’t exist, but I’ve yet to see a punter who just pay to talk without having sex.
To me(and others) the biggest problem are the clients who think they are entitled. And I find it rather problematic that most of them are men.
So once again, the “problem ” is not the prostitutes (against which I have absolutely nothing, despite what one might think, I’m not out there to destroy their lives, punishing them or anything, else), for me it’s the clients all the way through. I’ve said it again and I really stand by it, but to me, prostitution, the whole sex industry for that matter is the reflection of men’s privileges and entitlement.
I don’t think you can have a debate around prostitution without mentioning them but it’s as if they weren’t part of the equation and as if it were only the abolitionists who were the only problem. Are the abolitonists responsible for beating, stealing, raping, murdering prostitutes? Are we the one who perpetuate stigma about them (once again I don’t know about Ireland, but we don’t have the same moral framework in France as we’re less religious on the whole)? The thing I don’t understand is that abolitionists are seen as the prime evil where we just want to help, but people doing the real abuse (clients, the patriarchal system, economic institutions) are seen as blameless.
I thank you for your welcome but as I said, I think this is kinda pointless. I’m not here to convince anyone, btw, I just wanted to express what abolition is (in my view, in any case). We are not against prostitutes.
I have seen some of the statements by French anti-sex work groups and they do not support decriminalisation. They want to criminalise the client – that is not decriminalisation. It is also not possible, as a matter of either policy or logic, to protect sex workers’ rights by criminalising the client.
I also don’t agree that they do focus on women first, because they advocate for a policy which does not take into account the effects of that policy on women. The focus instead is on how things ought to be in their ideal world, not the one we’re actually living in. I note that you still haven’t addressed the points made in the post you are commenting under.
Anti-SW feminists absolutely do perpetuate stigma against sex workers, and not just here in Ireland, read this hideous piece by Melissa Farley and Nikki Craft just to take one example (there are plenty more). As to whether they are a worse enemy to sex workers than clients or the patriarchal system etc., that’s a matter for sex workers to decide.
I guess as an Anti Sex-worker feminist (since you choose to lump all of us under the same derogatory label once again) there’s nothing that I have to say about society at large and how it treats its women and how women internalise misogyny, sexism, etc.
You’re right on one thing, though, we have ideals and we hope for a fairer society. Didn’t know it was such a bad thing, but ok.
I’m sorry I missed the point you referred to but well, being such a horrible abolitionist who don’t give a damn about women’s lives I guess it doesn’t matter.
In China, lots of people seem to find it perfectly ok to sell one of their kidneys to send children to university, should we let them do so? Selling one’s organs is illegal, would we remove this law?
I do not subscribe to the liberal rhetoric of enlightened choice, by the way, neither do most abolitionists. I guess that just shows how much we want to control women’s lives on the whole.
I also don’t think that recognising that someone is a victim is demeaning, especially since (in this specific case) so many former prostitutes (whether it was their choice or not to enter prostitution in the first place) say they are. They must be wrong and must have been brainwashed by abolitionists because believe it or not, there are plenty of former prostitutes in abolitionist movements or elsewhere, advocating for abolition.
Shouldn’t they be taken into account? I mean, they do know what they are talking about, right?
I haven’t accused you of silencing these former prostitutes though I could say you do sonce you don’t seem to take into account what they are saying, unless as former prostitutes they’ve lost the right to talk about it? Because most abolitionists’ views are based on these women’s experiences not from some kind of completely theoretical debate. So I guess, plenty of prostitutes seem to find the clients and the patriarchal system to be problematic, I’ve just chosen to listen to those who suffer and suffured.
(sorry for the typos, I’m a very bad typist)
Ah, the old “silencing” accusation. Disagree with someone, or agree with someone they disagree with, and all of a sudden you’re “silencing” them. It’s a ridiculous accusation and one that, it seems to me, serves mainly as its own attempt to silence, to get someone to stop expressing a view that differs from yours.
I accept totally what former sex workers say about their own experiences. What I don’t accept is that they get to define anyone else’s (and that also goes for non-sex workers, like myself and I presume you). I also believe that the people who should have the most say in a policy are the people who will actually have to bear the consequences of that policy. I think that’s eminently reasonable, and would probably be taken as a given if we were discussing anything other than sex work.
Still waiting for you to address the issue in the post, BTW.
i am still waitng for her to speak to me, you know the actual sex worker here, or does she throw insults like “Happy hooker” around in order to ignore me?
I said “I could” not that I did since well, I had the feeling that you were implying that abolitionists were silencing prostitutes on the whole.
So no, don’t put words into my mouth, I merely send back something at you, something which I think was in your discourse. Were did I attempt to stop you expressing your views?
I’m not the one who has been disrespectful putting you under label which you don’t identify with, or accusing you of anything.
I said I didn’t know which point you were talking about when I replied. I could totally say that you didn’t address some of my points either. Am I doing this? No. So do you think you could start showing a little bit of respect here? Coz as it is, I don’t feel much of it.
You may believe that sex-work is work, they are other who see otherwise and see it as an exploitative situation,and when people who formerly where in this trade report it as being abusive, well, yeah, I think they’re on to something, that they deserved to be listen to and taken advice from. Being in the situation doesn’t make you the most enlightened person regarding your situation in most cases.
As for the issue you keep referring to, I suppose you meant this:
“I find this a very strange comment and it certainly doesn’t reflect what I have observed in this debate (I mean the debate generally, not this particular one in this thread). I see those who advocate for sex workers’ rights, by which I mean decriminalisation and the extension of labour and OSH rights to those in the industry, emphasising that sex workers are much more than just “sex providers” and indeed that many are not even women. Whereas it is those who you refer to as abolitionists who invariably mean “women” when they talk about people in sex work, and who constantly reduce those women to mere “sex providers”, or even worse.”
Well I think I answered that, didn’t I? Sorry if that wasn’t in the terms you were expecting.
Anyway, this is just a sterile debate. I’m not a liberal or neo-liberal, neither am I a libertarian so it’s going to be difficult to reconcile anything when we have so little in common.
You posit that only prostitutes in activity should have something to say, I hold the view that society at large is concerned (and not only prostitutes but women on the whole) and that as a society it should be our aim to make sure people are not harmed. When I hear and read so many prostitutes being abused in their line of work for me (and others) clearly there is something wrong and this something should be addressed.
Feel free to answer, of course, but as for myself, I’m done.
As for the issue you keep referring to, I suppose you meant this:
No, the issue I’m referring to is the one in the post you’re commenting on, i.e., how the policy you advocate has the effect of benefiting pimps. It’s very strange how you’ve made so many comments on this post defending that policy without once addressing that issue, which I assume had something to do with bringing you here in the first place. It’s almost as if you have no reply to that, and are trying to raise diversions instead.
I browsed this article late at night, so you’ll excuse me if I don’t have all the specifics in mind.
I replied to one of the comments (from Cliente X), specifically, not the article in itself that I haven’t finished reading. And obviously since I’m here it’s because I feel concerned about the whole issue.
Now that I made myself clear, once again I’m outta here, I really tire of all these accusations and nonsense hurled at me. If didn’t reply to it, yet, perhaps it was because 1. I didn’t intend to reply to it in the first place. 2. I was engaged in another talk with you which initially had nothing to do with the article itself but with my comment on one of its comments.
It would have been really nice of you to refrain from making such remarks as I don’t think I’ve behaved this way towards yourself, at all.
Now that’s clarified, one again, I’m done.
My deepest apologies for pointing out the flaws in your argument.
Is this all it comes down to? You making fun of me, especially when clearly we weren’t talking about the same things in the end.
I’m totally aware that my arguments may be flawed however, I’d very much like to know how you could pinpoint the flaws in an argument regarding an article that I wasn’t argumenting about in the first place.
So now, let’s be honest with each other, ok? What have I done to deserve such disrespect from you? I’ve apologised several times, tried to be as polite and respectful with you as possible.
Have I tried to make fun of you? No. Have I put words into your mouth to discredit you? No. Have I accused you of trying to not answer specific points? No.
You have an issue with me? Ok, out with it then rather than answering me with such snide remark.
You haven’t come across as polite and respectful. You came in with an attitude and an accusation. It seems that you only came here with the purpose of telling off Cliente X and didn’t want or expect to be challenged on anything you said.
I don’t think it’s asking too much for someone commenting on a blog post to actually address the points in that blog post, especially when they are directly relevant to (and highlight the flaws in) the argument you’re making.
That poster was a joke. Behind the guise of someone who had solid arguments, actually a troll. 10+ comments each saying “I’m done, I don’t want to discuss that anymore”… typically followed by another comment where she gets lost in the midst of her increasingly unconvincing arguments!
And when Wendy actually pointed out that she was being blinded by ideology and not focusing on the actual experiences and opinions of sex workers… she gets angry and plays the sullied victim whom the evil pimps are trying to silence! Spoken like a true abolitionist, with all the usual limitations of their radical ideology and the usual cycle of weak arguments followed by indignation when those arguments get overruled.
Ok, I am going to go out on a limb here and identify myself as, as some would say, a pimp. I may not be the one you have in your head though…I am a cis female sex worker myself, entering the work at age 29, and I am 48 now. At this point in my career, I have extensive knowledge of the market I work in, the structures that have kept me and many others safe from bad clients and cops, marketing techniques that work for my area, and information and experience that can help people figure out for themselves how they can do the work and stay happy healthy and sane. I know for a fact that the information I can share can save women from negative and potentially devastating experiences while working. So I provide a space that is safe, clean and supportive for women who want to learn how to do the work safely. I help them (not TELL them) discover the way THEY want to do the work, from massage with little to no contact to hard core BDSM, help them make choices that work with their interests and safety levels, and provide a secure place for them to explore. We never work alone. We are always supportive. We spend time together outside work with each others families and friends, we help each other when we cannot work or have stressors in our lives. We talk about choices we have made, from safety to who we tell our stories to, and hold each others hands when our hearts are broken.
Yes, I take a cut of their hourly wages. In exchange I provide a safe, secure and clean space, customers that will respect and honor what they are given, provide all the materials they need for the services they provide, I take photos when requested and process those images, maintain a website and outside advertising, screen clients and provide 100% in person support available at all times. We host classes for those who want to learn more, from learning kink techniques from a pro domme to how to help clients in medical situations (viagra overdose, stroke) from a nurse. I pay for these classes.
I would be charged as a pimp despite making less than most of the ladies I work with on a monthly basis. I would be charged as a pimp even though I have babysat children, brought groceries to a sick worker, driven people to the airport, and helped MANY women transition from working with me to working for themselves. I would be charged as a pimp despite the fact that people work for me for years because the environment makes them happy.
I am a pimp by most definitions yet I do not fit the stereotype and I know FAR more agency owners that are like me, and NONE that meet the media presentation. I consider myself to be support staff to these people and definitely “in service” to them. Each time I clean a toilet or wash a sheet, I certainly don’t feel like I am anyone’s boss.
There is another way to look at this, and if you say that someone can provide GOOD things in support of a person’s business, then it can be a VERY good thing. Think about your hairdresser and the shop he/she works in. We have lots of rules that prevent people in this situation from being “abused” by salon owners who are providing clientele, space and supplies. Without the experience of working for someone else, hairdressers won’t have the experience they need to be successful, likely cannot afford to acquire all the supplies they need when just getting started, and they don’t have the support to handle the clients that are objectionable.
There is a way to do this while respecting the agency and choice of the people involved, and I am not alone.