“God is indeed a jealous God –
He cannot bear to see
That we had rather not with Him
But with each other play.”
Imposition over Understanding
We impose moral contrivances which, however well intentioned, are more a reflection of our own fears and desires than a framework to protect others. We impose regulatory bodies which express little concern over their constituents. We forget that nothing is as valuable than lived experience and no opinion should be granted credence over the voices of those living within certain circumstances by the frivolity of “scholarliness”.
We forget to give others the benefit of the doubt, to admit to their agency, that behavior will have a rationale basis and people should not be patronized for their choices. Western aid models are rife with saviour complexes, they are patronizing, irrelevant, and largely damaging. Add to it puritanical attitudes towards sex and you have brewed a perfectly damning concoction which rather than providing safe and healthy working environments for labourers in the sex trade they are shooed off into dark alleys their work vilified and their personhood denied.
Property & Propriety: Service, Capital, and Moralism
“Prostitution is only a particular expression of the universal prostitution of the worker.”
Karl Marx 1844
Marx and Engels provide a non-moralistic ground for the establishing of prostitution as a form of labour. It stems from patriarchal family structures in which the monogamous family “develops out of the pairing family . . . It is based on the supremacy of the man, the express purpose being to produce children of undisputed paternity; such paternity is demanded because these children are later to come into their father’s property as his natural heirs.”
In this context then, prostitution becomes subversive: it takes sex out of the home and into the market. Certain strains of feminism refuse to acknowledge sex work as work, for example defining prostitution as the selling of the female body. This conflates what prostitution actually entails. Take for example the tariff system which dictates a price for masturbation, usually higher prices for oral, vaginal or anal sex. Services can also be charged by the hour and what kind of sexual service is included in the fee will be clearly stated. Therefore, the commodity is sex – or rather a particular sexual service.
The sex worker, and in this particular instance, the prostitute, is both the worker, the petit bourgeois, and even, particularly as a madam, the capitalist.
Exploitation and oppression by the state is perpetuated via legal and social sanctions. So long as brothels continue to operate underground, they cannot be made to comply with health and safety standards (e.g. supplying condoms), cannot be held accountable for sexual harassment or other abusive working conditions, cannot be sued for withheld earnings and in general. When employers remain criminalized they remain unaccountable.
The Sin of Academe
The Whore Imagined, or rather, the whore is imagined by hegemonic, corporate feminism which champions the rescue industry like it champions all forms of irrelevant and exploitative charity and aid.
Take for example the fabrication and fetishization of the following commonly quotes statistics found even in the work of Jacquelyn Monroe.
The “average age is 13”
Work by the following scholars: Silbert and Pine, Gamache and Giobbe, and Weisberg seem to misconstrue how the law of averages actually works. If given a mathematical analysis of averaging age to 13 then either for every 25 year old there is a 1 year old or for every 40 year old there are ten 10 year olds in prostitution. This is absurd.
This could also be poor phrasing in an attempt to further sensationalize what they intended to mean the average age of people entering prostitution.
By crunching actual figures the average age a woman in America enters prostitution is actually 24.95, i.e. 25 – a figure well into the adult age range and thus representing an individual capable of making their own choices.
“100,000-300,000 American children are trafficked as sexual slaves”
Its original source was a 2001 study by Richard Estes and Neil Weiner of the University of Pennsylvania which not so much hazard-ed a guess but had the hazardous guess of “as many as 100,000-300,000 children and youth [of both sexes] are at risk for sexual exploitation” of one kind or another. From this to arrive at the commonly quoted statistic is absolutely criminal.
…the list goes on.
If academics can take artistic license in fabricating statistic to benefit a particular agenda then grants for anti-sex-trafficking research and abolitionists translates to sanctimonious profiteering pseudo-academics turning bloated statistics into victim porn. These are pimps of one of the keystone qualities of Americana culture: nonsense hyperbole … the bigger the better, the sadder the more profitable, a culture of fear of the unknown and intangible, scary, amorphous: war on terror, war on drugs, war on whores…
Hammering Whores and Sickled Sluts
Decriminalization is not the same as legalizing prostitution which would mean creating a specific legal regulatory framework, such as toleration zones or a list of registered workers. In this instance, legalization is created in order to protect “polite society” and not the sex workers themselves. Decriminalization on the other hand beckons self-determination.
Margo St. James has been a long-time fighter for the rights of sex workers through launching COYOTE (Call of Your Old Tired Ethics). Aside from battling government and law enforcement St. James and other sex worker activists must deal with outmoded second wave and neo-liberal feminists in their fight for equality. St. James provides a damning critique of puritanical feminists such as Andrea Dworkin by stating that:
“In their work, they separate themselves from poor women and women of color. They want to hold themselves apart from sex workers.”
Neo-liberal feminism is as toxic as it’s patriarchal predecessors in that is has no interest in the lives of marginalized women. Sex and sex workers (of any kind) are not at fault, their work is not the crime but rather the institutions (legal, political, and socio-cultural) which deny them dignity and prohibit true emancipation.
Banner by Hieronymus Bosch (roughly between 1490-1510), “The Garden of Earthy Delights”
Corvid, Magpie. “Marxism for Whores.” Salvage. N.p., 1 Aug. 2015.
Fischer, Anne Gray. “Forty Years in the Hustle: A Q&A with Margo St. James.” Bitch Media. N.p., 11 Feb. 2013.
McNeill, Maggie. “A Tale That Grew in the Telling.” The Honest Courtesan. N.p., 22 Sept. 2012.
McNeill, Maggie. “The Law of Averages.” The Honest Courtesan. N.p., 18 Dec. 2013.
“Prostitution: Marxism versus Moralism.” Permanent Revolution. N.p., Winter 2007.