An Open Letter to the ‘Good’ Punter

If you like sex, this is not a letter to you. If you like women, this is not a letter to you. If you’ve somehow put these things together and decided they give you the right to buy what you like, this is a letter to you.

If you’re a misogynistic bastard who gets off on hurting women, this is not a letter to you. Apart from the fact that nothing here would get through, I wouldn’t waste my fucking writing skills on you.

If you’re a man who buys sex and thinks you’re engaged in a mutually beneficial transaction that’s causing no harm, I’m talking to you.

I met many of you. So many. Too many. And I always wondered about you. I wondered, how could you justify this to yourself? How could you tell yourself – and believe it – that I was happy to have strangers’ fingers, penises and tongues shoved into the most private parts of me? How did you convince yourself that I’d be happy about something you’d never, in your wildest nightmares, wish on your own daughter? I wondered, most of all, how could you look at me and not see me?

Let me tell you who you are: you are the ‘good’ punter. You’re the man who has a laugh with the woman you’re buying. You’re the man who strokes her hair. You ask her how her day’s been. How she’s feeling. Why she’s doing this. Did you ever think to ask that of yourself?

You are the ‘good’ punter. If you see a bruise on her you’ll ask if she’s okay. Is anybody treating her violently? Yes. Many men are. Go in the bathroom. You’ll find one above the sink.

The truth, that you’re so desperate to flee from, is that you are just like a gentle rapist. Your attitude and demeanour does not mitigate what you do. The damage you’re causing is incalculable, but you tell yourself you’re doing no harm here, and you use the smiles of the women you buy as some kind of currency; they allow you to buy your own bullshit. I would know; I doled out that currency many times, and we both were that, we both doled out currency in different ways, you and me.

You came along because you wanted to spend what you had to spend, your load, which also meant your money; and you looked at me and you touched me and you fucked me and then you held me. That was always the worst part. I want you to know that. That was always the worst part.

I didn’t want to be held by you. I didn’t want to be cuddled. I didn’t want you close to me, never mind inside me. Your arms around me made me want to puke more than your penis ever did. I shut out that part; it was too horrible. Every moment with you was a lie, and I hated every second of it. And you bought that lie; believe me it was a lie you bought. I know, because I sold it.

In Costa Rica they say: ‘Who is more at fault, the one who sins for the pay or the one who pays for the sin?’ Those words were taken from a book about men like you. Victor Malarek’s ‘The Johns’. Can you see the truth in them?

You can, but you don’t want to acknowledge them. You don’t want to face up to that. It doesn’t fit with your view of what you do. It doesn’t fit with your view of who you are. But I know who you are.

I can see you now. You are the ‘good’ punter. You’ve got your fists shoved in your ears. You are the ‘good’ punter. And you don’t want to hear.

FreeIrishWoman

Accepting Money

Oftentimes it is small incidents that call us back, and it is strange how things that would appear of zero relevence to an observer can be those that draw us back so forcibly as to cause tension, anxiety, and sometimes reactions that are simply emotionally violent.

Had there been a fly on the wall of my hotel room this afternoon (assuming it was a thinking fly, that could observe, process and reason) it would have heard a tremble in my voice, a hesitation, something that maybe sounded like confusion, and it most likely would have put that down to social awkwardness, and thought no more, and moved on.

I heard all those things in my own voice, but I know, as the speaker, that there was something up with where those words were coming from. They were coming from a place of deep discomfort. I was sincerely awkward, not quite embarrassed but getting there; I was mildly panicked, in the sense of trying to squirm away from the situation I was in.

I was accepting money.

How is it that I can loan money, or gift money, without a thought, but it is always, to some degree or other, a traumatising experience to accept it? The situation was this: I had been invited to speak at a conference in New York, and my understanding was that my travel expenses would be met. I took this to mean my flights and accommodation, but this morning, on my leaving, the woman who co-ordinated the event called my hotel room and wanted to know how much I had spent on food and transportation. How much had my taxi’s cost? How much had I spent on meals? I felt something rise up in me that could be best described as defensiveness. It didn’t matter, I told her. It wasn’t much. Forget about it.

I honestly didn’t know how much I’d spent on those things, and I still don’t know. I’d been in and out of several cabs and restaurants and I had never thought to keep receipts. I would have needed to eat anywhere, I reasoned to myself, as the woman tried to reimburse me. There was a need to push this money away, a sense of ‘please leave me alone’, and it was far from the first time that had happened.

When I put the phone down I began to question myself. Why had that been difficult for me? Why had it been so awkward any of the many other times it had happened? What was it about accepting money that made living in my very skin so squeamishly uncomfortable for me?

Bingo. There it was. Yes – I get it now.

Jesus… sometimes the answer is so obvious it makes the question ridiculous.

FreeIrishWoman