Someone asked me recently was I not pissed off that, after ten years of working on my memoirs, another former Irish prostitute who had just begun blogging had secured a book deal for her own book, which was to be launched before mine. That was a fair question and I could see why it would be asked, but it was not a question that could be answered with a yes or a no. It strongly necessitated a ‘no and here’s why’ answer, so I decided to blog about the ‘why’ part.
The book my friend was referring to is due out in the autumn of this year, about four months or so before my own and will be titled ‘Secret Diary of a Dublin Call Girl’. It is currently being written by a young Irish woman known on the internet as DCG (Dublin Call Girl)
I first came across Dublin Call Girl’s blog in January of this year. I came across it because, in the aftermath of completing the book, I didn’t know how to disengage from the subject. Also, in a climate where prostitution was heating up as a political issue, I didn’t want to.
I was directed to a group-blog called Survivors Connect Network, and what I found there were blog-links to the writings of prostitution survivors from all over the world. DCG’s blog was among them.
The first thing that struck me about her writing was that she used soft and evocative language; heartbreaking language, that moved me to tears more than once. As a survivor of prostitution, that says a lot. It says that she captured the prostitution experience in a very profound way. The small things; they are often the things that set us survivors apart from the rest of society. The things we think of, the things we remember, the things we struggle to forget; the things we can’t get through a single day without being assaulted by. They were all there.
I was so glad. My heart sung with joy to find this evidence of another Irish woman exploring her prostitution past, in the face of this psychological tsunami so few of us can push past to tell our truths. I was so thankful that this young woman had chosen to defy the pain that assails us, and to call attention to it, and to put it before the public, at the cost of a pain that is beyond the comprehension of so many to fully understand. I felt a deep and sincere affection for her. I still do.
I started an email communication with Stella Marr, who is an American domestic sex-trafficking survivor and the founding member of Survivors Connect Network. I told her that my book was completed and trying to find a home, but that I didn’t know how long that would take and because the issue of prostitution was now politically current in Ireland I felt I wanted to join the debate in the meantime. I told her also that I intended to go public with my identity when the book came out, but that until then I’d like to keep my identity to myself. She encouraged me to begin an anonymous blog of my own, and I thought that was a good idea, so I did.
As I did, I continued to follow the blogs of other women, paying particular attention to DCG’s, as she is a fellow Irish woman. As her blog unfolded and her story was laid out, I came to understand something I’d like to put before the readers of this blog now. It is that my story and hers are different in every way two women’s stories can be different, except for the most important way, which is the conclusion we both draw from them.
To being with, we are from different social classes. She identifies as middle class whereas I am from a working class background, raised in council housing. My family was severely impoverished and I came to prostitution through homelessness and destitution. I can only assume, from what she writes, that DCG’s early upbringing was the opposite, and unlike me, she came to prostitution though the grooming of sexual abuse. Many women mirror my entry point and many women mirror hers. A lot of women, tragically, mirror both.
Our stories are also different in other ways. I was prostituted from the age of fifteen to twenty-two, throughout most of the nineties. She was prostituted from twenty-one to twenty-six, through the latter half of the noughties (I hate that term, but we have no other).
I worked in all areas of prostitution; the streets, brothels, massage parlours and escort agencies. She worked privately, in escort agencies, advertising online, which was an area of prostitution only taking off the same year I left it. I consider myself lucky to have missed that, especially for the sake of the creepy punters online ‘reviews’, where punters review every aspect of the women they have bought – pouring verbal contempt and scorn all over them. This contempt repulses me beyond measure, and I have the deepest sort of sympathy for the innumerable women who’ve endured it.
Our prostitution histories are different also in the sense that, unlike DCG, I didn’t come to understand prostitution as something that was damaging retrospectively. I lived every moment of it as sexually abusive right there, as it was happening. This would obviously have made the experience of it more painful, but I strongly suspect it makes the memory of it less so.
On the subject of survivor memoirs: not in spite of how different, but rather because of how different, the memoirs of prostitution survivors compliment each other and are mutually strengthening, in a profoundly significant sense. This is because they cause people to understand that a woman or girl can come to prostitution through a myriad of circumstances, at any time, at any age, for many reasons, or for a mish-mash of reasons. Our different stories assert this. They emphasise and state and declare it. These are our truths. They are different truths, but they all end up in the same place – that mind-shattering reality of having your heart broken and your legs open on a brothels bed.
The fact is that the blogs and books of every survivor who honestly lays down her story do not detract, but rather affirm the writings of other women. For all these reasons and other reasons besides, it is essentially important that the stories of survivor women stand alongside each other; just as us women must do and should do. We are all living the survival of the same pain and those of us who choose to speak out live all the same fears, are subject to all the same threats, suffer all the same traumas and are targeted at all the same points of our obvious vulnerabilities.
Our sincerest warm wishes for each other are a healing balm that should be poured liberally and continually, with love and without restraint. So to answer the question I was asked the other day: stupid jealousies and resentments should never get a look-in here, because, besides anything else, you can’t be in competition when you’re on the same team.