I hardly think I would be educating people if I opened this post with the point that addiction is destructive. This we know. It’s commonly accepted that addiction to certain substances and behaviours have destructive consequences for the addict and those they come in contact with. Because of the dehumanised status of women in general and prostituted women in particular, this knowledge is overridden when it comes to men addicted to sex and the damage they do to the prostituted women they use to satiate their addictive impulse, as was evidenced in the recent Time article by Jim Norton, self-confessed sex addict and purchaser of women’s bodies.
Most men who prostitute women are not sex-addicts, but they certainly share Norton’s dehumanising views. As someone who had her body used by men like Norton for seven years spanning my adolescence and early adulthood, I can say quite a staggering amount of delusion and denial presents in the thoughts and attitudes of the average ‘john’; and it is matched only by the casual misogyny that allows them to use the bodies of women and girls like commodities in the first place. This is exemplified numerous times in Norton’s short article, for example in his assertion that where prostitution is legalised the rape of the non-prostituted female population drops. Apart from the fact that this is unproven, even if it were true, it would mean only that prostituted women and girls are used as the human shields of men’s sexual violence. Anyone who suggests that a class of females should exist to absorb male sexual aggression is, by definition, expressing a misogynistic view. Where is the call for men to stop fucking raping women? And WHY are we content to live in a world where, instead, one class of women are singled out to be raped?
As to the contemptible excuse of ‘choice’, the reality, which most johns studiously deny and ignore (though they know it as well as anyone) is that women and girls do not choose to have the penises of men shoved into the orifices of our bodies eight, ten, twelve times a day because we ‘want’ to, or because we ‘choose’ it; we reluctantly submit to commercial sexual violation for two reasons: because men like Jim Norton exist to create the demand for the commodification of our bodies in the first place, and because the circumstances of our lives have left us with no other viable choice.
Reading Norton’s article made my skin crawl, because it brought me straight back to the days when my own body was used as a sperm receptacle by a relentless conveyor belt of grown men in more socially privileged positions. The casual contempt for women oozing from his article left me with the flesh-creeping, puke-inducing, soul-sickening memory of being ritualistically used by men who did not view me as a human being, and so, as a consequence, did not view their actions as a human rights abuse; but rather some kind of benign caressing, like a slave owner who decides to massage his slave rather than whip her, and tells himself there is nothing wrong in what he does since he is not breaking her skin, just breaking her spirit; and the absence of the whip, in his pathologically selfish and delusional mind, allows him to erase his own malignant role in the master/slave dynamic.
His attitudes reinforced something I first learned as a fifteen-year-old homeless prostituted girl, and it’s this: There are men on this earth who do not give a damn about anything or anyone if recognising its value means getting in the way of their God-almighty orgasms. That is the simple and inhuman truth, and it is exactly why we need legislation to impose upon them the equal worth of female humanity that they will never come to on their own.
There are any number of sex workers that do it out of choice or otherwise enjoy or tolerate the work. There are some who are pressured into it by circumstances – just as many women are pressured into soul destroying low paid labour. You need to address the economic circumstances that cause this, not remove choices from women.
Firstly Leigh, there is no such thing as ‘sex work’, only prostitution. Also, having the penises of strangers ritualistically shoved into your mouth, vagina and anus is not enjoyable. It is not something women and girls enjoy; it is something we tolerate. And economic circumstances do not cause this. Male demand causes this. Nothing else. No amount of poverty would be able to cause prostitution if there were no male demand for it.
This hatred of the phrase ‘sex work’ detracts from some good points. Stewart Lee references prostitution being work in this sketch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmsV1TuESrc.
Alas the victims of the Ipswich muders are no longer with us to be asked if they are ok with being described as ‘working as prostitutes’.
But times have moved on, and in the Union Kingdom, paying for sex with Ipswich street prostitutes is a crime as it is with any street prostitute in the UK. And a great many of those who currently are prostitutes ( as opposed to some who are not but say they once were prostituted in the 1990s-2000s ) will readily accept terms that indicate they are doing ‘work’. So why the problem with the term?
Take yourself off my blog or I’ll block you. The days when I had to deal with creeps like you are over.
There are great many jobs that some would consider “dehumanizing” and “soul crushing”.. Most of which also happen to also be low paid. Bussing tables.. cleaning other people’s homes.. working assembly line in textile warehouse.. List goes on. It’s hardly surprising that some women choose to go into prostitution (or stripping or porn), given the economic advantages over those other alternatives.
Leigh Wash is spot on. If you want to reduce prostitution – focus on economic circumstances that cause it. Removing “male demand” from the equation is as realistic as leaving a wad of $100 bills on a park bench, and expecting it to still be there the next day. As long as there are women willing to sell sex – there will be men who will be willing to buy it.
I’d also be curious how you view sale of sex which doesn’t involve physical contacts – working as a stripper.. online camming.. selling home-made porn online? Do you also want to completely eradicate those?
Good opinion piece. Please don’t laugh at my name, I am a John and have been a john who is John. Like being called bongo and also playing the drum of the same name I suppose.
The prostituted are overwhelmingly attractive to very attractive women. There are many exceptions, but I think the generalisation holds up. If you’re fat or ugly to use words for which a thesaurus isn’t needed, you may be exploited but are exceedingly unlikely to be exploited in the sex trade. The demand from johns to ahem ‘bat above their average’ and to be willing to pay drives the supply of good looking women into this business, which just reinforces the point in your 3rd para.
I noticed the lack of proven research into Norton’s claim that civilian rape reduces when prostitution is legal. Nice argument that violent paid-sex instances will surely rise if for example those arguing for legal sharing of premises had their way. You’ve nailed it right there.
Well written stuff Ms Moran.
Not to worry John, I am not amused by anything you’ve written here.
Thank you for your writing Rachel.
This is to clarify that the legal status of prostitution does not affect the violence that is intrinsic to prostitution which is so fully on view in JimJohn’s post. In order to treat someone the way JimJohn does, first they must be dehumanized and commodified. That’s what happens in prostitution whether its’ legal, illegal, criminalized, decriminalized, or zoned. Now I don’t really think that JimJohn is going to change his views based on empirical evidence but just in case here are the facts that I discovered about US legal prostitution in Nevada. Prostitution gives men a chance to pratice on a degraded class of humans (women in prostitution) what they plan to do to their wives, girlfriends and dates. So: according to FBI uniform crime statistics the state of Nevada has about double the rate of rape of that in NY and California. It’s among the highest rates of rape in the US. And those are just the reported rapes. It’s probably much higher. And since all those nice johns are concerned about nasty pimps and traffickers, think about this from 3 economists in a 150-country study: wherever prostitution is legal, human trafficking increases.
Thank you for this Melissa, and for the work you’ve been doing to uncover the facts of the matter for so long. Yes sad to say the likes of JimJohn couldn’t give a Tinker’s Curse about empirical evidence, or about much of anything really, beyond their own erections.
Rachel and Melissa – You guys both amaze me with your piercing insight. It is so extremely helpful. Thank you!!!
Whoa, first of all the men who comment on this blog!!! This question is kinda related to this but more generally, its related to my experience online, discussing prostitution and i find it hard to have discussions about prostitution and its harms, without usually woman; identifying as feminists, who tell me its just a job, and indeed a feminist choice, as is the woman’s choice and her ‘agency’. Or asking me if I have ever met, talked to sex workers, i.e I am naive, applying politics instead of compassion etc. I have, from different walks of lives, and different relationships to myself etc, the main impression I got, about these women in prostitution was a) how much harm their job does to them, and b) their lack of choices…Yet, I have found its not men that need convincing that buying woman and girls bodies for their own needs is damaging to those women, but society in general. Its not even other woman. Its other feminists, who bang on about the woman’s choice to prostitute. Which I feel is disheartening, and I fear the battle is lost…. thoughts?
Thank you Kerry. I’ll respond briefly since it’s nearly 2 am but would be happy to continue the conversation further when I have time. Let me just say that the battle is not lost, and when it is lost, it will not be lost by abolitionists. I agree fully, by the way, with your assessment of the liberal feminist position.
Thanks again for another great article. As an ex prostitute myself, I can feel your pain and agree with a lot of your thoughts and opinions.
Yet, there always will be different situations with the dissimilar circumstances, therefore, contrasting points of view…
I started reading your book and find it very deep and moving. Great job!
i am still unsure how a mancould even bring themselves to even seek out sex for hire. Not only is this human trafficking/modern day slavery but the knowledge that any act performed with this other person is against their will blows my mind. Why does it blow my mind? It’s amazing to me that there is not just a huge demand but a growing demand for these slaved women and children…and the thought I can’t seem to come to grips with who are these guys that are buying?!?! If there are so many, and we know there are, where are they. Why can’t we catch them, embarrass them, arrest them, stop them? The question I guess is how can we stop these egotistical maniac men who are doing these horrible acts. If there wasn’t demand then we would have this trafficking/slavery crisis. The thought of me even going into a strip club makes my stomach churn…for a lot of reasons. I get the initial draw as a man wanting to see a naked woman…that is easy to understand. But it’s not just ok because I have the understanding of the thought process. I mean if you could understand how the nazis logically arrived at the killing of the Jews doesn’t mean it’s ok. The idea of those girls and their forced work off stage is huge, but also that any seat I’d sit in was filled by a perpetrator of this disease in our society, including myself. That doesn’t make me feel good, no matter how bad I “want to see a naked woman”. It’s just not ok. So again, my mind is blown that this many guys justify their actions. A thought doesn’t make you a bad person, thoughts come and go and some are self created while others are sewn by the darkness in this world. But if you act on any and every thought, that indeed falls on you!
As a women that was prostituted I would have to say that there are those that are delusional when it comes to using the term sex workers. I wish some of these women the promote sex work would be honest about the emotional turmoil that is going on inside of them. There is no one that wants this type of work period. The long term affects of sex with strangers is devastating and it causes all types of mental and emotional problems in the future, one of them being the in ability to form healthy relationships with loved ones, friends, children, or someone that we fall in love with. I get upset when I hear some of the men that write articles poking fun at the women that are exploited everyday. This is why advocates like myself and Rachel have to work so hard.
The part about ”my own body was used as a sperm receptacle by a relentless conveyor belt of grown men in more socially privileged positions” really hits a nerve with me, but the thing is that was my exact experience since age 13 for many years without even being paid. I was desperate for validation and affection and that was the form it seemed to come in at that naive age, the attention, being made to feel special for a while, being wanted for something when I felt worthless.. and the more I felt the effect of being reduced to an object with holes with no other purpose the more angry I was, but I kept doing it.. I do not even knwo why – it was part of having borderline personality disorder, like I told myself I didn’t care, I could not stand to be alone, and I had no-one, so I kept running to men and letting them use me, because before they had used me, you at least felt wanted and special for a fake little moment and they provided drugs and alcohol to escape my pain. I think when this is your only experience of men, you start to think you may as well get paid. The first time I was paid it felt slightly less soul destroying, becuase afterwards I could clutch my wad of cash and feel like even though I was used and tossed like trash, I got SOMETHING to be left with. Like somehow the pain of all those men who made me feel like a used ice-cream wrapper discarded in the bin was somehow soothed no that I had this wad of cash to show for at, it was sickly comforting. I think the dynamic of prostitution permeates out entire culture and when you are not even paid you feel like prostitutes are massively superior to you. I guess it is the grooming of patriarchy that readies women for prostitution.
Hi rachael..first of all can i congratulate you on the success of your book..i read it a while ago when i came out..it was hard to finish not because of a lack of skill or wonderfull writing but just to stick with the hardship .but you lived it..the least i could do was finish it.its a great book and i hope it helps to push your views(of which i agree).
I am a 30 year old man and always felt women wronged by society in prostitution..i have always felt very strongly about this and the damage it does to women..i couldnt live with myself by adding to a womans misery by going to her for payed sex.i hope to go to my grave without having heaped misery on a woman in this way.
one of my friends once said to me ..that i saw prostitutes as people..of course they fucking are i replied.
i want to tell you about a small experience i had recently ..after drinking all night i found myself on the canal near wilton terrace..a girl approached me for sex.i got to talking to her..i dont know how but she told me she hated what she did.she cried i gave her a tissue and chatted for a while .i gave her a 20 and told her to go home to bed.we said some prayers (im not that religous)and she headed off.im sure she was high..i hope i did the right thing by her..it seems silly but i think about this a lot..
.your an articulate intelligent and beautiful woman and the world needs brave strong women like you.
i saw the documentary you took part in with rupert everett..i didnt agree with his views at all..i felt you were ambushed and presented with an unbalanced debate..too many people offering pro-prostitution arguments but fair play for getting stuck in.
Keep up the good work
christopher..sorry if this sent several times
I just wanted to tell you that I bought your book recently and I find it an extremely brave testimony, much needed in the times we are living.
Thank you and I hope the best for you.
This is a really wonderful post. The so-called “prostitution debate” really isn’t academic; it’s about real women’s lives.
I also have never understood the argument that prostituted women “have” to exist or else hell will be unleashed on non-prostituted women. What do the people who put this forward think is different about women in prostitution from women who haven’t been in prostitution? Mostly, luck.
BTW, I read your book Paid For and it is excellent! I wonder why it is only 2.99? It could easily be sold for much more than that. I just wonder if you are selling yourself short?
Authors have absolutely no control over whether people trade books for 2.99 on Amazon Laur, and anyway, it’s fine by me that they do. I’d rather the message of my book went out to more people for less money than less people for more. And I wouldn’t call that selling myself, in any regard. As to your point about prostitution ‘having to exist’ according to some people; that’s just scare tactics to keep a class of women available to service men; and then we’re told we’re not living in a patriarchy! Lol
“Authors have absolutely no control over whether people trade books for 2.99 on Amazon Laur, and anyway, it’s fine by me that they do. ”
The kindle version is 2.99 in USD. I wasn’t talking about selling used books. But, now that I think about it, I really don’t know much about publishing books, so it would make sense an author wouldn’t have control of the selling price.
As a feminist this is one of two important issues, where I have found myself breaking ranks with what might be described as mainstream feminists in Ireland. I have long held the abolitionist position but have not always had either the language or well versed arguments for the narrative. Over the past year I have seen women who petitioned for the ‘Turn off The Red Light’ Campaign, modify their view in favour of the ‘sex positive’ position (pun intended!). My comments have been deleted from a well established Feminist forum for my criticism of their advocacy of both a ‘sex positive’ and ‘ethical porn’ culture. There is a sinister undertone to the mobilisation of women towards this agenda and I am not convinced it emanates entirely from ignorance.
Rachel, I thank you for the gift of your memoir to humanity. I read it last year and it had a profound and troubling impact on my soul. I have also read the counter-arguments proffered by your detractors and their hollow counter-argument has served to fasten my abolitionist view. There are no winners in the prostitution debate. Its very existence de-humanises both women and men. That Amnesty would ever endorse any position other than abolitionist is the greatest Human Rights travesty of all.
Rachel I am in awe of your courage. You are a heroine in my house and a positive role model for my 17yr old daughter. I wish you every success in your work.
When I was young and naive I went to a massage parlor, paid in advance, not knowing what went on in there; I literally wanted a massage since I was a champion wrestler after a long three day international tournament. After my back rub I was told to flip over and received a hand job. It was cheap and not that good (the massage.)
When I worked in the southwest I met and knew an escort, even went to her house a few times. She had a nice home with many nice things. I never knew her emotionally but I can tell she was withdrawn. She did once ask if I could escort her one time for protection which I did decline. She actually stopped talking to me after that.
My ex girlfriends sister was an escort while she was in a PhD program. She even asked that I bounced a gig for her a few times. Which I actually didn’t like doing but whatever, I was a bodybuilder at the time so I think it might have been for intimidation. She was totally normal, emotionally. I got along with her rather well.
After my divorce I called on an escort, with the sole intention of just hanging out. She brought over wine and I played music and we hung out for about a 2 hours. I paid her $600 in cash when she came over. We were getting drunk and she asked if she could give me a massage. I was laying on my bed face down with my shirt off. She said she had to change the music. Silently, she went into my drawer and stole $1200 in cash that I had and ran out of my house and drove off. She was driving a BMW 7 series. My mistake for when I went to grab a lighter for her I opened that drawer where she probably saw the cash sitting there a little bit earlier.
That was my only experience I had. I’ll never do that again and to be honest if I ever ran into her I would more than likely slash all four of her tires and steal her purse. Fuck her for that bullshit. I explained I didn’t want sex, just female companionship so I could be completely honest about my emotional ordeal regarding my divorce and felt the need to confide in a stranger without the judgment. I have never been so pissed. I have never hit a woman, but I would knock her the fuck out.
So in my endeavors I can’t relate to what was stated. Maybe with the escort I knew in the southwest but my exes sister was intelligent, well read, I knew her and she never had issues and if there were, I would’ve found out if not directly then through my girlfriend at the time. We traveled together, spent Christmases together, I even helped her with her homework. The escort who ripped me off was a con artist. A criminal. And a successful one at that. It’s my fault for trusting someone like that, because it’s not about the money to me, it’s confiding in someone that I clearly defined that was the purpose, and for her to take advantage of me. Again, I have little experience in the matter, so I cannot relate.
Such a crystal clear, crisp and coherent article taking apart Jim the John’s selfish & self-absorbed view of the prostitution experience, including his narrow view of what constitutes abuse. He thinks he’s a harmless guy because he can’t see — nor does he care about — the Unseen cumulative emotional & spiritual wounds he is creating by keeping women in the inherently enslaved position that is prostitution. His care about the emotional and spiritual realm starts and ends with *himself* i.e. he feels more comfortable with prostitutes — why is that Jim? Why do you feel UNcomfortable spending time and space with women you don’t buy? Is it because you have no power and control over them? Does the potential for actual Equality and power-sharing and mutual Respect between men and women piss you off or scare you or….? Interesting that his therapist is focusing on money and ‘financial consequences’ — I sure hope she’s getting him to explore the emotional and spiritual cost and consequences for him AND the women he rents.
I’m chewing on his declaration that he’s most ashamed of not feeling ashamed about renting women. What’s that about? Is it a roundabout, disconnected way of sorta kinda feeling bad about doing something he maybe deep down knows is wrong? Or just concern about his image? Or…?
Thank you so much for keeping this blog going, I always appreciate and learn from your writing, and all other survivors bravely sharing their stories.
Why does moderation take so long?
Here’s the thing. I’m nearly 45. I’m a lifelong sex addict who loves sex more than anything. In addition to paying probably 100 women, I’ve had sex with 49 women without paying. It’s getting harder but I will probably surpass 50, a feat that fewer than 1 in 20 American men achieve. I will not talk about the paid as I know you all assume the worst, but when you talk about enjoyment, here is my response.
I’ve had a few women at the right time and place jump into bed with me or waited several dates like 3-4 before trying a move because I hate being rejected so I wait for it to be nearly risk free, though you’d be surprised it’s never a sure thing even on a 3d or 4th date when they seem to like you. Some women love to reject guys and tell a story more than they love actual sex.
Sex is a naturally enjoyable act we are programmed to enjoy.
Now many times a woman makes you really talk her into it but finally agrees. All kinds of issues come up. Are you clean (no diseases), do you love me (I don’t believe in love and never lie about this), will you respect me (of course I judge no one based on sexuality and admire sex workers who actually save instead of end up broke for irresponsible reasons), are you good at it (very), etc. They put you through an hour or more of uncomfortable conversation and say they don’t always like one night stands, etc.
I am very hard working as a lover and dedicated. I am very good at oral and last a long time. I give a full body massage and over half an hour minimum of oral. I also do whatever they want how they want and explain this beforehand. They always end up enjoying it and having orgasms. They always call me again and want to get together even though it’s purely casual. They never ever complain.
So once you have sex, you enjoy it. I’m not talking about rape, no one would enjoy that. I’m talking about consensual sex.
The pay rate for prostitution is so high now many only see a client a day and would pick up a guy in a bar every day. It’s so common in the Bay Area it’s made it drastically harder for men to get a free one night stand as many women have the same amount of sex but charge for it. On the low end, you could sleep with 3 guys a week and charge 200, get regulars, and not be put out. You could hold a normal job and in 15 years make 450k, which if you can live off your main job, allows you to save and it would compound to 650-700k if put into stocks. You can pay off a college loan which drags on for life for many men, and chaste women, even into social security. You can buy a house which is almost impossible for many with a big down payment so your mortgage is smaller in a better neighborhood. That’s low end, most who do low volume can charge 250-400 and tips exist. Some could see 5 a week. Some go all out and see 30-40, but their rate goes down and their skill declines. But many have very low volume and are having the sex they would for free for money. Some are very picky on looks even when charging. Some pay for college this way.
So to say no women enjoy it you have to be all women. Many women enjoy it. Just because you take money, which is smart in my view, it doesn’t mean the ability to orgasm or neurons in your clitoris shut down.
Moderation takes so long because I have better things to do than deal with regrettable arse-wipes like yourself, but do not worry Floyed, you will be hearing more from me in relation to your posts.
Just because you feel it’s better to work 20 hours busing tables than spend one hour having unwanted sex doesn’t mean you get to decide for other women. One thing I’ve observed is that prostitutes often have a much more fun and open attitude towards sex and are able to enjoy tough situations. Maybe it’s a class thing but some are middle class. Some women, like you, are very uptight, Puritan, and force yourself to do it or are forced. Others choose it. Let everyone make their own choices. I inherited millions of dollars, over 10 million, and bought dividend stocks. I volunteer, work out, read, go to plays and have fun. I don’t want to give half my money to some woman I don’t get a long with. If I meet someone I like I’ll marry but I won’t force it. For now I’ll use my wealth and good fortune to buy the sex I need, once a week, $300. I pay very well and hurt no one. If a woman seems like she’s not having fun I don’t see her again. I’ve met college girls whose grades went way up and debts went way down after they quit the tedious time-consuming fast food job and put that time into studying, girls with single moms who wanted to double their income with a college degree rather than not get one and stay chaste or, like most women, sleep with a lot of guys for free. Women need sex too why not get paid. If you want a degree you don’t need some boyfriend with emotional needs. FWB or less attractive FWB and quit your tedious job which is ruining your grades? Look, not everyone has to make the same choice. That’s what freedom is all about! Women who do this are able to have a good time. You shouldn’t have done this, you’re so hateful towards men you’d have been better off staying chaste with no degree than getting a degree or being homeless rather than sleeping around for rent money, but most women feel the opposite. Why are 90% of homeless people women? Because they don’t have that option. 9 in 10 men would have sex for money to avoid homelessness and same with women.
You’ll never eliminate it but if you want to make it very highly paid you could provide drug rehab and guaranteed medical care, food and housing and fully paid for college educations for every man or woman who wants it, have a more socialist economy like in Europe. Pay will rise, men will do it less and spend more, but it will never disappear..
You are unrealistic. Who’s going to sleep with some disabled guy? Are you going to do it for free? Do you think it’s easy for men to live without sex? It’s torture, pure misery, but you never are able to empathize with others so you wouldn’t understand that. Looking at your pic any time you want you can go to a bar and get a hot guy for sex. Men don’t have that option with women. Many women say no just to feel superior.
Thank you for the display of this unutterable shite Brandon. You have caused more women more entertainment than you will ever know. (And it sure as shit wasn’t in the ho-house)