Thursday, April 2, 2009

Live Blogging of SVU

* Beautiful Asian woman in her underwear wandering around with bloody thighs, collapses splaying her legs beautifully

* She can't remember her rape. So the lady cop says, with no preparation: "you were raped"

"I would never let myself be raped". Lady cop fails to advise that the definition of rape is that it is forced.

* She's looking at her bruises: "You got those bruises when he forced your legs apart". WTF. So far: she has not been offered any sort of on-screen support or counselling. The details of her rape have been thrusted onto her brutally.

* Of course the rape victim seems to be coping okay. Of course! She just seems vaguely puzzled she can't remember anything.

* Ooohh we've got victim-blaming getting nicely set up. She was trading diamonds and went home with a man they're pegging as the rapist. "It looks like a love connection" man cop says.

* Of course we've got the requisite female character providing conflict by suggesting the victim might be lying. It's always a woman.

* Ooh speculation and confusion! Rapists claims she consented, she can't remember - BUT SHE WAS ON HER PERIOD!

* Was under the influence of a drug that makes her compliant but incapable of remembering anything.

* Accused rapist downloads lots of rape porn. Also has a video of his rape of the woman and many many many many other woman, we get to see wonderfully fetishised footage of clothes being torn off.


* Of course rapist has a female lawyer. Of course. TEH EVOL WOMENS BRING THIS ON THEMSELVES!!!!

* MORE footage of fetishised rape scenes.


* Oh yay! Slut-shaming! The rapist was using an escort service. Lady cop says "oh yay build a bimbo!" Website even has little input fields. They choose a girl from one video and put in her details. "Cup size?" "C" says one man cop. "D" says another and lady cop looks amused. Seriously, what the fuck?

* Large blown up photos of women's frightened, tear-streaked faces taped up on a board.

* Another vic who can't remember is told: "this man assaulted you". "No way." "Oh we have a video." "No." "You should watch the video."

* Lady cop says showing her vid would make her a victim when she isn't one right now - lack of memory makes it like it never happened. Male cop thinks it is an imperative!!! Otherwise it is THEIR FAULT!




* Once again lady cop is forced to talk about her own sexual assault. She did this the other week too, when she mistakenly thought one guy was a rapist and then thought she "owed" him an explanation. Whatever the hell.

* Now vic is getting to describe in graphic detail how her memory of the rape is slowly coming back.




* Lady cop says there's a connection between porn and rape. Denied by another male cop who enjoys some. YOU SEE WHAT WE DO ALL WEEK THEN GO HOME AND WATCH WOMEN BEING DEGRADED LADY COP SAYS!



* Ah, we have another female testifying to the increased dopamine caused by watching porn is an ADDICTION that DROVE HIM TO IT!


* Female doctor says rapist needs rehab not prison!


* Hang on. Lady cop is getting blamed for vic remembering when... it was the male cope who took the video over and showed it to her and her husband... ?!?! But then again, why am I surprised?

* YAY! Another vic is forced to make a graphic confession in front of a bunch of strangers. But it's ok cos she's going to testify and he'll go to jail. Or so we assume as the detail of actual justice and punishment is rarely dealt with on this show.

* We are left with rapist screaming: I'M THE ONE YOU'LL NEVER FORGET.

I swear, what is this show? Softcore porn for hardcore misogynists?

I can't watch this show again. That would just be dumb.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

a journey

Possible trigger warnings. Speculative piece.

I want you to imagine something.

You are in a small room. Its ceiling is low, its walls are close, and they are made of thick, unyielding metal. There are only hard benches for you to sit on, and you are aware of the closeness of the ceiling as this tiny room bumps and rattles.

You are also aware of the heat.

The few windows are tiny and placed high, they are tight-shut allowing no air to seep through. The interior is dark and muggy. It is already hot enough that the underarms and groin of your clothing is soaked through with sweat. It is hot enough that fluids are rapidly leaving your body through your sweat glands, soaking your flesh.

The air is still and dry. There is no cool breeze to sweep across your wet skin and provide relief.

And it is getting hotter.

The temperature clambers upwards, making the air seem thick enough to cut with a knife. You flap your hands in front of your face, grab the corner of your shirt and wipe your steaming face, shake the ragged ends in a desperate effort to cool down.

You are thirsty. You lick dry lips and swallow hard. Your work your mouth, trying to build up saliva to relieve the unbearable dryness in your throat, the dryness that is like thorns scraping shallow and unrelenting against the tender muscles and ligature. It is hard to swallow, it hurts. It burns.

But it is the only relief you can get against the heat and so moments later, you do it again.
Except this time you can't work up the spit. Your body doesn't have enough fluid left.

It's still getting hotter.

You are alone in this small space, but the walls are creeping in on you. There is nothing to shield you from their heat, no where to hide.

In desperation, you begin to hammer at the walls and shout for help. The rattle and bump continues around you, the thick air drowning out your voice, the solid metal swallowing it up. You don't know if anyone can hear you, but no one is coming. You are angry, you are frightened, you are desperate.

As you battle for attention, for consideration, for recognition of your anagonising situation, your skin brushes against one of the hot metal surfaces of the room enclosing you. It will later be identified as a third-degree burn.

You are being literally baked alive.

Your blood pressure plummets, causing you to become dizzy, possibly even pain flares across your chest. One by one, your vital organs shut down, unable to sustain function in the suffocating heat. One by one, your kidneys, liver, heart, lungs and brain fail. They can no longer support your life.

And you realise, as consciousness begins to ebb away, that no one is coming. No one is going to unlock the door. No one is going to let fresh, cool air in. No one is bringing water and ice. No one is coming to save your life.

Not in time.

Sounds awful? It happened to this man. His name was Mr. Ward. Read his story.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

burn in hell

this makes me angry

Banning brothels in residential areas would be a welcome first step to curbing prostitution, though laws need to go further by making it illegal to pay for sex, Perth’s Catholic Archbishop Barry Hickey says.

Why is it that prominent public figures feel the need to demonstrate their jaw-dropping stupidity to the entire world?


Why do they not work? Because criminalising prostitution, whether the workers or the clients, does not address this very simple, elementary, basic fact:

Why prostitution exists in the first fucking place.

So. WHY does prostitution exist?

That is a whole other post. There is no one reason why prostitution exists; the complex interplay between sexual desire, socialisation, marginalisation and lifestyle needs are intricate and vast.

But that's not the crux of the issue.

The simple fact of the matter is, these "solutions", in not addressing the varying reasons sex work is taking place, do not stop sex work.

All they do is force sex work underground. Force sex work into operating in more clandestine, secretive ways.
This means that the people who actually work in sex work are subjected to unsafer environments and working methods and are further marginalised because they have less ability to be open about what they do and less recourse to legal protection.


Just as a clue?

Does not protect sex workers.

You know...


You have to be GALACTICALLY STUPID to believe that "hey, we're making your work illegal" is GOING TO STOP SEX WORKERS FROM WORKING.



And you wanna know something?

Sometimes? That reason can be nothing more than an unwillingness to subject one's body, mind and skills to a puritanical, repressive, constrictive, hegemonic social structure that demands "good behaviour" along ridiculously constructed standards largely influenced BY FUCKING CHRISTIAN MORALITY.


He supports the so-called Swedish model, which makes buying sex and brothel ownership illegal, rather than prostitution itself.


Know why, douchebag?


Yeah, you know, money... that thing that HELPS US LIVE?

Not that you need to worry about that because you're ensconced within a system that will take care of your needs.
Until you are nothing more than a blotchy slab of muscle and fat on a dissection table, you will never have to worry about day-to-day realities of life.

The attitude inherent to the Swedish Model is: Hookers are all helpless little victims and clients are all evil, exploitative fuckers.

Apart from making it really hard to earn a living, it's really fucking insulting to suggest we are all dumb and helpless. We're human beings, FFS. If you can't at least consider us as smart and capable, can you consider the fact we have feelings?

And that goes for the clients, too. Where do these false dichotomies come from? How do you not constantly trip over things, seeing in black and white?

Not only that it is highly, highly sexphobic and shaming towards clients. Which I guess is at least a change from all of that being dumped on the whore's head.

Oh, except...

Archbishop Hickey said men had to be held responsible for what was effectively a form of abuse against women.


Archbishop Hickey is a closeted radical feminist?

You know what? I bet the radfems of WA (with whom I and friends have had an ugly run-in or two) will fucking embrace this guy, immediately forgetting that abuse against women has been Church-sanctioned - even instigated - for centuries. Women have routinely been suppressed and oppressed within the Catholic Church, a faith almost uniquely skilled at ignoring the tenets of its Messiah in its own hateful grub for power.

Why have all women in sex work been robbed immediately of agency and ability in this one short statement? That is the power he wields. In one quote, he sends a message echoing across this country that people in sex work have no free will.

The implications of that are horrendous, and yet people swallow it. In one fell swoop, he silences and diminishes the vast, complex variety of voices and wills and reasons and needs of the thousands of people who work in the sex industry of this country.

However, prostitution by private operators would have to be stemmed in other ways.


You have no business invading people's private lives. If a sex worker is operating privately, autonomously, then that should tell you everything you need to know: IT'S NONE OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS.

The arrogance of this statement could only be handed down by the Catholic Church.

And what would these "other ways" look like. Oooh... is that the faint sound of rescuerescuerescue I hear 'pon the wind?

What's that? It IS? Well, colour me SURPRISED:

Also, there was an urgent need to boost funding for rehabilitation services for women who had escaped prostitution, he said.


Financial autonomy?
Control over their bodies?
Flexible work environment?
Independence from constrictive social norms?

This is nothing more than woman-hating, slut-shaming, sexphobic BS.

This is not about helping women.

It is about you not being able to tolerate a type of employment that, should stigma and discrimination against it be properly eliminated, liberates women (and liberates many of them even now) and gives them ownership of their bodies. That can foster sexual fulfillment and satisfaction and healing and comfort in hundreds of people. It is about you not being able to conceive of women as anything other than wives and victims, so deeply ingrained are your misogynistic opinions that women cannot choose to commercialise sexual services, or be sexual beings for any reason, or even be free of man's rule.

It is also about you ignoring the many, many men and trans-identified people who also work in the industry and the variety of clients who see them. In making this wholly about men clients and women workers, you effectively make them invisible, deny their existence and therefore deny any need and reason to address their important concerns and issues.


(You know, I have this feeling this blog, in the future, will consist of this angry little Catholic excommunicating these fuckers at regular intervals.)

hang up those heels honey

this makes me angry

MORE slut-shaming and reinforcement of stigma. They always choose strippers for these reality TV shows about creating perfect little women, and then spend the duration of the show berating and humiliating and shaming a perfectly normal, lively young woman into being ashamed of herself.

And they choose them because it's "controversial" and "risque" and will get audiences watching. And of course reality TV shows manipulate certain behaviours out of people and cut and edit to create a persona standing in for the true individual. They choose people whose images they can craft to a certain stereotype. Like pro-wrestling, they have faces and heels. Strippers invariably become heels.

And no matter how much she may have loved her job, found empowerment and ownership and fun and freedom in it - she knows what she's expected to say. She's been transformed, she's been rescued, she's been delivered. She's seen the error of her ways and now she's going to toe the line, cross her legs and never, ever wear sequins again.

Oh god, that sounds so awful. I mean, crossing your legs is one thing (apply the right pressure and it can be fun, actually), but never wear sequins again?

Mitchell said she hoped to make a living "like a normal person" now.

Yes, because strippers are abnormal, beyond the fringes of society. Strippers are never mothers or students or artists or anyone who might live next door to you.
What is normality anyway? Why is it that stripping falls outside of it? Strippers pay rent/mortgages, have flat tyres, go shopping, schlub about in tracky-daks on days off. How is this not a normal life? Like any shift-worker they may work "odd" hours, but considering the degree to which stripping is integrated into the modern lifestyle, I don't understand why it's considered such an odd career option.

OH wait, I'm doing that thing again... that thing where I don't buy into societal sexphobia and misogyny. Right. Silly me.

"It's not something I want any more. I don't have any need to go back to stripping, I am happy with my studying and my new life."

If it is genuinely not something she wants - and notice that she says wants, which implies she wanted it before - then that is wholly her decision. I just hate to think she's had that wanting driven out of her by an exploitative system.
But I also note that she says "need" - to me this speaks of an association with brokenness, that a desire or need to strip is related to a fractured or abnormal personality. And this is so stigmatising, considering the huge variety of needs involved in people becoming strippers. Those needs are diminished and ignored by this attitude because it implies that "needs" can be fulfilled simply by living a "virtuous" life and having nothing to do with time constraints, mental health issues, money requirements, studying... none of the varying factors that really do contribute to a fulfilling life and that stripping can aid with.

It was after viewing video footage of herself behaving badly that the penny dropped for Mitchell.

Let me guess, one evening they got all the girls drunk and provoked them. After weeks and months of having "proper feminine behaviour" drummed into her, she was then put into a circle of judgement, forced to watch this footage whilst having horrible, damning words shouted into her ear.

Also, any "bad behaviour" of hers? Not related to stripping, actually. And the idea that it is, is just more othering BS.

You know, Gypsy Rose Lee was a lady too. There IS a gimmick in that shtick, Nicole. You should think about it.

It's my hope she's playing the system, saying what she knows they all want to hear (after all, who else of these ladies have appeared in the media recently?), and in a couple of months she'll land on the cover of FHM or something. I'll toast her when it happens.

(Holy cow, she could make so much money being the "feature dancer from Ladette to Lady! Nicole, c'mon!!! Every strip club in Australia would fall over themselves to have you on their stage! CAPITALISE, GIRL!)

On a side note... I don't always feel functional and I tend to avoid checking my work email when this is so. There's nothing more annoying than finally feeling up to logging back in and realising you just missed, by a couple of days, a hefty couple of job possibilities. Stupid brain.

Monday, March 23, 2009

unwanted materials

this makes me angry

Sorry, but is anyone even SURPRISED that it's rapidly emerging this new government-controlled "web-filter" service is actually not about child pornography at all and about controlling what people download in the privacy of their own homes - subjecting individuals to a government-defined criteria of what is or isn't acceptable.

This maddens me in ways I can barely express.

As iinet notes - and they've been my service providers for years so this pleases me no end - what actually constitutes "unwanted materials" is not being clearly defined. This is not about controlling abhorrent criminal activity, it's about criminalising activity a governing body decides is offensive. That is so invasive and controlling it beggars belief.

“Everyone is repulsed by, and opposed to, child pornography but this trial and policy is not the solution or even about that."
“In reality, the vast majority of online child pornography activity does not appear on public websites but is distributed over peer-to-peer networks which are not and cannot be captured by this trial or policy.”

Motto. It's excellent to see a well-known and reputable ISP come out and make a definitive and informed statement and take a strong stance of opposition to this ridiculous proposition.

Not least of all - this web filter business could seriously and negatively impact the way sex workers do business. It's outrageous on every level.

Thursday, March 19, 2009



SVU? Possibly the most messed up show on TV.

The issue of DomViol is treated with glibness, cliche and victim blaming.

The abused is treated like an object and thoroughly dehumanised.

She requests the morning after pill after her abusive husband rapes her and the chemist begins to lecture her and advise her to adopt out.

The incredibly complex topic of the creation of dependence is covered in single line soundbyte exposition: made me drop out of college, gives me orders just like my father, never had a job, grew up poor.

The abused woman is made, by the policewoman determined to help her, to stand in front of the mirror, her blouse is unbuttoned for her by the policewoman and she is forced to look at her bruises.

She is told, he won't change, YOU HAVE TO.

Another cop says she is not capable of making decisions for herself and shouldn't be allowed to.

She is placed in a safe house where she has to abide by rules, including being kicked out for any contact with her husband.

She goes back to her husband, where he swiftly dispatches of her by stabbing her in the chest. She dies in a puddle of blood while the policewoman looks on.

The landlady berates the policewoman for pushing and pushing the abused into pressing charges (which she dropped), thereby causing her murder.

The landlady is revealed to have had an abusive marriage which culminated in her murdering the man. She is forced into a detailed confession.

Both she and the dead abused were raped by their abusers and this fact is lingered over again and again as they are forced to discuss it (I've noticed this show just loves to have the word "rape" mentioned as many times as it possibly can).

After this confession she is, of course, arrested for the murder of her husband by another woman who is determined to prosecute her for GETTING AWAY all those years ago.

The abusive husband is a bogeyman of course, flat, one-dimensional and completely EBOL and sinister, as is the recollected abusive husband of the landlady.

You know, I see where this episode is trying to do good things: speaking out about the disenfranchisement of abused women when they leave, how they are often in impoverished circumstances with no support networks around them, taking a strong zero tolerance stance on rape within marriage (the two hero cops of the show, at least, express these attitudes), trying in a superficial sort of fashion to name the cycle of dependence...

It's just that, even though people in the show keep saying "it wasn't her fault" the underlying message is that it IS. SHE is the one who has to change. It is HER body that is assumed control of by the cops as well, the prison-like, rigidly ruled safe house (I've never understood why they think that continuing paternalism, obey or be abandoned, is USEFUL), that she is quickly and swiftly killed as soon as she returns (when death is most likely when a woman tries to LEAVE, hows that for a message?), the berating of the cop for interfering (although the way she interfered - stripping the woman in front of a mirror - was grotesque) and a woman prosecuting the landlady based on a personal grudge and disbelief of her testament (it'll always be a woman who is the traitor in these shows to divert from the acts of men and the fact DV is still so dismissed as an issue is because a patriarchal world doesn't take it seriously), the characterising of the landlady, who murdered her husband after years of extreme abuse, as manipulative and thus successfully making the female cop doubt her as well... the whole "you can't make choices but you have to help yourself" undercurrent...

There's also the nasty little message at the beginning when the dead abused requests the morning after pill and a lecture begins (given by a woman of course, who is berated by the male hero cop after they arrive on the scene).

And of course, while the landlady is acquitted, her second husband leaves her for lying to him about her past for all those years, including the abortion she had of her first husband's child which left her sterile and thus denying him children and grandchildren.

So, yeah, the obvious message is "DV is bad and people who do it are evil" but there's lots of lovely subtextual "and it's all your fucking fault, bitch, here's your punishment".

Kyle Payne is a Rapist

I felt too sickened to post this earlier, but I think it's important.

Kyle Payne is a rapist.

Not only is he a rapist, he is a rapist who has spoken out against rape and rape culture. This makes him not just a hypocrite, but a grotesque hypocrite. His hypocrisy is almost unspeakable as he has capitalised on his male privilege both to position himself as an authority on women's issues and an ally to them, and then to assault and violate and betray the trust of a woman.

I can't even imagine the perversity required to do such a fucked-up thing, but it sickens me to my stomach. And frankly, it makes me wonder about what we don't know about him. The clear fact that a sick fucking pervert rapist has been so outspoken on women's issues, makes me wonder what his motivation in aligning himself with the feminist movement really is.
Furthermore, as someone who has spoken out against pornography, he used the medium of photography with which to commit his crime. To me, there are very clear connections here that speak of some very twisted psychology.

He cannot be trusted. His apology is inadequate and will never compensate for what he did. His return to speaking about feminism and women's issues is arrogance and insensitivity of the highest order.

This evil fucker cannot be trusted.

While I idealogically disagree with many of the core tenants of radical feminism, I have empathy for their anger and where it comes from. Many radfems have had experiences that have shaped and directed their anger. I may not like them as a movement, I may find them hateful as people, but they are women who have been infuriated by a patriarchal world in which rape culture runs rampant over the lives of women.

This fucker has no place amongst them and his aligning himself with them is further violation.

That he is too arrogant and too self-obsessed to acknowledge this abusive behaviour is clear indication he has learned nothing and women are not safe around him.

Although not about Kyle Payne, I thought this article was an excellent and strong statement on the kind of rape culture this rapist has spoken out about whilst participating in, including the misleading characterisation of "rapists" and "non-rapists". After all, who would've thought such an outspoke "femanist" would commit an act of sexual assault, and yet...
No Person is "Born to Rape".

whores are unfit mothers

this makes me angry.

I'm not even sure where to begin with this one. There's a lot of stuff going on here. It's not just whorephobia but absolute institutionalised racism.

First off, there's the implication throughout that somehow working in a brothel, whether as a hooker or as a cleaner, makes one automatically a bad carer. This is whorephobic in the extreme. Working in a brothel is not illegal in WA so there is no good reason for them to take this action. Nor is gambling illegal.

Significantly, the report does not mention abuse or neglect of the children by the carer. This is so significant, because it is obvious that the mention of gambling and brothels are meant to work on the average numbskulled reader's assumption these two elements automatically equal an evil, neglectful, inadequate carer. It's inference that relies on discriminative preconceptions, and it's inferred because there is no fucking proof abuse or neglect is taking place or otherwise it would be stated outright.

The racism starts quick and ugly with the hysteria and flailing that this one, single example of "unfit" fostering (relying entirely on whore stigma and assumptions sex workers can't parent, despite the huge number of sex workers who are parents, I mean, what the fuck) is evidence that placing Indigenous children with their own relatives or other members of their community is flawed and untenable as a practice. Yes, that's right, those incompetent Aboriginals can't look after their children we need to TAKE THEM AWAY!!

Seriously, it's two-thousand and fucking nine. This shit should not still be happening. Fuck this shit. It's fucking disgusting. It makes me sick.

The whole unsavoury mess is capped off with the revelation that as a result of this situation, the children may be returned to their mother who has been taking anger management and DV prevention.

Now, in all honesty, the racism against Indigenous Australians is so insiduous that I am very reluctant to believe outright the children's birth mother is abusive; nonetheless we're now encountering the idea that an abusive parent is better than a whore caretaker.

You know what?

Whores are really fucking good at taking care of people. We do so much of it in our work. It's an integral part of our work. And whores love their children as much as any parent does. It is not unusual for whores to be working explicitly to support their children as whoring offers such a comparatively excellent remuneration compared to many other job options for women.

Furthermore, at no point is it ever indicated the children themselves had any exposure to the brothel. So what the fucking fuck? Really?

It's racist, it's whorephobic and finally, it's outing... as one observant whore noted, the four children's ages and gender are described which could easily identify this woman to her community. How fucking irresponsible is that shit? Do they not even consider the potential repercussions for them all?

Do they deserve that? Do any of them deserve that?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

there goes the neighbourhood

There's so much involved in this issue and I'm not 100% confident I have the brain to express it all. But I'm going to try.

Street-based sex workers have been getting targeted by the general public, the media and predators (I know, I know, it's hard to tell the three apart sometimes...) in Islington, near the Hunter Valley here in NSW lately.

A forty-plus year history of street-based sex work is being called on to be shut down, and no cry of "clean up the streets" is complete without rampant stereotyping, Church involvement, moral outrage and... an increased incidence of assault against the sex workers at the heart of it all.

Yes, that's how the morally upstanding and ethical citizen handles an increased awareness of the hookers in his local neighbourhood: he rapes and assaults them!

What the hell is up with that?

I'll tell you what the hell is up with that: media coverage hysterically denouncng sex workers, dehumansing and condemning them, revealing widespread opinion that they're regarded with disdain and contempt by "normal people" convinces your average revolting predator that these are not people the world cares about and so are fair game. No one will respond if their rights are violated; they won't be heard and so the predator will get away with it. In fact, the predator probably considers he's done society a bit of a favour.

Not that the local conservative press reports anything about the dirty whores being abused though; they had it coming! That's been reported by the outreach worker from the local area - in the past 3 weeks, since the furore has been building, she's heard of four incidents of violent asault/rape and states that she has not encountered such a high level of violence in her role before.

But who cares about them? Worthwhile people are being inconvenienced here!

So inconvenienced how, exactly?

The righteously indignant will assure all and sundry that hookers are frotting in innocent people's front gardens, flinging loaded syringes about willy nilly and assaulting anyone who gets between her and her "trick".

In truth? Most street workers prefer to conduct their work discreetly and generally have places they prefer to take clients that they know is secure and private. As for the accusations of intimidation and harrassment - seriously? We're really expected to believe that?

I find it hard to believe for the same reason I find it hard to believe sexual activity is happening openly:

Sex workers are often the subject of stigma and discrimination.

Stigma and discrimination? Generally makes life a lot harder for people it's targeted towards to go about in a peacable way. Just ask anyone who's had to live with it. People... interfere. They harrass you. They insult you. They disregard you. Sometimes they hurt you.

Yeah, see, I'm not getting a whole LOT of motivation for the street workers of Islington to be all out and in the neighbourhood's faces about their work right there.

There's a disparity of power here, that's probably also integral to the indignant residents of Islington characterising this situation, and that disparity of power is NOT in favour of the sex workers. Do I need to draw comparisons between this and the old "all gays take drugs and have AIDS" or "all black people are violent criminals" stereotypes and similar hysterias around that rubbish that has occured in the past? I mean, are you with me on this? I don't want this to be freaking Marginalisation 101 here.

Newcastle MP Jodi McKay said the meeting was an opportunity for people to put their views on several potential measures.
She said these included setting up a designated sex-work area, increased policing, traffic changes, and improving street safety and cleanliness.

Yeah, GREAT idea there - just stable all the whores together so everyone can further Other and marginalise them and all the predators can capitalise on that and it can become a little tourist zone where all the nice, respectable people can drive through and gawk for Saturday night giggles.

Also, um, did the supposed sex worker in that photo give her consent for that image to be used? I'm going to guess, oh, leesseee.... NOT.

Yeah, memo? That's NOT okay, actually. I realise you see sex workers as subhuman, but it's still nice to get permission.

Behind the house of an Islington family my wife knows is a lane that is used by the prostitutes who work Islington's streets as a toilet. They defecate in the lane - hey, this is a blog - they crap in the lane, and jammed in a gap in a fence is a rag they use to wipe their bum.

Really? You've all gone down there and watched, have you? I hope you paid them something at least, you perverts.

Seriously, this kind of violently dehumanising characterisation makes me sick. Where's his proof?
To me this smacks of the old, tired association of whores with filth. I can already see it - some busybody has heard a few girls sharing a joke in the lane, has gone stickybeaking and has seen a rag jammed into the fence. Hey, there may even have been poop, who knows. It doesn't mater, even a middle-class busy body can add two and two and get five!

There's also a classism here that is really severely detached from the reality of life on the streets. Whilst I really doubt there's a communal rag that just hangs around for anyone to use, people I've known who've lived on the streets either routinely or for certain periods of their life, have openly discussed the fact that whatever materials are to hand will do instead of toilet paper. That's what happens when there's no easily accessible toilet facilities and you don't have a home to go to. Oh yeah, and those materials? Don't get reused.

I'm not saying this is the situation for the sex workers this ass supposes he's writing about, but of course he hasn't considered anything else might be involved here.

Also, I love the way he is associating hookers with deliberately "depraved" behaviour. Yeah, actually, given the choice? Most people, regardless of who they are, will take functional toilet facilities, actually. They're not doing it - supposing they even truly are, and I kinda doubt that - just to insult your wife's friends, mate.

Nearby are the pimps, ferals on BMX bikes often,

Look, Jeff, mate, I hate to out you as a client but it's the only way I can figure you know those guys are pimps and not just part of the local colour.

Seriously, this stereotype is so fucking American. Pimping is barely, barely a presence in the Australian sex industry.

You know, on that, I've yet to meet or encounter an American sex worker with a pimp.

Commenters on the articles (the various ones linked) are indicating the neighbourhood is quite a diverse and alternative one, suggesting to me this moral outrage is actually a symptom of gradual gentrification, rather than their upstanding neighbourhood being overtaken by debauchery. I'd be interested in hearing more about this. Certainly this commenter seems convinced (scroll to comments):

nice one a cheap house becuase of the issues, then get rid of the problems and sell a expensive house. How dare you threaten to take money out of my pocket cause that's what you would be doing if you sue the council. You guys knew what you were in for when you bought a cheaper than average inner city with it

But back to my pal Jeff....

As I ride my bike through Islington on some Saturday mornings between 6am and 7.30am they're there, prostitutes and pimps; they're there during the day; and they're always there when I've been driving at night.


On another note... Jeff, you're... driving around the hookers an awful lot. Just "when [you've] been driving at night", eh?

You just dig fresh air and late night aimless drives do you?

Wait, am I making assumptions based on vague and cliched data? I am? Well, we can't say you didn't teach me anything in that case.

Thanks, Jeff. It's been real.

Moving on.

She said she had been working with the council, government agencies and sex workers' advocacy group ACON to identify plans to tackle the matter of sex work in Islington.

Well, Islington sex workers may as well roll over now if ACON's on board. They're fucked. Fuck you, ACON AND YOU'RE NOT A FUCKING SEX WORKER ADVOCACY GROUP.

That said, if the outreach worker up there is from SWOP NSW - she seems kinda awesome so with her on their side they may get a decent outcome. I wish her all the best with her endeavours cos I know she's extremely distressed by this situation.

And from the comments on that last article:

This is all a very strange business. Islington is booming, property prices are high, the suburb is so much better than when I purchased my house in about 1980. Prostitution is lower and there are far less issues. The best way to reduce prostitution is to help the street workers with their issues like housing, gambling, education, child management and drugs. The considerable number of residents who are clients should not be overlooked.
Posted by Bigfeller on 5/03/2009 9:34:39 AM

Interesting... still reductionist and marginalising, but at least the crazy pants are off. Thanks Bigfeller.


THE prostitutes in Islington can't work from legal brothels, as they will not be allowed to do so ("Uneasy streets" Herald H2 7/3).
They are either drug- or alcohol-addicted or under-age, and the brothels exclude them, rightly.

Um, you know I hate to keep on asking this but... where's your fucking proof? Seriously. I mean, is Islington a town of detectives conducting impeccable and highly intimate investigation into the detailed lives of these sex workers? Or have they just watched too many episodes of Special Victims Unit?

Also, what the fuck? The brothels will "rightly" exclude them? So what's your solution, genius? You don't want them on the streets and you don't think they deserve to be in brothels. So how are they supposed to work?

I shouldn't have asked...

Alcoholic and drug-addicted mothers have babies to strangers and are allowed to give birth to damaged children. Enforced sterilisation is the only answer.

Hookers and junkies: just like animals, in a way!

I don't even know how to go on, after that.

There is some balm for this gaping wound. An anecdote shared by another worker in response to this issue. Formerly a brothel worker, she noticed walking her way to the parlour, befriending the women and even renting a room from one of them, that the Islington sex workers were making stacks more money than her, chose when and how they worked, had no overheads and never had to deal with stupid brothel owners.

She ended up quitting brothel work and starting anew on the streets.

I fucking love those stories.

Monday, March 16, 2009

don't explain

As much as I hate her and everything she stands for (One Nation - the name of that party becomes even more sinister when you consider how many different Nations make up Australia and who populates those nations), as vile and wicked a woman as she is, I just cannot take delight in her exploitation through the revelation of racy pictures she allowed someone she trusted to take of (providing they are, in actuality, of her).

Yeah, I know. Everyone thinks this stuff is hilarious when it happens to hated women. Hahaha, look at the evil bitch's sexuality being exploited and revealed and ridiculed.

I just can't get in on that.

I couldn't get in on it and the Sarah Palin porn, either. Yeah, the latter is faked, but it still relies on the idea of humiliating a reviled woman through sex. By non-consensually exposing her to the entire fucking world through sexual vulnerability for the entire fucking world to laugh at.

It's not rape. It's not even assault.

But it sure is violating.

And it smacks more than a little of sexphobia and slut-shaming too.

I don't like it. I can't support it, any more than I can support those awful woman and their hatred.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

you will pay

And, if she really thinks that way, I cannot in the end follow you on feeling sorry for her having had to spread her legs 67 times, per your calculation, to accumulate her £8,000. I cannot imagine that she did this out of sheer necessity. In 21st century England, I do not think that one can still find a consumptive Fantine prostituting herself to provide food and shelter to her daughter Cosette (at least not an English girl going to school … perhaps foreign women brought illegally in the country as sex slaves may still suffer this horrible fate). If this girl really thinks as you make her think in the quote, she made a life-style choice, and the little bit of hard work and unpleasantness that come with the territory is a small price to pay for the financial rewards. know that something is not quite right and would need fixing … not just the attitude of the police and the court, and the acts of the escort agency and its customers, but also the motivation of the girl, which does not appear to be entirely noble, as Fantine’s was.

What. the everloving. Hell?

No. Seriously.

God, please tell me when working for money became such an awful thing? Really. Because this isn't the first time I have encountered this attitude that is not only virulently whorephobic but well, successphobic.

We all need to make money. This is, well pretty much a fact of contemporary life. Money buys things we need.

But god forbid you WANT to make money. More money, that is. God forbid your attitude is in anyway mercenary or desirous or, hell, even greedy!

Especially if you're a woman, and a whore.

Why is it making money is only okay for whores when we're completely fucking desperate (and soon to tragically die) or when we're putting it aside for some "noble, lofty" purpose, like an education or something?

Let me get this right out there: I LOVE MONEY.

Seriously. I really, deeply love money. I love having LOTS of money. I love making lots of money.

Don't get me wrong. I ain't rich. I don't own any property or other similar assets (a car). I'm USELESS with saving - unless I have a specific goal in mind I sincerely haemorrhage money - and I never seem to be thinking about the future.

But hells bells, I love money.

It's part of the reason I work two jobs. Two jobs = more money. And more money is awesome.

Money takes care of my basic needs.
More money takes care of my frivolous needs - the comics I buy in bulk on ebay, the silly collectibles, the endless dresses and pairs of shoes and hats and jewellery, the tickets for shows I love to go to, spa treatments and massages and all the rest of the things I love that rounds out my life.

Money also enables me to buy presents for my friends and family, spot people a few drinks and hell, yes, support charities.

What, on God's green earth, is wrong with that?

Furthermore, how exactly does it differentiate me from thousands upon thousands of other people out there doing exactly the same thing?

The difference is that I make $1000 in less than half the hours of an average 9-5 day.

The difference is that just two hours work nets me more than some people's entire weekly wage.


Do you have any idea how empowering that is?

Why is it what whores do can only be justified if our money is going to some arbitrarily defined "higher purpose"? A purpose that is given meaning by outsiders, defined by what outsiders consider to be priorities? How sexphobic and misogynistic is that shit? Ok we'll let you be whores, but you have to really hate it and only be doing it at great cost to yourself because your money is going towards something we have constructed as significant.

Fuck you.

I love that, even as un-rich and un-assetted as I am, I can order a $2000 costume and know I'll make the money quickly. And always have that opportunity.

But hey you want some higher purposes, try this.

Single mums.

Think about it. She works two days a week while the kids are at school and she has enough not only to support herself, but the kids as well. And not just the necessities, but all the extra curricular activities and awesome toys. AND have time for the kids.

Or someone living with mental illness, for whom the standard 9-5, 5 days a week lifestyle means a severe and unrealistic compromise of self-care. They can work when it fits in with their needs and still make a decent amount of money to support themselves.

That's not a horrible situation to be in. That's empowering.

That's far more empowering than working some schlub job for minimum wage and never seeing your family or forcing yourself to conform to a system that hasn't allowed for your needs.

But you know what? Even discount circumstances like that and there is still nothing, not a damn thing, that makes working for money a bad thing.

Money is good. Money is freedom. Money is power. There's not a blessed thing wrong with money in and of itself.

And wanting money? Does not make anyone a bad person. It doesn't automatically make them evil, or corrupt or twisted or sick.

Very few people work exclusively for the love of it and those who do are having their basic needs cared for within the system they're working in.

When did we start believing it's wrong for us to want to live comfortably, securely, to enjoy life? Money - and remember, I'm not talking massive wealth and riches here, just enough plus a little cream on top - enables that. Money enables necessary payments and all the little extras.

Why are we expected to languish in misery, hating ourselves for the filthy lucre we make?

It's a rhetorical question, of course. I know the answer: because we dirty fucking whores contradict the established place of females. We could at least have the good grace to be miserable while we do it.

Yeah. Thanks, but uh... no thanks!

these stories sell themselves!

Apparently there is a reporter from Channel 9's A Current Affair ringing around to various sex worker organisations, possibly others as well, wanting to do a story on the horror of sex work and the poor, broken, traumatised whores trying to leave it.

A Current Affair is basically The National Enquirer, sans Aliens, on television - but it's a popular show and engages the most sordid mentality of the average devoted television viewer.

She's been pitching the story in various ways but seems to be most attached to the idea of exit and retraining for battered whores and has been disregarding the advice of the most awesome sex worker orgs that have informed her exit and retraining in not "up there" on the average whore's list of priorities. She's flat-out not interested in hearing, because apparently these stories just sell themselves! The hook is the personal stories.

But not the personal stories of freedom and autonomy, and certainly not the personal stories that discuss the fact of it being just a job and certainly not the personal stories criticising the stigma of society making the sex worker's life difficult, as opposed to the industry itself.

No, if you want your voice heard as a sex worker, you better make sure you are broken so you can be exploited and exposed on national television! Of course they'll darken the lights and blur your face but they'll also wheedle out in exquisite detail all the horror and pain of your life and cut and edit to make sure it's as garish and exploitative as possible. Oh, and you have to be an ex-whore, or one desperately wanting to leave, just to be sure that the audience can actually sympathise with you.

One major sex worker org revealed that after all the workshops they do, they have the attendees fill out an evaluation form, which includes queries about what services they'd like. One option is support to leave the industry. The org believes only one or two out of a hundred have ever ticked that option.

Another worker, who'd been doing a research project, stated that the only person they met who expressed a desire to do retraining during an interview she met at a organisation focused on exit and retraining and who later confessed in private that she had only said that because she felt she had to for the org to support her to do further upskilling. She wanted the upskilling because her real issues as a mature worker was finding other ways - like the internet, which computer skills would help her with - to advertise, rather than compete with younger girls in parlours.

So apart from the fact that this would suggest an actual exit and retraining project created shame and stigma for workers accessing the service - not really the objective, is it? If you don't fit the little retraining box by being duly ashamed and humbled by your past and wanting so desperately to escape it then no upskilling for you! - it would seem that once again, as is so bloody typical with the industry, we're encountering a straight dichotomy. You either want to stay in the industry, or you want desperately to leave, and there's no inbetween or overlap at all.
Furthermore, the idea of specific exit and retraining for sex workers creates and reinforces the misbelief that sex workers are uneducated, disempowered, weak, unskilled and pathetic and desperately need help because the only thing involved in sex work is lying on your back and spreading your legs.

It's reflective of the general and widespread misunderstanding of what the industry even involves. My capacity to engage with people and socialise increased hugely through the industry, which I entered quite shy and insecure. I'm also sensitive to other people's shyness and capable of far more assertiveness. These aren't, by a long shot, the only skills that I have gained as worker, nor the only skills I have to self-define and specify to others who ask stupid questions and certainly not the only skills that are transferable to other industries and work forces.

I'm at that point now where all the skills involved in sex work seem so bloody obvious to me I'm amazed other people can't see them off the bat. Everything from handling money to negotiating services to advertising to managing clients - a huge range of practical skills are routinely utterly disregarded and denied. You can only be a whore if you're a victim, apparently. This insistence on reducing our jobs to passive activity is one of the contributing factors that keep whores down. Our work gets no respect, just as we don't. It's far more than sex simply being a skill - and really, considering the way sex is marketed as a skill in books and other tools designed for the average folk, the blindspot folks seem to have when it comes to the industry really is a shocker and speaks volumes about the stigma focused at it - it's everything else that's organised around the sex.

What pisses me off most of all is these people who do these stories claim they want to represent us, to take our actual stories out there - but they're not interested in talking to us unless we fit whatever preconception they're bringing with them.

Quite frankly, as someone who works both in the mainstream business industry and the sex industry, the most horrible thing about entering the average workforce is having to lie about my sex work experience and conceal it. There are gaps in my resume and I have to conceal significant parts of my life - which I hate - as well as let all the fantastic skills and experience I've gained simply remain unstated, as though they don't exist. That's disempowering. And that's not an experience created by the industry, but by all the puritanical fucktards who dare still to judge sex workers.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


this makes me angry

52% of English and Welsh people don't think sex workers should be held responsible for being raped because they are sex workers.

You know what's really gross about that? I'm relieved it's at least at the half-way mark.

30% believe we should be held partly responsible. 17% think we should be held completely responsible.

What the hell is wrong with the world?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Rape in Entertainment

Shakesville has this great article on rape in entertainment, timely for me since the issue has been on my mind more prominently. It's very much worth a read and has links to articles written on similar issues.

Just while thinking about this - there's a lot of internet hyperbole I feel uncomfortable using. I don't like to use words of violence against others - not even that popular one, DIAF - although I have used it (I wrote it in a couple of entries below this one, in regards the whole rapist footballer thing - and TBH, I struggled over leaving it in) - the few times I've gone to write it I've felt discomfited and have usually deleted and changed to something less violent. I feel the same way about saying "I hate" in regards to an actual person, although again I have said it, rarely meaning the ACTUAL person, but their behaviour that angered me. I am trying to consciously change this tic most people have to be less personal.

One thing I can't use, have never used, is internet hyperbole that refers to sexual violence - "x is like being butt-fucked". Of course, butt-fucked is not the same as saying butt-raped, but it's always used to indicate an... awful experience, which to me also implies violence and non-consent. I have always been discomfited by the very casual and widespread use of such expressions on the net. I understand nothing is really meant by them, but that in itself bothers me - that expressions of sexual violence are being used without considered thought.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

stop saying it's in His Name. you are lying. you are betraying us all.

this makes me angry.

If I begin to try and think this through, I get lost. I don't understand how people can be so evil and to claim their evil is righteous.

This is not my faith. these people, these monsters, are not of my faith. They're liars. They're all liars. they take something that was meant to be beautiful and they destroy and distort it and use it to destroy the lives of innocent people, to damage them in deeply hurtful ways.

It took me a long time to believe a person can be a Catholic beyond the Catholic Church. To be cut off from your faith is a horrible and lonely thing. To abandon a child, a child who has been assaulted and abused and violated and whose small, precious, fragile body has been subjected to so much already, including the abortion, because please don't begin to think for even a second that was fun for her, from her faith, to deny her the protection the Man who inspired the entire Church insisted was the right of all children - how can these people call themselves Men of God?

They are NOT of God. Or maybe they are, actually, of God. But there is nothing of Jesus in their words and their beliefs.

They diminish His Name.

As far as I'm concerned, they are not Catholics. I excommunicate them. They have no place in my faith. They are evil.

It's easy to say this faith is not going to do her any favours, it's better for her to be out of it. Yes, objectively, yes this is so. I no longer practice, though I wish in some way I could find my way back to it, but I think it is so corrupted and distorted it is not favourable for a child already so violated to be subjected any further to its hypocrisy and wickedness.
But you just can't excise something so intrinsic to who you are like that in a heartbeat decision and certainly not when you're a child.

I'm glad she went through with it, though unspeakably sorry and angry it was necessary due to the violation of her body by her rapist, I'm glad that her mother supported her, that the doctors supported her (please, a ceasearean? How could a nine year old's body carry two children to term? Evil, stupid, arrogant, pathetic men), and I'm glad they were brave enough and knew what was right enough to do it despite the threat of excommunication. I'm glad the world knows of this and sees the sickness of these evil men exposed and I hope, hope, hope to God she has all the support and love she needs to heal and carry on although she does not have the support of the official body of her faith.

If she wants it still, when it has so desperately and horrendously and unforgiveably betrayed her, I hope she can find it in a place beyond the Church.

But right now I just hope she is surrounded by protection and validation of her choice, the choice she had every inarguable right to make.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Token Multi-Culturalism is So Gay!

How, in God's name, could New Mardi Gras be so arrogant and insensitive?

Here, in Australia, we have a "little" problem. We had eleven years of a government that was deeply, deeply racist and who worked dedicatedly to more deeply ingrain racist and anti-immigration sentiments in the white people of this country. One symptom of this is a bizarrely nationalistic attitude involving a compulsive embracing of the Australian flag.

Most recently, on Invasion Day (aka Australia Day), people were photographed draping themselves in the Australian flag and writing "fuck off, we're full" on themselves (AND claiming that they're not racist for doing so).

You can also combine this with, since 9-11, a deeply anti-Arab sentiment. This sentiment has been seen in race riots and violent attacks against people perceived to be Arab. I am in full empathy and understanding that Beit el Hob elected not to march as a group this year, given the theme and the very recent and still ongoing hostility towards Arabs in this country. I am angry and disgusted NMG did not heed Beit el Hob's concerns when they were raised, but sadly this IS typical of NMG, which continues to try and preserve the parade as a largely middle-upper class white gay male event whilst pretending to aim for further inclusivity. If this were true, they would never have been so insensitive with the theme. Beit el Hob's concerns for safety are all too legitimate. It only takes one white het asshole in the audience, there to see the lesbians with their tits out, to catch sight of an flag from an Arab country for trouble to start.

Nassim says it perfectly in the above link:

Official suggestions for parade participants, under the theme Nations United, included dressing up as the national flag or other iconic imagery of countries they closely identify with, which Beit el Hob spokesman Nassim Arrage feared would be harmful to many from areas of conflict.
“While we welcome the idea behind this year’s Mardi Gras theme, we’re really uncomfortable and concerned with the nationalistic agenda and overtones,” he told Sydney Star Observer.
“The use of flags in Australia is a highly political and contentious one. There’s this nationalism that is going on that doesn’t recognise that it’s actually alienating, or what celebrating nationality might mean to a queer Arab in the context of the world after 9/11 and anti-terrorism laws.”

Of course, the problems don't end with the issues for queer Arabs. As has been pointed out, queer Arab's still partook in the parade, just not as a united group - a queer Arab friend of mine marched in solidarity with the sex worker's float this year and I was proud to have her with us and delighted she wanted to show her support for our cause even as I was disappointed NMG disabled her ability to march in solidarity with Beit el Hob - the problem is much, much bigger.

I believe that NMG were genuinely trying to be inclusive of the community with the theme, but they came from a place of privilege and narrow-sightedness in doing so. I am not particularly sympathetic to MG these days - it is so far from being a protest anymore it's beyond a joke, it's basically a long stream of advertisements with a few genuine floats thrown in as well.
But didn't they consider how ultimately DIVISIVE separating the parade into different regions actually was? Furthermore, the floats they allocated to regions - for example, the sex workers float was in Asia-Pacific! WHAT THE FUCK? How does that make sense?? But even more insultingly, the HIV/AIDS related floats were allocated to Africa!!! Did none of those asshats even stop for a second to go - hey, this is kinda fucked up?? Really?? NONE of them??

And how is lumping a huge variety of cultures, countries and nations together into regions actually reflective of the dense diversity of those cultures, countries and nations?

Oh, oh and to CAP IT OFF - all the "Australian" floats WERE MARCHED OFF FIRST!!! Yes, there they were, the proud Aussie floats, leading the parade!!! And guess who comprised the Aussie floats? Oh, try the police, for a start! In fact, all the floats for authoritative bodies were lumped in the Australian section.

Give me strength.

How can New Mardi Gras not see how problematic, insulting, reductionist and hurtful this year's theme was and the way in which it was organised and carried out? How can they be so arrogant and insensitive? How can they, as a body of queers, JUST NOT GET THIS ISSUE???

I know, I know, horizontal discrimination. UNCONSCIOUS horizontal discrimination, at that.

NMG HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY to fail better. We all, as queers, know the kind of discrimination and homophobia we are subjected to. GOD, GET SOME GODDAMN EMPATHY. It's NOT okay, NOT acceptable and canNOT be excused.

The NMG is NOT representative of the greater queer community and it will continue to alienate people and become less and less relevant the longer it keeps this up. There's a reason MG hit financial difficulty a few years back and it's NOT because a pride parade is no longer relevant in Australia.

Get a fucking clue.
(oh and also, just reflective of ongoing issues with the SSO, the title to that article is "Gay Arabs" which is inaccurate - not everyone involved in Beit el Hob is gay. QUEER. QUEER is the inclusive word, SSO. Reminds me of the time a few years ago they printed a trans friend of mine's birth name without her permission. It was entirely irrelevant to the issue of the article, she was very upset about it, and when I commented saying so on their website, they refused to publish my comment. Asshats.)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

15 Year Old Schoolgirl Working as a Prostitute

This makes me angry.

So, c'mon kiddies - when did this girl become a victim?

Was it:

- When she started working the life of a prostitute, earning thousands of pounds for trading on her looks, youth and charm?

- Or was it when her teacher, a person supposed to act in her best interests, assumed the right to search her bag based on mysterious "suspicions", reported their findings to the authorities instead of offering her direct assistance and support and finally, when the government took all of her fucking money?

The knee-jerk reaction to this situation makes me feel ill. I mean, that this story hit the media at all is indicative this girl's best interests are not being served here, but the system is reacting hysterically to a situation it has no dot point guidelines it can go down the list for.

I want to know why:
- The fact she had a bag full of safe sex equipment is not being recognised as evidence this girl has been practising her work in an informed fashion, safely and therefore skillfully
- The fact she has been maintaining what can only be an intense schedule of schoolwork and a job in a physically and intellectually demanding industry and keeping it concealed is not acknowledged as an incredibly impressive feat?

I get quite a lot of things from the scant information we've been given. I get an impression of a highly intelligent, precocious young lady on the cusp of adulthood whose own sexuality has developed to a point she sees it can be of financial gain to her, and who then concertedly enters the sex industry, deceiving the people she works with and her clients into thinking she is of legal age to consent.

And I also get the impression of someone who has been victimised - by the system meant to protect her. Not only is her trust betrayed by her teacher, but the courts clearly can't stand the fact this girl is smarter than the rest of them, that they can't hold anyone else culpable and so they're giving her a spanking and sending her to her room by confiscating the money she rightfully earned. Legally or not - she fucked people for that money. She worked for it. She earnt it.

What the hell kind of message do they think they're sending to her by taking it away? This is so transparently their way of punishing her for bucking the system it makes me feel physically ill.
The sense of violation and degradation I would experience if someone took away the money I earned would be intense - I can only imagine how this girl feels.

The whole idea of underage sex work is a very contentious and sensitive one, as is underage sex itself. Implicit in the media reporting of this story is an incredible sense of shock and horror that an underage girl would knowingly use her sexuality for personal gain. It seems we understand teenagers are going to have sex (though we certainly don't have to like it, do we Abstinence Advocates?) but they have to be naive and uninformed and uncalculating about it.

Wake up! Teenagers are not children. They're young adults. Their sexuality is in rapid growth and they will respond accordingly. Nothing is gained by keeping them ignorant and treating them like stupid little monkeys.

Numbers are arbritary when applied to human beings. Individuals develop at an individual rate. Trying to apply a blanket standard is only going to seriously disadvantage people - like this girl, for example.

All signs point to her having entered the industry consensually and by herself. While I concede that the issue of informed consent at a young age is a very contentious one, that she deceived the people around her suggests a certain level of maturity and considered thought.

There's more to it than that, as well... the entire hysteria surrounding this has been to do with the fact she's been a sex worker as though the situation begins and ends there - as though this must be the worst thing about this situation and the fact her parents didn't know is what makes them bad parents.

I have known many people who began sex work underage. They are all incredibly different people with different reasons for doing so, but all those reasons had one thing ultimately in common: they sought out sex work as a means of freedom.

Sex work offers remuneration and flexibility no other job possibly can for a teenager.

Think about that, and then think about what that might mean for someone from an abusive home.

Money is freedom.

All of those sex workers don't regret for an instance they began their sex work when they were, according to law, too young to truly consent. The money they made gave them the opportunity to get out of the situations they didn't want to be in.

Not all of those situations were outright abuse - some of them were environments that were damaging or confining in other ways - but all of them were intolerable to those individual people.

The fact the girl was clearly saving this money indicates she had a purpose for it.

But I don't want to rush to assume the parents were abusive. Because there's another option, and people really don't like this one:

Maybe she just wanted the money.

Maybe it's as simple as that. Maybe she wanted to buy beautiful things, or have enough money to go where she wanted. Maybe she has a dream - a place she wants to visit or a school she wants to go to - and she's working to achieve that.

No one likes to think about that - that maybe a teenager - a creature we insist must not be sexual even as they are relentlessly sexualised and moving through the process of becoming sexual - could be that mercenary.

I mean, we can't forget all the sex work phobia inherent to this whole situation. Imagine! A 15 year old selling herself as a dirty whore! Oh God, is that hoofbeats I hear, cos I think the end is nigh!

The hysteria sex work is treated with when the underaged get involved, no matter how peripherally, is second to none. It's bad enough being a mother exposed as a sex worker (seriously, what do they think, that the child is in the room watching and not, oh I don't know, at school with the other kids? Any sex working mum could tell you that only makes sense since, uhhhhh, NO BODY really finds it easy to work with their kids around since they're worrying constantly about the kids and trying to concentrate on work at the same time, it's not a good mix and most avoid it where possible. Yes, clients do want to fuck during the day too! Amazing, isn't it?) but forget about it if you're a teenager who takes part in it.
I mean, the stigma towards sex work is so intense that people find it hard to believe that people do it by choice (or acknowledge that choice is not black and white) unless they're evil/mentally ill or a victim (and possibly mentally ill too). Throw in the fact that any sexual interaction teenagers have even with each other is usually characterised as a situation full of victims too (complete with desperate casting about for someone to blame), and underage - even teenage - sex workers are regarded with a paternalistic, hysterical horror that is second to none.

But at the end of the day? It's not helpful. It ignores context. The focus is always on ending "child prostitution" rather than looking at why some young people turn to the sex industry. Punishment is meted out to any adult who might be involved - and while I absolutely agree that any adult who takes advantage of the power disparity to exploit a young person in the industry SHOULD be punished, and harshly as well - it still ignores the fact that teenagers who go looking to get into sex work have a reason. These situations are not always kidnapped young person is forced at gunpoint to service clients. Sometimes they are young person seeks out industry and is aided by adult. Punishing the adult involved is important, but it will not stop young people from seeking out the industry and the reasons we need to ask are why. It does not begin and end with the adult who enables entry into the industry. Locking up owners and operators who knowingly employ 17, 16, 15 year old people is appropriate, but what about the next 15, 16, 17 year olds who go looking for work? They'll find another way to work.

And then look what happens in this situation, where they cannot find an adult to punish - they steal her money!

There are four factors here I think are not easily apparent to non sex workers that suggest to me this situation is extremely complex and this girl was acting largely in an informed and consensual fashion:
1. She was maintaining both her studies and her job - not an easy feat, regardless of what you do. I mean, she was working school nights as well.
2. She was using safe sex equipment.
3. She deceived the people around her in order to be able to work.
and finally:
4. She was saving the money.

This last strikes me most of all.
Most people are fairly useless with money. But in the sex industry, where the money is so easy come and easy go, where you're often handed large lump sums and know there's more around the corner - managing money can be really tricky. For such a young person to be saving it speaks volumes to me and strongly suggests there's much more going on here than meets the eye.

Of course the media cannot help but sensationalise this story - starting off by trumpeting the fact that she's making 100,000 pounds a year! Which is a sum they've calculated based on what she was apparently earning week to week - ignoring the fact that wages from sex work are rarely consistent and reliable week to week. There's an extra special horror being subtly communicated in that amount of money - not only was she a hooker she was making heaps of money - as though it is somehow more grotesque that way.
And just check out the stock photo they used to go with the article! Could it be any more fucking cliche? Seriously. Did they even try? Sickening.

The use of the term "child prostitutes" is also highly misleading. A teenager is not a child. A teenager may not be ready to consent to sex, may not always be able to make an informed decision, but she is not a child. The word child carries a very different connotation and its use here is entirely inappropriate.

That heinous woman, Michelle Elliott - the way she infantilises and diminishes this young girl in the words she says, under the guise of concern for her, is making me feel physically ill. Her horrendous generalising and condescension, her pathologising attitudes... this makes me concerned for this girl. Now that she's been entered into the system and is being told by everyone around her she's a victim for what she chose to do, when they've stolen her money from her. STOLEN HER MONEY.

I'm distressed and angry and upset and can only hope she is as mature as I feel she may very well be, and so is able to resist their insistence on victimising her. I hope she is able to find a true support network and someone who is able to listen to her without judgement or imposing preconceptions. I hope they don't wear her down.

I'll concede the details on this story are scant. I am not in favour of the exploitation of ANY one, whether child, teenager, YA, adult, elderly - no matter what labour they are in. But those four elements I mentioned above are, to me as a sex worker, HIGHLY suggestive.