Friday, August 27, 2010

spunky little sex worker

k, the thoughts in this post have been marinating for a while but are still pretty jumbled, bear with me...

I'm having conflict in my feminism. Between the kind of old-school feminism that dovetailed nicely with my prudish LDS upbringing: ie, cosmetic surgery is selling out, high-heels are tools of subjugation, and sex workers are to be pitied, verses a growing appreciation (fascination?) with the sex positive movement: ie, sex toys are fun, dressing up is fab, and strippers aren't bad people.

Um, yah, I'll have to come back to this later when I've collected a whole bunch of links, or at least can organize my thoughts better. But in the meantime, I have yet ANOTHER quote from Marriage, a History:

"The cult of female purity created a huge distinction in men's minds between good sex and 'good' women. Many men could not even think about a woman they respected in sexual terms... Many men found it unnatural if a woman enjoyed sex 'too much'. Frederick Ryman, who in the 1880's wrote frankly and joyfully about his encounters with prostitutes, was taken aback when any woman took the initiative during sex. He described one young prostitute as a 'little charmer' but commented, 'I usually prefer to have a woman lie perfectly quiet when I am enjoying a vigil. This 'playing up is not agreeable to me but she was truly one of the finest little armfulls of feminine voluptuousness I have ever yet laid on top of."
Okie dokie, Mr Ryman is disturbing... and life for that 'little charmer' of a young woman might have been a horrible life which she did not choose, and in which she had few options, and which ended too soon of disease or abuse....

But the idea of the woman (or person of any gender, for that matter) who enjoys sex and perhaps makes it as a career choice is one I support. And that lifestyle should be respected and taken seriously as well.

Well, actually I didn't intend for this to be a post about sex workers per se, but since it's wound up that way, here's a few links:
~from the University of Texas, an overview of 2 centuries of prostitution;
~from Societal Images, the disheartening collective support for the dehumanization of sex workers;
~an excerpt from Moriah Jovan's upcoming novel which features Cassie, unrepentant high-dollar prostitute.
~a sobering review of Kristof's book Half the Sky, about the forced prostitution of women in the world today being on par with genocide.
~SWOP tucson, the local outreach program trying to get better rights and recognition for people who identify as sex workers.
~an interesting article about Strippers who are protesting in front of a fundamentalist christian church.


Craig said...

I'm generally very supportive of those who choose to be a sex worker of any sort. Yes, I know that the profession is prone abuse and violence, but those are problems to be solved by attacking the problems themselves. I do believe that most arguments against prostitution, exotic dancing, escorting, etc. are done out of prudish morality systems which have a negative view of sex and sexuality. I truly don't see how selling your services for sex or anything of an erotic nature is categorically different from selling your ability to clean or type or bake design rockets or perform neurosurgery.

G said...

oh... and I just found another link to add to my list: SWOP, the group here in tucson fighting for better rights for sex workers. I stumbled across information about one of their rallies a few years ago and it was my first glimpse of an alternate narrative about the lives of these people.

Moriah Jovan said...

Oh, WOW, G! Thanks for the shout out.

I've not really gotten the evil eye from Puritan/Victorian holdovers for what I write (mostly because they won't read what I write in the first place), but I have gotten severely thrashed (virtually) by self-styled feminists (of the LDS and non alike) who take me to task for my personal sexual tastes because "OMGWTFBBQ itz rong!!1!!1 Yer goin' to HELL!!1!!!111"

It's just prudery of a different color.

As Cassie points out: "Notice: Half the women in the Old Testament traded sex for retribution and restitution. Power."

I'm a little more laissez-faire than all that. I don't have the time or inclination or energy to police what other people choose to do.

Captcha: prudiess

It ain't paranoia if they really are out to get you.

Eugene said...

Related comment by Kate: "Back in the 19th century, some gung-ho researcher went into New York City's slums and did a survey of prostitutes. Basically, he asked them why they were prostitutes. The overwhelming answer: Choice. No kidding. In the 19th century."

Ginger said...

that was an interesting read :) and might i add. . . .

sex toys are awesome, dressing up is exciting and strippers are great teachers on how to spice up life.

it does make me sad when there is abuse and danger involved in something that is supposed to be enjoyable. :(

"Nana" said...

Bravo Ginger! Good to see you have an open mind to such things!
Having worked the pole myself (not ashamed of it) I can say I didn't feel a since of being controlled but of being empowered by it. I went into the job scared to death (mostly because you and I had the same upbringing), and came out with a much healthier look on my body and feeling more in control of my well as the ability to walk in 8" stilettos and how to use them as a weapon if you need too. :)
I think that prostitution should be legalized so that it could be monitored more closely. The outskirts of Vegas where the bunny ranch is a prime example of how legalization of prostitution keeps disease out and puts the power back in the women's hands. It would minimize the sex slave business, something that is very much alive and thriving. The sad truth is that we really cannot completely rid the world of sexual abuse any more then we can rid the world of abuse of any form (though we should try). Keep it off the streets, out of the pimps hands, and letting the women call the shots.

G said...

thanks nana :) (also, thanks for letting my try on those 8" stilettos)

hey, I just found another great article that I'm going to put in the links up there, about some strippers who decided to protest in front of a christian fundamentalist church. The church, it seems, was trying to shut down the strip club, and the women were protesting their loss of wages. Great quote from the article:
"[The church's] desire is not to truly help them but to "other" them and force them to conform to a strict moral code. Sex work is not going to disappear by shaming the women involved and this is a long established fact. It will only ever end when we stop living in a patriarchal world and women are not reduced to sexual objects for men's satisfaction. "

Ginger said...

thanks nana but mostly i want to say bravo to you girls for being brave and being able to, what's the word, understand yourselves, i dont know if that describes it. but it is a crazy battle within ones self to question everything and to be judged. still trying to fight the battle. ugh! but the one thing i dont question is learning new things. ;)