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Dispatch from a Dominatrix: How to be a Better Partner to Sex Workers

WorkerFor those of us in the ‘adult’ industry, dating can be a challenge. Many partners struggle with the type of work that we do, and encounter feelings of jealousy or mistrust. So, in an effort to help folks be more supportive to their lovers and partners, I’d like to share a few insights and suggestions from me and a few other ladies of the night.

For those of you not involved in the world of commodified pleasure, when I refer to sex workers, I am describing anyone who is engaged in the adult/sex industry. This includes dancers, dominatrices, escorts, webcam artists, erotic masseurs, phone sex operators and adult film actors. You’ll find that all of these folks are regular people with personal lives, families, friends and to-do lists full of the same mundane tasks that befall us all.

The difference for sex workers is that when we decide to date or seek a new partner, many of us find ourselves having to justify or defend our profession, which is not typical for folks engaged in other types of labor. We also frequently encounter interpersonal reflections of broader societal views regarding sex work and sex workers, which are not positive.

In our culture, sex work is seen as subversive and exploitative, certainly not as a legitimate exchange of a service for compensation. Sex workers are stigmatized and discriminated against, which results in many folks feeling isolated and shameful about their work. It can be difficult and even dangerous for sex workers to be honest with people about what they do. Despite all of this, many sex workers are thriving, organizing and even dating! So if you find yourself falling for a working girl, please consider the following recommendations.

First, an essential element in being a supportive lover or partner is to recognize that sex work is legitimate employment. Sex work is a job your partner does, it’s not an affair and it’s not infidelity. Please understand that engaging in sex work does not indicate anything about an individual’s feelings for you.  It is also important to realize that the relationships individuals have with their clients are most likely very different from the relationships that they are seeking to have with a partner.

worker2Before you become serious with a sex worker, you should take a hard look at your values and biases related to sex work. Have an honest conversation with yourself to determine how you feel about the work your lover does, and determine whether those values are genuinely yours or if you have unconsciously internalized the views of a sexist, sex-negative culture.  Be compassionate with yourself and your partner, but honestly evaluate whether or not you feel that you can manage a relationship with a sex worker.

Once you’ve checked in with yourself, communicate! As in any relationship, honest and loving communication is necessary for sustainability. There are bound to be issues that come up related to your lover’s work; discuss them with your partner in a non-judgmental, non-shaming way rather than harboring resentments that surface as passive aggression or an eventual blow-up. Work on being comfortable talking about sex work. In the same way that you might need to vent about a co-worker or client, your lover might want to dish about the slave she dressed in lingerie and carried around her studio. Whatever the case, it’s critical to create a safe environment for your partner to discuss her experiences.

Establishing your own set of guidelines can also be helpful. One sex worker shared this insight: “I’ve found that deciding ahead of time with your partner how much they want to know about what you are doing is important. In my more significant relationships as a sex worker I would ask my partner if they wanted to hear about it or not and then only talk about things they were comfortable talking about.” Creating boundaries like this can help partners feel more comfortable and avoid conflict in the future.

It is important to understand that being the partner of a sex worker is difficult; you have to manage concealing information from friends or being judged for the work your partner does. You also have to accept your partner being in intimate situations with other people. A friend shared this thought, “It is okay to not be 100% happy that you fell in love with a sex worker, but it is important to talk about the issues you have with your partner’s work and allow her to support you in dealing with them.”

As a supportive partner, you should educate yourself about sex work and be an ally! Dive into essays and stories by and about sex workers. Ask your partner respectful questions about her experiences. Try to gain an understanding about what the work is like for your lover, and the challenges and successes they encounter. It can be extremely meaningful to have a lover express solidarity and take an interest in one’s work.

Finally, it can be useful to talk to someone about your feelings, so you might want to consider couples or individual counseling to access support in exploring and processing the challenges you experience. For a list of therapists who are sex and sex worker-positive, check out http://redlightchicago.wordpress.com/a-therapist/.

About the Guest Blogger
CassandraCassandra is a radical social worker, grassroots activist, and performer. She works with LGBTQ and court-involved youth as a clinician and advocate, and is an Executive Board member for the Sex Worker’s Outreach Project. Her primary areas of professional interest are LGBTQ health, reproductive justice, anti-oppressive sexuality education, sex worker’s rights and youth development. Cassandra earned her Master of Social Work from Jane Addams College at UIC.  Cassandra has an affinity for adventuring, and has lived in five countries and been lost in many more. She hosts a queer feminist book club in her home, and is a member of a fabulous dyke choir (or quoir). She is interested in creating intergenerational queer spaces, and in facilitating  discussions that challenge popular discourse related to sexuality, gender, class and race.

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Discussion

38 Responses to “Dispatch from a Dominatrix: How to be a Better Partner to Sex Workers”

  1. Hey Cassandra thanks for this! we need way more discussion about dating sex workers. I’d like to point you toward this resource “Ho Lover: On Dating, Friending sex workers” (bornwhore.com/resources) as well as suggest including all the benefits of dating sex workers! Don’t forget: we are unique and amazing people and people are lucky to get to date us. Let’s talk about why! Let’s talk about how bomb ass it is when sex workers date each other! I’d love to hear your thoughts.
    much love,
    Juliet

    Posted by juliet | February 7, 2013, 3:32 pm
  2. I’ve always used the term “sex worker” to speak about people who exchange sex for money, thanks for the education on the meaning of that term.

    Posted by Cooper Thompson | February 7, 2013, 4:08 pm
  3. I love love love this article! I only wish that it didn’t assume that all sex workers use female pronouns/identify as women, because I feel like this is useful for sex workers of all genders!

    Posted by Samara | February 7, 2013, 6:06 pm
  4. Juliet: Thanks so much for the resource! I actually included a paragraph about why dating sex workers is fabulous, but then removed it. I think I was worried that it would be taken as over-sexualizing sex workers or making too many presumptions about their experiences.

    I think many of us necessarily question ideas of normative sexuality, which makes us much more open to well, many things (radical sex, differently configured relationships, etc). I also think we develop keen intuition and listening skills!

    Samara: Thanks for your thoughts. I by no mean endorse the presumption that all sex workers are female-identified! It’s just that the L Stop is a site geared toward LGBTQ womyn, so I focused the piece on womyn-identified folks.

    Cooper: Glad to help!

    Posted by Cassandra A. | February 7, 2013, 7:46 pm
  5. Just attended a kick-ass seminar at HBHC that was provided by SWOP! Thanks for continuing to put sex-positive information out there.

    Posted by L | February 8, 2013, 1:53 pm
  6. No offense and hope none is taken by my series of questions here. I don’t understand and am dismayed by the sudden interest in sex work generalized in the media. I recently saw Glory Whores on Netflix; a documentary on the experiences of sex workers, without commentary, only interviews. I saw a portrayal of women used as commodities, dealing with lesser opportunities and freedoms, the younger they were. I am deeply saddened by the treatment of the young girls who were brainwashed into thinking this was the only normal role for all poor female youth. In their region, this is true, but more shocking were the Indian women (from Bangladesh) who bought and sold them to other Indian women known as dames. They introduced these very young girls into a vile lifestyle for the sole purpose of their own profits, which was sickening. The rest of the women were drug addicted, with little or no choice in work spanning over three different parts of the world.

    Watching this very non sugar coated film, (displaying the loathsome and no holds barred aspect of sex work), I wondered why would anyone not born into this, (who come from middle to higher class homes in the states) choose to engage in the sex work lifestyle? Why would any woman of her right mind with more opportunity subject herself to the same spectrum of work that women with less than zero opportunity endure without a choice? I understand female empowerment, and political awareness on the issues. I do not understand the benefit, or long term goal for sex workers, especially for their partners who have a vested interest in them. Given sex worker scenarios require caution as their safety and long term health are always the line.

    Worse, how could anyone support an industry which houses the same catalyst for human trafficking, or sex work as an only option, especially for the youth? How could sex work be considered on the same level as feminism when it involves so many forsaken elements?

    Being at a constant and high risk for lessoning your chances to find modern minded and willing partners, why go through the extra amount burden? What is the gain or overall purpose to an often society degrading, (as many of our intelligent yet humanly flawed politicians are caught up in a sex work scandal), sex and drug propelling industry for females of middle to higher class backgrounds? I understand sex workers are individuals and people who see it as merely a job. If It’s not an easy or normal task to explain to your partner, why try so hard to label it as such, expecting your partner to do the same? To expect your monogamous partner, to remain monogamous long enough for them to understand the exploitations of your day to day practice with random strangers? It clearly is no where near the ordinary 9-5 job one could agree, and the premise as to why such articles are needed.

    Posted by DworkinDaughter | February 9, 2013, 12:55 am
  7. No offense taken. Your post includes a complicated series of criticism and questions… So let me break it down.

    1.) I’m upset by the “interest in sex work” in the media, and I believe that this post is part of that “over-hyping.”

    -That is interesting, because you quoted a film about sex work in your article…and you wrote a long post in response to this article. Clearly, the sex trade is something you find interesting and also have strong feelings about.

    And you aren’t the only one. This article received 2K hits on the first night. The sex trade is titillating, fascinating, and…well…sexy. “Sex Trafficking” receives 95% of media attention, while it accounts for only 10% of all human trafficking in the U.S. Likewise, funding for programs to help “sex trafficking” victims account for 90% of all funds for helping human trafficking victims.

    2.) I do not understand how a woman with other economic options would choose sex work. In particular, I do not understand how an option some women are ‘forced’ into through coercion, poverty or drug-use would also attract individuals with other options.

    A. The sex trade is an incredibly diverse industry. The monetary benefits, risks, and modal interactions vary tremendously.

    Across the sex-work-socio-economic spectrum, Sex Workers earn 4-5x as much as they would through a straight job.

    Think of it this way: why would someone sell drugs? Well, some individuals do so illegally, on street-corners, and risk felonies and violence for 20K a year. Others do so legally, at pharmacies or as reps for doctors offices, and earn 5x that much with virtually no risk. The same spectrum also exists within the sex trade.

    3a.) I do not understand, given the ‘risks’ of sex work, why anyone would engage in this type of work.

    A. Again, the risks vary tremendously from industry to industry and from workplace to workplace. A dominatrix who works legally and carefully has less risk than a clinical social worker. An indoor escort who screens carefully and engages only in protected oral and vaginal intercourse has very low risk.

    3b.) or why anyone would date someone in this line of work?

    A. See above. Also individuals don’t CHOOSE who they fall in love with. And as Cassandra exemplifies, sex workers are often not ONLY sex workers… they make art, they have other jobs, they are in school, they write free-lance, etc. An individual who is intellectually, physically and emotionally drawn to and inspired by someone who also earns money from sexualized labor does have a choice whether to “be” with that person… and many MANY men and women do choose to be in relationships with sex workers. (e.g. – a recent 600-person poll of clients found through a popular escort website found at 76% would marry a current escort, and over 90% would marry a former escort.) As Cassandra wrote, this article is intended for THAT group of people, not for individuals who have “unconsciously internalized the views of a sexist, sex-negative culture”
    Beyond that, in the same way that other helping professionals develop attractive skills through work, sex workers develop a unique set of interpersonal skills that are in no way limited to “sexual open-mindedness and experience.”

    4.) How could you be involved in an industry that “acts as a catalyst for trafficking?”

    A. Related to the answer to question 2 — Any profitable industry “acts as a catalyst for trafficking.” Does working for a socially conscious consumer goods firm likewise qualify as ‘being involved in an industry that acts as a catalyst for trafficking,’ when other consumer goods firms produce packaging in sweatshops or source ingredients harvested through slave labor?

    What about working as a babysitter or housekeeper? As many women are trafficked into domestic servitude as are trafficked into the sex trade.

    What about working at a factory?

    5.) How can you equate sex work with feminism?

    I don’t understand this question, because I do not believe the author made this equation at any point in her blog article.

    Would you classify beliefs that pathologize gay men, lesbians and transfolk and assume that actively being GLBT or Q necessarily involves sexually risky behavior, sexual violence and random acts of violence as SEXIST or HOMOPHOBIC or based on PREJUDICE? I would classify views that pathologize sex workers, assume of desperation, drug use, and sexually risky behavior in this population, and essentialize violence against individuals in the sex trade as intrinsic of involvement in the sex trade, AS BASED ON PREJUDICE.
    Just as IT’S not okay to blame rape victims because of what they wore or where they went, it is NOT okay to blame violence and discrimination against sex workers on their choice to trade sexual behavior for money.

    6.) Given that engaging in sex work will make you less ‘datable’ (your assumption, not mine), why would you do it?

    A. See my answer to 3a.

    7.) What is the social value of sex work?

    A. What an existentialist question!! What is the value of a massage or manicure? What is the value of paying for a professional to listen to you talk for an hour a week?

    Sex workers would have different answers to this question, but the ‘value’ of sex work includes a-offering a non-judgemental, discrete space for individuals to learn about sex, explore stigmatized fantasies, explore same-sex relations, etc. Affirming intimate physical and emotional contact for individuals struggling with body-image-issues, self-esteem or trust-issues. Access to intimate contact for individuals who are discriminated against because of a physical or mental disability or a different body type. Fulfillment of sexual/emotional needs for individuals in relationships where partner-needs are not completely aligned.

    8.) How can you expect a partner to understand that your work is real work, or stay with you long enough to grasp that?

    A. Sigh. See my answer to 3a.

    Hopefully that was useful!

    Posted by Meg | February 9, 2013, 6:15 pm
  8. I am an American female and sex worker. I was fortunate to be born into a middle class background, received a world class education, and have had many opportunities, due to my upbringing that many women (and men) will never have, both in America and other countries.

    I have worked in a variety of 9-5 jobs, including academic research, finance, and teaching. I currently support myself financial as a sex worker, but I am much more than that. I am an artist, a feminist activist, a musician, and much more. I choose, on my own, to become a sex worker because, while I do have many opportunities, opportunities which you deem to be more “acceptable,” I find that sex work is the only profession where I am able to actually seize said opportunities.

    My identity is not my profession, though anti-sex worker organizations and individuals force this identity upon me, claiming that I can never be anything but a “whore,” without even thinking to consider my personal motivation.

    My professional decision to become a sex worker isn’t just financially motivated, although, as a female, I do have a hard time agreeing to take a job where I will never be paid the same as a man, but also intrinsically motivated. I am an active artist, who has a growing career, and that takes time, time that a 9-5 wouldn’t allow. I wish that I could devote my entire professional career to art, but in order to do that, I must be financially secure enough to pay my bills. Sex work allows me to not only support myself financially, but grants me “free time,” which I can then dedicate to my art. While you may be at the office for 40 billable hours a week, I personally cannot do that and still have a chance to pursue these “other opportunities” that you speak of.

    Additionally, you speak about against “supporting an industry which houses the same catalyst for human trafficking,” yet I would be willing to bet that you don’t even stop to consider that many consumer products — the carpets that line your floors, the cocoa that you indulge yourself with, the clothes on your back, even the rice of a sensible meal are all likely to be the result of the labor of victims of human trafficking (I say likely, as it is dependent on the county from which these and many other consumer items are imported from).

    As for subjecting myself to unnecessary danger, please keep in mind, I am a female. This means that daily I am subjected to harassment, unwanted advances, and occasionally fear, all because I am female. This has nothing to do with my profession, as doing something as simple and routine as getting a cup of coffee is not exclusive to sex workers.

    While sex work is a more dangerous profession, it is not because of the industry, but society itself. Instead of discussing and working on the real issue — sexism, many people instead feel more comfortable criticizing a profession and industry they really know nothing about. How someone can make such blanket and inflammatory statements yet be so ignorant of the issue is the real danger.

    Beyond ignorance, the vast over generalization of sex work is avoids solving the real issue of human trafficking, both in the commercial sex trade and the forced labor trade. The experiences of each sex worker is different. A sex worker in Germany will have different experiences than a sex worker in American who will have different experiences than a sex worker in India. Also, it’s important to note that sex work does not just apply to prostitution, but BDSM/Fetish work, cam work, pornography, and many other “sub sections,” all of which will result in different experiences.

    With all that said, this may come as a shock to you, but I actually have a serious boyfriend. I was upfront when we began dating, and while he isn’t always comfortable with my work, we openly discuss it. The issues we discuss are probably not what you would expect either, as the work itself is not an issue (a job is a job), but rather issues of stigmatization. Our discussions, while personal, generally are about the bigger issue of sexism and it’s acceptability in our society, because when it comes down to it, it’s my body, it’s my choice, and it’s my life, and anyone who claims to know how I should live my life based on their perception of my profession is probably not someone I would want to take advice from.

    But then again, you know what’s best for you, and perhaps judging others, so you don’t have to reflect on your own actions is what’s best for you. In which case I say you put your money where your mouth is and stop supporting companies that utilize forced labor, stop watching films that “glorify whoredom” (including pornography), stop supporting companies that use sexualized females in their advertisements to sell their products, and most importantly, stop forcing your will onto others.

    Posted by Lily | February 10, 2013, 9:40 am
  9. WTF? was I the only one who didn’t know that there was actually a book called “Bitch are you retarded.” It’s a self help book for women lol. Ma girl swore this book was real and I didn’t believe her. Here’s a link I found to this book. “Bitch are you retarded?” It’s real. lmfao. http://jezebel.com/5980704/inside-the-mind-of-the-man-who-wrote-bitch-are-you-retarded

    Posted by Lisa | February 10, 2013, 2:59 pm
  10. The film was called “Whores’ Glory,” apologies for the mixup. There’s no mystery of mindset as to why people will choose relationships with sex professionals.  Anyone willing to risk their health, and overall well being to answer the call of there’s someone for everyone, is doing gods work. It’s difficult having to refrain from convincing a sex worker to become less directly involved in sex work: sex phone operator, dancer, or even dominatrix. Anything not directly related to sex work that could be linked to infidelity. Such unions of immense dedication deserve commendation, and sex positive council. My concern is not for an area of expertise on grown women, (of modern means), and why they will continue to choose unorthodox sacrifices to attaining money and power. 

    The point was not simply to make a direct question and answer session into the obvious. A vivid, unflinching skilled psychologists’ imagination, could reveal, why some women will choose sex professions opposing normalcy. The problem is when they try to call it activism; under a new assertion and mockery of the traditional feminist standard. To create a new parable for what is to be accepted as the modern sex worker civil right. To choose a sense of false rebellion over decency, in an effort to forfeit and backdate all womens’ progress. This new era of activism and attitude among sex workers of: my work, my body, my business, sets the stage for a complete disconnect to their overall responsibility for the degradation of our societies. It provides for zero accountability in a new America which comes across as unhinged, unconventional, lonely, provocative, delusional, and heavily medicated on prescription drugs.

    “It is not in becoming a whore that a woman becomes an outlaw in this man’s world; it is in the possession of herself, the ownership and effective control of her own body, her seperateness and distinctness, the integrity of her body as hers, not his. Prostitution may be against the written law, but no prostitute has defied the prerogatives or power of men as a class through prostitution. 

    No prostitute provides any model for freedom or action in a world of freedom that can be used with intelligence and integrity by a woman; the model exists to entice counterfeit female sexual revolutionaries, gullible liberated girls, and to serve the men who enjoy them.” 
    ― Andrea Dworkin

    It’s horrifying and disgusting to learn that undocumented migrants, runaway and homeless youth, the oppressed, marginalized, and/or impoverished groups are the number one targets for human trafficking. The U.S. Department of State estimates more than 50,000 men, women, and children are trafficked into the U.S. every year (600,000 to 800,000 worldwide). Of these, 80 percent are girls and women, 70 percent into the sex trade. These numbers represent people imported domestically, at least 100,000 of them mostly girls are trafficked, mainly for sex, each year. Our children being bought and sold into a forced sex trade. If celebrities like Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore can realize, and work against the problem, why can’t the modern (of means) sex worker? Why can’t her bubble be burst into the reality of the overall situation she continues to bestow on a daily basis? Just as we all are held accountable for our carbon foot print, for the health and sustainability of the environment. Sex workers need to step up to the plate, given the ever growing trafficking problem in the US. The Super Bowl being one of the largest sex trafficking events in the US. every year. Whenever human trafficking is labeled as sexy or provocative by said sex professionals, there’s a disconnect and unaccountability that’s never being addressed. Everyone knows the roles, and expectations of a sex worker, but few if any want them held accountable for contributing to the largest female deception reinstated by other women each year.

    In Whores’ Glory, an Indian barber said that his city had to have its sex workers, for without them, the men would be raping women and screwing farm animals instead of paying for sex work. I thought this over for a second. If all the women were removed from the planet, how quickly would it plummet into the dark ages, of some Lord of the Flies type prison environment? How long would it take for otherwise civilized men to command and conquer the rest of men, without the dainty, and soothing sanctity of women. My point is that men need sex workers, more than women need the sex work.

    I believe there needs to be a course of action against sex worker activist, carried out by traditional feminist purveyors to slow the sex work activism and false feminist propaganda. All of which Andrea Dwokins life’s work advocated. There needs to be a wake up call to the sex worker, until they are held accountable and responsible for helping their most helpless and sought after the youth. Aide for the most vulnerable contributors to sex work, not activism for modern sex workers, and call girls of modern means. An ally working against a man-made institution, created in favor of the comfort of men at the destruction of our societies most exposed, young and younger women.

    In reality, the oldest profession will always persist, that’s why there needs to be a checks and balances system managed from the opposing side, that is not left up to the police, as it is now. I believe this power should be given to new purveyors, program managers, and organizers to help fight the latest travesty on our youth. The greatest wool pulled over women in an ever increasing deception against our societies most vulnerable. With no viable future for such an injustice to the older, and less desired women there exist no future for women in sex work. Only destruction of future generations and the current youth involved in sex work. Our counterfeit feminist activist need to realize this first to stop the ongoing propaganda of false activism. Our purveyors and true feminist of higher cause should work on getting these young women out of these environments now, instead of working to decriminalize sex work.

    Stats taken from the polarisproject.org, and thefeministwire.com

    Posted by DworkinDaughter | February 10, 2013, 6:04 pm
  11. If other readers do not understand why the previous post is objectionable, please read the statement, with slight modifications. I’m sure it looks familiar to many readers here, and I’m sure it inspires strong reactions:

    “A vivid, unflinching skilled psychologists’ imagination, could reveal, why some women will choose same-sex relationships opposing normalcy. The problem is when they try to call it activism…This new era of activism and attitude among lesbians of: my body, my business, sets the stage for a complete disconnect to their overall responsibility for the degradation of our societies. It provides for zero accountability in a new America which comes across as unhinged, unconventional, lonely, provocative, delusional, and heavily medicated on prescription drugs.”

    Posted by Meg | February 10, 2013, 7:33 pm
  12. In response to:

    “Our children being bought and sold into a forced sex trade. If celebrities like Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore can realize, and work against the problem, why can’t the modern (of means) sex worker? Why can’t her bubble be burst into the reality of the overall situation she continues to bestow on a daily basis?”

    Dworkindaughter, you seem to have failed to read the author’s biography. She’s spent YEARS working with street-based youth who have very few other alternatives to support themselves outside of the sex trade and advocating for increased services provision for this population.

    As for other “Sex Worker Rights” Organizations — it would benefit you to do a bit of research before making claims about the activities or values of these organizations.

    Where to start? Try looking at the work of ANY organization listed on the “Global Network of Sex Worker Projects”‘ website.

    Posted by Meg | February 10, 2013, 7:43 pm
  13. Dworkindaughter — Please share how you help street-based youth.

    The author spends 50+ hours a week working with this group.

    Two sex workers I know spend 10-15 hours a week, unpaid, working with this group.

    Two others spend 10-odd hours a week working with street-workers.

    Another has spent over 700 hours working with trafficking survivors and in a domestic violence shelter.

    One sex worker I know gives 25% of her income to organizations that help trafficking victims and youth in the sex trade.

    SWOP-NYC has created a coalition to fight against law enforcement use of condoms as evidence to prosecute street-based populations for prostitution. SWOP-NYC also has been active in advocating for more shelter-beds for NYC homeless youth.

    So — what do you do?

    Posted by Meg | February 10, 2013, 8:15 pm
  14. And finally, I don’t understand why you blame sex workers for trafficking or youth involvement in the sex trade.

    A similar causal chain might be drawn between GLBT activists and street-based youth. Look at any study — a large portion of street-based youth (and youth involved in the sex trade) are GLBT, and they were kicked out of their homes because they identified as GLBT. You could likewise argue that people ‘coming out’ and stating that being GLBT is okay, is the cause of homelessness and ‘commercial sexual exploitation of young people.’ Perhaps this is also the cause of violence against GLBT-folk?

    It’s a bogus argument, but it’s no more or less bogus than the ones you are making.

    Posted by Meg | February 10, 2013, 8:39 pm
  15. Listen, this is not a personal debate. The goal is not to ruffle the feathers of sex workers, or their demented pride and joy they take for this cause (bornwhore.com). l see the sex work and human trafficking epidemic the same way I see the gun control debate. If you rid society of all the guns, especially the assault rifles, you will save lives, especially for the youth, and most defenseless involved. End of discussion as far as the gun control debate for me. If you attempt with good faith in ridding the world of all its madams, brothels, pimps, and human traffickers, you will save lives, especially for the youth, and most defenseless involved. There is some disconnect among this idea particularly with sec workers. An idea met with despise and utter hate from counterfeit feminist trying to ruin societies and women’s progress. Sex workers should not be involved in sex work, in their efforts to slowly diminish the sex work trade overall for the most vulnerable. They should be held accountable during and post the sex work profession. If we all work together to end the travesty against women, we in turn create more focus to catch the criminals behind the real human trafficking sex trade. To you it’s preposterous, but looking years ahead from a macro level, it is the main way. I assumed: the with Andrea Dworkin quotes, with the part about continuing in her life’s vision, and my quote from the film about the Indian barber, and my flat out saying “we don’t need sex workers” would have bought this home. It’s about accountability for actions, while not being apart of said sex trade (for services) themselves. It’s the only way to spread the awareness on the importance to rid it’s place in our society overall.
    That is my viewpoint, I understand your viewpoint and exactly what you’re saying. I disagree, and stand in the opposition as a traditional feminist.

    I also realized that the same vile and most loathsome site on the internet, was a commenter. I’m shocked to see bornwhore.com, the worst I’ve seen at perpetuating hate propaganda against all non-working feminist tradition online. I post anti sex trade comments on that site, (never posted as it’s a one sided sounding board for anti feminist tradition) as a subtle way to fight the battle against sex work. Her site, and the film I saw last wednesday are my only exposure to the vile work of the human sex trade. I am not involved elsewhere, as a casual observer to normal society, completing a degree in a non-related field. I am not a purveyor, organizer, or help to organizations who help fight against sex work. I don’t know any victims of sex work, human trafficking, or slavery. I do not organize to help youth find ways to prevent and stop themselves from becoming part of the sex trade. All of these experiences online has convinced me that my beliefs, alongside other traditional feminist, need support as we are a last stomping ground of sanctity and decency among rampant counterfeit feminism.

    Actually I had not read her bio, which I have read just now, and apologize if any of this seemed personal. I believe sex workers should not be engaged in any form of sex work direct or not, in order to begin dealing with the edifice, and epidemic of human trafficking. If we want a more secure and real future for our youth; if do not want America to end up as Thailand, Bangladesh, or Mexico in probably less than 2 decades, we will at least begin to pay attention.

    Posted by DworkinDaughter | February 11, 2013, 12:41 am
  16. Then we will continue to disagree.

    I do not believe that adult women should stop marrying and/or having sexual relationships with men, in order to stop rape and domestic violence and forced marriage for the most vulnerable. I also do not believe this would do any good.

    I do not believe that adult women should stop engaging in the sex trade, in order to stop survival sex or trafficking. I do not believe this would do any good.

    Ultimately, I believe that a wide matrix of ‘push’ factors (sexism, gender inequality, economic inequality, immigration restrictions, discrimination on the basis of race, class, gender identity and sexual orientation) and ‘criminalization’ are 99% to blame for exploitation in the sex trade.

    And I believe that ‘abolishing the sex trade’ would not help anyone, including individuals exploited in the sex trade, without addressing the underlying issues that push them into it.

    Finally, while I understand your discomfort with an article discussing issues facing ‘privledged’ sex workers, I believe this discomfort is based on bias.

    Look at this blog. What percentage of articles on LStop address issues facing ‘privledged lesbians’, and what percentage of articles address issues facing the most disadvantaged members of our community?

    I believe that all activists should address issues relating to the most disadvantaged and vulnerable members of their community…but I also believe that have every right to also work on issues and oppressions that personally effect them.

    Posted by Meg | February 11, 2013, 3:50 am
  17. Meg, you show great restraint and tolerance for dorkinsdaughter and the illogic I cringe at in her posts.
    If sex between men and women is bad period, then all sex work is bad. That would be the only logical explanation for her comments. I have been a sex worker for a long time, I’m in my 60’s and I believe sex is good.

    Posted by Soleil Sinclair | February 11, 2013, 5:16 pm
  18. Rock-On, Soleil!!

    It is illogical, and it is convoluted.

    One last comment — I can respect, or at least understand, any dogmatic, stringent set of values oriented towards the production of a utopian society. Dworkin, your value system seems center on the elimination of gendered power and patriarchal society.

    And based on your posts, you would not date or associate with anyone involved in the sex trade because you view the sex trade as subversive to the creation of your utopia, or as in opposition to the values that undergird it.

    That’s fine. And, giving you the benefit of the doubt, I’ll assume you apply those values equally, and also would not date or associate with anyone who’s job or behavior upholds or reproduces gendered systems of power in our society.

    Yet, in doing so, you are limiting your social circle to a very small, and very privledged segment of the population. There are very few jobs that do not, in some way, play to and reproduce gender norms or reinforce stereotypical, gendered notions of power in society. And most women do not have the option of ‘opting out’ completely.

    Posted by Meg | February 11, 2013, 7:42 pm
  19. And that’s fine, as long as we’re reading, “to get” what’s been said
    Meg, Thanks for fighting the good fight with me. It’s refreshing when you have an opportunity to learn and draw from an area you barely thought of as an every day occurrence. Even though I’ve post lost interest in fighting with you; after reading a mind awakening post early this morning. The experience has been definitely been different. And I was planning on keeping my newfound understanding to myself. But hey I did start this mess and i’ll get to that in a second. I might have considered switching to something better suited to communicate earlier, like online smoke and hand signals, or maybe some psalms, some iambic pentameter. Smoke signal “FRIEND,” redface says- [no one was saying that women, or females, should not be marrying or engaging in sex with men.] I’m not that kind of conservative feminist. I’m pro-choice, and yeah marrying whoever you love doesn’t effect me. So let’s be honest you knew that wasn’t being even suggested. As I said, verbatim, with a common sense level understanding for sometime now. Women should never be involved, in sex work, in a sex trade, to sell body or self (The Dworkin Theme)…while…involved…in the gods good work…of working to stop.. said sex workers, and sex trafficking. I never said women can’t be heterosexual, queer, or anything even of the sort.
    Melissa Farley, famed anti-sex work feminist, “Prostitution is paid rape.” Robin Morgan, author, activist and feminist elder of anti-sex work “Pornography is the theory, and rape is the practice.” Norma Ramos, executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW),“The TRUTH behind backpage.com: $2 MILLION PER MONTH by hosting sex trafficking ads.” Ramos, is at the forefront of the current anti-sex work brigade, who takes credit of shutting down Craigslist’s Erotic Services listings. And Gloria Steinem, after a visit to Calcutta, accused the women leading health and education programs as traffickers and decided it would be best to end sexual health services, and peer education programs in brothels, “programs that have been recognized by the United States Agency for International Development as best-practices HIV/AIDS interventions.”

    This is the kind of coalition I’ve been arguing for blatantly, with an unapologetic tone, the entire time. And Andrea Dworkin, who’s quotes I love to read, interpret, and bring home a point or two If understood. I’ve agreed with this coalition of women, who like me feel that the only cure for sex trafficking is a zero tolerance atmosphere for all sex work. And I couldn’t of agreed more. I couldn’t see how any other argument would be viable enough in combating this problem. And I still do agree with these women. If I were to ever engage in activism, I’d have to “check in with myself” to see how far traditional I’d want to go, but there’d still be some tradition.
    I read a post this morning, from reason.com (while searching online for anti-sex work stuffs for yet another round on here) by Melissa Gira Grant called The War on Sex Workers: An unholy alliance of feminists, cops, and conservatives hurts women in the name of defending their rights.
    Grant explains how most laws against “sexual exploitation” are too vague to actually be enforceable, and how we can’t combat real sex trafficking unless we stop victimizing all sex workers. The consequences are high.
    “In Louisiana some women arrested for prostitution have been charged under a 200-year-old statute prohibiting “crimes against nature.” Those charged-disproportionately black women and transgender women-end up on the state sex-offender registry. In Texas a third prostitution arrest counts as an automatic felony. Women’s prisons are so overloaded that the state is rethinking the law to cut costs. In Chicago police post mug shots of all those arrested for solicitation online, a shaming campaign intended to target men who buy sex. But researchers at DePaul University found that 10 percent of the photos are of trans women who were wrongly gendered as men by cops and arrested as “johns.” A prostitution charge will haunt these women throughout the interlocking bureaucracies of their lives: filling out job applications, signing kids up for day care, renting apartments, qualifying for loans, requesting passports or visas.”

    This kind of dumbfounded me, as I knew the police weren’t the answer, but never occurred to me how they could be making things worse. Grant spent her entire piece combating feminists for perpetuating the concept that all sex workers are victims. I concept I still struggle to understand.
    “This war is spearheaded and defended largely by other women: a coalition of feminists, conservatives, and even some human rights activists who subject sex workers to poverty, violence, and imprisonment-all in the name of defending women’s rights,” she writes, continuing: “How have we arrived at this point, that in the name of “protecting” women, or even ensuring their “rights,” feminists are eager to take away their jobs and health care? Ramos, Steinem, and their allies deliberately conflate sex work and what they now call “sex trafficking” for their own reasons, not to advance the rights of sex workers. The result is-or should be-an international scandal.”

    After reading all of Grant’s eye opening piece, I’m not sure exactly where my mind rests on these issues. With my only exposure being reading, and watching a film, I still think sex work is a bad idea. And yes Meg, It’s safe to say, that I don’t even need to “check in with myself” to know that I will never date a sex professional, of any sex profession. But hey, as I said initially sex positive council to those willing and waiting to answering that age old question.
    Thanks!

    Posted by DworkinDaughter | February 11, 2013, 9:49 pm
  20. And, my bad I forgot to add paragraph spacing throughout, but the gist is there.

    Posted by DworkinDaughter | February 11, 2013, 10:03 pm
  21. Right.

    So, because the sex trade is bad, we should “scrap AIDS prevention funding & condoms for female sex workers in Calcutta” who have no other economic options.

    Women in Calcutta are also working as commercial surrogates for first-world families, working 14 hours as domestics or in fields from the age of 8, and being married off at 10.

    Women working in the sex trade in India have better health, and earn 4x as much, as individuals outside of it.

    http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-05-01/mumbai/29492868_1_prostitution-labour-market-work-force

    So — making the sex trade less safe will … well, ultimately force women to be less healthy working in the sex trade, or less healthy working under horrific conditions outside of it.

    Which…well? The utopia can only be created with “zero tolerance for the sex trade…” and in good-ol’ Maoist style…who cares if a few hundred-thousand third-world women die young and contract HIV?

    God — it’s been almost 50 years since the last great “cultural revolution.” Gosh-darn about time for a new one.

    Posted by Meg | February 11, 2013, 10:32 pm
  22. Right.

    So, because the sex trade is bad, we should “scrap AIDS prevention funding & condoms for female sex workers in Calcutta” who have no other economic options.

    Women in Calcutta are also working as commercial surrogates for first-world families, working 14 hours as domestics or in fields from the age of 8, and being married off at 10.

    Women working in the sex trade in India have better health, and earn 4x as much, as individuals outside of it.

    So — making the sex trade less safe will … well, ultimately force women to be less healthy working in the sex trade, or less healthy working under horrific conditions outside of it.

    Thoughts?

    The utopia can only be created with “zero tolerance for the sex trade…” and in good-ol’ Maoist style…who cares if a few hundred-thousand third-world women die young and contract HIV?

    God — it’s been almost 50 years since the last great “cultural revolution.” Gosh-darn about time for a new one.

    Posted by Meg | February 11, 2013, 10:34 pm
  23. Regarding your struggle with the concept that “feminists are perpetuating the idea that all sex workers are victims” … ”

    “Prostitution is paid rape.” +
    “Individuals who are Raped are victims” = “Sex Workers are Victims.”

    If you are going to construct prostitution as rape, please go the whole Catherine Mackinnon or Adrienne Rich route and construct all heterosexual intercourse as rape…

    I understand, sex workers are such a convenient straw-man… they are simultaneously the perfect victim of gendered oppression and the perfect villain to blame for the perpetuation of gendered oppression.

    It’s a lot easier to point fingers than recognize the way that gendered power influences our own lives and our own relationships, and the way that we personally perpetuate the very systems we’re criticizing.

    And it’s very comforting.

    But it’s selfish, and ultimately, this discourse is adding another layer of oppression onto a multiply oppressed group of people, largely women.

    Beyong Andre Lourde and Adrienne Rich, you might also try picking up something by Amber L. Hollibaugh.

    Posted by Meg | February 11, 2013, 11:06 pm
  24. But anyways, I’m happy you stumbled upon Melissa Gira Grant’s article!

    And since you get a lot out of reading, I also sincerely DO hope you extend your reading beyond web-published Farley/Ramos stuff… to some cannonical queer feminist writers: Adrienne Rich, Andre Lourde, and Amber L. Hollibaugh.

    Posted by Meg | February 11, 2013, 11:27 pm
  25. Don’t tell me what feminist authors I need to read, or what to research. I’ve checked myself as a traditional feminist, I’m starting there. I’m barely through Dworkin and Farley, as I move to thoroughly understand the motive behind their traditional stance. And please stop spamming her article, it has now over 24 responses, I just pray no one else has read.

    Posted by DworkinDaughter | February 12, 2013, 12:38 am
  26. Dworkindaughter,
    I would like to thank you for actually researching, both anti-sex work and pro-sex work feminists, and coming to your own conclusions.

    Personally for me, feminism is not about agreeing on a particular issue, but respecting (and encouraging) another person’s self autonomy in figuring out what is right for them.

    While we may never agree, I definitely encourage you to continue reading.

    Posted by Lily | February 12, 2013, 4:18 pm
  27. Also, I know that you may be resistant or think I am trying to persuade you, but if you would like to email me, I would love to suggest some feminist authors, as well as hear yours.

    If you are more interested with second wave feminism, I would definitely suggest reading up on Ellen Willis. She was a founder of the Red Stockings, but later split with them over their views on sexuality. She was the first person to coin the phrase “sex positive feminist,” but the majority of her writing doesn’t even touch upon sex work, but rather female sexual autonomy, and what that actually means.

    I don’t agree with everything she says, but she is differently worth a read if you are interested in feminist history and especially the bridge between second wave and third wave feminism.

    Posted by Lily | February 12, 2013, 4:25 pm
  28. Thanks guys, I appreciate it; I’ll look into both suggestions. I realize you’re not pitching ideas to persuade me from my own.

    In relation to the article, good on you Lily for being able to find a man, who will help you to break down the barriers and stigmatism.

    Thanks!

    Posted by DworkinDaughter | February 12, 2013, 10:38 pm
  29. That was both attention-grabbing also as insightful!

    Thank you for sharing your ideas with us.

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  31. you know as amazing as it turns out, those in the industry who manage to have a long-term relationship do have the strongest and most bonding relationships. It’s when you get past all that jealousy BS and learn that you’re loving and trusting adults, nothing can stand in the way. Plus your sex life becomes even more intense as you can communicate even better.

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  33. Excellent Cassandra, well said and well written article. You have some great insight and advice. I just read a related article at https://www.slixa.com/late-night/459-how-to-date-a-sex-worker-successfully-tips about how to successfully date a sex worker. Their points are not only good ones for dating a sex worker, but just Dating Anyone in general. There are some basic’s here that if you want to have a good relationship should always be maintained like good communication, work through insecurities, be respectful and like you pointed out, be supportive.

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