Up Front by Emma Hart

Read Post

Up Front: Eat Up Your Brothelly

186 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 4 5 6 7 8 Newer→ Last

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Sure, but if anyone is reflected badly upon by sex trade it's the buyer - not the seller (IMHO).

    Why? I knew a rent boy one of whose regulars (and a perfect gentleman) was an elderly man who only came to terms with his homosexuality very late in life, and to be brutally frank found "the scene" ageist, scary and unsatisfying? Do you think hanging around public toilets or beats (with the very real dangers involved) or being treated like shit by youth-obsessed scene queens would have "reflected" better on him?

    You may beg to differ, but it seems to me that nobody was being ill-used or 'exploited' in that transaction. If anything, it strikes me a damn sight more honest and mutually respectful than your average Friday night hook up.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    They just don't tally with what I see on a daily basis.

    And what is it that you see on a daily basis? Do you clean windows or install phones at escort agencies? Do you work at an AIDS clinic, or do pro bono legal work for a prostitutes' union? Do tell.

    I tell you what I used to see every day going to my primary school: a nice and very dressed up lady standing by the side of the road next to a sports car, who always seemed cheerful and always said hi. And yes, she was there at eight in the morning. I can't tell you how she felt about her job, or if it made her feel happier and more fulfilled than my mother or my father or my teachers at school. You just can't make those kinds of assumptions - and why would you?

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    "Prostitution is a combination of sex and commerce. Which of these are you opposed to?"

    There are occupations that you boast about at those hypothetical cocktail parties, there are those that you mention in passing, and then there are the ones where you try and change the subject: prostitute, IRD Auditor, proctologist, bin man (person), etc.

    Doesn't mean they aren't useful professions that add value to society, and may well be a source of pride and enjoyment for the worker.

    A friend of mine's wife is an auditor for the IRD. He tends not to mention it casually, not because he's ashamed of her and what she does, but because of the snide reactions he generally gets. It's not worth the hassle.

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg,

    And what is it that you see on a daily basis?

    What I see: (as I said upthread):

    But I don't see dentists standing around on K Road soliciting work every morning as I walk to work. I see some of the most vulnerable and desperate women (mostly) in society. Women that appear to have little other choice. And I see buyers as men (mostly) who are taking advantage of this situation.

    And what you see:

    a nice and very dressed up lady standing by the side of the road next to a sports car, who always seemed cheerful and always said hi

    I guess we live in different parts of our respective towns.

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • philipmatthews,

    Why? I knew a rent boy one of whose regulars (and a perfect gentleman) was an elderly man who only came to terms with his homosexuality very late in life, and to be brutally frank found "the scene" ageist, scary and unsatisfying? Do you think hanging around public toilets or beats (with the very real dangers involved) or being treated like shit by youth-obsessed scene queens would have "reflected" better on him?

    There is also a history of sex workers catering to those with intellectual and physical disabilities who don't get much otherwise (UK example). Which is why IHC supported prostitution law reform in NZ. Those scenarios are not demeaning to either client or worker.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2007 • 656 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I guess we live in different parts of our respective towns.

    No, actually I lived next to the Alfa Romeo motor car factory, if you must know. In that area street prostitution at the moment is controlled by an Albanian crime ring I believe. But the point is that both of us only see what happens at street level. Prostitution happens in a lot of places that you don't see. (And it pays not to make too many assumptions about what you do see, I must say.)

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg,

    But the point is that both of us only see what happens at street level. Prostitution happens in a lot of places that you don't see.

    True.

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    They just don't tally with what I see on a daily basis. I don't know how representative those blogged experiences are.

    As Giovanni has pointed out, street prostitution isn't representative either. We're lucky enough to have fabulous solid data about prostitution in New Zealand, and 11% of prostitutes are street workers, roughly the same number who work as higher-end "escorts". (That article goes on to lay out the reasons why the Chch numbers are well dodgy.)

    So (that taken into account), in my city there are only about 30-40 street workers. Even on Manchester Street I'm only going to see a couple, and I think it would be very dangerous to reach any conclusions on that basis, particularly about what's going on inside their heads. My daughter's "That woman's dressed like Faith" is about as far as I'd go.

    Also: what Jeremy and Giovanni and Philip said.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Gio, I'm only aiming for a slightly more balanced view of this business than focusing entirely on the people who got something good out of it. There's a shitload of people who suffer majorly at the hands of it, and if you can't see that, you're not being honest. I wish it weren't that way, but it is.

    I'm also talking about my direct experiences of the places and people, which actually are quite a lot of people because I've got some extremely dodgy mates who've had a lot to do with prostitutes, and I've socialized with them (the prostitutes) extensively, talked a great deal about their experiences. I've actually been in a wide sample of the places I'm talking about, either meeting up, or because that's where the people (both mates and prostitutes) live. I've seen them cracked up out of their minds, heard about the sick shit (as they put it) that they have had to do, the difficult and violent customers they've had, the exploitative bosses, the constant run-ins with the law, the deportations, the diseases they've caught. I've heard their crazy talk, their criminal plotting, their attitudes to their co-workers.

    I'm yet to meet any that have said it's something they wanted for their own kids, and they're hardly in a position to be judgmental. They just happen to know from personal experience, that it is a business that grinds a lot of people down real hard.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Gio, I'm only aiming for a slightly more balanced view of this business than focusing entirely on the people who got something good out of it. There's a shitload of people who suffer majorly at the hands of it, and if you can't see that, you're not being honest. I wish it weren't that way, but it is.

    Nobody has ever said this isn't the case. In fact I think you'll find I said the opposite. It still doesn't make prostitution "wrong" for everyone and in absolute terms. Nor does it allow you to say that it is wrong because it's the only prostitution there is, which is what you've repeatedly been trying to do here. That is patently, demonstrably untrue.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • st ephen,

    One of those bitchy travel writers once described ESOL teaching abroad as a refuge for dull people with no talents, abilities or achievements beyond the fact that they happened to have been born into a native-English speaking community.

    So, nothing to brag about then. Perhaps 'having sex for money' falls into the same category, regardless of any perceived moral dimension?
    (That's not to say that there aren't particularly brilliant teachers or sex workers or used-house salesmen or whatever. But maybe introducing a higher hurdle for entry into the work-force would help raise job status...)

    dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 254 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Dude, I've never said it's morally wrong. I wouldn't have been associating with these people and making friends with them if I felt that way. I'm just giving my perspective, which is actually mostly their perspective, on the matter. It's not just like any other business, it's a pretty unique one. It's not even so much like businesses that are apparently quite close to it, like stripping. There's something very different about actually fucking people. Sure that's a societal prejudice, but it colors everything about the game.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Nobody has ever said this isn't the case. In fact I think you'll find I said the opposite. It still doesn't make prostitution "wrong" for everyone and in absolute terms.

    I don't think that's what Ben has said at all, and I think it's worth at least respecting his direct experience and contact with the industry, rather than putting words in his mouth.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Cheers Russell, but I'll still apologize for the use of language that could be called emotive about the prostitutes, like 'sucking cocks' and 'whorehouses'. It's just so common when I put myself in the mindset of the conversations. Working girls don't tend to hold illusions about themselves, even if they insist on better language from their customers. I guess I should have considered how I tend to feel about being called a 'code-monkey'. Yeah it's actually what I am and what I tend to call myself, but it's not my job title nor something I want my bosses saying, except perhaps as a joke.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg,

    We're lucky enough to have fabulous solid data about prostitution in New Zealand, and 11% of prostitutes are street workers...

    Thanks Emma, that's interesting. I'll concede that my view on prostitution is coloured by the street workers I see. And no, I don't actually know what goes on in their heads. I still see these workers as not being in a position to negotiate a fair deal with their clients.

    Hopefully the remaining 89% have better and safer working conditions.

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    But aren't all the 'dodgy' things that Ben is talking about a function of our weird hangups about the nitty-gritty of this business, rather than a direct result of the business itself? Like, he seems to be saying that it's the chicken, and Gio is saying it's totally the egg. Or something.

    (It would be really inappropriate to embed Ludacris' 'Ho' video right here, wouldn't it?)

    PS ETA And also: the patriarchy, yadda yadda.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    It still boils down to an occupation (as in many others) that can be good or bad employment. As in all jobs, experience helps and with prostitution, if one can combine that with education, it can be a lucrative job.
    As society exists now, it is deemed that not everyone gets to eat apple pie, and prostitution can be a means to get by. There are heaps of jobs like that. Sex sells simple. Advertising agencies will agree. Hell, they promote heroin chic, tits and bums, men and women in that ever alluring impossible position (that Ben's acquaintances probably can do) with the appropriate bulge. Models for these ads or catwalks starve themselves to appear as they have been sold by their agent who is flogging them off for the highest dollar to make sure their cut is enabling their lifestyle.Bet these people have a few tales too.
    Not all prostitutes get a wonderful lifestyle, not all get to the playboy mansion, but some make a good living (out of it) and others pass on info to educate their peers. Those I suspect are the tales one hears that Ben talks of. At least they are alive, they eat, take drugs?, and will have somewhere to sleep.It is a living. Streetwise? I bet.One day they might be dead. Me too. That's life.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart,

    Thanks, Danielle, you have articulated something that was nagging at the back of my mind about the schism between Gio's and Ben's points of view.

    Let's go for the mid-ground...

    Te Ika A Maui - Whakatane… • Since Oct 2008 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • richard,

    I must admit, this contours of this debate are starting to seem more than a little familiar on PA.

    But as a purely logical matter, simply pointing to individuals who are happy, well adjusted prostitutes with blogs does very little to substantiate any claims one may want to make about the industry as a whole. Certainly finding some examples of X that are not Y disproves statements of the form "all X are Y". However, these existence proofs say nothing about the weaker (but more relevant) statements "Most X are Y" or even "Many X are Y".

    Ben's comments struck me as particularly interesting and refreshingly honest (big ups, hat tips and all that!), in that he appears to be well informed and genuinely sympathetic and to have checked his judgypants at the door, but it would be hard to take his comments as the basis for arguing "it would be a good thing if the sex industry was bigger than it is already", whereas you could probably find some leverage for the proposition "it would actually be better if the sex industry was somewhat smaller than it is today" -- nor does Martin's squeamishness seem particularly at odds with Ben's more informed commentary.

    (And I guess one difference between dentistry, banking and prostitution is that only one of those professions would be likely to be chosen by someone who was looking to support a P-habit. I am not sure what conclusion one draws from that, but it seems there is at least one fairly clear difference.)

    Not looking for New Engla… • Since Nov 2006 • 268 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    And I guess one difference between dentistry, banking and prostitution is that only one of those professions would be likely to be chosen by someone who was looking to support a P-habit.

    I'm going to guess that members of all three of those professions support a P habit in NZ. Banking and dentistry are probably harder to get into and make enough money off if you've already got the habit however.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    And I guess one difference between dentistry, banking and prostitution is that only one of those professions would be likely to be chosen by someone who was looking to support a P-habit

    Wrong.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    rather than putting words in his mouth.

    "What's inherently wrong with finding out your son is sucking cocks for a living?"... "Being denied to work in a whorehouse is something you'd probably get over"... I don't think it qualifies as me putting words in Ben's mouth to be completely honest. And I respect his experience just fine. It's not as if I have this image that every prostitute is Shirley McLaine and every pimp is Jack Lemmon, you know. I'd just like it if part of the picture didn't become all of the picture by virtue of shrewd wordplay.

    (And I guess one difference between dentistry, banking and prostitution is that only one of those professions would be likely to be chosen by someone who was looking to support a P-habit. I am not sure what conclusion one draws from that, but it seems there is at least one fairly clear difference.)

    Eh? I don't even know what this is supposed to mean. Cocaine is a pretty upmarket drug. Would you say that practicing law is bad because some people use it to support their cocaine habit? I'm just confused now.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Well, dentists already have access to good drugs.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    And I respect his experience just fine. It's not as if I have this image that every prostitute is Shirley McLaine and every pimp is Jack Lemmon, you know. I'd just like it if part of the picture didn't become all of the picture by virtue of shrewd wordplay.

    He's apologised for his choice of words, but I expect he's correct in saying that these are phrases the sex workers he has spoken to use themselves.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I'm going to guess that members of all three of those professions support a P habit in NZ. Banking and dentistry are probably harder to get into and make enough money off if you've already got the habit however.

    Quite. I imagine the approach to care and support is a bit different too.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 4 5 6 7 8 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.