Interesting article on the Guardians commentisfree site today from Thierry Schaffauser, writing about his experiences as a sex worker and the complete idiocy of the arguments of Julie Bindel, whose reactionary feminism seems to be plaguing the pages of the Guardian these days. Excellent to have someone with direct experience offering their thoughts on these sorts of subjects, rather than professional opinion-makers. The conversation that followed, though full of the usual CiF dross, also had some nice bits…
After calling for the criminalisation of sex workers’ clients, Julie Bindel is now calling for a ban on sex workers’ advertisements. This is quite ironic coming from a person who claims to be denied her freedom of speech when the trans community protests against what it considerstransphobia. She says she is fighing exploitation: in fact, she is fighting against prostitution itself.
Her logic is always simple, not to say simplistic: the ban of adverts will “reduce the number of punters paying for sex”. But reducing the number of clients also means reducing sex workers’ incomes, and our ability to choose them.
I have been a sex worker for seven years. I started working on the street in Paris, which I will never forget due to the violence I suffered from the police, false clients trying to scam us to get freebies, and homophobic gay-bashers. I come from a country where I couldn’t advertise my services legally. What happens is that we are censored by most websites and magazines. When we place adverts, we need to use specific codified words, which change all the time since the police quickly realise that words like “massage” or “relaxation” can have very different meanings. The websites, newspapers, and magazines impose more and more difficult conditions on advertising, and make advertising more and more expensive.
Surprisingly the only magazine that is never hassled by the police is the one for which we need to pay the most expensive adverts – up to 400 euros. I suspect they use the extra money to pay off the police, but cannot prove it.
Yes, exploitation exists in the sex industry. Nobody denies that. But Bindel is driving a crusade against the very existence of sex work itself, not against exploitation. By making illegal all the means by which we can practise sex work, she can pretend that she never targets sex workers themselves, because she regards us merely as victims.
In fact, the criminalisation of the way sex work is organised and sold targets sex workers themselves. All economic transactions, and the fact of working indoors or with a colleague for our safety, leads us to break the law and prevents us from organising ourselves. The criminalisation of clients pushes us to find intermediaries who will organise the meeting with them and take a commission on our incomes.
Prohibition will never stop sex work – because sex work is an economic strategy for many women, migrants and minorities, because nothing can stop people from trying to improve their lives and because nothing can stop sexual desire. There have been numerous historical attempts to ban, eliminate or control us, but we, the sex workers, are still there, fighting for our freedom.
Art 4 Everyone? Surely not everyone? The Bank asked the A4E bosses in their luxuriously appointed Head Office.
“Yes, everyone,” we were told be a serious-faced spokesperson.
Even old people confined to their flats- and working-class people? we ventured.
“Yes ESPECIALLY them! We will be winching Richard Wentworth’s sculptures up and down the side of tower blocks, so they will be able to look out of their windows and see them. And if they don’t they will be KILLED. Because it is very important that they experience real culture as opposed to their own debased, piss-stained so-called culture.”
Tumble from here and report back yr findings.
Of course, it would be impossible for Larsen B to ‘desalinate’ in any significant form the Barents Sea. British Sea Power originally from Kendal, Cumbria, near my home town.