The idea that sex workers are ‘used’ or that their bodies are commodities is a fallacy. But many feminists use this argument to claim that sex work is degrading, anti feminist, commodifies women or is harmful to them. Moralists (who are sometimes indistinguishable from the radical feminists) use the argument to justify looking down on sex workers or pitying them because they’re “degraded”. The radfem myths of ‘false consciousness’ and sexworkers’ lack of agency are also heavily dependent on seeing them as used bodies, as sex slaves.
But if you think that sex workers are used by clients, that idea is actually made up of several patriarchal ideas about gender and gender rules.
Leave it to the British tabloid The Sun, which in the past has brought us such considered coverage as "FREDDIE STARR ATE MY HAMSTER", to approach the topics of sex work and relationship advice with all the subtlety of a neon-painted brick: last month they ran a piece with the screaming headline, "I had sex with 1,000 men as £700-a-time hooker ... now I'm an infidelity counsellor."
Take a moment to get the sighs out of your system and it turns out the piece contains fairly straightforward - and even considerate - advice from former sex worker Rebecca Dakin, such as, "I just want to help people stay in relationships. My knowledge comes from experience. When I was an escort about 60 per cent of my clients were married, and that gives me a pretty unique insight into how men work and what they want."
That didn't stop website Salon from weeping and wailing about the piece, with Tracy Clark Florey unloading on the topic, playing into the tired notion of "bad sex workers versus good sex workers" by saying, of another piece by Kitty Stryker, "Her advice boils down to this: talk with your partner.
Rather than giving out grudging blow jobs like doggie treats, communicate openly, honestly and without judgment about your mutual needs and desires. What a concept."
But boiling the particular sort of relationship advice espoused by Dakin down to "have more sex with your husband", it is certainly not exclusive to "racy" editorial; Bettina Arndt has been doling out similar rhetoric for years. So why characterise it as specific to sex work?
What sets The Sun editorial and the Salon piece apart is that The Sun actually allowed a sex worker to speak for herself, and in an era where much of the dialogue about sex work is dominated by non-sex workers, that's becoming increasingly rare.
Madam Dora DuFran was one of the most prominent and successful madams in the Old West. Her story is legendary among historians that study the way madams, brothels, and prostitution worked. Madam DuFran was a true entrepreneur and feminist. She knew that to survive the time, she needed to be the best and have the best girls underneath her. She is a true success story of the time as she started off as a prostitute and ended up carrying her own business.
The vibrant Red Light District in Amsterdam is one of the most important, but also one of the most controversial tourist attractions in the Netherlands. On all but two small streets, women sell their bodies for sex. In the Barndesteeg and the Bloedstraat, one can find transgender or transsexual prostitutes. Men are nowhere to be found behind windows. Instead, they operate in parks, gay bars, gay clubs, chat rooms and illegal brothels.
Male prostitution is hardly discussed in the Netherlands, but it is out there – in every province, region and city. It is therefore important to raise awareness about the existence of these boys and men. During our quest to paint a picture of male prostitution in the country, we were often surprised by the helpfulness of the community even while being shocked about some of the details of the business.
Male prostitution is characterized by three major taboos. First, receiving money for sex is not generally accepted (from either male or female clients). Second, homosexuality is still stigmatized. And third, men are not “supposed” to be the victims of prostitution or sexual abuse, which often leads to their not seeking professional help when they need it (Repetur, 2011).
I always thought that Facebook was the social network for "fun stuff," while LinkedIn was the social network for "work stuff." I guess I need to change my definition of "work stuff." LinkedIn has just singled out escorts as specifically unwelcome on their platform, and changed their terms of service to banish users promoting sex in exchange for money.
To all you sex workers out there (I'm told you prefer the term "sex worker"!), be aware that this is not an overall ban on promotion of adult services on the LinkedIn platform. You can still promote yourself as a porn star or fetish model on LinkedIn, and it would still be legal and compliant with the updated LinkedIn terms of service. But you can no longer promote "escort services or prostitution" on your LinkedIn profile.
LinkedIn updated their terms of service to ban escort services on Monday. (You have to scroll two-thirds of the way down the page to get to the juicy part). In Section 10 of the terms, entitled LinkedIn "DOs" and “DON’Ts," the policy has been revised to state that LinkedIn users cannot "upload, post, email, InMail, transmit or otherwise make available or initiate any content that...promotes escort services or prostitution" -- "[e]ven if it is legal where you are located."
There's the rub. Sex work and escort services are legal in several countries -- and some parts of the United States, if I'm to believe the little cards that cab drivers hand me whenever I'm in Las Vegas.
In this clip from "Oprah: Where Are They Now?", Heidi takes cameras inside this newly updated brothel, showing off recent renovations -- ever seen a $6,000 showerhead? -- and revealing plans for the continued renovations to make the brothel even more inviting. Of course, Heidi says, it's been a lot of work to get Dennis Hof's Love Ranch up to her standards.
"We bought it from a 200-year-old pimp," Heidi jokes in the clip. "Really, this [brothel] was very similar to a women's penitentiary. Even how you entered: You had to go through all these weird bars and buzzers, and someone's peering out the little peephole, scoping you up and down. It was so dark in here, you had to be escorted with a little flashlight down these hallways. And it was kind of scary... It was really a creepy feeling."