Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Belle de Jour: Naughty Scientist. Bring on the onslaught.

So with Belle de Jour outing herself (well, did she jump or was she pushed?) this week, both sides of the press are chucking in their two pence worth. Yet both the liberal and the tory press seem to be saying the same thing. So I'm going to say something different.
I've read in both The Guardian and the Daily Hate today articles saying Dr Brooke Magnanti (yes she's a doctor as well as a whore; mindblowing, isn't it) is 'glamorising' prostitution. Advertising it, even. But I still feel like they are missing the point.
I am a feminist. I know the facts, and I'm sure she does. Many, many women are forced into prostitution. Many women (and men) are sexually abused as children and go on to be prostitutes. Many prostitutes are on drugs. Many prostitutes are raped and hurt by disgusting, evil men. But that was NOT Brooke's experience. It does not negate those other experiences. It is just ONE PERSON'S EXPERIENCE. You can quote any manner of statistics, and they are true, I'm certain, but it does not mean it happened to her.
It does not change the fact that her blog was well-written, and people enjoyed reading it, and she enjoyed writing it. The TV show is a bit of fun, like Footballers Wives or something. It's not the only example of a prostitute's experience on the planet. I think the horrific murders by serial killer Steve Wright illustrated the other side quite plainly. Remember that? Probably not. You might remember Jeremy Clarkson thought it was funny (twat).
But back to the other side of it- no, ONE other side of it. I realise this is a higely divisive issue, but personally, I want women to make their own choices about how they earn money. No one wants to grow up to become a prostitute, but some women want that WAG lifestyle without having to put up with the footballer. And even that is stereotyping, because it's not like prostitutes are either earning a few grand a night or standing on the street corner, there's plenty of 'working class' or 'middle class' ones working from home, that no one even knows about, because you're not meant to (unless they dare to write a blog, detailing the reality). It's not something you advertise in the phonebox, unless of course, you do.
I don't want to dictate to women what to do for a living. I read today that it's about women being 'used' but guess what, some women (as well as men) like to be used. Some women can dissociate themselves from sex for money; god, there are enough 20 year olds married to 80 year olds to prove that point. And who am I to judge if that's right or wrong? Between CONSENTING ADULTS (please take note)- it's none of my business. It's none of YOUR business!
I don't even agree with criminalising the punter, because it shouldn't be illegal. Our bodies are our own, it's up to us what we do with them, and if someone wants to buy them, and we are willing to sell. I repeat, this isn't the case if the woman is being forced into it. And I understand poverty forces women into it. But poverty forces people out the door every day to do all sorts of unbearable shit. That's how it is.
The 'happy hooker' isn't a myth. I trust Dan Savage, and he knows many.

2 comments:

Alexa said...

Many, many women are forced into prostitution. Many women (and men) are sexually abused as children and go on to be prostitutes. Many prostitutes are on drugs. Many prostitutes are raped and hurt by disgusting, evil men.

Many, many women are forced into other lines of work as well. Many women (and men) are sexually abused as children and go on to be CEOs, or police officers, or bank executives, etc. Many CEOs, police officers, and bank executives are on drugs. Many CEOS, police officers, and bank executives are raped and hurt by disgusting, evil men.

What makes you think those particular points are so relevant to women and men who work in prostitution? The fact that they occur to any particular person rarely has anything to do with them entering sex work.

No one wants to grow up to become a prostitute,

That's not true, either. Tracy Quan, author of Manhattan Call Girl, knew at age 9 she wanted to be a prostitute. Amanda Brooks, the author of two books on becoming an escort knew when she was 16 she wanted to be an escort.

While I appreciate the fact that you frame this in terms of women making their own choices, if you're going to do that with "qualifiers" you've included in your post, make sure they don't belie your bias (as slight as you think it might be).

Yes, people have bad experiences working as prostitutes, as they do in just about every other line of work on the planet. We all acknowledge that. However, the reality is that a huge majority of prostitutes have experiences that are not too far removed from what Belle experienced, mainstream media portrayals to the contrary notwithstanding. ;-)

lightupvirginmary said...

Ha, I knew I'd get berated for this post, but I didn't think it would be from your perspective!
I agree with your first paragraph; that doesn't negate my point (or the statistics). It IS relevant I think; that damaged people seek out dangerous/ unconventional jobs. But that's not the point I was making anyway. I am not judging on that issue; I am merely saying I see both sides- the supposed glamour and squalour.
As for someone wanting to grow up to be a prostitute, just because you can cite one or two examples doesn't mean that's a common thing. I think it must be pretty rare.
I am actually on your side; we are just coming at it from different perspectives.