Conversations On Buying Sex And The Women Who Sell It

Inconvenient Conversations

We will be starting a series next week on prostitution or if you prefer, sex work. It will not be for the faint at heart. What we will be covering are the realities about why and how women become prostitutes. It will be done in our style – “Insightful, Inspiring and In-depth,” never judgmental but clearly offering views that might not fit the stereotypical ones.

Two Contributors will help walk us through this topic:

Katelyn Roth, who lives in the United States and advised me that she will be participating in an upcoming conference in her community on human trafficking and the sex trade. She will bring us highlights of those conversations as well as her understanding of the psychology of female sex workers.

Neelma Tashfeen will give us an insight into the lives of prostitutes in her country of Pakistan. Her posts will be presented in narrative form with representatives of the various “categories” of sex workers telling their stories. Pakistan has a very entrenched class system, so Neelma will tell the stories of these women from each class, starting with the lowest.

The Framework

prostitution
The oldest “profession” in the world

The decision to do this series was made against the background of this blog’s fundamental aim being inspiring women and all those who love them – no matter the status of the women in society.

My personal journey crossed paths with prostitutes and sex workers on several occasions. I have worked with them in the country of my birth, Jamaica, long before it became politically correct to use the term “sex workers” through a small not-for-profit that served those women who entered the business to provide for their families. My professional life in the correctional system here in Canada would again put me in immediate contact with many former sex workers. My professional relationship with them was very intense, as my interactions were with women on the maximum security unit of a federal institution, serving time for crimes committed while “at work.”

What this particular post and others over the next while will do, is to create a framework for our upcoming conversations with Neelma and Katelyn.  You might have noticed my dancing between the two words – prostitution and sex worker. This has been a topical tango for a few years now that remains somewhat unresolved.

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Sex Worker or Prostitute?

Let us first have a quick look at the conversation around the “re-branding” of prostitution to sex worker. Here is an interesting quote from Sarah Ditum on this movement:

When we talk about “sex work”, we endorse the idea that sex is labour for women and leisure for men – men who have the social and economic power to act as a boss class in the matter of intercourse. And most damningly of all, we accept that women’s bodies exist as a resource to be used by other people.

prostitution
Sex for sale

Precedents and labels matter, especially when they inform the treatment, response and regard to life – all life. The argument offered by Ditum on the naming of the oldest “profession” in our history – prostitution – to the more politically correct “sex worker,” has a lot of merit to me. Yes, again my position might cause consternation among those who think that being liberal means you unquestioningly agree with everything and that you hold the party-line. That has never been my style. Questions are meant to be asked on every issue. Only then each of us can arrive to our own conclusions and keep asking more questions to continue our personal evolution and deepen our understanding.

So what’s wrong with saying “sex worker”? For one thing, it’s a deliberately broad term. It covers street walkers and escorts, strippers and phone sex operators, dominatrixes and dildo retailers, as well as their respective managers. Clearly, all these things are not the same, and any theory or legislation that attempts to treat them as identical is liable to founder on the object that not all sex work is like that. “Sex work” is also a studiously gender agnostic phrase: “prostitute” is so ingrained as feminine that it’s necessary to specify “male prostitute” when referring to a man, while “sex worker” suggests a figure who could be male or female. This may be well intended, but it’s misleading: the majority of those in prostitution are women, and those who purchase sex are almost exclusively men. When it comes to prostitution, gender neutrality is a lie.

human trafficking
Trafficking and the sex worker

In my view, and clearly that of Dittum, when a woman enters prostitution whether forcibly (through trafficking) or as a mean to an end, it is not a job that she earns a pension at the end of her tenure, nor does she gets monthly benefits such as healthcare, eye exams, and unemployment insurance – not for the most part and most certainly not everywhere in the world. Yes, while political correctness allows us to be sensitive to those who do become “sex workers” out of choice, it shrouds the reality of those who did not have a choice.

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Read Dittum’s full article here and share your comments below whether you believe that all those involved in the sex industry are “workers,” and whether such a label masks the harm and destruction of lives that many women around the world are suffering.

Inform Yourself

Here are some other links that you might also find interesting, leading up to Neelma’s post next week on the life of one Pakistani woman of the lower class who is in the industry.

Neelma Tashfeen
Neelma Tashfeen
Claudette P. Esterine blog
Katelyn Roth

Until next week, when we present the first in this series of posts on this very personal yet public issue, decision, and often times violent matter, do check out those links and share your thoughts with us in the comments below. Be sure to Subscribe and receive a daily email update of our articles. You can also get acquainted with our featured Contributors’ work by reading their latest posts. Neelma recently published “A Peek Into The Daily Lives Of 3 Pakistani Women,” and Katelyn guided us through “9 Things Every Woman Should Do This Fall.” Check them out and share your thoughts in the comments section of each post.

Have a great Thursday!

 

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47 thoughts on “Conversations On Buying Sex And The Women Who Sell It

  1. Men who pay escorts for sex shouldn’t be vilified, looked down upon or seen as losers.But rather they’re men who know what they want and aren’t afraid to go out and get it.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Everyone has a right to their opinion, so thank you for sharing yours.

  2. […] Almost 11 years ago, on January 28, 2005, I wrote a post on my first ever blog about such a life-choice – having to do with whether to stay on a job to pay my bills or leave and help keep the integrity of all women.  It was not a decision made from some noble place of my heart, nor was it made because I am a prude or some moralizing fanatic. I simply decided not to facilitate the objectification of women as one small step to keep my personal integrity and that of my daughter and to do my part to end this type of abuse against women. It is something that I continue to do, even in small measure, through this blog as demonstrated when we did the series last year on the sex trade and trafficking. […]

  3. […] Whether that is finding your community spirit and writing to your representative in your area about human trafficking, holding a mirror up and checking for signs of hurt and wounds that might be affecting your […]

  4. […] as we wrap up this four-part series on prostitution, I will expose another facet of this ugly trade in Pakistan. This is the story of a […]

  5. […] in Islamabad, Pakistan. Subscribe to follow up with this series on prostitution and be sure to read Part 1 and Part 2 – conversations about the sex trade and the women selling it and a look at the […]

  6. […] progressed, and for our Roundup purposes the week begins Saturday, there I was thinking that our series of articles on prostitution would be the most read this […]

  7. […] in the sex trade through lenses of compassion. The rationale for doing this series is detailed here and Neelma Tashfeen, our Contributor from Pakistan, will post next week Wednesday the third […]

  8. I think the term “sex worker” shouldn’t be used. It makes things like prostitution and escorting a thing to be proud of. In your post you put some become a “sex worker” to make ends meet and I think that is a load of crap. There are many different ways a woman can make ends meet without using her body. Women are not property to be used. It’s not right at all. Every time a woman let’s her body be used a piece of her dies. It is definitely a topic that has to be discussed and I applaud you for bringing it to the light. There are so many different angles this topic can go and I’m excited to read what’s next.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Thank you for your very candid comment, it really is appreciated. I do not have the luxury to call someone’s decision to sell their bodies “a load of crap.” because it is not my style to judge nor am I walking in her shoe. I might think that there are other options, ones that she might think beneath her – no pun intended – but in the end it is her decision. Yes, I agree with you on the blanket naming of everyone “sex workers.” Again, thanks so much! 🙂

  9. Its definitely a conversation worth having. I do have to say that the topic is never a thing that has a place in my life unless I am traveling. Over and over again, while traveling through foreign countries, I am repeatedly propositioned by both local men and men from back home. Its really depressing.

    1. Ms Claudette

      The conversation is not for everyone. We here pride ourselves in being able to have them and stand in the gap with women all over who are facing some of these issues. Namaste. 🙂

  10. This is an interesting topic but it is very depressing. Thanks for being brave and putting this out to the world. We need to face our society problems!

    1. Ms Claudette

      Yes, we do need to discuss them. Acknowledgement is the first step to healing. Namaste 🙂

  11. I feel sad that some women had to do this because they need the money and couldn’t find a decent job. But, there really are some other ways. There are a lot of other things you can do to earn money.

    1. Ms Claudette

      It is sad and yes you and I might never consider it but some do feel that it the only viable one. Do I necessarily agree, except for the cases where the women are forced into it – no I don’t but it is not for me to judge. Namaste 🙂

  12. I am very interested in this series, and am sad to hear their stories, but think it will make for interesting content. Getting to know what was going through her mind during the times she was engaged in acts interests me very much, from a psychological point of view.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Awesome that you are interested and we look forward to present what we know. Namaste. 🙂

  13. I hate to think that theres so many that feel that theres no other choice but to sell themselves but I do not judge because Im not in their shoes.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Yes, there are many who think that way and so it is real for them. Then there are even more who have no choice as they have been forced into it. Either way, my choice is not to judge although I will discuss it to better understand. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  14. Elizabeth O.

    This topic is not openly discussed by women and I applaud you for talking about it as we all need to face the fact that there will always be woman who work in this line of business. Hopefully this will open many eyes and hearts.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Thank you Elizabeth, thank you! 🙂

  15. It’s so sad and very much hurts my heart that so many women across the globe feel as if they either have not choice but to sell their bodies, or that they are forced to do so.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Yes, it is indeed a sad state of affairs that we hope to even help one through. Thanks for your comment and visit! 🙂

  16. What a great topic to blog about. It’s so sad that these women go unprotected in every way. Great post!

    1. Ms Claudette

      I am glad that you think it is a good topic to discuss. Thank you so much for the word of encouragement. Namaste 🙂

  17. victoria

    This is really sad. I can’t imagine that woman do sell her body just for the money. selling body is not a job. better if find an new and real job

    1. Ms Claudette

      Yes, it would be better to find a “real” job the problem is that in many parts of the world or even in many cities, there are no “real” jobs. That’s the sad part.

  18. engineermommy

    Interesting conversation. It’s so sad & tragic that some women resort to this!

    1. Ms Claudette

      “Resort” – I like your applying that word to the situation as that is exactly what many have had to do. Thanks for you comment. 🙂

  19. I think it’s sad that a person sells her/his body ust for money

    1. Ms Claudette

      Could not agree with you more. 🙁

  20. This will always be a controversial topic and it’s good to see someone opening the pandora box. However, it is a topic that I’m not at all comfortable because so many women have to “choose” this life because they have children and they can’t find a job to feed them. It’s really sad…

    1. Ms Claudette

      Yes, it is controversial and sad. What is more sad is exactly what you said – that so many women have to “choose” this way of life. Thank you for at least commenting. Namaste. 🙂

  21. how about that sugar daddy site. I dont think those girls will call themselves as a sex worker.. very sad

    1. Ms Claudette

      I so agree with you! Thanks for that input! 🙂

  22. I commend you for digging into this topic! My only “issue” with the sex trade is when women are taken against their will, bartered, traded, sold for sex work. That to me is just unforgivable! Women who CHOSE to do this – that is their right. It is not within MY personal moral beliefs however I do not judge the women based on the choices they make, as long as THEY are making the decision and it IS a CHOICE.

    1. Ms Claudette

      I absolutely agree with you – that those for whom it is a “choice”, who had other options but decided that this way was more lucrative, their best and most talented way to make a living – I say “go girl!” However, I venture to say that that is not the majority and so like you my heart bleeds for those who have ben smuggled into the trade either by people who want to make money off them, or through lack of other opportunities and poverty. Yes, we are indeed “digging” in but to bring heart to the story – not judgement. A similar approach to your comment for which I thank you! Namaste 🙂

  23. I didn’t realize the language was changing, so I found that really interesting. Like you said though, I do think of it as being primarily females.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Oh yes it is changing and the question is – is that in the best interest overall, what true purpose does it serve, does it shroud the despair of many women who are in the trade? Funny you should say that because part of the argument is that the word “prostitution” is almost always associated with women and there are male prostitues. So “sex worker” is a more “generic”, cover all term if you would??? Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  24. I’m not wild about “sex worker” because I think it cleans up and even legitimizes what is for the vast majority of participants a very mean and de-humanizing business. There may in fact be some women who choose prostitution willingly. Or do they because they experienced sexual abuse at home? I understand there’s a very strong link there, and if that’s the case, is that truly free choice?

  25. A woman is worth more than her body. So sad that this has to happen.

    1. Ms Claudette

      It is indeed very sad! 🙂

  26. sicorra

    This is sad and depressing. I know it happens over and over again, but it is difficult to read about.

    1. Ms Claudette

      I know but we do have to face the uncomfortable issues along with the pleasant.

  27. Robin Masshole mommy

    I find it extremely sad that a woman is made to sell her body for money because she can’t find a real job.

    1. Ms Claudette

      I hear you! 🙁

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