delve a little deeper....
Once upon a time there was a lovely young woman who lived in the deepest darkest part of Essex. Not content with her dreary suburban life she went on an adventure to find fame and fortune. She arrived in the Big City of London and started her quest to find her place in the world at a brightly lit cavern of twinkly lights and sparkly thongs. This place was called Stringfellows and was run by a wizened old man with golden locks.
One day the lovely young woman met a TV producer who offered her a chance to embrace the public's love she so desperately craved and she appeared on the telly box in Essex Wives. Our media princess had finally found her place in life and all of a sudden she was inundated with offers from the scrolls of the red top to appear betwixt their pages with her boobies out! Our heroine revelled in her fortune and like Mr Benn the shopkeeper kept appearing as if from nowhere all over the telly boxes, scrolls of the red tops and other esteemed tomes such as Zoo and Nuts. So loved by the public, she was given the esteemed title of The Poor Man's Jordan.
But what was our fair maiden missing? What does every young girl desire with all her heart? A prince of course! Luckily a wise spirit known as MTV cast a magic spell upon her, enabling her to choose the man of her dreams. They named this deep, spiritual process leading to a sacred marriage Who'll Take Her Up the Aisle?
As the years went by our princess fell slightly into obscurity, however the plucky lass worked hard to keep the public from forgetting her. She was not deterred by being kicked out of The Celebrity Big Brother House first, even before Michel Barrymore and Maggot from Goldie Looking Chain and forged on to make the public love her. In 2004 she opened her heart to News of The World for a pot of golden coins about an enchanting tryst she had with a football player. You go girl!
Of course, we mere mortals should not mock. We all make bad decisions and life sometimes leads us down a path full of nettles and brambles and ultimately we all need to find a way to pay the bills. So, let us not judge her. She wasn't the first to trade on her looks or her tits and she sure won't be the last.
Moving on to the present day (dear reader, I do not have the wherewithal to come up with fairy tale puns for Trust Me - I'm A Holiday Rep, The Games, E4's Fool Around... with Jodie Marsh, Back to Reality, Come Dine With Me and The Weakest Link, to name a few!) Our princess had now grown older, wiser; more muscley and realised that getting her baps out and shouting at people was not her way anymore. She was destined for better things. She wanted to help people. Now who would need my help she thought; who is already marginalised, stigmatised, living under dangerous laws and guaranteed to provide salacious viewing?
Our princess thought for a while but really couldn't think of anyone... Blessed with great destiny, The wraith of Great Fortune appeared in a puff of purple smoke! He was a producer of a small mysterious telly box channel, so tiny and special noone had heard of it, but he had a job for our heroine!
Off out into the big wide world did our intrepid adventurer go! She followed the path weaved by the great Louis Theroux, she searched for rare breeds in the manner of Sir David Attenborough and forded steams like Arwen and found herself some super specimens to dissect and sneer at. She had found some hookers and made some telly!
The world of the Twitter was stirred, not since the time of Ladeez on bank notes had twitter been so frothed and divided! What had our heroine uncovered? What had she shared with the world?!
Well, I couldn't do it justice myself so I'll let you read a few quotes... (taken from here)
The truth is that no-one could honestly love that job. There's nothing empowering about it - it's demoralising, degrading, dirty, and loveless.
How many times during filming did I hate a man? 500.
...mostly because the women I met had been dragged kicking and screaming and forced into it. And also forced into doing drugs, like heroin, which they then became addicted to. All of these women - every single one of them - shared one thing in common: it was a man who forced them into it. I became a real man hater during this. I could not believe what these men are doing to these women.
these girls do want to speak out and they do want it to be known what is happening, because one way or another it needs to be stopped. They knew that my mission was to tell the truth.
The men I spoke to were horrible. D***heads. They thought it was funny and to them it was a game. They felt powerful because they were paying to be in control and they were sadistic.
The trolls and goblins of Twitter world came out of their holes! They pointed at the women and called them ugly, they said that NO women could possibly want to be paid for sex, they jeered, they bullied, they made sweeping generalisations, they got confused over legalities, they had sad feelz, they were disgusted, outraged, they wanted to save ALL the hookers or maybe just ban them.
So what does this tell us? Maybe our princess didn't like hookers very much to start with. Maybe she had forgotten that much of her fortune was made in the sex industry? Did she never realise that while Nuts or Zoo made her their darling, other women were exploited by promises of careers in glamour? Should the bad experiences of some mean all nude photography should be banned? What moral should be at the end of this story?
Does our media princess live happily ever after having experiencing the horrors of sex work (well five minutes in an Amsterdam window), will she go on to become St Jodie who saved the whores or slip back into z list, reality show status?
Of course, the real heroines are the whores, harlots, stumpets and floosies, but does their story ever really get told? Or as the lovely Amelie Delacroix on Twitter put it- Why do hookers always have to have 'a story'? "Person wants money so begins well paid job". It's really fucking easy, there's *my* story.
What I did learn is that there must be a magical quality in the number 70, because apparently 70% of prostitutes in Amsterdam are trafficked and 70% of lap dancers are lesbians.
Getting sex is important to many people. I don't even think there is a divide between men and women. Despite common misconceptions I think women can be a sexual as men and and desire sex as much as men. I think society still places chastity as a virtue on a woman and I think the fact that in the sex industry the workers are mainly women and the clients mainly men is more down to a cultural divide than a desire to get our ends away.
Men are less likely to be bullied or experience contempt for being sexually active with numerous partners. We still have a whole heap of derogatory words for promiscuous women (slut, slag, slapper, whore etc) and none for men. Being a stud or a player is something only ever attributed to men and they get their backs slapped jovially for it!
I think the fact that there are many many women who relish sex work or indeed non paid for sex or swinging demonstrates that women are as sexual as men and happy to indulge in emotionally meaningless encounters with numerous of partners.
However, it's generally agreed that it is much harder for men than it is for women to find sex. The huge number of female escorts there are over male ones, especially if you discount male escorts who only see men, it blindingly clear that the market for paid sex is mainly male.
The same goes for swinging sites, clubs and 'adult' dating sites single men always outweigh single women and I know from my own experiences as a single woman (or as half of a M/F couple) you can get sex very easily online and have heard many times over it is much harder for a single man. There are even sites such as XXXsexguides.com that review various adult sites to try and help guide men looking for that elusive shag to choose a site that contains genuine women.
I've heard men complain that on many sex or dating sites, the women are not genuine or they bottle out, or tend to want taking out and getting to know the man first or else they worry that the woman will want more than he does emotionally.
I know as a single woman a few years back wanting to meet with a woman for some sex it is very very hard. Even as a woman I found other women harder to find and more likely to want to play a long game of email ping pong. Same goes for finding couples, unless you are happy to do the meeting up and getting to know you think first. A nice simple process of swap a couple of emails, a phone call, come round, fuck is rarely that straightforward!
As for reasons, well, the ones I mention in my second paragraph to start with! Also, I think women are more likely to require an emotional attachment first before sleeping with a man, are more fussy (the old biological innate need for men need to sow their oats and women to require a good specimen for their eggs might be true!) and of course women are more likely to need to be safety and security aware. I know the problem lies with dangerous men, but in reality women are more likely to be nervous going somewhere alone with a strange man especially if she is too ashamed to tell anyone what she is up to and if there are more men out there looking she can indeed be choosy who she meets.
And that is why, my friends, paid for sex is as huge as it is. Those in the pay for sex world laugh at the outsiders view that men who 'need' to pay for sex are ugly, desperate old men with no social skills. We all know it's not the case. Every single escort I have ever met has talked about the kind, handsome, sweet, intelligent, funny etc etc men s/he has as clients. Men who seek professional services are indeed the savvy ones.
Earlier this week I hit upon the idea to ask a couple of people I like and respect to write me a guest blog post. I know that makes me sounds terribly important, or maybe even lazy, but I thought it would make a nice change to have a different 'voice' on this blog, new perspectives on the sex industry and also, I have writers block!
Mr B kindly sent me this this afternoon and I am most pleased- it's always good to hear from the the other side of the fence and, if I'm going to be a bit political, it goes towards demonstrating that the clients of sex workers are not evil, woman hating men.
So thank you Mr B, I really appreciate it! Here goes...
Ten things I've learned as a punter
When Lydia suggested I write a guest blog from the client’s perspective I was torn between two conflicting ideas. Firstly, that I couldn’t possibly represent the views of all punters, which deterred me and, secondly, that I wasn’t aware that it had been done before. The second idea gradually grew on me, so here it is: a list of ten things I’ve learned in the last couple of years – it may be helpful to others, but in the end it’s only my experience.
Nothing wordy today- I really need to get my writing mojo back on, but in the meantime have some pictures of me!
At the end of the month a documentary airs on TLC channel called 'Jodie Marsh... On The Game'.
The premise being Marsh gets to do work experience as a prostitute and meets some of the women who are on the game in Amsterdam, Germany, London and Manchester. She was plugging an article she has in The Sun about it on Twitter earlier so I decided to investigate further. Obviously not reading The Sun and I didn't have to because it's been syndicated and reported all over the place.
One of the things that pisses me off about sex work on TV is that it always shows the criminal, depressing side of the business. I'm not about to deny that this side doesn't exist, but why are there never positive programmes about the industry, why do they pick people who seem to have preconceived notions about sex work and why is the language always offensive. The Sun's headline was 'Filming Show About Hookers Has Put me Off Sex For Life'
You don't need to read any further to gather that it wasn't a whole lot of fun for Jodie and that she probably didn't come away with anything very positive. In fact the one quote which has been repeated all over the online media was, ‘Mostly the thing they had in common was they’d all been forced into it by a man. And their lives were shit'.
The obligitary "they were just all off their heads on drugs." angle was covered too. *deep sigh*
So, definitely not a slanted biased piece of telly then, no stereotyping there?
To be fair to Jodie, maybe that is what she found. I'm not denying that some women are unhappy and are in this position, but there are many that are not and if the producers couldn't find any then they clearly weren't looking very hard or had already decided the tone and agenda for this documentary.
I thought, based on the above quote it was fair enough to tweet Jodie and ask,
It's a pity you didn't spend any time with one of the thousands of happy, non-coerced, independent sex workers.
'erm excuse me, I did actually and they're in the show. You really shouldn't speak without knowing facts x'
She's right, I haven't seen the programme, but based on the above quote about all the women being forced into it by a man and that their lives are all shit quotes, which I assume is correct seeing as she was promoting The Sun piece, I'm not convinced she did actually meet any happy sex workers.
However, one woman seemed to enjoy herself: "While we were filming there were quite a few shocking moments for me. One girl — who had a gang bang in Germany where 15 men had sex with her one after the other — said she loved it".
Jodie then goes on to say that it put her, and her entire film crew off ever having sex again! I would have thought as an unbiased documentary maker it wasn't the done thing to chip in with your own opinions. I know lots of women who enjoy a gang bang (me included) and whilst I am very aware it's not for everyone, comments and attitudes like this just perpetuate the myth that there is only one way for people to enjoy sex and anything beyond the 'norm' is disgusting. Of course I am only ranting now and maybe the bit about putting everyone off sex was a nice line to get people to watch. She is after all, only doing her job and promoting the programme with some tasty soundbites.
Marsh also went to Amsterdam and spent some time sitting in a window. She says of this:
‘Loads of blokes were looking at me like I was a piece of meat. These were men you’d never ever consider having sex with in a million years. It was gross but it was easy for me to sit there because I had that safety net and I wasn’t going to let anyone in.’
No offence Jodie, but from someone who made her name wearing very few clothes as a glamour model, has worked as a dancer in Stringfellows, appeared on Big Brother and has bared an awful lot of flesh being judged as a body builder I find it hard to believe she was genuinely shocked at being looked at by a piece of meat. I'm not critisising any of her career choices but surely her name has been made on how she looks and her fortune made marketing her sexuality? Does she think those men who drooled over her in FHM were getting off on her brains or opinions?
Interestingly, a couple of weeks ago Jodie made several passionate tweets about the Co-Op's decision to ban lads mags. She had some great views regarding how hypocritical it was that these magazines were targeted despite the fact they celebrate a woman's body, especially in comparison to those such as Heat who like to highlight how fat or thin a woman is, point out cellulite and critisise what they wear. She went on to talk about how high end fashion magazines often used nude and topless women and how these shoots are deemed 'art'. She made a great point about much of the anti lads mags and page three campaigning was about snobbery.
She said: "Being a real modern day feminist means CELEBRATING women & encouraging them. Not trying to cover them up & hide them & stop them being paid"
There was much twitter cheering from many women including sex workers who generally feel that much of the problem with those who are opposed to sex work is based on personal preferences and an inability to comprehend that women in sex work enjoy what they do. Both glamour models and sex workers are often independent, happy and making good money and do not feel exploited. In many ways we should be natural allies.
I only wish Jodie was able to have made a documentary about sex workers with this attitude. To find women in all areas who were happy and to promote a positive message would have been great.
Maybe we will see some of that (well those who can get TLC channel) in this programme, but the publicity ahead of it doesn't look that way.