delve a little deeper....
You may remember this post where I mused about feminism and I summarised that:
My version of feminism, if I had to sit in a feminist camp is that is means that women are free to make the choices they want to make.
I've discussed before about my anger that there are certain groups (usually those who call themselves feminists) who detest prostitution because they believe its is abusive and harmful to women. I've banged on enough about how I really really don't like that I am told how I should be feeling about my sex work, (see this blog about why I don't feel exploited and abused if you want to know why) so I don't really need to reiterate it. What I want to tell you about today is a story about a friend of mine who was attacked on Mumsnet for taking part in a campaign for Nivea.
The campaign was called 'Dare To Dip' and the premise is that if you feel good in your own skin you have the confidence to do anything. Of course, it's a marketing campaign. Nivea don't really care about this, it's just a tool to promote their products. Which is fine, every commercial organisation tells us our life will be incomplete without their product so I'm not crisitsing them for that!
Part of the campaign was to have a giant fish tank (minus the fishes obviously) in Covent Garden in central London where women would don their swimming cossies and have a swim.
My friend took part in this. Here are her reasons in her own words:
"I am finally healed from my horrific pregnancy and birth, and want to reclaim my body from medicine. I am making a stand to get healthy so that I can keep up with my amazing 2 year old, and wanted this to be a very literal splash into my project. I don’t care about corporate definitions of beauty, but I want to keep my fabulous spirit for the next 40+ years, and I cannot do that in this body. So, I need to make a healthy change, and that begins today."
So, it was something she wanted to do for very personal reasons. She knew it was a marketing campaign, she got some free products, she chose to do it when Nivea asked her, she didn't feel exploited, she did feel empowered.
However, many women on Mumsnet did not. The person who stated a thread about the Covent Garden event claimed she was disgusted at it because all these women were being letched at by men, that the women were objectified, that she should have been paid and all with total incredulous that she could possibly find it liberating or empowering. The refusal to accept my friends more accurate summary of the event and that yes she enjoyed it and did not feel exploited.
You can almost hear the following Mumsnetter use the same pseudo innocent voice Caroline Ahern used as Mrs Merton when she asked Debbie McGee "So, what first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?":
"I must be a bit dense, but I still don't get it. What power do you and the other women have now that you didn't a couple of days ago?"
The refusal of these women to actually read what my friend was saying and comprehend where she was coming from was remarkable. It very much reminded me of the way the anti prostitution brigade like to shout over us sex workers who are happy and not exploited. They have their hands over their ears and their eyes tightly shut as they SHOUT and SHOUT about how we are doing all women a disservice. My friend was told:
"So is the idea that when I was a teenager, and felt disempowered when men stared, groped, or made lewd comments, the empowering response to that would have been to take my clothes off?"
"But to say this stuff is "empowering" is really very silly indeed. And a measure of how the media brainwashes all of us."
My friend summarises by saying:
"I was really, really insecure post baby about my very large size and physical issues (really, really traumatic birth that did a number on me internally as well as externally), but screwed up my courage and did something I loved to do but haven't been able to for quite a long time, take a dip in a pool. And, I got to do it in a grand, supportive environment. So, for me, that was a great big 'Hell yeah' to what I've gone through the last 2 years.
For someone else, it was an entirely different reason. For some, it may have been (gasp) just a fun thing to do. It's almost as if each one of us came to it with a different reason, and took something distinct away from it. Crazy, I know! It's almost as if we're all different beings with different needs and choices."
When she finally gave up with reasonable explanations of the facts of the event and why she felt good about doing it she stated that she didn't really care what these people thought, so of course the pack started on the attack by saying how awful it was that she didn't care about other women:
"You genuinely literally don't care about anyone else, just about you and yours?"
Sound familiar my sex work sisters?
Just because we're happy we're kicking the teeth in of those women who don't have a free happy choice to become sex workers. Yes, when our logical reasoning, explanations and examples of the very positive sides of sex work becomes too much those on the other side of the fence start to tell us we are uncaring bitches who don't give a toss about anyone else.
The irony is that women's toughest battle is not with men but with other women.
Ask any escort and she will tell you this comes under one of the most annoying things to be asked on the phone.
It's not that we don't want clients to ask questions if they are not sure about something and I fully understand why a man would want to confirm that I do the services he requires, but the 'What services do you do?' question which annoys and this is why:
1. I like to think that a man has read my website and profile already decided I am the escort for him because of my looks/price/location/services etc etc BEFORE he calls me up.
2. If I listed all my services it would take ages. Yes I could mention the commonly requested ones and tell him my no nos but how do I know if this covers what he wants?
3. It feels faintly like he is a prank caller wanting to get off on my saying rude words.
4. Why can't he just say what it is he wants? Why can't he be specific? You don't ring a Chinese takeaway and say 'So, what's on the menu?'
5. It's not always convenient for me to speak about naughty things if I am out and about. I don't sit in my flat alone all day waiting for the phone to ring and I don't want to not take calls if I am hoping to arrange bookings for later in the day/week. If I am out I usually say I'm on the train (or wherever) and hope they will realise that it's better for me if they say 'I'm looking for a GFE with a tit wank and a blow job and then to finish off on your tits' So I can easily respond to this with 'Yes, that's fine!' Or, of course if he has more detailed questions to ask when a better time to speak is!
I'm honestly not being grumpy or not understanding that for some blokes it's a nerve racking phone call to make. It's just that the 'What services do you do?' question really bugs me.
Other questions that are impossible or annoying to answer:
1. Are you dirty?
2. Have you got big tits?
3. How old are you? (If it matters why not look it up first, I hardly keep it a secret online)
4. Is it you in the photos? (No, I thought I'd put up pics of my mate *insert sarcasm icon*)
5. Can I have your address? (before a booking has been arranged)
6. Do you know anyone local who is like you but younger? (Yes, I have had this one!)
7. What girls do you have available? (um, am not a brothel)
8. Can you come to an outcall in Manchester at 10pm tonight? (No)
9. Can I book you for my mate, but he mustn't know I've paid you?
10. Can I call you mummy? (No, really, please don't)
1. Why when people are disgusted by sex work, they can't accept that for some people it's an enjoyable, freely chosen job.
2. Why people can't rationally listen to each other and learn.
3. Why trading insults is considered a debate or that it will achieve understanding.
4. That's it's considered acceptable to decree sex work as degrading and abusive when many who do it clearly don't feel that way.
5. If I can accept that monogamy or religion is a choice for some and wouldn't dream of telling them that it's stupid and unrealistic why can't others accept and respect my lifestyle choices.
6. How sex work can be bunged into one great big 'It's awful and wrong' lump when like many other fields and issues is multifaceted. It's like considering well paid haute couture designers in Paris and exploited sweat shop workers in India are the same.
7. That sometimes I have to stop and think 'Am I actually fucked up, degraded and abused and I don't realise it yet?' This only lasts a few seconds, but it happens!
8. Why feminism is even a word that is required in the 21st century.
The Scene: Daily Mail offices
A group of white heterosexual men in suits sit around a board table.
There is an air of unease. Circulation is down, The Mail Online aren't getting the hits they used to, advertisers are getting twitchy and rumblings from Dacre were getting louder...
'Any ideas anyone?' a white heterosexual man said hopefully.
Everyone looked thoughtful.
'Any gays died lately?' another white man asked 'We could get Moir in, she gave us no end of publicity when the poof from Boyzone copped it'
The room fell silent...
'You would have thought Littlejohn finishing that tranny off would have worked' someone else added.
The room filled with murmurs and headshaking. They were all most disappointed that that one hadn't made more of an impact despite the best efforts of those liberal lefties on Twitter.
'I suppose there's only one thing for it!' a white man who occasionally liked his bottom smacked by his Nigerian gardener announced. 'We'll have to get Brickie in!'
As she entered the room, the atmosphere changed. Air was sucked in through teeth, hard ons were hastily rearranged and the sound of wildly beating hearts could practically be heard as sweat glistened on many an upper lip.
'Fuck, she's so beautiful' one white man who had spent the night wanking over the Evening Standard's Thatcher pull out special said breathlessly.
She was a vision. She sat at the head of the table, her blonde hair spread across her shoulders like an angel. Her perfect legs crossed and the vacant look in her eyes was quickly changed with the smug self satisfaction that all these men would leave their wives for her.
'What can I do for you boys?' she said knowing the words on her lips were like a summer breeze across their fevered brows.
'We need something from you, we don't care who you upset but we need more readers, even readers who only read us because they hate us.'
'But, I already gave you my IVF trauma and heartbreak piece last week when you wanted me to do an obit of that IVF man who didn't give me a baby'. The pout on her lips was like the sweetest cherry.
'We know most pretty one, and we appreciate that but we need something more. Something to get the femin-lezzies going'
Samantha Brick looked thoughtful. The collective of white heterosexual men all waited, cocks still hard, pulses still racing.
'Well, you know how beautiful I am?'
'Yes!' a loud cry in unison was heard, each man hoping his affirmation was loud enough for her to notice him, even for just a second.
'Well, I thought I could share my secret of how one stays so beautiful. It's all about being thin.
The white hetreosexual men all removed the passing thoughts that they liked women with a healthy appetite, how they adored to see a pair of big bouncing boobs, slap a round peachy arse and any worry they had about their teenage daughter's eating disorder.
The beauty continued.
'Yes, that shall be my gift to you. I shall tell the world that being slim is the only way to be. Everyone should realise that only fit women will do well at work, I mean...'
She laughed daintily like a twinkling fairy flying by a crystal clear waterfall.
...'we all know dear Maggie never would have done so well if she'd been a lardy heffalump. I shall share the secret of my special polo mint diet and that it's OK to faint from hunger.
Samantha stood up, her dress rippling across her creamy (not that thin actually) thighs. She was getting into her stride now.
'I shall tell them to choose houses without kitchens, to holiday in predominantly vegetarian countries! I shall tell them to pick men who will DUMP them if they gain any weight!'
The white hetreosexual men all stood and cheered! Not caring that their trousers were still bulging and ruining the line, they whooped and yelled and cheered for their goddess!
'I don't care if even more women hate me, it's only because they are jealous of me, the fatties will all die of a cardiac arrest soon anyway!' she trilled like a bluebird on the first day of spring!
'Teenage girls need to know they won't be loved or get a job if they get fat. Starving yourself is the only way to be as perfect and beautiful as me!'
The cheering reached a crescendo. The white heterosexual men all knew that this one would be a winner. Tweets would be tweeted, blogs written, links posted on Facebook, commentary made in the lefty commie press (aka The Guardian) and general loathing and criticism across the land would fall at the feet of dear, beautiful Samantha and the advertisers and Editor would be happy again.
For those who are hard of thinking, the Daily Mail articles relevant to this post will not be linked here.
How many feminists does it take to change a lightbulb?
The above is to be taken tongue in cheek, but I think it says something about how feminism is viewed.
I think as a woman I am supposed to be a feminist. It's one of those things that most women want to be, but sometimes don't want to say they are because to them it (not me) conjours up images of shaven haired, man hating lesbians who shout at men who politely hold doors open for them. We all know that's bollocks (although I am sure such stereotypes exist!), but I do believe that feminism gets a bad press.
When I was at school, I had an art teacher who insisted on referring to a walkman (OK, that's just dated me somewhat) a walkperson. She proudly called herself a feminist, but I didn't and still don't think this was helpful in any way. Mind you I never even get upset about the generic assumption/use of policeman or chairman so maybe I am a bit rubbish. I suppose I just think that there are better things to get wound up about.
In simple terms, and according to he Oxford English Dictionary Feminism is defined as
"an advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women"
This seems fairly straightforward and of course the nitty gritty will depend on the time and place of the feminist or feminist movement.
Often cited as 'the first feminist' Christine de Pizan was born in Venice in 1363, but was relocated to France where her father was appointed as court astrologer to King Charles V. As a noble women she was given an education, but it seems she was also educated in
Latin, philosophy, literature and the sciences, subjects usually reserved for boys.
She married at 15 and had three children in what appears to be a happy marriage. When she was widowed at 25 and had lost her father four years previously she turned to writing to support herself. She did well at this, writing ballads, poems and prose for the French court and thus supported herself, her children and her mother which in itself was unusual for noble women of the time.
Much of her work challenged stereotypes and misogyny in the works of male writers and most famously critisised Jean de Meun’s allegorical poem "Querelle du Roman de la Rose" (The Romance of the Rose) which depicted women as nothing more than seducers. She argued that the poem denigrated the proper and natural function of sexuality, and that such language was inappropriate for female characters. Her critique primarily stems from her belief that Jean de Meun was purposely slandering women through the debated text. She continued to write in defense of the way women were portrayed and about women's rights. Simone de Beauvoir wrote of her, "...the first time we see a woman take up her pen in defense of her sex"
So, whilst Pizan wasn't writing about equality in the same way that the suffragette movement was fighting for the vote, she was probably an early Dorothy Parker or Virginia Woolf, giving women a voice and using her wit on paper.
Other feminist icons include Amelia Earhart, who proved that women could do anything men could do as well as encouraging other women to do the same. She said “Now and then women should do for themselves what men have already done — occasionally what men have not done — thereby establishing themselves as persons, and perhaps encouraging other women toward greater independence of thought and action.”
The first organised movement for British women's suffrage was the Langham Place Circle of the 1850s, led by Barbara Bodichon (née Leigh-Smith) and Bessie Rayner Parkes They also campaigned for improved female rights in the law, employment, education, and marriage. They had something specific to fight about, but now that women are equal in terms of the law, although it could be argued that we are still not truly treated equally despite of legislation what is feminism today about?
On a personal level I get cross at the fact women are judged in the media by what they wear. Stupid article to make point. Famous women get asked about their relationships, desires to have a family and what they are wearing over questions about their career. Newspapers and magazines still over analyse women's bodies, pointing out whether she is too fat or too thin and how much cellulite she has.
A woman's looks are used against her. When Hilary Mantel made her superb speech about the monarchy all hell broke loose as the media turned it into a bitch fight, with Mantel insulting The Duchess of Cambridge. I won't go into the fact that the stupid people missed the point of what Mantel was saying (but this says it pretty well) but many of the outraged were too blinkered to actually read and understand the speech and instead critisised Mantel's physical appearance and dismissing her educated, intelligent words as sour grapes because she wasn't as young and thin and Kate. *sigh*
The brilliant classicist Mary Beard has also been repeatedly attacked for her looks, most famously by AA Gill, who said in 2012 she 'should be kept away from cameras altogether', this was after in 2010 writing about her "corpses' teeth", describing her hair as a "disaster", and her outfit as an "embarrassment". Oh and this is the same man who dismissed Clare Balding as 'A dyke on a bike'.
So, whist women can now be educated to a high level, chose to live alone, have careers and so on they are still attacked for not wanting to be dumb, pretty and breed. Ask any childless woman in her 30's how many times she has been asked when she have babies and any single man in his 30's the same question the chances are the woman will have been asked a thousand times more!
I could rattle on for much longer about the more subtle (and not so subtle) inequalities that do still exist in society, but I would be here all day and I want to get back onto what feminism means to me personally.
I was fortunate enough to work for a company for ten years that treated women well, the ratio of men to women in the senior head of department positions was very equal and included women at the head of 'traditionally' masculine departments (IT, accounts, and maintenance). My family have never pressured me to get married and have babies and I have a good mix of friends who are career women and stay at home mums, I know stay at home dads and couples where the women earn more than the men. My relationships have been equal in terms of who does the cooking and cleaning (ie if they don't do it, nothing would get done!). So you could say I have skipped through life not needing to be outraged by the way me or my peers have been treated.
I get cross at the whole notion women are judged on by their looks, but I myself feel better wearing make up, love clothes shopping and am forever in search of a foundation that will make me look ten years younger. I wear heels because they makes my legs look better and I shave my pussy because not only do clients tend to prefer it, but so does my man.
I don't have traditionally male interests such as rugby, cars and maths, although I know plenty of women who do. I never wanted to do 'boy' subjects at schools and chose Home EC over metalwork.I quite like the traditional that men propose to women, I'm afraid I have used my feminine wiles to get my own way and I'm so rubbish at DIY and techie type things I do often ask a man to help out (although to be fair I have also asked female friends). Does this make me a lousy feminist?
Maybe I'm not a feminist, maybe I don't want to be a feminist. The notion that the word feminist is still in use kind of annoys me. Is there a male alternative? Some would argue that we don't need an alternative because the whole world is male orientated anyway. I do think however, that men do have a different set of expectations and pressures though.
Why can't we all just be striving to be able to do what we want (within the realms of legality and morality, I obviously don't mean if you want to punch someone in the head or rob a bank you should be free to do so)?
This brings me to the issue of feminism that most effects me. A wave of feminism who are anti prostitution. Many of those who shout the loudest about the need to end prostitution are 'feminists'. Those who see prostitution as a form of violence against and exploitation of women, and a sign of male dominance over women.
The current battle (and yes, it has turned into some kind of war) regarding the legislation around the criminalisation of paying for sex in Scotland and Ireland is packed full of examples of how some women (and men) feel that all forms of prostitution are wrong, and that all women involved are exploited and the only way to 'save' us is to criminalise our clients. Now, you know my views on this well enough. If not read my previous entries here, here and here.
Many of the anti brigade are known as feminists or are 'Women's Groups'. The kind of feminism that tells me I am exploited pisses me off, what pisses me off more is the use of skewed statistics, anecdotes from badly treated, forced women to portray an entire industry and the implication that those who are 'happy hookers' are damaging the fight to save the abused.
I don't want to sit alongside these feminists thank you very much.
My ideal is that people (whether male or female) should be allowed to do and be what they want. That noone is exploited or at a disadvantage based on their gender (or race or sexual persuasion or, well, anything).
My version of feminism, if I had to sit in a feminist camp is that is means that women are free to make the choices they want to make.
As a quick aside, this blog from Coin operated girl is great!
OK, so you remember This Blog? which was basically me ranting about the notion that prostitution is a crime against women and that The Scottish Bill to make paying for sex illegal was a load of pants. Remember?
Within that blog I asked if the law does change is it likely to happen in England too?
Well, it may well. The Guardian (links to article) reported last week that according to Gavin Shuker (MP for Luton South)
"2013 is a year in which parliamentarians will be forcibly pushing for the laws around prostitution to be revised, especially in light of what is happening in devolved administrations,"
Shuker, is the chair of The All Party Parliamentary Group on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade. They have a website! It doesn't say much, but Mr Shuker has made a blog entry listing the Myths around Prostitution. Very helpful. It uses emotive terms such as 'sexual exploitation' and 'gender based violence' and brings up the usual words one associates with prostitution (note sarcastic eye roll) - drugs, domestic violence, abuse, coersion and so on.
However, Mr Shuker has failed to give us any idea where he got his clever ideas from; no stats, no references, not even any anecdotal evidence. One wonders whether he came up with these ideas based on watching The Bill or Band of Gold. Clearly he missed The Secret Diary of a Call Girl.
Shuker starts his missive "While a minority of women who enter prostitution claim to do so willingly, for the overwhelming majority it is a result of contributing factors including previous sexual abuse, debt, drugs, coercion, homelessness, domestic violence and others."
A minority? How do we know this? I know (of) plenty of women who make a very free choice over what they do, they are not victims, abused or addicts. They are independent, intelligent women who choose to do what they do.
As I said in my previous blog on this topic and in my letter to Rhoda Grant, I am not a victim who is abused by men. I don't believe that I am exploited and nor are my clients nasty man who hate and violate women. I've said it here before so won't go on about it again, but I am going to tell you to read THIS LINK called 'Sex work, why so hard to swallow?' by Becky Adams who has spent 20 years in the sex industry so actually knows what she is talking about.
We need to keep a close eye on what is happening in Scotland and what may come to pass in England. This is very scary. I don't want my clients to become criminalised any more than any man who has ever paid for sex does. I just can't comprehend why those in power are not focusing on those who really do need help, those who are abused and forced into prostitution, seeking out the perpetrators and doing something about that. Why can't they leave us happy free spirited floosies and our thousands upon thousands of clients who seek a little bit of fun, compassion and companionship alone
And if changes start to become afoot in England you can bet your bottom dollar that I will be banging on about it a lot more.
It's really difficult to talk/write about hating Christmas without coming across as a miserable old bag or sounding smug and virtuous in my refusal to get involved with the whole ridiculousness of it. I'm going to try and explain myself though!
Back in September someone on my personal Facebook posted 'Only 13 weeks til Christmas!' and since then the fuss has been increasing in momentum weekly.
Christmassy food stuff starts to go on sale at Easter until you're at the point where you can't seem to buy 'normal' food anymore, just giant sized family packs with holly berries emblazoned on the packaging. It's sometimes tricky enough shopping for one (I get bitter at 2 for I offers that I can either not eat in time nor carry because I don't have a car as it is!) but when everything because 'family' sized and I can't find any Marmite because all the shelves are filled with sodding mincemeat and cranberry sauce I get pissed off.
And why do people need to buy so much? I understand if you're entertaining for your entire extended family you're going to need to buy a lot, but surely that should be cancelled out by those who are going away for the festive season? In the past week I have had the misfortune to need to pop into a supermarket several times and the amount of stuff people seem to be buying is staggering! Who eats it all?!
Actually, no one eats it all... According to a national survey commissioned in 2011 by food waste disposer maker InSinkErator Brits spend £3.3 billion on food over Christmas and on Christmas day the average family will spend £133.70 on Christmas lunch. Not only that, More than half (56 per cent) of 3,000 householders polled admit they will throw away between 20 to 30 per cent of that extra Christmas food as waste this year, that's an extra 50 million bags of rubbish, or £600m of food. That's wasted. Thrown away.
It's so greedy and wasteful it actually upsets me, especially when you read about how some people have nothing and I'm not just talking about those in third world countries. How many of us read The Metro (free paper) on 5th December and were horrified to read about the increase of pressure on the UK's food banks?
The number of people turning to food banks is expected to double to more than 220,000 this year due to the economic climate and cuts in benefits. Why do 220,000 people in this country need charity to eat, whilst others can afford to spend 400 quid on an iPad for their 6 year old??
Why are people having to walk ten miles each way in the rain to collect free food while teh rest of us are moaning about how exhausted they are from traipsing round the shops? It's all so sad. Full Metro article here.
The inequality of wealth is a huge worldwide issue and I don't intend to get into it now or suggest how to change it, but Christmas seems to make people forget any injustice in the world and their own needs and desires for a 'perfect' Christmas take over.
I hate the whole present buying thing. Not because I am mean and stingy but because trailing around the shops desperate to find something to buy someone something they really want is miserable. I hate the concept that because it's Christmas I have to buy a present.
I prefer to do things with my friends throughout the year that we will enjoy together. I prefer my money to go on having great dinners together, going to gigs, jaunting off on mini breaks or just catching up for a pint (of wine). Those things are far more meaningful and important to me and create happy memories which are priceless. Having lunch with my brother without his wife and kid (as much as I like them ) like the old days is more special to me than him having to battle round the shops working out what the hell to get me just because it happens to be coming up to December 25th.
Gifts should be given because you care, because you've seen something that will make someone smile are far more fun than a pair of socks because you're desperate and it's 5.30pm on Christmas Eve. Luckily I have trained most of my close friends into this way of thinking and as a family my parent's were never extravagant with us so spending lots is not something any of us do. Afterall, how many people when recalling happy childhoods say 'It was because my parents bought me lot's of stuff'? Never. Happy childhoods are about a lot more than material goods.
According to research carried out on behalf of charity Family Action, most UK families will spend between £530 and £682 on gifts, decorations, food and drink. The lowest price for an acceptable Christmas for a low-income family with two children is £182,- but the average family can spend up to £700. That seems a lot of money, fine if you can afford it but according to statistics compiled by Supermarket.com 47% of parents are under pressure to spend more than they can really afford. I think that's a really sad reflection on society. Who wants to be raising children who think that they can have what they want or that the way to be happy is through material spending? That's what I hate about Christmas. This pressure to spend, spend, spend.
And if it's not cooking up a mountain of food, maxing the credit card on gifts people don't want and children don't really appreciate it's this notion that Christmas means you have to go out and get blind drunk at every opportunity. Was this what Jesus had in mind?
It's commonly known that A&E units are busiest over Christmas, the two week festive period sees around 40% of attendances due to alcohol related accidents and illnesses. Now, I'm not teetotal by any stretch of the imagination, but for an adult to drink so much they end up in hospital is ridiculous and stupid and because it's Christmas really doesn't make a good excuse. At least now I don't have a 'proper' job I'm not expected to spend my evenings in the company of work colleagues and staff under the guise of 'Christmas Party' and eat crap mass produced food at a big table with the most boring people ever and who hate me anyway because I am their boss!
So, as well as spending too much (presents, decorations, things to wear, food, drink and cards) we have to spend time with people we don't much care for be it the neighbours for sherry, family we don't like, work colleagues who we see too much of anyway and friends of friends we think are pricks we have to do it beautifully. The pressure to be a combination of a top chef, an A list Party Planner, a perfectly dressed super model is at it's most intense at Christmas.
I don't do it- I buy for my immediate family and never spend too much, I don't go to parties I don't want to, I don't see people I don't want to, I am having a simple lunch with a good friend and her elderly mother who are both wickedly funny. I don't send cards (what a bloody waste they are) but instead give money to charity and don't give a toss if people think I am a bit Bah Humbug. I just can't wait til it's all over, and I have to stop listening to people witter on about the stress, pressure, busyness and expense and everything goes back to normal.
In honour of the Leveson Report being published today I am linking THIS blog post again.
Will be interesting to see the outcome and will anything change? I am cynical of course.
It's a tricky one, one person's idea of news that is in public interest isn't the same as others. It's very easy to say that journalists should remain squeaky clean, no phone hacking, no paying informants to pass them information and so on. Have we not all lapped up salacious scandals of the royals, pop stars and football players? Where is the line drawn between inappropriate journalism and genuine investigative journalism that uncovers corruption and wrong doing by those in power?
Do we need to know if a children's TV presenter who has made his fortune on being a squeaky clean family man has been bonking his best friends wife? Is it fair he might lose his job because his employers don's want to be seen as condoning his behaviour? Is that really newsworthy? Many people would say 'Well, it's his own fault for being a cad!' If the information came to light because his phone was hacked, do the same people cry out 'That's appalling! That's an invasion of privacy!'?
What if illegal practices result in a positive outcome? What if the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone uncovered where she was and found alive? That's probably a bad example, but you see my point.
The Daily Telegraph paid £110,000 to a mole who leaked documents about MP's expenses with regards to second homes. Is this 'good' journalism? That kind of information should be made public to the tax payers surely?
There is of course no justification in journalists hacking the phones of the victims of crime to get an exclusive story. There is no justification in exposing an individual's private life, and certainly not by hacking their phone or computer. Those who say 'Oh celebrities put themselves in the firing line!' should read this, adapted from Hugh Grant's Leveson witness statement.
One thing I did think about regarding The Leveson Enquiry...There is already a code of practice which the Press Complaints Commission produces as a committee of editors from the newspaper and magazine industry.
The Code has two purposes, as a solid set of principles for the press industry to follow and it gives the Commission a clear and consistent framework within which it can address complaints from members of the public. From what I gather it doesn't monitor the press, it only investigates when a complaint has been made.
If you read the code of practice, it's pretty precise and sensible. You only have to read any tabloid on any given day to find a selection of articles that breach these standards. Surely if these guidelines were actually put into practice the media would be a much more moral, fair place?
I don't often get involved in anything political, but there is one thing that I do feel strongly enough about to make my voice heard. It is the current proposal by Rhoda Grant the Scottish MP regarding making the purchase of sex illegal in Scotland.
Here is the full consultation document.
Below is my draft letter I intend on sending to her. I haven't sent it yet because I'm hoping someone that knows better than me might read it and advise if there's anything I should add or remove.
I am writing to register my objection to your proposals to criminalise the purchase of sex in Scotland.
Please note I am a private individual and would like my response to be treated as anonymous.
I am a prostitute working from my home in London for the last three years; I am friends with other sex workers and an active member on a couple of internet forums relating to prostitution. I have met hundreds of men over the years so feel I am in a good place to understand the sex industry. I wanted to share my experiences with you and voice my opinion on your proposals to criminalise the purchase of sex in Scotland.
Your view that prostitution constitutes as sexual exploitation and violence against women and the majority of those who are involved in prostitution are unwilling participants is simply untrue.
Whilst I cannot speak for all women and I am fully aware that there are people who are forced into sex work unwillingly I absolutely believe that there are a huge number of women who have made their own decision to become prostitutes. They are happy with their choices and actually enjoy it. They have not been doing it since they were children, do not come from abusive backgrounds and many are strong, intelligent and well educated women. They are not in harmful relationships or drug addicts. The media stereotype of prostitution is incorrect.
I believe opinion that prostitution is degrading and harmful comes from your own personal feelings as a woman (which of course you are perfectly entitled to feel) and not the feelings of many sex workers. I have not lost my dignity doing this job, I do not feel exploited. In fact I am proud that I can work for myself and make a living in this way. I treat my work as a business, I work hard to promote myself, ensure my standards are kept to, I enjoy meeting the many men I do and I feel a sense of job satisfaction when my clients leave me feeling happy and relaxed and frankly I enjoy sex with strangers. This is a view shared by many of my friends and peers within the industry.
Your proposed bill claims that you do not want to further criminalise prostitutes. The emphasis is on criminalising the men who pay for our services. I cannot understand how this is helpful in any way whatsoever. Again, your personal stereotyped views have painted these men as violent, exploitative individuals. You are wrong.
There are many men out there who pay for sex. In my experience there is no ‘type’. Over the last three years I have met men from 18 to over 80, of all races, religions, class and profession. They all have their own personal reason for visiting prostitutes and those reasons are not to harm or dehumanise me.
I believe that most men pay for sex at some point whether it is a one off experience, at a stag night, a massage with a ‘happy ending’ on a more regular basis or for a short period in their lives. I don’t think there has ever been a proposal before that aims to criminalise half the population!
I have clients who state their marriages would be intolerable without the odd trip to see me. I give them something their wives do not wish to anymore. An hour with me satisfies them, it keeps their marriage going and their family together, it stops them having affairs which can cause heart ache for all involved.
I have met widowers who miss the female touch but not ready to remarry. I have met disabled clients and men who lack confidence to meet women socially. I meet elderly men who I make feel young and attractive again. I meet young men who have no wish to lead women into thinking they want a relationship to get sex. Many of these men leave happy and not just in a sexually satisfied way. They feel desired, listened to, we have a laugh, and we talk about every subject under the sun. I have met single women who want to explore their sexuality; I have met couples in healthy loving relationships who want to experience new things together. In fact a partner and I have paid for women to join us. We certainly were not exploiting or degrading anyone.
I fail to comprehend why the above needs to become a criminal offence. I fail to see what sex between two consenting adults, regardless that money has changed hands has to do with anyone else. Your proposed bill is based on misleading figures and a stereotype based on outdated notions of what is and isn’t acceptable in society.
If your bill was to be passed would it really put off the kind of men who are dangerous towards women? What your bill would do is deter the kind, law abiding clients that all sex workers wish to see. Business would be reduced for many women leaving them financially vulnerable. It could potentially force women to take more risks on who they see or offer services that they may not be entirely comfortable with. Why should women have to leave a job they enjoy because someone else believes they are not enjoying it?
What the police need to be able to do is tackle those who are forced into prostitution. If the women out there who are abused and trafficked have not been rescued yet then that is a huge failing and where resources need to be focused. The law that prevents women working together in the same location needs reviewing. If the wellbeing and safety of sex workers is a concern of yours then you have to actually listen to sex workers, find out what would make our already stigmatised jobs safer and focus on those who are forced and abused. This is what those in power should be focused on, not the criminalisation of the innocent.
Yours Sincerely etc etc
I keep tweaking it and editing so am going to leave it alone now and come back to it tomorrow before I send it.
If you are interested in this and want to read more or even add weight to the cause and write to Rhoda Grant yourself then here are some linkies:
Adore Amy's blog
Laura Lee's blog
This could happen. It could happen here. Do your bit, whether sex worker, punter or someone with a bit of common sense. You do not need to be based in Scotland to respond to this.
Well tomorrow the Olympic torch comes through Hounslow and the news reports are all full of traffic chaos and what with the G4S debacle it all feels a bit negative. This blog also makes slightly depressing reading...
At least the sun is out though so I may go and look at what is going on in town tomorrow to get some fresh air and try and build up some enthusiasm for these games. Despite chuntering myself about my increased council tax the year after we won the bid to host the games that I wouldn't benefit in anyway from (will anyone?) and the general costs when we are in a huge recession I am aware it's probably the last time in my lifetime The Olympics will come to London. I do also want London to look good to the rest of the world and not the diabolic shambles of shit the media are portraying it as. One tiny bit of positiveness that is happening is this 38 degrees campaign.
I have just looked up a well known central London hotel and discovered not only is it not sold out for Monday 31st (random date I picked during the games) but the room is selling at a 50% summer discount! So even the hotels who one might assume were going to to do well out of this aren't even sold out....
Luckily for me I am escaping briefly to Birmingham in the middle of it all but other than that I plan on staying away from central London. Unless of course I get a nice outcall booking from a visitor who wants a bit of action!
Talking of which, there has been much debate about how The Olympics will affect us working girls in London. I have no idea. Some think it will be busy and others not. Yes there will be more people in London (particularly East and Central), but less workers (something like 50% of civil servants have been asked to work from home and I have several friends who work in town who have been told they can work at home too) as well as many many people saying 'I'm staying out of London!' Will the huge increase in Olympic tourists and the many officials and others here in a professional capacity be looking for escorts? Not sure... will they traipse out to Hounslow? Possibly not!
I am hoping I am far enough West to avoid to transport chaos so maybe I won't be affected by the 'I'm going nowhere near London' brigade, indeed it may be an advantage and I may get busier. Then again there may be a reduction in the number of business men coming into London so less outcalls at Heathrow Hotels. I really don't know. I shall just have to wait and see.