delve a little deeper....
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.