foxinsnow's Diaryland Diary

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icing on an old, stale patriarchy

One of my dad’s friends served in Vietnam. One night he admitted to my dad and I that while there, he had seen a prostitute. He said, “I would rather have just given a woman money for sex than lied to her and told her I loved her and then left her hopeless when I didn’t listen to her demands to take her to America.”

It seemed like he had done the most decent thing, given his situation. Hey, he’s a man. He had to get laid, right?

One of my friends worked as a call girl, what Vednita Carter, in her essay “Prostitution=Slavery,” calls elite, a “house slave” prostitute versus a “field slave” prostitute. Because of my sex-positive stance in feminism and stories like that of my dad’s friend, I came into this essay by Carter pro-legalization of prostitution. What convinced me otherwise were paragraphs like this one, that show that prostitution is not only sexist but also racist: “Racism not only makes black women and girls particularly vulnerable to sexual exploitation; it also keeps them trapped in the sex industry—a process reinforced by limiting the educational and career opportunities for African Americans, and doubly so for black women. In general. African American women must deal with the dual oppression that comes from being black in a white-supremacist culture and female in a male-supremacist culture.”

Some of Carter’s vital statistics in this essay confirmed what I had already suspected from knowing hookers—excuse me, “sex workers:”

“75% of women involved in prostitution are survivors of child molestation, child rape, and/or other child sexual and physical abuse”

“60-75% of these women were sexually abused before the age of 18”

“95% suffer from drug and/or alcohol addiction”

“Prostituted women are the Number One target of serial killers…” and even so, their deaths let out barely a ripple of acknowledgment in the mass media. Why? Because these women, as prostitutes, are worthless. What I’m saying is not that women who work as prostitutes are worthless, but that prostitution as an industry denigrates women.

I asked my friend who worked as a call girl what it was like. She looked me square in the eye and said, “I enjoyed it. It was fun.”

I think the “sex- positive” embrace of prostitution is just one symptom of a larger problem in our culture today: the popular media is touting sex-positivism, sexual liberation, and feminism as a woman’s right (ie, duty) to look and act like a porn star. In a recent argument I had with a friend, he was actually surprised that I got mad at him for calling me easy “since I’m a liberated woman.”

And actually, I’m not against pornography. What I would like to see a whole lot more of, though, is women writing, directing, and filming porn; and less women merely acting out a male fantasy. Sexual liberation does not mean catering to men’s whims, it means taking control of our own sexuality. I personally feel I do that in part by frequently masturbating, and therefore not “needing a man” for sex. But men want to be needed, and they run the show (so to speak). Until they stop running the show, something like prostitution, and even the embrace of prostitution by so-called feminists, is going to be sour icing on an old, stale cake.

(For more information, read “Prostitution=Slavery” by Vednita Carter, pp.315-321 in the anthology “Sisterhood is Forever,” edited by Robin Morgan)

12:43 a.m. - 2004-08-18

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