The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

On Prostitution

Prince Andrew has been accused of having sex with a 17 year old prostitute.  Worse than her age (17 is above the age of consent in many many countries), she claims to have been a sex slave; aka coerced.

This is why I’ve always had a personal rule that I don’t sleep with prostitutes.  While in principle I agree that women and men should have the right to sell sex, it is hard to know what is going on in their life: even at levels lower than sex-slavery there can be some ugly stuff, and you can easily be contributing to their degradation or abuse.


Thoughts on the Year that Was and the World to Come


Extinction or Whole World Totalitarianism Events


  1. I don’t have sex with prostitutes because it would be a breach of a promise which I made to my wife many years ago, a promise which I take quite seriously. There are some other reasons as well, including Ian’s, which is a good one, but that is the one which really matters to me.

  2. Compound F

    Lack of free will is a splendid point, as good as points get. Not to mention, that lack of free will kills all kinkiness, deader than fuck. That is to say, beyond free will is beyond “kinky.” I’m talking beyond people’s adult play dates & power exchanges with one another, which to my surmise constitute sophisticated, intentional kink. Safewords, nearby! Or something.

    The legal age of consent is a trickier, more culturally complex topic. Females begin cycling at far earlier ages than most Western cultures consider “fair game” for male exploitation, by about five years, due to the fact that we rightly consider extended childhood and youth in general as a privileged time for intellectual development, and rightfully so, according to prevailing neuroscience & ethology. The imprinting period of humans is long compared to most other species. We are altricial, not precocial, chickens & lizards. Thus, our ethics, at their best, aim to not fuck up the potential education, the false enculturation, of our youths while their minds remain literally their most malleable, when they have the greatest chance of molding to alternate opportunities. If only we really meant it, we would be great! Regardless of peak oil. Fewer in number, but greater in vision.

  3. ibaien

    out of mild curiosity, do you also avoid purchasing all products manufactured in countries known for gross economic human rights violations? I generally lump that in with prostitution inasmuch as it’s one’s life thrown away for the economic betterment of someone more powerful, but for some reason sex work seems to trump 14 hours a day in front of a sewing machine in terms of upsetting progressives.

  4. Prostitution is a mess. it shows that you have to abolish the monarchy.

  5. Anomar

    Far more than the monarchy needs to come down. All the powerful who think they can do whatever they wish to whomever they wish.

    The thing is, men behave like this so much more often than women one has to think that there is something embedded in male dna which must be studied ad infinitum.

    I can’t stand to look reality in the face anymore, and I am one of the really strong ones, someone who can look at most anything, but the sheer cascade of evil is too much.

    All this while most people are mostly decent.

    Patriarchy must also come down for most power structures descend from it.

    Happy 2015. It is going to be an especially rocky ride from here on out, not that this is news.

  6. Ian Welsh

    Because I use consumer consumer goods from China (because I can’t afford $20 for a pair of socks) I should also take a chance on hurting prostitutes who aren’t actually consenting is Ibaien’s argument.

    This to a man who has spent a huge chunk of his life trying to improve the global economic system.

    Such arguments misunderstand how the world economy works: the people who buy the cheapest clothes from 3rd world countries are the people who can afford nothing else. They can afford nothing else because of how the global economy works.

    It also ignores how global supply chains work. Parts in virtually every electronic device are made in China, the only way to avoid them is to not buy electronics. Worse, conflict minerals are mixed into that supply chain, making everyone who buys them (third worlders buy a TON of cell phones) complicit in mass rape. I trust Ibaien is not using an electronic device with any parts made in China, nor any conflict minerlas, to comment on my blog. (And not, Apple’s assurances that they don’t use conflict minerals are not credible.)

    I find the faux purity of anyone who is involved in the modern economy to be curious: if you’re involved, you’re exploiting people. The only question is how much. The fact that conflict minerals earned by rape are in my electronic devices is disgusting: I don’t then shrug and say “but hey, I should personally rape people, because fuck, I’m already complicit. Rape, rape, rape!”

  7. ibaien

    i’m certainly not arguing from a point of faux purity; I fully understand all the evils that go into all the things I consume. I’m just perpetually confused by the moral dudgeon mustered specifically when sex is involved. I’m obviously not saying you should throw up your hands and rape at will; that’s absurd and you know it.

  8. Jeff Wegerson

    It’s very hard to be raised middle class without a strong dose of puritanicalist values, especially around sex. Prostitution is a very working class reality, both for the people buying and the people selling. As with a lot of moralisms, one purpose is to keep people in their place.

    I recommend for people here @LauraAgustin for views that straddle the academic and the experienced. One can follower her on twitter and read her website or her book “Sex at the Margins”. One of her major themes is the strong ties between prostitution and migration. When a man sets out to better his life by taking cross border chances, he becomes a figure of strength in the struggle against the odds. When a woman does she becomes a victim. That’s one of her themes as well.

    As is stigma. Stigma is the real reason one raised with middle-class values would never stoop to buy sex. The rest is rationalisms.

    We seem to agree here that sex work should be legal. Yet there are streams of pseudo-leftism and/or feminism that do not agree. At least not in practice. There is a pile of money available to those engaged in anti-trafficking efforts, especially anti-sex trafficking at the moment. It should be enough to be anti all trafficking, so one wonders why sex-trafficking is so much separated out. The people who have the strongest motivation to point out sex trafficking are sex workers themselves. But that only works if sex work is legal.

    The arguments that pit iphone wage slavery against a backdrop of sex slavery do not further understanding very far. Mostly it merely serves to divide use by fetish. As fellow workers we can appreciate that we do what we must to survive and we do not hold each other accountable for the sins of our masters. And supporting a sex worker, mostly women, even trafficked, does not make us a pimp or a trafficker ourselves. It might even put us in a place where we could do some real good.

  9. Mary McCurnin


    the difference between the physical and financial abuses of the being used as slave labor and rape is that rape is the most invasive and vile form of abuse. And it is done with casual and entitled force. And it can happen to anyone at anytime. It does mostly happen to women. Often.

    I would take 14 hours at a sewing machine everyday rather than the horror of rape.

  10. BSDI

    Not sure if this is worth pointing out, but just to tie some of the above comments and themes Ian talks about together:

    The middle class moral puritanism about sex and sex work doesn’t extend down; it also doesn’t extend up. The world of Prince Andrew (and the lower tier of servants, a la Eliot Spitzer) is awash in sex work catering to the kinks of the wealthy. The implications of this are worth exploring.

    While those who engage in sex work at that level might be higher compensated in general, they are no less vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

    However, the actual encounter and psychological effect on the client among the lower and rarefied classes is likely to be completely different. Members of the lower class pay for sex in an atmosphere of uncertainty, in which they are not in control of their environment, or the legal repercussions of their actions, or the terms of the sexual act itself.

    None of that applies to clients of sex work among the rarefied class; their safety guaranteed, their repercussions only social, their compete control of the sexual encounter itself assured. Lower-class clients have another intimate space in which a precarious and uncertain transaction is carried out; rarefied-class clients have another intimate space in which they enjoy complete and utter control.

    Illegal sex work thus acts as a psychological re-enforcement mechanism appropriate for neoliberalism among clients. A lower-class client has the unstable nature of their economic existence buried deeper into their psyche, imbued with sexual energy; a rarefied-class client has the expectation of total and absolute control embedded in the same way.

    Maybe more importantly, the view of sex work itself among the rarefied class caused by the work’s ubiquity is a factor to consider. In an environment where sex work is routine and not a cause for alarm, the sex work industry becomes normalized among the rarefied class. However, the structure of the sex work industry experienced by the rarefied class is not similar to the structure of the industry as a whole; coercion and exploitation issues are different and often more dire.

    The pressure to change the structure of the sex work industry is thus less acute among the rarefied class; the sex work industry functions relatively well, doesn’t it Chadwick, sure there is some abuse but people aren’t perfect, name me an industry in which there isn’t abuse.

    In these ways, the fact that the social experience lived by the rarefied class is specific to that class produces a type of person specific to that class, which in turn shapes the world in ways detrimental to people outside of that class.

  11. “Because I use consumer consumer goods from China (because I can’t afford $20 for a pair of socks)…”

    Some will jump to a conclusion that my purpose here is to condemn you for that practice, which is absolutely not the case. My point is to condemn the warped system of capitalism which forces one into making that choice.

    Consider that Henry Ford paid higher wages so that workers could buy products made in their own country by workers who were also making good wages. As long as we had functioning labor unions, creating a balance of power between between labor and business, that continued; we had people making good wages buying products made in their own country by workers who were also making good wages.

    Now we have people making shitty wages buying goods from other countries made by people making even shittier wages. Awesome.

  12. ibaien

    i guess I’m a little surprised that the commentariat, including the author, chose to conflate sex work with rape in their replies. my basic point was merely that when ian writes “you can easily be contributing to their degradation or abuse” I’d like to make sure that applies to all global economic transactions, not just sex. and for the record, I do buy undergarments made in America (at a price premium), and I buy my consumer electronics and outerwear exclusively used. it’s a drop in the bucket but it’s something.

  13. Trixie

    Now we have people making shitty wages buying goods from other countries made by people making even shittier wages. Awesome.

    Right. In its most simplistic form, net exporters are all about pricing its products just above the level its own citizens can afford. And then complaining about the “profligacy’ of those nations that are net importers, while also providing the funding through one form or another.

    Because ‘Greek bailouts’ are once again front and center, feel free to read that as ‘German bank bailouts’.

    I’d laugh if it weren’t so tragic.

  14. Ian Welsh

    The particular case is about sex slavery. Having sex with a sex slave is pretty much rape. And a lot of prostitutes are sex slaves, and you don’t know who is and who isn’t.

  15. Mary McCurnin

    sex worker lives right next door to rape.

  16. cripes

    I understand the sense of moral revulsion and outrage that accompanies the idea that all/most sex workers are trafficked slaves, but one should do research more closely before parroting the memes promoted by the human trafficking industrial complex, and their CIA and Christian fundie pals.

    Debbie Nathan has done compulsory read takedowns on this years ago.

  17. cripes

    A quote from Laura Augustin, regarding the fraud and connections to US foreign operatives in

    “A Cambodian activist against sex slavery, Somaly Mam, recently resigned from her foundation after an outside investigation confirmed she had lied to attract donors and supporters. The revelations of Mam’s fraudulence are old news, however — Simon Marks’s reports have been appearing in the Cambodian Daily since 2012, and many other debunkings and doubts circulated much earlier among institutions, researchers, and activists trying to reverse unfounded sensationalism about sex trafficking.

    Newsweek published some of Marks’s work on May 21, provoking outrage in the New York media establishment — less towards Mam than one of her greatest fans, self-styled slave rescuer Nicholas Kristof. He is accused of hoodwinking liberal-identifying readers and letting down the cause of journalism. Both accusations miss the point.”

    Also Newseek:

    Be careful of statistics purporting to prove prevalence of sex trafficking:

    “Another common claim is that there are 100,000 to 300,000 children locked in sex slavery in the U.S. (For just a few examples, see here, here, here, here, and here. ) That number is a distortion of a figure from a 2001 study by Richard Estes and Neil Weiner of the University of Pennsylvania, which estimated that number of “children, adolescents and youth (up to 21) at risk of sexual exploitation…In a 2011 interview, Estes himself estimated the number of legal minors actually abducted into “sex slavery” was ” very small . . . {w}e’re talking about a few hundred people.””

    The coercive nature of capitalist social work institutions can never be underestimated, and the inevitable tendency to morph into an extension of policing the poors while sucking on the public grant teat is well established. See the “white slave trade” episodes of the 1910’s for a historical precusor.

    Again, please research more fully before judging the merits. Neo-liberlism has it’s hands everywhere.

  18. Ian Welsh

    I did not say that all sex-workers are sex-slaves. I said that one can’t know on casual acquaintance AND that in this case the woman in question claims to have been. Again, I think that men and women should have the right to sell sex, but in the current situation it is often impossible to know if they are doing so in an uncoerced fashion.

  19. cripes

    I am pointing out that sex slave hysteria is promoted by people with a vested interest in government grants, justified by bogus statistics and has been soundly exposed by sex work activists, all of them women.

  20. Ian Welsh

    Now, how common are pimps? And how do they run their prostitutes? My post said, “even at levels lower than sex-slavery there can be some ugly stuff, and you can easily be contributing to their degradation or abuse.”

    And, of course, we are talking about a specific case where the woman in question claims she was a sex slave.

    But by all means, have sex with as many prostitutes as you want. I’m not telling you not to. Me, I like to be sure women in my bed are entirely willing, and, indeed, eager.

    But that’s just me.

  21. cripes

    That’s kind of unhinged, and completely ad hominum.
    If you state ” a lot of prostitutes are sex slaves” you should apply the same evidentiary standards you would to claims about WMD or unemployment stats, instead of uncritically disseminating discredited memes from the likes of Nicholas Kristoff. You might also consider the perspective of sex work/feminist/activists, to balance the propaganda of the prohibitionists.

  22. Ian Welsh

    Ah yes. You are, of course right that in a comment I said that. I was wrong.

    The original post however said something different, and my stance does not require that a lot are sex slaves, merely that there is a substantial chance they are abused or coerced, which there is.

  23. cripes

    No problem.
    And I am sympathetic to victims and outraged by exploitation of any kind. We must remember that economic exploitation; i.e. wage employment is inherently coercive and violent, and women are driven to sex work as an alternative that offers better wages and greater self-agency than the horrible opportunities or none they face. Criminalization itself creates conditions that promote violence and reduce safety.

    I know it’s not PC to say this, but hey, if sex workers are saying it, we should listen.

    I think if people take the time to examine the actual history of the anti-sex-slavery propaganda mill, they will discover wildly exaggerated and fabricated stories to justify what really amounts to continued criminal prohibition and poor policing of the kind we have seen with the drug war, in the name of feminism.

    Neo-liberalism is unparallelled in it’s ability to corrupt and foul every human and civil right movement it touches.

  24. cripes

    I should have added the best way to reduce the harm of prostitution is living wages and economic justice so fewer people will find it necessary, and to protect the rights and persons engaged in it without fear of criminal persecution.

  25. adrena


    Please put an equal effort into reducing the enormous harm of slut shaming. Us non-prostitutes like to have free choice and enjoy sex too.

    And cripes, does prostitution make men better lovers, ya think?

  26. adrena


    Please put an equal effort into reducing the enormous harm committed by the slut shaming industrial complex. Us non-prostitutes also like to have free choice and to have the opportunity to enjoy sex just as much as men do.

    Btw, does prostitution make men better lovers, ya think?

  27. adrena

    Oops, didn’t realize I was double posting.

  28. adrena


    Yes, the situation is dire. One can hardly expect a corrupt police force to implement well-meaning changes. However, this is not an issue concerning only sex workers – the question is not whether prostitution should be legal or not but how it impacts society at large. Does prostitution, which caters exclusively to male pleasure, benefit society or does it cause harm?

    What is the purpose of prostitution?

  29. cripes

    well, drugs, alcohol and driving all cause more harm, certainly more deaths, but most people do not believe criminalizing it is the solution. In any case, WTF are you going on about? am i slut shaming or saying prostituion makes men better lovers? if you can’t respond sensibly to what i have written, then don’t use me to promote whatever incoherent agenda you’re peddling. finally, listen to what female sex work activists have written, which is why I posted it. There’s way too much telling them what they need and too little listening.

  30. cripes

    thank you, enceladus, this is a good illustration of why reformulating sex workers into “trafficking” victims still leaves them at mercy of jail system. Still criminalizing prohibition.

  31. Prostitution would be an ideal trade benefitting those unlucky enough to be among the socially-awkward and “unappealing” if only it could be a one-on-one deal.
    Problem is, there are too many undesirable “middlemen” running the show. If it was only the subject themselves in full control of their trade, and—better—if the trade was well-regulated and ruled by high standards then it would simply be another type of consensual private adult interaction.

  32. adrena

    Since you asked WTF I am going on about I will elaborate.

    First, it would be helpful if you didn’t twist my words into a different meaning. I never said YOU were slut shaming and You certainly never claimed that prostitution makes men better lovers (On The Contrary). That obviously was a rhetorical question asked by me.

    From experience, I understand that any opposition to legalized prostitution causes some men to fly of the handle. Their responses become hostile rather than thoughtful; the discussions often deteriorate into an argument over statistics and pro-prostitution articles by predominantly female authors are linked to in order to provide strong support for their views etc.

    I am trying to put 2 and 2 together here. It’s important to discuss all angles of prostitution in order to gauge its effect on society, on men and in particular on women who are expected to continue to control their sex drive. The Madonna/Whore syndrome is alive and well in our hyper sexed society with prostitution being the principal mechanism for its endurance.

    It just so happens that I’m temporarily living in the Netherlands and caught the end of the first part of an in-depth 4-part investigation on prostitution in Holland, which, as you know, is a haven for johns.

    The female investigator hopes to find out the following: how normal the profession of a prostitute is; who makes most of the money in this type of work; what are the working conditions of a prostitute; what influence do the Internet and Porn have on prostitution, and how voluntary is her choice to enter into this profession.

    What I learned from the first part was that most of the prostitutes working in Amsterdam’s red light district come from Eastern Europe and that they are ashamed of their profession. The women sent most of the money they earn back to their families. One Dutch woman said she enjoyed her work.

    In subsequent episodes the investigator will be interviewing ex pimps; sex industry representatives; lovergirls; the police; the justice department; lawyers and judges. In addition, the program will go undercover to test what really happens in the sex industry (a two billion/yr business in the Netherlands)

    Here’s the website.

    I also had a discussion about prostitution with my youngest brother, who, I am sad to say, occasionally visits a brothel with his business partners (all married) and who has an escort come to his place about 3x/yr.

    I asked him to describe to me in great detail the brothel he visits just across the border in Germany. It’s everything BSDI alluded to with “their safety guaranteed, their repercussions only social, their compete control of the sexual encounter itself assured”.

    The building itself is more like an entertainment center with tv rooms, pool tables, a bar and a restaurant etc. All men are required to take a shower upon entering and to wear a white bathrobe. It’s a funny sight, according to my brother, to see so many men in white bathrobes. The women, who are all beautiful, walk around casually and are not pushy. When a man makes his choice he approaches the woman and both withdraw to a special area where he gets to be pleased sexually in any shape or form without having to please the woman.

    When my brother finished describing the brothel I had but one feeling which I kept to myself but which felt like an internal explosion of anger. I started swearing at men. How dare they slut shame women while at the same time demand unrestricted sexual freedom for themselves. I mean WTF! Women’s sex drives are as strong, as powerful and here we are living in a world in which so many men don’t care, unlike Ian, one iota about sexually pleasing an eager woman. Prostitution is about fucking women whose sexuality is required to be dead. How fucked up is that? And you want to legalize this?

    “While fundamentalists tend to focus on women’s availability at home, liberal men tend to focus on women’s public availability, but BOTH want women to be members of the sex caste and at their service”.

    Why can’t we progress (this is after all a progressive blog, right?) from the old destructive ways that prostitution represents? What’s wrong with exploring different and new ways of human sexuality – one that connects the feminine and the masculine on a deeper level instead of one that drives them apart?

  33. cripes

    well, ok, at least that’s a summary of your concerns. thank you.
    however, it does not address my contention that new-wave prohibitionists are old-style prohibitionists using criminal justice largely to enforce their upper middle class ideology on lower class women in ways that damage them. We should be concerned with that.
    I still say listening to actual sex workers experience, not channeled through end demand interpreters is valuable.
    Pointing our that desperate economic conditions drive women/men to sex work is neither controversial or an endorsement of prostitution.
    Writing in transit does not allow me to enter a lengthy reply.

  34. cripes

    Basically, I am pointing out the new-wave prohibitionists are neo-liberal “reformists” in the sense that welfare reform and and pension reform and medical insurance reform are (not) reforms. But they have succeeded in coralling “leftists” to their agenda who want to be pro-women, and fail to examine the track record of these hucksters.

    As Truthout’s Maya Schenwar points out in “Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn’t Work and How We Can Do Better” criminal justice reform is being reinterpreted as “women friendly” by hanging diversity posters in womens prisons and calling electronic detention reform that traps prisoners in their homes subject to re-incarceration for trivial reasons and onerous fees–more neo-liberal reformism we should reject.

    As for slut-shaming, I’m not sure how you have arrived at your conclusion that men who frequent prostitutes are slut-shamers. Your brother? I wouldn’t know, although I wouldn’t be surprised, considering a long history of madonna-whore hypocrisy in western culture.

    Best wishes to all.

  35. nihil obstet

    At the risk of revealing myself to be (gasp) puritanical, I admit to some strong reservations about recognizing sex sales as valid economic freedom. What are the civil limits on what can be alienated, or in other terms, what can be treated as a commodity? There’s a feminist argument for it, in that it removes women from being defined by their sexuality. The sex becomes an impersonal activity sold in the marketplace, so that men and women are equally devoid of sexual definition. The counter feminist argument is that in fact it makes women themselves commodities.

    I don’t know how one does away with the stigma in a market economy, because there is always an underlying belief that some things shouldn’t be sold. This shows up in common language when we call, say, tobacco company scientists who testify that cigarette danger has not been proven “intellectual whores.” We don’t think it’s all right even though they know what they’re doing and think it’s a better job than alternatives that may be available to them. We don’t allow the sale of babies or of body organs. Is sex on the list of things that shouldn’t be sold? I wouldn’t want to be too moralistic about it, and I certainly don’t want it criminalized, but I regard prostitution in a market society as a failure of individual rights.

  36. cripes

    Well, yes. i also think gambling causes harm and we’d be better off without, but i recognize it should be regulated in ways that minimize the harm. we should learn to do the same with drugs and sex work. Including protection against exploitation.

  37. Altum Viditur

    nihil: Linguistically it seems to me vaguely analogous to calling mass murdering generals “butchers”.

    Professional killers of people/animals vs. people who sell their chastity/integrity.

  38. adrena


    There’s nothing like working a day in a forest garden to get rid of the patriarchal cobwebs in one’s brain.

    So where were we? Oh yes.. First, let me make it clear that my youngest brother does not slut shame. Far from it. He confronted one of his business partners with his hypocrisy when he beat up a man who was flirting with his wife. My brother never visited a prostitute during his marriage or while in a relationship with a woman. That said, I’m definitely not condoning his behavior. He buys and sells horses (show jumping) all over the world and deals with a lot of foreigners. Most of these men demand to be taken to a brothel the minute they step off the plane at Schiphol airport. The worst are the Americans, he says.

    You state that “new-wave prohibitionists are old-style prohibitionists using criminal justice largely to enforce their upper middle class ideology on lower class women in ways that damage them” So you are saying that upper middle class women cause harm to prostitutes who you refer to as “lower class” women. Men don’t cause prostitutes harm but other women do by denying these women to offer up their three orifices freely to men for them to masturbate into. Topsy turvy much?

    You seem to have something against prohibitionists as it relates to male sexuality. Do you realize that the entire culture continuously slams its prohibitionist hammer on any attempt made by female sexuality to free itself from its chains? Women live with prohibition all their lives. You talk as if sex is only about men.

    You suggest that listening to sex workers is valuable. I believe listening to all the non-sex workers is even more valuable. What do you know about authentic female sexuality? What do you know about women’s desires and their fears? Let me take a wild guess. You, like many other men, don’t care to know. Yet you demand I listen to what sex workers have to say? To that I say: “Go take a hike, cripes”. Cripes!

    Now it gets really confusing. Truth be told, I don’t know what you are talking about. You’re conflating prostitution with welfare, pension and medical insurance and neo-liberal reformist. You talk about corralling leftists, who want to be pro-woman, to their agenda. You are truly baring your soul here. You must feel so oppressed by those pesky feminists. I’ll refrain from becoming really snarky but I want you to know this: “My tongue is bleeding”.

    Then, the discussion veers toward prisons. One could devote an entire book to this topic.

    Finally, you state: “As for slut shaming, I’m not sure how you have arrived at your conclusion that men who frequent prostitutes are slut-shamers”. I would have said “johns” if that is what I meant.

    My point is that prostitution and slut shaming are two sides of the same coin. How do men and society justify the desire to have prostitution legalized? By claiming that men need sex more than women. And why does society believe men need sex more than women? Well, just look at evolution, they say. It’s in men’s nature. There are references ad nauseam about prostitution being the oldest profession, about men wanting to spread their seeds etc. It’s a tape that is set on permanent replay. Many men desperately defend the archaic institution of prostitution as their right to maintain. It’s an ancient patriarchal narrative created by the need to control female sexuality in order to ensure paternity. Entire theories were created to reinforce the narrative. Studies were designed to support it; archaeological findings were interpreted to defend it; the multiple examples in nature of female promiscuity were ignored etc. The patriarchy prescribed female sexual behavior and then claimed this behavior was natural.

    If female sexuality was to be controlled, men needed an outlet for their sexual energy. The institution of prostitution serves that purpose. Society didn’t care and didn’t want to hear about female sexual energy. One of religion’s principal roles is to police female sexual behavior, if not through violence (stoning), then through slut shaming. Complete prohibition of female sexual pleasure was its mantra. No wonder human sexuality has become so mutilated. Men have been denied to develop intimacy and real friendship with women and their emotions have been stunted. Women continue to be confused about their own sexuality as they receive a continuous stream of mixed messages from society about all aspects of their lives.

    In conclusion, if we as a society are to move forward, we must actively seek to throw the institution of prostitution over the cliff so we can start over again. The subject of paternity must be discussed in all sex ed classes. Girls need to be taught the importance of knowing the father of their offspring not only for medical reasons but also for the psychological health and right of the father as well as of the child. This entails that girls refrain from all sexual activity other than with their partner during that time in their lives they are planning to have children.

    Conversely, boys need to be taught also to refrain from all sexual activity other than with their partner during that time they are planning to have children. This is to provide moral and psychological support to the woman. Conception and pregnancy is a journey men and women need to travel together.

    I have focused on paternity because this seems to have caused a major derailment in the healthy development of human sexuality. But anything outside of this period is up for discussion. I don’t have all the answers. Do we promote temporary monogamy and experiment with other types of arrangements?

    The possibilities are endless.

    But … don’t forget the children.

  39. Hvd

    I am confused by the insistence on seeing prostitution (sex work) as being the province of females alone. Predominantly so it’s true but not exclusively so.

    Maybe this will help Adrena with cripes position.

    What is so special about this singular part of our bodies that we can’t sell it? Ask a coal miner what part of a coal miners body hasn’t been decimated by the sale of their body for work.

    And before you all start attacking me I am not advocating for sale of bodies rather I am asking why in a universe where everything is for sale we have a particular taboo here.

    I am all for the sexual liberation of both men and women that Adrena advocates but believe we can’t get there if we keep treating our sexuality as something that is Sui generis.

  40. Hvd

    Why should sex work be seen as different from physical therapy work? Or pychiatry/psychology?

    Finally I recognize and abhor the confusion many hve with regard to power and sexuality and recognize the part that has in all the myriad forms of sexual slavery (any combination of gender or gender orientation you can think of) that exist.

  41. cripes

    Wow, adrena, your tirade against whore-mongering patriarchy is wasted on me.

    You attribute all manner of nonsense to me I never said, implied or believe. And you think that by saying I am a man somehow validates your straw-man arguments. When your argument is irrational, indeed irrelevant to anything I said, by all means attack the identity of the speaker. If I attacked your logic because you are a woman, how stupid would that be?

    The topic here was “sex-slavery” which I contend is manipulated by crypto-fascist hucksters to suck government/NGO money for abusive “rescues” of women who want no part of their carceral “reforms.”

    If you are incapable of responding TO that, by all means write to your heart’s content, but refrain from pretending you are addressing anything I said.

    Read this to see what I am talking about:

    Molly Crabapple: “Special Prostitution Courts and the Myth of ‘Rescuing’ Sex Workers”

    While your brother is “(show jumping) all over the world and deals with a lot of foreigners.” and we talk past each other on this blog, men and women earning their living by sex are being dragged into courts in chains. Marked for life with criminal records excluding them from gainful employment. Calling it sex slavery or rescue doesn’t change their reality.

    And if I dare to question the wisdom, or decency, of that you call me names.
    I think their lives mean nothing to you.
    Shame, shame, shame.

  42. cripes

    BTW, I would need a heavy yellow highlighter to mark all the places where you write things you claim I have said, think or believe…that I didn’t.

    Having a conversation with you would be a thankless exercise in cleaning up the detritus of your groundless assumptions and ridiculous strawmen.

    You really must try to stop doing that.

    You are a poor listener.

    When people like you start writing legislation governing the behavior of people who never met someone who jumps horses, I grieve.

    Other than that, I’m ok with with boys and girls staying together for the children.

  43. Jeff Wegerson

    Sex work has to be made legal for everything else to work. And no, the Nordic model is a bust, and is not working. (Has the Nordic model failure become your belief too, Adrena?)

    Of course it can’t stop there. How about that woman in Germany who was refused un-employment benefits (temporarily I believe) because she refused a legal job in sex work.

    Quite simply, the distance between becoming legal and the end of slut shaming in general and whore stigma in specific is HUGE. (Forgive the caps.) But it could go a long ways towards reducing trafficking, imho. Remember, sex workers have an incentive to report trafficking.

    As for constructing a set of healthy sexual relationships between men and women, my vote goes to a civilized extension of the Bonobo way.

  44. adrena


    You’re comparing the work of coal miners and prostitutes? Oh boy, this gets weirder by the day.

    But in the new human sexuality I envision, there is definitely a place for sexual therapists that cater to the physically disabled. In fact this kind of service already exists in several European countries. The therapists receive special training to provide this service. This however, does not require a billion dollar industry fueled by violence and sex slavery.


    Well then, let’s focus on sex slavery

    Your concern about sex slaves is heart-warming. Oh wait, maybe it’s legalizing prostitution you care more about. If this is the case I can imagine how the existence of sex-slaves really gets in the way of engaging in guilt-free sex with prostitutes. It must be so annoying to be continuously reminded by these “rescue industry” people that an activity you enjoy is rotten to the core. After all, how does one reconcile the desire to have sex with a woman whose sexuality is required to be dead with advances made in the principles of ethical thought as well as in liberal and progressive discourse, not to mention human rights?

    On legalizing prostitution.

    If you believe that legalizing prostitution will answer all your prayers and make that pesky problem of sex slavery go away, you are seriously mistaken.

    Following are quotes from a paper with a compilation of the results of studies undertaken about the effect of the legalization of prostitution in the Netherlands in 2000. (“Briefing on legal prostitution in The Netherlands: policies, evaluations, normalization”)

    The fourth goal (formulated by the government) and one of the most important reasons for the legalisation, was the protection of the (legal) position of prostitutes. On this goal the research states: ‘there has been no significant improvement’,’ the prostitutes’ emotional well-being is now lower than in 2001 on all measured aspects, and the use of sedatives has increased’; options for leaving the industry were in high demand, while only 6% of municipalities offer assistance

    Daalder, A. L. (2007). Prostitution in The Netherlands since the lifting of the brothel ban.

    However the most serious condemnation of legalized prostitution in the Netherlands came from the Council of Chiefs of Police, no less. Following is a quote from their letter addressed to the Minister of Justice, in 2009.

    “In conclusion, it is concerning the Council that the picture that exists with national and local authorities about how the dynamic prostitution industry operates in actual fact is still evolving, incomplete or even missing. Therefore policy responses of the authorities will mainly exist of reactive policies and the ‘chasing’ of the industry, there, where in my opinion, a proactive and preventive policy is required” 51.

    Letter (15 January 2009). Raad van Hoofdcommissarissen Politie aan de Minister van Binnenlands Zaken en Koninkrijksrelaties met betrekking tot het Wetsvoorstel regulering prostitutie.

    The new law is an amendment to the existing legislation: it is a municipal framework law titled ‘wet bestrijding misstanden in de seksbranche’:‘law to fight the wrongs in the sex industry’, which would guarantee more uniform municipal legislation. The new legislation is still based on the same principles and goals and underlying the current one, which has been proved ineffective. That is why it is time to seriously consider punishing prostitution buyers. Prostitution is a serious form of violence against women.

    The goals of the Dutch law are based on a twofold understanding. First, there was the assumption that one could separate voluntary prostitution from forced prostitution by imposing a system of regulations and create State control on prostitution. ‘Disentanglement’ of these two types of prostitution, however, is impossible for violence is an integrate part of prostitution; prostitution is hardly a positive choice.

    Prostitution and violence, prostitution and exploitation, prostitution and trafficking cannot be ‘disentangled’. If there is one outcome that is common to all research in The Netherlands in the past fourteen years, then it is this. One cannot create a ‘clean’ sector: prostitution is not clean. According to the national police 50-90% of the women are in prostitution involuntarily. Why then make policies that facilitate and sanction this? Why then allow women to be abused? Why then grant prostitution permits to women in the knowledge that she is being abused? Does that not make the State an accomplice to abuse?

    The second reason to legalise, was the notion that the social position of women would be improved by it. Recognise sex as work. Labour rights, employment conditions. But let’s be real: the vast majority of the women never entered the social welfare system 52.

    Rights for sex workers, the right to sex work: prostitution is not a right. A right is it to be free from prostitution. The only legal position that improved with legalisation, was that of the pimp, that of the trafficker, that of the buyer, who doesn’t have to be ashamed to visit a brothel anymore for men are entitled to buy.

    This policy was a pragmatic approach: not a moral position. Because ‘prostitution always existed and always will be’. This Dutch ‘pragmatic’stance is, in my opinion, a defeatist and little progressive attitude. Progressive would be to be brave, and to dare say that this can no longer be allowed, this is no way to treat women. Progressive would be to say, we don’t accept this, we women demand this abuse to stop. Progressive would be to strive for prevention of prostitution. Prevention, changing attitudes, strive for a different type of society. Progressive would be to say: Enough! We ban the buying of women. We stop prostitution. And we take down that hopeless statue 53. For prostitution is not a women’s right, it is a right to be free from prostitution.


    If you are seriously interested in the welfare of sex slaves, cripes, let’s join hands and throw the institution of prostitution over the cliff – this would solve the problem once and for all.

  45. adrena

    @Jeff Wegerson

    The Nordic model is far from a bust

    In Sweden the effects of this law have been positive to the extent that the legislation has inspired other countries in the European Union and beyond to implement similar laws e.g. Norway and Iceland (2009), South Africa (2007), and South Korea (2003). Consultations on legislation that prohibits the purchase of sexual services are presently underway in France, Belgium, The Republic of Ireland and, of course, Northern Ireland. Source

    So men get prostitution and women get this


  46. cripes


    “It must be so annoying to be continuously reminded by these “rescue industry” people that an activity you enjoy is rotten to the core.”

    Since you have shamelessly directed this idiotic statement at me, I suppose I must answer, distasteful as it is.

    Again the odious use of strawmen, assigning behaviors and blame based on what you assume is my gender. The refuge of the insincere. Ironic, isn’t it, coming from you who complains endlessly about stereotyping women’s sexuality that you are, well, guilty of it yourself.

    For your info, unlike your horse-jumping brother with his international contacts, I have never visited a brothel, can’t afford to. The many street based sex workers I have known through social work have come looking for help with housing, court cases, substance abuse treatment, employment and domestic violence shelters. Placing them is difficult for a variety of reasons I doubt your experience has prepared you to understand.

    With my spouse (again, no gender assignments have been made, watch your assumptions!), we have guided many through housing, re-entering school, getting custody of children, filing for child support, becoming free from drug use. Obtaining medical care.

    We are godparents for three of their children, have photographed two births and cut the umbilical cord for the most recent birth of a daughter. Recently we attended and testified at a court hearing which succeeded in sealing the entire criminal history of the plaintiff, freeing her to seek education, housing or employment without fear of discrimination.

    And what, exactly, have you done for the victims of prostitution–or the criminal laws that victimize them for the rest of their lives?


    Oh yeah, the study you cited does verify that 25% of men surveyed in Holland have used the services of prostitutes. So 75% have not.

    When your theories are more important than the people they purport to help, you become a danger to other people. I pray you never wield any power greater than scribbling on this blog over the lives of living, breathing people.

    Your rude, brainless, trite, insulting assumptions are your worst enemy.

  47. adrena

    Your work with street-based sex workers is admirable. I’m surprised you would want to feed the monster that keeps producing an endless stream of abused women.

    And what, exactly, have you done for the victims of prostitution–or the criminal laws that victimize them for the rest of their lives?

    Consciousness-raising. I’m a humanitarian foremost. I care about the welfare of all humans. The Internet provides a perfect opportunity to bring awareness to the real implications of legalizing prostitution. The Nordic Model does precisely what you claim to care about. That is: “Decriminalize the victims of prostitution” I’m interested in changing minds, not laws. What I hope to achieve is: 1 Reducing/Eliminating the demand for prostitution. 2. Improving relations between men and women.

    In real life, I assist dying people and their families to experience a peaceful death.

  48. cripes

    Finally, it’s like you are actually addressing me, instead of some figment of something. I feel better already.

    I do not ascribe bad motives to you, nor would I stereotype you as a man-hating femi-nazi, which is essentially what I objected to in your manner of addressing me.

    I disagree with some of the things you have said. I agree with others, primarily having to do with social/sexual/family dynamics in western culture.

    We should consider the merits of an argument on the merits, not the speaker. That is why I suggest you consider the objections to end demand criminal law and forced rescue (and it is, with jailers always there, and not very subtle) put forth by female critics: to focus on the subject.

    My experience in Chicago has been that the end demand laws and special courts for prostitution prisoners are a big bust. Window dressing for people pushing their theory and allies in criminal justice who cynically adopt the lingo and look the other way as police are the biggest threat and source of sexual abuse.

    The system that claims to rehabilitate people engaged in sex commerce (men and women) addicts, homeless persons, etc. is designed to manage poor people in brutal ways and mainly through incarceration. It’s a killer.

    One of the women very close to us, now living in her own apartment and raising her children and criminal-record free, thanks to expungement laws, was a former “worker” for this crew:–189428101.html

    She struggles with drug relapse, but has people to go to who will not threaten her with prison and homelessness and loss of her children if she fails. Best I can do. One of the more productive things I have contributed to is expungement/sealing laws and Chicago’s “Ban the Box” provisions for job applications for ex-offenders. I can assure you the sex workers (please can we have a term that everyone agrees is neutral) I know are far more concerned about the discrimination and ghetto-ization imposed by their criminal records than they are by any theory or the prospect of filling paddy wagons with their customers. I’ve asked.

    Maybe you can consider more fully the importance of how society treats people still engaged in drugs or sex commerce, while we wait for the day prostitution–or addiction–is eliminated.

    Anyway, I appreciate your comments. Sorry for the harsh things I said, probably just trying to get through the veil of internet bloggery to communicate better to someone that obviously couldn’t know me. I rarely say much about my personal experience and try to rely on rhetoric and logic, but that’s not always sufficient.

    I’m still trying to figure out how to help people live a peaceful life, not ready to help them through a peaceful death. Maybe it’s part of the same journey. Best wishes.

  49. adrena

    I’m afraid we’ll have to agree to disagree on legalizing prostitution.

  50. cripes

    Yes, that’s what i thought.
    Criminal law is a blunt instrument, typically wielded upon the bodies of the poor.
    I cannot share your optimism that this time will be different.

  51. adrena

    Your solution is no solution

    Ode to The Unknown Prostitute

    The sound of a plastic tape
    Cracking in the stiff breeze
    Demarcation of death
    A life thrown carelessly in a pile of trash
    Blue-white glimmer of cold limbs
    Odd angles insulting the sidewalk
    And a frozen stare defying the moon
    Who was she … this delicate corpse
    Naked in her un-virginity
    Cast aside in bestial rage
    A tiny particle of life force
    Snuffed out as easily as a candle
    Who was she … this scrap of being
    No more to offer her immortal soul in exchange
    For fleeting comfort for her flesh
    She is like soiled garments
    Cast aside on concrete’s bosom
    Of no more use to man or beast
    She lies in clean white splendor now
    Not in the tarnished sheets she’d known
    But steel … cold and unyielding cradles her
    In bright lit splendor while clinical hands
    Perform intricacies on her cold flesh
    Searching for the essence of her adulterer
    What drove that brief span to end so soon
    What karmic force took such a precious jewel
    What crime against humanity deserved such sentence
    Sleep peacefully now sweet flesh
    No more will violation be your existence.

    Jen Whyte

  52. adrena

    The link failed. The title of the article from Spiegel Online is: “Unprotected: How Legalizing Prostitution Has Failed”

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