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Is equating prostitution and rape ‘intolerable violence’ ? Really ?

30 janvier 2013

par Salomée Miroir

For several weeks, I have seen my time-line overrun with tweets that virulently protest the equating of prostitution with a form of rape. This analogy is denounced as intolerably violent words, deemed to demolish by themselves alone the value of female consent, and moreover to severely stigmatize whores and raped women. (These words are alleged to depict the former as unempowered and to minimize the latter’s suffering and abuse experience.)
I guess the return of this theme in the prostitution debate is closely linked with its surge at the heart of abolitionist debates.

For abolitionists, the equating of rape and prostitution proves quite relevant, since the latter is about imposing sex that is both unwanted sex and consented to because of the power of money and the financial constraints on the prostituted.

Does this analysis really constitute “intolerable violence” ?

The first time I was confronted with words denouncing the intolerable violence of this analogy, I had a strange feeling. I couldn’t really have put words on it, but I felt a kind of malaise, and more to the point, I had difficulty grasping the problem.
I myself am a whore, a woman and a rape survivor (yahoo, ain’t I the lucky one ?!), and yet I do not find this analogy violent, whereas this seems indisputably evident to many others.
I then felt the need to reflect and take stock of these accusations, ones that I personally experienced as a form of violence throughout my environment.
The exercise is difficult because of there is a whole lot of violence in my living environment. (Indeed, the worst aren’t the attacks directed at my whore "status", but those targeting my drug addiction.) Be they physical, verbal, intentional or not, the ones I level at myself or those that I get from others, all of them end up forming a deafening noise where it sometimes becomes very difficult to precisely figure out the who, what, what, how, and why factors.

Eventually, I have come to the conclusion that the words that hurt me most were in fact those that completely denied how much violence there can be in sex that is owed to someone.

As for all these talking points that are supposed to defend my rights and freedoms, such as :

 “Whores offer a service based on an agreement, so from a certain point on, I am not supposed to say anything.”
(=> You offer your services, so voilà ! grin and bear it. You commit to fucking ; if you don’t, you’re really not a good commercial provider. And yeah, why should it be problematic, it’s merely giving someone a bit of ass ! )

 “Whores prostitute by choice, who am I to tell them what they should do with their lives.”
(=> Cool. Well, personally, I’m not inherently against someone pointing out that I am going to hurt myself by slamming into a wall and that, if I want it, there is a helping hand there, close by. No, no, really, I am not going to feel that my personal rights and freedoms are being severely curtailed.)

 “Whores who whine that what they do is hard / violent, well, all they have to do is stop doing it : one always has the choice in life.”
(=> No comment.)

 “Whores who whine that what they do is hard and violent are opportunists who just want to take advantage of organizations that are too naïve and fooled by slackers.”
(=> Yes, because in fact, prostitution is cool, lucrative, nor tiring nor violent, in short, the perfect job for slackers !)

 “One can just as well choose to be a whore or a secretary or a math teacher, I don’t see the problem.”
(=> Oh yeah ? Well I see a problem in finding absolutely normal situations where to consider prostitution is as commonplace as to consider becoming a math teacher or a secretary. Simply because – excuse the outburst of Judeo-Christian morality – sexuality matters. Contrary to an idea that is gaining more and more traction, sexual acts are not trivial, they leave marks, sometimes for a long time, and it would not be a bad idea to educate people – especially men – to not mess too much with that. Anyway, I imagine I am merely stuck-up, I can’t fathom any other explanation.)

 “You can always say no, stop, you can leave and give back the money.”
(=> Go whoring for a month and get back to me about that. Because whether the pay is essential to your survival, or things degenerate when he is already in you, or you know that the john is very influential on the ‘Net, to say No, Stop and to leave giving back the money just isn’t that simple (And hey, get serious, we are service providers, so it is normal that The Client Is Always Right !). Leaving isn’t impossible, of course (I have done it myself), but it’s not so obvious.


Here is what is fucking violent.

This sustained deafness, this indifference, this victim-blaming, this normalization of what I (and many others) live through, is worse, so much worse, that any overestimation of the violence of prostitution.

Because, well, it’s true, systematically equating prostitution and rape may be a bit of an overstatement.

And yet, overall, isn’t it kind of strange that all whores agree that the important thing is “to get it over with as fast as possible”, or that they all rejoice in the existence of these mythical clients who “only want to talk”.

Recently, as I was surfing on the prostitution forum of the Doctissimo portal (the cream of the crop in terms of comical Internet forums, it’s well worth your time), a young girl triggered the hilarity of several whores in clearly articulating that, in a nutshell, she wanted to know every possible method of NOT fucking while prostituting. The answer she received was : “We are all looking for them.”
Yes it’s true, we all are.

Simply because fucking as something owed to someone is violent, tedious and disgusting.
When it’s happening, there are so many other things on which to focus that one does not necessarily acknowledge the violent nature of such acts.

We have to remain vigilant, checking our money and things, the client’s rubbers, the time elapsed, the guy’s behavior, all that kind of stuff.

But in retrospect, there is sometimes a very bitter taste to some “service deliveries”. A taste that twists our guts and that we don’t even feel entitled to since, hey, one is there by choice and one needs to grin and bear it...

Strange how this reminds me of something.

The missing ones...

And as usual in this story, there is this great gap of the missing ones, the ones we never talk about because, well, we are all in full agreement about that issue so it’s not worth mentioning, right ?

The ones that are coerced, pimped, trafficked, call it what you wish.

Abolitionists are often accused of having a closed mind, but to only discuss the prostitution deemed free and chosen, isn’t that a nice huge pair of blinders ?

What is prostitution for these women if not paid rape ?

How can one rail against the “intolerable violence” of equating prostitution and rape without taking this problem in consideration for at least a second ?

A reversal of priorities ...

What I find quite strange in this “debate” is precisely this reversal of priorities.

One derides the violence (Is there such a thing as a violent contradiction ?) that may represent some words in the case of a minority, instead of considering what these words are denouncing for the majority of the prostituted.

One protests on behalf of the few who experience prostitution as self-growth or even fun (I would love meeting some of those, but real ones, eh, not the kind that privately confide horrors), without considering those for whom it is a succession of abuse and time-released trauma, and even less those who are coerced.
There is concern for the customers, the poor dear, who find themselves stigmatized by such remarks ; we need to show them understanding, sexual misery is such a downer.
And in the end, we close our eyes, we normalize, we become deaf.

No really, the intolerable violence is not the one we think.

French version : blogue Le Mélange Instable de Salomée – « L’assimilation viol/prostitution, une violence intolérable, vraiment ? » -

Traduction : Martin Dufresne

© Salomée Miroir, janvier 2013.

Edited on Sisyphe, January 30, 2013.

Salomée Miroir

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