My last post paid tribute to Amy Herdy wherein I praised her for grappling with male violence at its white hot center. She does a most excellent job of trying to understand one particular sadistic sociopath, Brent Brents. But I was wrong; Amy is not at the center of male violence.
This post is a sharing of my thoughts and observations after having spent some time getting some intense education about the sex trade from some amazing exited women who’ve been bravely speaking their Truths about it online (some of whom I quote and link further down). I also weave in some bits and pieces of other things I know. All this is my attempt at better understanding male violence so as to figure out how, in whatever way I can, tackle this issue and the immense suffering it causes.
My knowledge on this issue is wholly formed by exited women who are fighting for its abolition. I have and do listen to pro-sex trade arguments, but none of them are ever compelling or sensical enough for me to change my abolitionist position.
MALE VIOLENCE & THE SEX TRADE
In the context of the industrial colonist patriarchal culture that most of us are trapped in some version of, I define male violence as any disrespectful act towards another living Being. From there it’s all a matter of degree, and the degree of disrespect and harm inflicted on mostly girls and women (and some boys and men such as Jack) in the male-demanded sex trade is extreme. Psychologist Melissa Farley explains the psycho-spiritual impact of prostitution and why it’s wrong to pay for sex, not in the moral/religious sense, but in the basic human/Spirit sense:
It is sex trade survivors and endurers who are at the center of, so very intimately struggling with, and the ultimate experts of male violence because they are the ones that LIVE IT – at the time it happens and in the dark shadow of its memory – in a unique and profound way that many of us have the privilege of never knowing.
I’ve also realized there is no ‘white hot heat’ of male violence and the sex trade that it fuels. Among the many things it is and isn’t, the sex trade appears to embody a profound lack of Love and Respect; its got a deadened Spirit and a cold, shriveled heart, which is why its so harmful, hurtful and extremely traumatic to the (mostly) female bodies & Spirits it thoughtlessly trades, consumes and then so recklessly discards.
What IS white hot is the HEAT, POWER and LIGHT of its endurers and survivors. I am constantly blown away in heart and mind when I hear exited sex trade abolitionists speak their Truths. Their words capture my undivided attention, and they should yours too if you have the privilege of not having been subjected to the industrial-scale harm that is the sexual slavery trade.
Each of these women’s voices is so clear, coherent, unique and powerful in articulating the unfathomable experiences of male violence they endured. They give us so much important knowledge that we can put into action if we just take the time to listen and interact with them.
Few people are as abused and traumatized as sex trade survivors, but make no mistake, they are FAR from victims.*
As commenter nuclearnight so eloquently said on abolitionist Rebecca Mott’s blog:
Trauma is the biggest dose of clarity a woman can have if it’s harnessed correctly.
That women not only survive (many don’t) the dehumanizing and torturous nightmare that is the sex trade and then go on to TELL the Truth about it gives us a clue about the amount of strength these women have. So when they speak, I am all ears because they have so much to teach me. With knowledge comes power, and with power we can’t help but ACT.
Many people are on the fence about the sex trade, especially with so much “sex worker rights” language polluting the waters. Listening to exited women’s voices leaves zero doubt in my heart what side of the fence I’m on: The Human Side.
Here are some expert examples of the light being clearly and coherently shined on the reality of the industrial sexual slavery trade that society is kept in the dark about:
It is normal to have forced sex in all aspects of the sex trade, it is the foundation of how the sex trade works.
The prostituted class were invented to have a slave class that have no rights to dignity and no access to full humanity.
The prostituted class was made so men have access to humans who had no right to say no to any sexual violence that men can imagine
There no reason that is good enough for buying another human for sexual greed/needs.
It is not pushing the sexual boundaries to buy another human as your sexual goods; prostitutes will not mend any long-term relations by providing sex your partner won’t give; prostitutes are not your mother, daughter, therapist, goddess or porn object. — REBECCA MOTT
It’s very mind destroying. […] I don’t have any emotions for my body. I use my body more like an object, like something for getting me from A to B. […] I don’t think I could ever like make love, only like have sex, because that’s what I feel like. It’s not like I feel like it’s a personal thing to have sex with somebody anymore.
[W]hen I first started doing it, I cried my eyes out every day and just scrubbed myself in bleach and…I felt like I’d been raped. It was just…it really screwed my mind up.
I can’t even remember how many guys I’ve slept with. I’ve slept with billions and billions. I’ve been working for seven years and minimum like two or three a day. It’s a lot. It’s a lot of people. Do you know what I mean? Who you’ve had sex with. It’s a lot of people you’ve seen and it’s soul destroying to do it. — Q**
I do not believe all punters are abusers [but] I believe all prostitution is abuse. Many clients of women working as prostitutes are what I would term oblivious abusers. They are inflicting abuse, but they are unaware of the fact.
However traumatised I was and however much I felt repulsed by the sex I had with clients, I exuded the ‘happy hooker’ persona. In fact, I must’ve fucking rocked it […] But far more important than that, I was only able to be my true self and gain freedom when I came out of the denial which consumed me while I worked in prostitution.
To have sex with men and women I didn’t want to have sex with, to have people see me naked, to have strangers touch my body, touch my skin anywhere they wanted with whatever body part of theirs they wanted to use, I had to be in denial. That is what allowed me to do it without breaking, without falling apart, without realising the hell in which I was living. […] [A]fter a very short while, dissociation wasn’t enough on its own. I had to use drugs as well. — XLONDONCALLGIRL
Prostitution is the very pinnacle of sexism. It is the result of gender inequality having reached the horror of its fullest potential. If you ever want to get rid of the horror of prostitution there is only one way to do that – and that is to get rid of prostitution itself.
[M]en who buy sex are obsessed with the act of despoilment; they are, as a group, blatantly obsessed with the desire to fuck the youngest girl they can find.
They bother me, these stupid irrelevant lines that are drawn that attempt to divide the lived reality of the prostitution experience based on whether a female is fifteen or seventeen, seventeen or nineteen, eighteen or twenty. They are diversions to the central matter at hand; they divert from the core issue. They disappear the fact that this is wrong, not only by degrees that deepen with the youthfulness of its target, but by its nature, so that all those who’ve been paid for sex they do not want have suffered sexual abuse. There is a shelf-life for women in prostitution, but there is no shelf-life for the nature of prostitution. Its abusive core does not morph into something else on a person’s eighteenth birthday. Not that many men wait that long in the first place.
I had no more personal agency at fifteen than I had the year before, in fact I had significantly less, because at fourteen I had only six months of homelessness behind me; at fifteen I had a year and a half. In homelessness your desperation increases with time, not decreases. If people think ‘personal agency’ always increases with the forward march of time they are lucky people who’ve never had to deal with the miserable conditions of their own lives intensifying with time, and they’re obviously so detached from that life experience they’ve never even considered it. — FREE IRISH WOMAN
[‘Sex worker rights’, unionizing, legalizing and other such ‘harm reduction’ language around the sex trade] is a refusal to see that it just makes this abuse more acceptable. I’m so fucking tired of the shitty excuses and the tiptoeing round other people’s delicate sexual ‘needs’ for fear of omg oppressing them. […] If someone has to bribe you to consent with money, that’s not freely given consent. End of. Make that what you will. Here’s a clue, dear punters, it’s called rape.” — BLU (commenter on this blog post of Mott’s — check out Blu’s entire comment to hear its full awesomeness.)
People always say, why didn’t you run away, why didn’t you get help. But we’d been brainwashed and tortured into believing help’s not possible. And we experienced society as complicit in our slavery. Because most of the men we saw knew the people we worked for threatened and beat us. They understood it’s a living death for us. They’d lie to themselves because they wanted to partake. We were gourmet food to be devoured. When you’re in a situation where people are treating you this way, you don’t believe they will help you.
There were cops working with our pimps. The first out-call my pimp took me to was a party with fourteen policemen. He wanted me to see he had lots of cops in his pocket. The cops were drinking beer in a hotel suite bedroom, standing around a king-sized bed, where one cop after the other pushed himself inside me or into my mouth. Sometimes there’d be two at a time. Water flowed from my eyes, I couldn’t stop it. The cops egged each other on, and they were really drunk. One sensitive cop not much older than me saw my tears. He kept saying to his buddies, “she’s a really good whore,” and they’d agree. Then the sensitive guy would look at me like he hoped that would cheer me up. — STELLA MARR
One must be plugged into their humanity to understand what a Spirit violation rape is before trying to understand the horror of all this on an industrial scale. Consumers and supporters of the sex trade are clearly way unplugged from their humanity because rape – to whatever degree of violence suits their selfish desires – is what men are in the market to buy, whether they consciously know this or not.
How did humanity ever come to the place where rape is a “service” to be bought? John Trudell would probably say it comes down to the Spirit-eating and mind-mining behind things like colonialism and industrialization that makes people forget they are human. When one forgets they are human, one is unable to treat others as human.
INDUSTRY EATS HUMANITY
All of us have suffered and continue to suffer some form of male violence; it’s impossible to avoid when the entire patriarchal industrial-colonist culture wholly depends ON violence to uphold its greedy, narcissistic self. The normalization of male violence and rape culture is deeply disturbing, as seen in video games like this one that make the degradation and dehumanization of women “entertainment” – a “game” for men to conquer.
In his book Negative Ecstasy, Arnold Itwaru explains how the dominant culture’s industrialized eroticism:
[C]ultivates the pornographic imagination in proposing that sexual attraction is manufactured in the political economy of capitalism and is purchasable for all.
Desire dressed in the imaginary of industrialism fetishizes each dismembered part of the body whose sensual wholeness is destroyed. […] It is the commercialization of the sexual, the commercialization of the body and the indication of the dominance of the economy of free enterprise which struts about in the name of freedom. [Slut Walks anyone?]
Women from any part of the sex trade who are now bravely speaking out against it are sometimes subject to nasty personal attacks and threats by sex trade lobbyists. This is a common going-for-the-jugular tactic used by people who are intellectually & Spiritually lazy and have weak arguments to begin with. Some of their offensive and outlandish accusations include calling these women liars and “failed hookers” who just weren’t “tough enough” or smart enough to predict/deal with whatever torture awaited them (!!!). One particular outrageous slander against these women is that their minds have been damaged by drug use so they can’t possibly know what they’re talking about. This nonsense is laughable because one only needs to hear and compare the arguments between the two groups to see who makes the most clear and coherent sense.****
On the matter of the culturally prized trait we call “being tough”, Arnold Itwaru says:
Toughness is the new hallmark of liberation. Tough decisions have to be made. Life is said to be a tough business. This is a troubling rule of the tough in a culture which has institutionalized violation. The new woman [the so-called empowered sex worker?] is the tough woman. She has successfully imitated some of the worst features in the mythologization of masculinity in this culture, and in this she has sunk deeper into the domination in the values of the phallus/destroyer/protector. She is now the active and “free agent” in the enforcement of its rule. This is her abusive liberation.
Iyanla Vanzant says that intimacy = INTO-ME-SEE. Sexual seeing-into people on an industrial scale by making bodies into objects and commodities removes the basic human-Spirit element of relating. We are human beings trying to be human and the Spirit-eating industrial culture works very hard at making us forget our humanity.
Add to this industrial seeing-into the vast sexual, physical and mental violence and torture underpinning the sex trade, and one’s humanity goes deep into hiding because it is incompatible with “industry” for everyone — the clients, the pimps brokering this slave trade, and certainly for the sexual “goods” and “services” being bought and sold and made sub-human in the process.
In the intimate act that is sex, what are men seeing when they buy the “right” to rape and torture (more on that here and here) – to whatever degree – the vast majority of bodies in the sex trade? At the least, they see nothing, for they are not seeing a human being, because to see a human being, one would treat one with a basic human decency. The sex trade’s level of violence and basic (and often extreme) disregard for women’s humanity tells us there’s something more than females-as-nothing going on (which is horrible in itself).
Dr. James Gilligan tells us that shame and Spirit death are the source of violence. It is then no wonder that women that men buy end up feeling, among other things, shame and a profound Spirit wound – they have been the very intimate receptacles of men’s shame and Spirit death, over and over and over again. Society’s ignorance about and wrongful judgment towards the prostituted certainly contributes to this too.
When one receives Love and Respect, one becomes Love and Respect. If one is deprived of these things, we become a lack of these things. These are not permanent states though. I feel that Love & Respect are strong medicine in helping to heal this profound Spirit wound, and I think it’s more of a wound than a death because as long as we’re alive, our Spirit is breathing and morphing to its environment. We need to be in the right environment for the wounds to mend.
There is much more to be said about all of this. I will end here and continue to listen to exited women sharing their knowledge as I process my way through all of this.
I feel very lucky and honored to be connected with some of the women I speak of. I want to give them as much of my Love, Respect and support as I can. Please give them yours and join in the conversation and fight against male violence and the sexual slavery it is fueling, in whatever way you are able.***
*I think the selfish, greedy men who buy and trade in the sex trade are the most pitiful, spiritually-retarded victims of all because of their very narrow and distorted (and these days porn-sick) ideas around sex and relating.
**I am very sad to say that two years ago Q passed on to the Spirit world. In Q’s memory and honor, writer researcher Ruth Jacobs who was close friends with her has created a charity publication where all royalties go to Beyond the Streets, a charity that helps women exit prostitution. To read the rest of Q’s prostitution experience, and to contribute to this very worthy cause, go here.
***As us sisters connect and support eachother as we so desperately need and should, men continue on with their industrial rape buying, creating more women that will need our connection and support. Who is looking at and helping the men stop? What can be done to stop these men from behaving so destructively, beyond law & order initiatives (which are short-sighted due to the nature of ‘law & order’ itself)?
“It’s not the streets that kill the women, it’s the men that kill the women.”
****For the brave exited abolitionist women who dare speak up and out about their experience in the sex trade and then get targeted, slandered and attacked, I think it’s because your haters are just jealous of your boogie!