Australia: Is it OK to bash women if they are selling sex?

CHRIS MIDDENDORP
March 16, 2010

NO DOUBT there are some readers who don’t much care about the welfare of women who engage in street sex work in our cities. Street prostitution is a reality that middle Australia prefers to ignore, or just to condemn outright. And that’s where the trouble begins.

If the subject is raised at all, the debate tends to focus on how this highly visible form of prostitution lowers the tone of a neighbourhood (subtext: how it threatens the inexorable rise of property values).

Such is our disregard of the issue that in Melbourne, while the media has been strident and hysterical about rising levels of street violence, the continuing issue of violence towards street sex workers has been all but ignored. Yet violence – sexual and physical assault, verbal abuse and harassment – is a ceaseless, daily part of the lives of the women who work our streets. I suspect that many mean-spirited moralists out there actually believe that ”working girls” deserve no better.
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A Few Questions for Belle de Jour, Call Girl and Scientist

November 20, 2009, 1:30 pm
By RYAN HAGEN

In 2003, a young American woman in London studying for her PhD. ran into money trouble. To support herself while writing her thesis, she joined an escort service. Under the assumed name Belle de Jour, she started to blog her experiences. That blog led to a series of successful, jaunty memoirs beginning with 2005’s The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl. The books were adapted for television in the U.K. (where she is portrayed by Billie Piper) and later in the U.S. All the while, as Belle de Jour garnered more attention — and criticism, for portraying prostitution as a glamorous career choice — the woman behind Belle de Jour struggled to keep her anonymity. This month, as an ex-boyfriend threatened to blow her cover, Belle approached one of her critics, the London journalist India Knight of the Sunday Times, to reveal her identity. That resulted in an article, published Nov. 15, outing her as Dr. Brooke Magnanti, 34, a neurotoxicologist at the Bristol Initiative for Research of Child Health. This week, she agreed to answer a few questions for the Freakonomics blog, about her work as a call girl and as a scientist. Continue reading

For Runaways, Sex Buys Survival

Running in the Shadows
October 27, 2009
By IAN URBINA

ASHLAND, Ore. — She ran away from her group home in Medford, Ore., and spent weeks sleeping in parks and under bridges. Finally, Nicole Clark, 14 years old, grew so desperate that she accepted a young man’s offer of a place to stay. The price would come later.

They had sex, and he soon became her boyfriend. Then one day he threatened to kick her out if she did not have sex with several of his friends in exchange for money.

She agreed, fearing she had no choice. “Where was I going to go?” said Nicole, now 17 and living here, just down the Interstate from Medford. That first exchange of money for sex led to a downward spiral of prostitution that lasted for 14 months, until she escaped last year from a pimp who she said often locked her in his garage apartment for months. Continue reading

Prostitution in Georgian London: Harlot’s progress

Oct 15th 2009
From The Economist print edition

The Secret History of Georgian London: How the Wages of Sin Shaped the Capital. By Dan Cruickshank. Random House: 688 pages; £25. Buy from Amazon.co.uk

"Connoisseurs" by Thomas Rowlandson

"Connoisseurs" by Thomas Rowlandson

AS MANY as one in five young women were prostitutes in 18th-century London. The Covent Garden that tourists frequent today was the centre of a vast sex trade strewn across hundreds of brothels and so-called coffee houses. Fornication in public was common and even children were routinely treated for venereal disease. A German visitor observed a nation that had overstepped all others “in immorality and addiction to debauchery”.

English society expected, even encouraged, men to pay for sex. Prejudice barred women from all but menial jobs. Prostitution at least offered financial independence: a typical harlot could earn in a month what a tradesman or clerk would earn in a year. For a few beautiful and savvy women, the gamble paid off. Lavinia Fenton, a child prostitute, married a duke. But most prostitutes were destined for disease, despair and early death. Continue reading

Older Stories: Sex, Lies, and Craigslist

by Ginny Mies on June 29, 2006

After a few days of correspondence via email, Abigail* determined that it was safe to go out on a date with Phil, a businessman who described himself on his Craigslist ad as having “worldly tastes and gentlemanly manners,” as a man who was looking for a woman to spoil with his wealth. Armed with some mace and a cell phone, Abigail got into the limo he ordered to pick her up from her friend’s apartment in Brooklyn. The limo dropped her off at a restaurant in White Plains, about an hour north of New York City. Phil looked nothing like the “bronzed playboy” he described in his ad but more like a human frog—not that his appearance mattered to her. She wasn’t looking for a boyfriend. Continue reading

Lessons from a Mexican Brothel

by Patty Kelly on June 16, 2009

On a chilly March morning, my friend Abraham and I head out by car from Washington, D.C. to rural Virginia to do some exploring. Visiting from Mexico City, Abraham has been to New York City many times. But large cities can give a visitor the wrong idea about a nation and I’m taking Abraham to see another side of America. We drive the curving wooded roads, passing dilapidated junk stores and the occasional farm stand. There is honey, fireworks, giant hams, rusty old cast iron pans, T-shirts bearing images of howling wolves and Native Americans. But for Abraham, trying to get a grasp on this America, something is missing from the rural setting and he asks in all innocence, “Where are the brothels?” Continue reading

A Swedish sexworker on the criminalization of clients

Watch Pye Jacobsson discuss the consequences of the Swedish Model.