Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Going on the Game

This BBC article makes for disturbing reading. It's focus is on the plight of women who have been trafficked into the UK to work in the sex industry. And the situation is genuinely shocking whichever way you look at it.

The "incidental" information in the article is pretty shocking too: one in ten guys in the UK visits prostitutes. How does that affect the way they subsequently deal with and react to women in their workplaces and homes (the typical prostitute-visitor is married)? The report suggests that visiting prostitutes is increasingly becoming "normal" behaviour. "Divorce rates, sex tourism, stag weekends, lads' mags and the ubiquity of internet pornography have all been blamed." Of course any rational person will realise it's the guys who visit brothels who are to blame... Apparently there are even websites on which people can write reviews of prostitutes they have visited!

Now the point of the article is that there is a campaign underway to encourage guys who visit prostitutes to report to the police if they suspect that the women may have been trafficked. Hmmm. So what are the signs to look out for? "Not only is there likely to be some distress on the victim's part, but there are other clues - like being offered an Italian woman, but finding an Albanian who speaks no English. Other clues might be that the price quoted is lower than normal, or unprotected sex is offered". Right so we're asking guys who want to pay the minimum price to have unprotected sex with clearly distressed women who don't speak English? Are these guys really the best people to turn to for help? Shouldn't the police be identifying and searching brothels, putting these men into jail for rape (if she doesn't speak English I don't see how she can consent - and if she's clearly in distress I'd take that as a no) and getting the women into safe, secure homes where they can get medical treatment and counselling?

Worse still we're told that some of the punters are aware that women they're having sex with are illegally trafficked and working under duress and "Some enjoy the women's plight, police say". Police say? If the police hear of someone who enjoys having sex with a woman under duress then they should surely arrest them for rape immediately...? What planet are we on? And again I'm not sure I want to work and live around these people.

Finally the campaign betrays itself with a piece of classic misogyny: "Awareness campaigns have emphasised their status as unwilling participants and men have been reminded of how they would feel if it were happening to their own sister, girlfriend or daughter." Yes suddenly we're expected to believe bthat men will not want to rape women who might have an older male family member who might be upset. Don't rape her - she might belong to someone else... And it's not about how she might feel being raped up to 30 times a day, it's about how other men who know her might feel. Screw that. Women have rights, even women without older male family members or long-term partners. I don't have any problem perceiving male suffering as part of human suffering which affects me. I do have a problem understanding how this sort of project gets underway without someone noticing that's it's implicitly condoning the misogyny which is at the root of the problem itself.


Stan said...

You inspired me to make this my Rant-of-the-Day in my Blog http://radiofreestan.blogspot.com/2006/10/lazygreed-every-nights-stag-night.html. I don't have anything like your passion or prose-style unfortunately.

Any ideas how to fight misogyny, when misogynist tend to stick together in closed peer support-groups ?

staghounds said...

I suspect that the intent was to get the perverts seeing the women to think of them as people rather than as objects. This woman is just as human as a woman you know, care for, and respect. If someone treated one of them this way, you'd see it as an attack on her. Don't be the thing you despise.

That sort of thing. Your notion that the goal was somehow to suggest that there women should be left alone because they are another man's property is a stretch.

Cruella said...

Hey Stan, cheers for the link. I agree it's not easy but I think there are a few things we could do, practically, to try to cut through the culture of misogyny which seems to be on the rise in the UK. And I do think it's worse here than in other places.

Firstly, the Lad Mags need reining in. They need to be told, through government legislation, that they have to choose. They can be "lifestyle magazines" in which case they have a strict limit on the amount of risquee shots they can have - certainly none on the cover and a regulatory board which ensures the taste of other content. Or they can reclassify as pornography and be moved to the top shelf such that it is made clear that they are "specialist interest" not mainstream stuff.

Secondly they need a major overhaul of the police force. Compulsory training on how to deal with sex crimes and regular systematic checks to make sure they are adhered to. As to the case in hand I think the relevant advertising campaign should say something like "If you pay for sex you're guilty of a crime. If the woman you're having sex with has been trafficked into the country to work under duress, that crime iss rape... we will prosecute criminals" and then ideally "last year in London 43 men were prosecuted for rape after paying for sex with women who were working under duress. The average sentence was 8 years." I guess I'd need an advertising agency to make that sound snappy and memorable. But you get the general idea.

There plenty that could be done if we, the decent majority, all push int he same direction.

staghounds said...


As a person who has had non commercial conversations with prostitutes, I'll throw out two facts:

1. All prostitutes despise and are disgusted by their customers.

2. All transactions with prostitutes are acts of rape. The money is the weapon, just as surely as a knofe to the throat would be. Because if she doesn't come up with the money, the man she's working for has the knife.

Even in those rare examples where there is no man living off the earnings he forces to bring him, do you REALLY think it's an act of free will?

staghounds said...

Knife not knofe.

Earnings he forces her to bring him.

Cruella said...

Hey Stag-ster. I agree the concept behind the adverts is not intentionally misogynist, just written without thinking it through. Now if they said "what if this woman was your friend or neighbour?", that might make the point. Daughter, sister or girlfriend is clearly listing women you might feel it was your job to look after, not just women who you might know and respect.

Of course when we see prostitution in the movies - pretty woman, belle du jour, etc, it's always presented as women working alone or with caring managers of their own free will, etc. In practice I suspect that is so very rarely the case that to say "all prostitution is rape" is probably not far from the truth.

Whe I lived in Japan I occassionally met women who worked there as hostesses and lap-dancers and most of them though technically not expected to have sex with clients, in practice had no choice but to do so in order to avoid violence, homelessness, destitution and losing their passports, visas, etc. The industry as a whole is about rape: practical, simulated and imagined. And that's about as Dworkinsian as I get on a Wednesday afternoon.

Stan said...

It would be bad of me to imagine the offenders going to prison and getting some of the same treatment in the shower block ... Mmmm. Dang, too late - Baaad Liberal. Bad.

You're right - a campaign could work along the lines of the Drink Driving campaign that brings men up-close and personal with the effects of their behaviour. I remember it being the default behaviour in the 1980s and it's pretty well universally unacceptable today.

Keep on blogging - I'm sure I'll keep checking in.

Devil's Kitchen said...

How does that affect the way they subsequently deal with and react to women in their workplaces and homes (the typical prostitute-visitor is married)?

Oh, probably in much the same way as it affects them when they buy fags from a woman; not much. One does not view all women as people who sell cigarettes just because you bought a packet of cigarettes from a woman that morning.

One is buying a commodity, that is all.

(Not ever having visited a protitute though (why buy it when you can get it for free?), I will admit that this is the purest conjecture based on imagining myself in that situation.)


Cruella said...

If you have reached a point where you consider sex a commodity I would suggest that your view of gender roles is already quite f*cked...

Anonymous said...

The "incidental" information in the article is pretty shocking too: one in ten guys in the UK visits prostitutes. How does that affect the way they subsequently deal with and react to women in their workplaces and homes (the typical prostitute-visitor is married)?


A lot of guys have fairly large libidos. As time goes by it can become apparent that their wives / partners are less interested in sex than they are. Happily, we’ve moved on from the time when the concept of ‘conjugal rights’ was current (an idea reinforced by Christian churches) and men will now, by and large, respect the fact that their partners are not in the mood. I certainly do.

The libido remains, however. Masturbation is an option, of course, but it really represents only one item in the toolbox that might be considered to be available for dealing with the situation. Prostitution is another. In the past, visits to brothels have been in the blissful belief that the girls there were enthusiastic about their work and were not exploited. In the light of some experiences and the impact of articles like the BBC one you highlighted, it has become apparent that trafficking and real exploitation are probable. This is something I would be most unwilling to give even the slightest support to.

I’ve just finished an affair. While the social interaction such as restaurants and visits to galleries was enjoyable, the real motivator was sex. Then my mistress (can I use that word?) wanted to leave her husband and have a more permanent relationship, so it had to end. My own family situation is not at all bad.

I’m now considering a visit to a swingers club where singles are allowed on certain nights.

I can assure you that all of the above activity has not in the slightest way diminished or adversely affected my respect for women. I would say that I work better with women than with men, on average. At social functions I am often delighted to escape from the dreary sports talk and poor jokes on offer in male groups for the female camp, where I invariably find the conversation to be much more diverse and intellectually stimulating.

Cruella said...

You sound like a really horrible little man. Ewww.

Firstly you say women have lower libidos than men? That is far from my personaly experience and that of my female (and male) friends. In fact a quick phone survey of them this morning says if you think that - you're doing it wrong!

Secondly how can you claim to respect women when you are wandering off and cheating on your own wife at every possible occassion. That's really gross.

I'm honestly not sure if you're a crank commentor a la Borat. But if you're for real then I can only advise a long hard look at your behaviour. You consider prostitutes and mistresses a substitute for "conjugal rights" i.e. marital rape. Oh please, pass the sick bag.

Anonymous said...

While male and female libido may be equal when individuals are young, it does, in my experience, tend to diminish faster in women as time passes. The arrival of children might be a factor.

You can react to my comments in the provocative way you did. That’s your prerogative. However, the fact remains that a great many of the tensions in the world are related to the male sexual drive as experienced by men in middle age and beyond. Where did this come from? Remember that most prostitutes are women and that a great many of what males there are, are there to service the gay community. If women had the same sex drive as men throughout their lives, there would be a much greater population of male prostitutes for women in existence. How can caring and responsible fathers, dedicated educators, highly qualified professionals and males in all walks of life be motivated to at least consider having affairs for sexual purposes (as opposed to having them for relationship purposes) or visiting prostitutes, when their similarly aged female colleagues, in a general way, do not?

And what is to be done about it?

Cruella said...

I know plenty of guys who are perfectly capable of not having affairs or sleeping with hookers. Clearly the others need to get with the programme. Starting with you. I suggest marital counselling as a starting point.

Anonymous said...

Would it be possible for you to address the issue of why there are far more female prostitutes (i.e. a MUCH bigger demand from males for the “service”) than the other way round?

Cruella said...

Sure - firstly look at the economic imbalance between men and women. This means that a much higher percentage of men have the financial capacity to hire a prostitute. It also means that a lot fewer men are in sufficiently dire financial straits to consider prostitution. Add to that the much higher number of women trying to raise children on their own, meaning they are unable to work normal hours and generally need to make money fast.

Now for me that's explanation enough but I know there are those who would add that women are just nicer than men, and who knows, perhaps they have a point.

As for the high levels of prostitution among homosexual men, I thought gay guys were supposed to be girl-y. Thats like saying gay guys like shopping and wearing a touch of eyeliner so straight guys do too. We really can't be drawing conclusions about masculine traits from the gay community.

Cruella said...

...oh and of course there's culture to consider. Muslim women couldn't visit male prostitutes even if they wanted to. Western women are unlikely to be familiar with where such services are available and may well have been raised to believe that it's a strange and wrong thing to do. Sadly some of our men are not raised the same way.

Anonymous said...

Can’t allow the first point – women are perfectly capable of spending lots of money on the things that interest them. What do you think keeps Chanel, Dior, Prada, DKNY and a million other brands in the profits to which they have become accustomed? And if men spend the enormous amounts needed so that they can give presents to women, does that not strengthen the case I am making?

Your second paragraph has just a hint of reverse misogyny in it (I tried to look up the converse of misogyny but failed). You should watch that.

And you missed the point I was making about male prostitutes – I wanted to indicate that the imbalance of male to female prostitutes is even more emphasised when males who are there for the gay community were taken out of the equation.

Cruella said...

No, globally and nationally men have much more money than women, that's just a fact.

And the word you're looking for is misandry. And sure if you mean the sort of men who are cheating on their wives with prostitutes trafficked from overseas and working under duress, then I certainly do hate them. And if you're here posting on my blog then don't waste your breath telling me what to say.

Anonymous said...

I will have to wrap it here as I have a day job to hold down.

Your comments about culture and the way males and females are raised might just be getting close to the solution to the enigma - except for culture and nurturing, substitute genes and hormones. They are different in men and women and men are no less under the control of them than women are.

It really does seem that, throughout the time mammals were evolving, the male of any species tended to have more sexual partners than females. This goes for nearly all animals in the wild, where there is a dominant male surrounded by many females. This is matched in humans by, in eastern culture, the harem and polygamy and in western culture by… the extra-marital affair and the existence of brothels.

Cruella said...

You know what all of our monkey ancestors do? They shit in ditches. I have evolved past that. And I don't care what's "natural" or "evolved". There are evolutionary advantages to rape but we in civilised society have decided that it is unacceptable. You may choose to live in a cave if you wish but claiming you can't control your response to your own hormones makes me think you should be sectioned under the mental health act. I started this conversation thinking I wouldn't like to have dinner with you, now I think I wouldn't want you walking the streets freely.