Thursday, 25 November 2010

Legumes, London and Legalities


Evening all, I'm at home after a blissful afternoon spent rolling around with a new client, it was heaven in hold-ups. This weekend I'm off with my slave for some fun of a very different kind, involving hot wax and perhaps some root vegetables, heh heh. No more than that I will say ( for now ) but I'm away Friday to Monday.
( Which reminds me, I will be in London at the end of January, 27th and 28th - if you'd like to arrange a booking, do drop me an email. )

Before I come up with new and more inventive ways of antagonising my long suffering sub, I thought I'd share a link to this article with you, which I picked up on Punternet;

http://goodmenprojec...e-professional/

It's written by a lady called Charlotte Shane and below are some of the best quotes that had me nodding so hard I thought my head was going to disengage from my shoulders.

"Coercion is wrong, kidnapping is wrong, and hiring someone underage is wrong. There are men (and women) in the world who want to inflict suffering on others, and hiring a sex worker gives them an easy way to do it.

But I’m tired of seeing men and women buy into the lie that male sexuality is inherently violent and sadistic. My experience as sex worker has taught me the opposite.

Yes, I’ve met men who didn’t respect my boundaries and who harmed me, inadvertently or purposefully. But such men were few and far between, and I refused to see them again.

Not every man who visits a strip club, watches a clip of porn, or pays for sexual companionship wants to commit an act of violence against a woman. Rapists and murders are the ones who want to rape and strangle people; some of them hire escorts, some don’t.

When Melissa Farley tells The Economist that men who hire prostitutes “are not nice guys looking for a normal date. They regularly attempt to rape and strangle women,” she’s not talking about my experience. Farley’s cloudy thinking rests on the belief that a man’s sexual interest in a woman is fundamentally disrespectful, fundamentally abusive, and fundamentally wrong.

But what’s wrong is the stigma surrounding sex work. In the professional world, there is no other service arrangement in which clients are accused of hating those whom they hire. Not janitorial work, furniture moving, notoriously dangerous meat-factory work, or any other job that requires use of the service provider’s body in grueling, unhealthy ways.

There are many important conversations to be had about the sex industry, but I don’t believe those conversations will be beneficial unless they move beyond cartoonish depictions of villainous, lustful men victimizing innocent and vulnerable women.

I’m not claiming that my experience is representative of all sex workers, or even all sex-working women, but I know my experience is not entirely anomalous. I don’t regret selling sex for a variety of reasons—one of which is that it’s allowed me to meet many good men. And in doing so, it’s forever changed me for the better."


Well said and I couldn't agree more.

I was brimming over with enthusiasm having read a sensible and thought provoking article when the email I was dreading came in. Trish Godman is once again trying to push through some legislation to make it illegal to purchase sex in Scotland. The proposed bill in all it's glory is here ;

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/s3/bills/MembersBills/documents/20101122CriminalisationofPurchaseofSex.pdf

..... so it looks like it's to battle once again, black leather gloves and PVC boots on for my sub for the weekend, and thereafter - gloves very definitely off for the prohibitionists and abolitionists.

LL xx

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Gorging and Graham Norton


Good evening all, it's another chilled out evening at home for me, having spent the early evening with a gentleman who took the time to read my profile and when I went to meet him greeted me with a box of "Black Magic". Splendid, girl cat and I are gorging ourselves in luxurious fashion whilst boy cat is out on patrol, defending the family honour, ( or something ). I've never in my life met a cat who likes licking raspberry parfait like girl cat, but there you are.

A couple of links for you, firstly Madam Becky did an interview which I thought was fantastic -

http://punternet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/12836-madam-becky-on-5-live-news/

Good on her for speaking out, I know she does a lot of work in public speaking to dispel some of the popular myths around prostitution, she is to be applauded for her courage. Also, my friend and yours, Jeremy Kyle, did a program which apparently "confronted the sex industry". Hmmm, I'll let you make your own mind up, here's the link ;

http://www.itv.com/itvplayer/video/?Filter=191221

Finally, "Stap me vitals" !! All my prayers were answered when I picked up a copy of The Daily Telegraph and discovered that the agony aunt du jour was none other than ( wait for it ) Graham Norton. REALLY.

Here is one of the letters that was sent to him recently ;

"Dear Graham,

I'm thinking of sending my husband on a detox for a couple of weeks. He's getting fat and lazy and I've heard there's a fantastic clinic in Austria that deals with this. He's a successful freelance photographer so it's not going to be a problem for him taking the time off work and our children are at boarding school so they don't have to know anything about it. The course is expensive but I'm perfectly happy to pay for it and to drive him to and from the airport. That said, I know he'll try to resist.

Have you any ideas how I can coax him to take a step in the right direction ? I feel he's really not making the best of himself at the moment."


Well, as you know, I love a challenge and I feel compelled to write to Mr. Norton. The thing is, it has to get past the editors but at the same time I need to be suitably outraged or indignant at something or other.

Any ideas ?

LL xx

Friday, 19 November 2010

Belfast and blatant baiting


Good evening and greetings from Belfast where I am chilling out after a hectic couple of days. Today got off to a blinding start when I met a gentleman who asked me out for lunch but before I could tuck into my chicken fillets he had a nibble or two from moi, in fact it was quite a moment, lying back and being pleasured whilst enjoying the beautiful panoramic views of Belfast from his apartment.

It's apparent that the festive season is almost upon us, even the timewasters / idiots are in a good mood. Usually they hack me off, but this was new and unusual ;

"Hello, is that the Irish girl with toys?"

"Yes it is, how can I help you ?"

"Do you have a Bob the Builder truck with matching hard hat ?"

Ordinarily I would hang up, but quite honestly all I could do was guffaw, in fact
he did too, so it would seem we have a new breed of timewaster - the good natured variety.

The internet is pretty much essential for what I do, it allows me to speak with clients and let them know what I'm up to and of course there are message boards, as with every industry, where I can chat to fellow escorts and clients too. There's no doubt the internet has enhanced the sex industry, not least because of the excellent Saafe site, which provides support and advice for new escorts.

There is however, a dark side, those who post under hidden identities to cause trouble and try to belittle others. Recently a discussion began on Mumsnet about prostitution and there is no other word to describe it, gobsmacked is how I felt when I read the replies by some of the women. The first experience I had of such a debate was way back at the EHRC debate -

http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/uploaded_files/Scotland/give_prostitution_the_red_light_report__pdf_.pdf

It was watching Catherine Stephens speaking that night that inspired me to become an activist and campaign for the rights of sex workers. On the night itself, I was unable to challenge Julie Bindel or any of the other speakers because all questions had to be pre-submitted. There was an "open" questions and answers session at the end but although we had raised our hands, funnily enough the speaker never came to us. That night truly shocked me for a lot of reasons, I witnessed women turning on women and I couldn't believe the closed mindedness of the participants. What I didn't know, was that was nothing.

Since then I've had a few roastings on CIF, a radio call in show and a few emails from God fearing Christians for good measure. I've come to understand that they're not hurling insults at me personally, rather "The Prostitute" and I represent what they fear or in extreme cases, hate. I say "hate" because if you have 20 minutes or so to spare, the link to the Mumsnet thread is below and it is a real eye opener.

http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/relationships/1080476-How-do-you-feel-about-prostitution

Amongst other things, as sex workers we were told that we ;

" ...collude in the oppression of hugely vulnerable women by virtue ( and I use that word very loosely) of their chosen profession."

Wow.

My response ;

That is absolutely untrue and one of the most offensive statements I have EVER read. I am an activist, working towards the decriminalisation of the sex industry so that there will be regulations which can be enforced. No woman in her right mind would ever support ( morally or otherwise ) the pond scum who traffick women against their will and make their lives a misery.

What we need to do is bring prostitution out of the dark ages, it is because there is so much stigma attached that the underground activity of trafficking thrives. Women are afraid to come forward and report attacks and seek help, because they will forever be on police file as a "known prostitute". This will stop them applying for other jobs in the future.

As a woman who was "outed" I felt first hand the stinging hypocrisy of the do-gooders who thought they were morally superior to me. Since then I have worked hard to gain recognition for the women who choose to enter our profession and more importantly, I have campaigned for better legislation to protect the women who are forced into it.

Any number of posters can make any amount of assumptions about me or my fellow prostitutes but you have NO RIGHT to suggest for one minute that I or any of my fellow prostitutes condone or even collude in the oppression of fellow women. To suggest that we approve of women being treated like little more than cattle is nothing short of disgusting.


Ho hum.

If there's one thing I've learnt on t'internet, it's to respond to reasoned debate and ignore blatant fishing expeditions, those who try and bait. In the end, it's been my experience that given enough rope they usually hang themselves in spectacular fashion anyway. This must be why I have so many boy pals, you see boys don't bitch, they punch the "offender" squarely on the jaw and less than half an hour later they are to be found chuckling together at the bar. Way to go.

Anyway, rather than storm onto Mumsnet and tell them all to "suck my trousers", ( don't ask, just nod ) I plan on being a busy girlie this evening. I have not long said goodbye to one of the most handsome firemen I have ever set eyes on. ( If you believe in karma, he was my payback for the Bob the Builder call ).

He says he's off to do a night shift; this hotel room is not going to catch fire by itself. ;)

LL xx

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Octopi and Other thoughts


What is it about paid sex that turns your average suited and booted middle class client into a raging lunatic ? I've never been able to fathom that one. They will enter the room and do the mandatory perfunctory greeting ; "Hello darling, David. We spoke on the phone", followed by a divorcee's air kiss. As soon as the briefcase is set to one side, the cuff links are undone and the cash exchanged, "David" will undergo a metamorphosis resulting in Olly The Octopus.

( I don't expect the menfolk who read my blog to understand that analogy, just trust me, it is a very real phenomena. )

"Oh you're a dirty girl, aren't you ? Look at you there, all draped in your dirty lingerie, you're just begging for it, aren't you ?"

"Yes, but if you could get off my hair and probably stop digging your nails into my love handles that would be lovely".

Splendid stuff and all variants of delicious madness, which is why I love it.

Anyway, fabulous news and just erm .. news.

Fabulous news: With the George square lights and skating rink about to be put on, it's that time of the year for: "Neds on Ice!" no doubt we'll see some of the best tracksuit and buckfast drinkers Glasgow has to offer. Fantastic.

Chelsea, Chardonnay and Destiny will once again adorn the ice and dazzle us all with their triple spins and Elizabeth Duke sovereign rings. I'm nominating Glasgow for City of Culture 2011 if someone else hasn't got there before me.

News : Continuing in the vein of honesty - I had a "moment" the other day and decided to telephone the governing body of the subject I'm studying. Because I'm now in year two, it would be a bit of a waste of everyone's time if I get to the end of my studies and some egg head decrees "Actually because of your dark and murky past you may not proceed".

Imagine then if you will, the face of the lady in "enquiries" when I called.

"Hello, my name is Laura. I'm a student in year two. I am also an escort. Will that be a problem on qualification do you think ?"

( I just know she couldn't wait to tell Linda in accounts. )

"Err, no, provided you meet with our professional standards."

"Splendid".

Unfortunately, she also went on to explain that after I qualify I will need to do a three year doctorate. Oh joy. So the upshot of it all is, if I want to see this thing through to the end I will be in my early forties when I qualify. Brilliant.

I'm not sure why that has freaked me out so much, after all I could still have a 20 year career thereafter, but I had a timeframe in mind and that wasn't it. So it's heads down in prossying and in books for a longer time than I imagined, but hey ho, that's life, right ?

Finally and before I google "life coach online", I spent last weekend in York and it was fantastic. I was with Mr F on Friday night and some other chums over the weekend too. I dragged some willing "volunteers" on a ghost walk but I'm afraid the only ghosts we saw were the apparitions calling themselves "teenagers" on their way to the pub.

Game season is in full swing ( something I learnt to my detriment the other day on my way to my pal Caitlin's house - suicidal grouse a go-go ) so when we got to the restaurant in York our choices were game, pigeon, or game. Having had the opportunity to meet the fantabulous Sabrina of York, we had a chuckle when the harrassed waitress emerged from the kitchen shouting " GAME - WHO ORDERED GAME ?"

Perhaps if she'd shouted "WHO'S ON THE GAME?" it would have had a ring of veracity about it and more of a response.

LL xx

Monday, 8 November 2010

Note to anti-prostitutionists: Sex worker movements are nothing to sneer at


I am reproducing this post on behalf of Laura Agustin, because she would like as much publicity as possible.

Ordinarily I avoid ideological debates, but this time I had to chime in, because the author of a nutty Swedish book actually lied about me in it. I don’t mean she distorted my ideas - that is conventional amongst feminists who feel they are engaged in a battle to the death about prostitution. No, this was a lie about me and my life: she described me as an employee of the Network for Sex Work Projects, and the company publishing her book didn’t get anyone to check her facts - even about living people, which is reprehensible. Since I am independent with a highly precarious income, and because my opinions are only my own, I could not allow the lie to go uncontested.

The book’s an attack on two activities: commercial sex and surrogate motherhood. The drivel about me is a very small part of the book, which also provides an egregiously selective and ideologically driven version of the history of sex worker rights movements. I decided to use the publishing opportunity to provide a more honest, if still very brief, version, complete with links to the evidence - probably the first such thing published in Sweden. The original book title can’t be translated exactly but means something like Being and Being a Product - the idea of commodification.

Here now is the English version of the piece, with its original title, changed (of course!) by the Newsmill editor to Kajsa Ekis Ekmans okunnighet om sexarbetare är skrämmande (KEE’s ignorance about sex workers is frightening). I would appreciate everyone disseminating this, please: Nowadays it is possible to virally combat disinformation.

Radical feminist pleasure in sex worker misfortunes: not a pretty picture
Laura Agustín, 24 October 2010, Newsmill.se
At international events, radical feminist campaigners point and whisper about their enemies: She’s paid by the sex industry, you know. Or by the global pornographers. Or: She’s a known associate of traffickers. Disinformation as a technique is common in espionage, malicious election campaigns and rabid crusades to manipulate the emotions of an uninformed public. Disinformation means the deliberate telling of lies or the omission of key information.

If Kajsa Ekis Ekman in Varat och varan did not deliberately lie about me, then her research ability is very bad indeed. I have lived in Malmö for two years, my blog with its contact form is easily found. Ekman could have checked her facts with me personally but chose not to.

I am not, as Ekman claims, ‘an employee of the lobby organisation (anställd av lobbyorganisationen) Network of Sex Work Projects – which she could also have verified on their website. I am an independent researcher, writer and speaker, working freelance and best known for Sex at the Margins: Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry (Zed, London). Ekman avoids mentioning this title, called by The New Statesman ‘one of the most important books on migration published in recent years’. Neither this book nor the previous one, written in Spanish, are correctly described, in Ekman’s words, as ‘books about trafficking as a media myth’ (böcker om trafficking som mediemyt).

Anyone looking at the the publisher’s website can see that Sex at the Margins does not say we should ’stop talking about trafficking’ (sluta tala om trafficking), but rather that all migrant women who sell sex do not feel themselves to be total victims and that to drastically label everyone that way disempowers the migrants whilst increasing the power of people – like Ekman – who believe they Know Best how everyone else should live. I did not ‘christen trafficking victims “migrant sex workers” (döper traffickingoffer till »migrerande sexarbetare«) however. Ekman failed to notice in her own research that Tampep, funded by the European Commission, began in 1993 (long before I appeared on the scene) as European Network for HIV/STI Prevention and Health Promotion among Migrant Sex Workers.

Citing quotations out of context is a standard tactic of unscrupulous crusaders. Given that I have published 50-odd articles and essays, apart from a blog, Ekman clearly went out of her way to find a paragraph that, removed from its context, would make me sound like a monster. When asked to write for a book called Women and the Politics of Place, where other authors were writing about women’s attachment to local geographies, I made an argument about cosmopolitanism as a ‘place’ migrants inhabit (thus the title ).
Lies about me are ultimately unimportant (though I do treasure my independence): my reputation will not be ruined by an ideologue’s rantings. Leopard Förlag say they publish history, social debate and popular science (historia, samhällsdebatt och populärvetenskap). Ekman’s must belong to the debate category, since she is no historian. But for any category, Leopard had the editorial duty to check claims about living persons and prevent authors from engaging in disinformation - or doing such poor-quality research. Did Leopard not send Ekman’s manuscript out for review?

Distortions and omissions about a social movement are more important to uncover. Ekman pretends to give a history of a complex movement she despises, rights for sex workers. But ethical, competent historians, whether academics, journalists or popular writers, simply do not manipulate their material through selections and omissions in order to make a political point. When I am sent papers to review or edit that bristle with this kind of selective presentation of facts and polemical tone, I return them for rethinking, restructuring and rewriting. In a case like Ekman’s, I do not list all the errors, omissions and out-of-context citations – it would take too long. Instead, I provide some examples and expect the author to understand the lesson and do the research properly.

For many serious activists, theorists, researchers, social workers, epidemiologists, psychologists, policymakers and feminists the world over, the struggle of marginalised people who call themselves sex workers to have a voice in debates that concern them is nothing to laugh at. The movement focusses on health rights, sexual rights, labour rights, individual rights or human rights, according to the time and place.
Eurocentrically, Ekman focusses on a few countries near Sweden, but this rights movement has roots all over the world: Empower was founded in Bangkok in 1985, in 1986 in Uruguay, the New Zealand Collective of Prostitutes in 1987, Rede Brasileira de Prostitutas in 1987, among numerous examples. Many of these groups were set up before the Internet made it easy to ‘network’, advertise or disseminate information on problems and principles. DMSC, founded in Kolkata in 1995, now has 65 000 sexworker members from the most disadvantaged social classes. AMMAR has been part of national labour union CTA in Argentina since 1996.

The movement does not have a single centre or directing board. According to local cultures and needs, arguments for rights as sex workers are couched differently. Sometimes the argument revolves around sexual rights, as with the South American project Ciudadanía Sexual. Sometimes, human rights are the basis of demands, as with Cambodian activists’ protests against police that force people into compulsory rehabilitation programmes. None of the organisations claims to represent sex workers as a general category; all know this would be impossible in the criminalised, stigmatised contexts where most people sell sex. What they do is bring together people with similar values, interests and demands, sometimes physically but often online. Note that some of these activists call themselves prostitutes, suggesting that Ekman has not understood that this movement’s core is not about changing words.

By reducing this movement to the only aspect that matters to her – ideology - Ekman distorts – or failed to understand – the history of debates on Violence Against Women at the UN level. She seems not to know that an official statement was made on trafficking and prostitution in the Vienna Declaration on Violence Against Women in 1993, in order to distinguish between genuine victims and people not totally coerced. She appears ignorant of the lively and conflictive prostitution debates at the Beijing Conference on Women in 1995, whose final Platform for Action called for fighting forced prostitution and trafficking, not prostitution itself. Omitting these key events in contemporary feminist history, Ekman makes Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women Radhika Coomaraswamy’s use of both terms, sex worker and forced prostitution, sound like part of an arbitrary and sinister conspiracy.

In Sweden Ekman can get away with sneering at harm reduction, but she cannot begin to comprehend its importance in the rest of the world. Does she really believe harm-reduction theory and practice should not be used to decrease the incidence of HIV amongst marginalised populations in Asia? Grassroots networks of both drug users and sex workers have increasingly been influential in fora such as the International Harm Reduction Association, using principles of sexual self-determination and bodily autonomy. Scarlet Alliance, founded in 1989, is a network of sex worker organisations participating in Australia’s Federation of AIDS Organisations and using health promotion approaches, including peer education, community development and advocacy. Sex workers in Ghana receive HIV-prevention support on the basis that they are a Most-at-Risk Population, like men who have sex with men and transgender people.

The Ghanaian sex workers call themselves a union, by the way. Ekman tries to debunk the very idea of labour unions for sex workers through selective research in Europe, particularly through a parochial hatred of the Netherlands (long associated with several kinds of harm reduction). Although she claims to have spent two years on this research, most of the information she presents is available on organisation webpages. Her insinuation that the whole movement has been engineered by a few Dutch activists is sign of a true neocolonialist mindset: implying that people outside Europe are incapable of organising themselves or choosing the principles they believe in.

Ekman cherry-picked the European history, too – unless she simply failed to discover it. Sneering that the ICRSE ‘don’t really act anywhere’ (agerar inte fackligt någonstans), Ekman reveals an inability to comprehend that advocacy and social movements without significant funding function online in most of the world, through email discussion lists, skype conference calls and social networking software. Ekman sees only part of the ICRSE website, because she is not a member. Although she ridicules an early conference held in Brussels in 1986, how did she manage to omit a direct ancestor of that event held in Brussels in 2005? The ICRSE was founded at this conference attended by 120 sex workers and 80 ngo allies from around Europe.

There is no need for me to exaggerate what has been achieved in a movement beset by opponents at every turn. There is also no excuse for Ekman to sneer, in an unfeminist, unsolidary way, at the efforts of activists who do not happen to share her manichean world view. Why does Ekman want to smear this movement? Why does she hate people who advocate for their right to self-determination? Why does she lash out at people attempting to reduce the spread of HIV? Why should she appear to gloat when a sex-worker union (Comisiones Obreras in Barcelona) fails to attract members?

By focussing on Europe, Ekman tries to make all sex worker unions sound ridiculous, but she fails to understand that traditional trades unions are but one method for organising and advocating for rights. It may well be that classic trade unions are not the associative model destined to characterise the sex worker rights movement. Unionisation in all industries has weakened and diminished in most countries. In the case of the sex industry, the effort is severely impaired by numerous factors Ekman doesn’t understand. When businesses operate in informal economies, workers are hard put to negotiate with them. When people who sell sex are migrants without work permits and legal status to live somewhere, unions seem irrelevant. While the stigma attached to being a prostitute is so strong, most don’t want to label themselves, register with the state or otherwise assume a professional identity.

Ekman’s errors about London’s IUSW (part of the national GMB trades union) could have been avoided through a little real research rather than reliance on an old quarrel in the British blogosphere. She could even have consulted me, as I was once an active member. The man she accuses of running the show never did; the figure she provides on membership is seven years out of date. Since the GMB allows managers to join all its branches, the fact that an escort-agency manager joined is less significant and sinister than Ekman would like readers to think. She seeks to discredit STRASS in France by citing data from an abolitionist group without giving the date of its document, which anyway cannot be found at the webaddress she provides (note 167).

Ekman’s pleasure in other’s misfortunes - schadenfreude- is deeply unattractive. In a recent decision in Ontario that struck down several discriminatory aspects of prostitution law, the judge observed about ‘expert witness’ Melissa Farley:

Dr. Farley’s choice of language is at times inflammatory and detracts from her conclusions. . . Dr. Farley stated during cross-examination that some of her opinions on prostitution were formed prior to her research. . . For these reasons, I assign less weight to Dr. Farley’s evidence.

The judge would undoubtedly dismiss Ekman’s evidence, too, as should all critical readers.