Ex-Prostitutes’s Voice

If you have been following this blog, you will have noticed that my post Get Real! has gathered a fair ammount of attention. Some of it has consisted of not entirely polite bashing, which I’m sure has nothing to do with anti-pornstitution feminists being the pariahs of the movement and all to do with sex-workers never being allowed to voice their positive opinions on the sex industry because of the constant censoring carried out by insensitive anti-sex feminists like me.
Since I don’t want to make a fool of myself by replying to these attacks and fuel the so called Feminist Wars, I’m going to turn this episode into something positive.

I give you the following statement by Ex-Prostitutes Against Legislated Sexual Servitude. Why, you may wonder. It is old, December of 2007. It’s based in Canada. It’s about oposing the opening of a legal brothel in Vancouver. BUT I think it’s enlightening.

AND I’ve just found it.

NO Legal Brothel in Vancouver

by Ex-Prostitutes Against Legislated Sexual Servitude (X-PALSS)

We urge you to oppose any attempt to introduce a legal brothel in Vancouver.

As women who have been prostituted in Vancouver and in the light of these facts:

  • That current discourse on prostitution would have the public believe that it is normal work that simply needs to be better regulated
  • That there is currently a proposal to open a legal brothel in Vancouver
  • That this proposal is said to speak for current and former prostitutes of Vancouver
  • That this proposal promises to make the lives of prostituted women “safer” at best
  • That none of us have ever met a prostituted woman who would not leave the “trade” if she had a real chance to do so
  • That we are women who have been abused on Canadian soil, by Canadian men while all levels of our Government did nothing to intervene.
  • That some members of parliament are now advocating to legalize that abuse.

We want you to know:

We are women who have been harmed by prostitution. We believe that no amount of changing the conditions or the locations in which we were prostituted could ever have significantly reduced that harm.

We experience the normalizing of that harm by calling it “work” insulting at best.

It matters very little to us whether we were prostituted on the streets or in the tolerated indoor venues and escort agencies of Vancouver. Our memories are not of the locations but of the men who consistently acted as though we were not quite human. We remember the countless other men and women who daily averted their eyes. We remember the utter lack of services or options that made any sense and the blatant denial of access to any kind of help or justice. We remember the need to “dumb down” our sense of entitlement to a better life so we could bear the one we were in. And we remember too well the numbing despair that came when we finally lost faith that there existed in this world anything decent and good.

We oppose any measure that would put more power in the hands of the men who abused us by telling them that they are legally entitled to do so. This proposal does not speak for us, would not have affected our level of safety in a way that matters, and would not have spared us the harm that is inherent in prostitution.

We are not impressed with lip service proposals to make prostituted women’s lives “safer”. Safer is not good enough. We consider it a violation of our human rights that we were abandoned to years of situations that fit the definition of sexual assault under current law. But not only is this violence not recorded, not prosecuted, not punished. We are now being told that we chose it.

We believe that, where there is public and political will, lives can be changed for the better. We do not believe the lie that prostitution is inevitable. We believe it can be abolished.

As hosts of the 2010 games, we want our city, our home, to refuse to take part in the global flesh market that is sex tourism and send a message to the world that women will not be sold in Vancouver.

We believe that every sexually exploited woman represents a life wasted. We are greatly saddened for the lives of women lost in prostitution, as well as the loss of the sum of the contributions that countless women still living would have made had they not been abandoned to sexual slavery.

We urge you all to refuse to believe that prostitution is normal or that is an equal exchange “between two consenting adults”.

We urge you to oppose any attempt to introduce a legal brothel in Vancouver.

X-PALSS (Ex-Prostitutes Against Legislated Sexual Servitude), Vancouver, B.C.

All emphasis mine

(Found Via Angry For A Reason)


23 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    rmott62 said,

    Thanks so much for publishing this, it is so important that the voices of ex-prostitutes should be heard.
    I so sick and exhausted by the noise of the pro-prostitution lobby. They do drown out the voices of women who survive the sex trade and attempt to speak out.
    The women who choose to be pro-prostitution have no compassion. For whilst women and girls in the sex trade are being raped, mentally abused and tortured, they will ignore the suffering to promote their propganda.
    I, as an ex-prostitute, have spent my life being silenced.
    I am silenced by my family who say that I am a liar or that I have a mental illness.
    I am silenced by my class, saying “nice middle-class girls” don’t become prostitutes.
    I had to live with silence, and it was killing me.
    When I chose to speak out, I did it with great of pain and confusion,
    I had through the trauma of the violence that men choose to do me, had to blank out many years of my life. So, when I remember it was all new to me.
    When I first spoke out it was with a pro-prostitute group who sent me back into denial. For they told me that “if” was as violent as I said then I would be dead. And, because I was middle-class, I could of brought my way out. I was then told that prostitution wasn’t that violent.
    I went back into silence.
    Only, I could not rid my mind of memories of male violence. I could not stop the body memories getting more and more painful.
    Finding radical feminists save my life.
    I found women who let speak in my own words. I found women who listen and heard. They did not translate my words to suit their views.
    I found that I was believed and I was seen as a full person.
    I also found women who were prepared to see that prostitution is male violence against all women. That prostitution is a violation of prostituted women’s and girls’s rights to dignity and safety.
    I want prostitution to be abolished, not tinkered with, but abolished.

  2. 2

    amphibious said,

    Odd use of the passive voice – “… were prostituted..” throughout. As also the comment above, victimism seems alive & well

  3. 3

    Lara said,

    you’ve just proved rmott’s point even more, amphibious. You just told her she’s a “whiner” for talking about the pain she experiences as an ex-prostitute. You contribute to her silencing by claiming she is practicing “victimism” (whatever the hell that is).

  4. 4

    pisaquaririse said,

    I know it’s a troll but still–amphibious? Are you *in* there? Have you no idea what Rebecca has been through? Victim?
    Hell yea she’s a victim and she can say as much for the next 8 lives if she choses.

  5. 5

    Debs said,

    I’ve got to say it. amphibious, whoever the hell you are, just. show. some. fucking. respect.

  6. 6

    amphibious said,

    Respect for what? Why is it not sufficient to say to oneself ”Hmm, bad move, I’ll do something else.” instead of seeking to lay the blame/responsibility elsewhere?

  7. 7

    pisaquaririse said,

    Wow amphibo-wowowow. Have you not been convicted yet or something? Do you go by any other name, say, on a sexual offender list?

    Telling a VICTIM of multiple sexual assaults, rapes, and violence that SHE made a BAD move???

    Out of your fucking mind……

  8. 8

    marytracy9 said,

    amphibious, I would appreciate it if you showed some respect to rmott62. She is being very brave in sharing her expiriences with us and I am very grateful that she does so in this blog.
    Disagreeing is OK, but I do not approve of you or anyone dismissing anybody’s suffering, much less rmott62.

    This is a radical feminist blog and we do think that prostituted women, indeed all women, are the victims of sexual violence and of a sick system called patriarchy. If you have difficulties grasping these concepts I suggest you start visiting more elemental blogs.

  9. 9

    rmott62 said,

    Thanks most of you for what you have written.
    I think it is quite pathetic and ignorant to say that ex-prostitutes who speak out are using the “victim card”. I think speaking out about the sex trade is a very brave act, as the majority of people want to silence those voices.
    When I read the X-PALSS’s statement I see no plea for pity, rather a strong and straight-forward statement of the realities of the sex trade.
    I feel that I choose to show some of my vulnerability in my comment, and was rather predictability attacked for being a “victim”.
    This is a very good way to make invisible the violence that men choose to do prostituted women and girls. Say it is completly the women’s fault.
    As for “go and get another job”. That is so simplistic, and has nothing
    to do with the reality of the majority of prostituted women’s and girl’s lives.
    For the majority of prostituted women and girls, the sex trade is easy to “fall” into and very hard to exit. This is for many reason, one the most factors is the brainwashing that all you are worth is to be a sex object for men.
    Most prostituted women and girls are brainwashed to believe that the “real world” will reject them, therefore they cannot imagine getting another job.
    Also, have some respect and don’t call it a “job”. I do not think most jobs involve brainwashing, rape, physical violence, withdrawal of pay, and continual degradation.
    Yes, most people will say they don’t like their job. But do they expect to sexually assaulted or rape on a regular basis. Do they expect that they could beaten up, and that will be ignored. And would they expect a high risk of being murdered.
    So is it a just another job.

  10. 10

    […] 2, 2008 · Filed under Feminism, Patriarchy, Sexsh While I was writing my previous post, I stumbled upon this, also from the Ex-Prostitutes Against Legislated Sexual Servitude, within […]

  11. 11

    Katina Leila said,

    Keep fighting for those voices which cannot be heard! The voices silenced if raised as one can change the world. Thank you.

  12. 12

    Kitten-James said,

    This is all so true. It cuts me inside to see all this pain. Keep doing what is right. For this the world will thank you. Katina Leila your words are true!

  13. 13

    marytracy9 said,

    Thanks, Katina Leila and Kitten-James. And welcome!
    Our duty is to act as megaphones for the women who want the world to listen to their experiences, who want to have their voices heard.

  14. 14

    Katina Leila said,

    How can we as individuals raise more awareness for the ones who need it the most? How can we protect those who need our protection the most? We pray yet we get no answers, we cry but have no relief from our tears, we call out but all there is darkness. Darkness so painful that we are lost in the silence. The voices once raised together are lost. But the question is will they be silenced for a little while…. or forever? What shall be our destiny?
    Peace and much love to all those fighting in the name of the silent.

  15. 15

    Katina Leila said,

    Kitten-James and other members:
    I appreciate your kind concideration. It is good to think that others like myself care. After many years of waighting, like a man lost in the desert I have found my source of water, a sweet release. Marytracy9, thank you.

  16. 16

    Gisele said,

    Clearly I’ve been living in a cave for 30 years. Are you serious? Being against prostituting women is “radical” feminism not feminism 101?

    Since when ?

  17. 17

    marytracy9 said,

    “Since when ?”

    That is a very good question, Gisele, one I don’t have an answer for. Maybe since Liberals took over and replaced our old ideas of right and wrong with moral relativism.

  18. 18

    Petra said,

    There are a large number of women who choose to go into prostitution and who are not obviously coerced. As one of these women I believe there are not always pure economic factors which lead to this choice. There are psychological and cultural factors too. I do not think the choice is healthy nor enhancing to the individual or society. The existence of prostitution affects all women as well as children too.
    Neither the criminalisation nor the legalisation of prostitution are useful measures. Society needs to focus on sexism both from women and men and institutions in every walk of life. In my case there were other options but I was a very demoralised person. At first it seemed to give me a sense of power. I was earning a great deal and I felt wanted and attractive. Women in the industry get addicted to this, but it hides hideous complications down the line, both personally and professionally.
    Its taken me about 5 years to get over what I chose to do to myself. To completely debrief myself. For the first two years I still had thoughts that somehow validated prostitution alongside anxiety and constant bad dreams. The experience of being a prostitute was harming and traumatic, this I did not fully recognise for some time. And I did not experience overt violence or coercion in the trade. I was more of a ‘high class’ girl and was not homeless or on drugs. I would have appreciated an organization that helped me deal with the post traumatic stress of what I had done and helped me look at my financial and employment options. Basically to debrief. I would not have gone to one of the many orgnisations involved with those in more serious drug or crisis.
    The Ex Prostitutes organisation mentioned above, does seem to have a victim like stance. But the blame is in many places, not least ourselves.

  19. 19

    Thanks for this blog post! You have a great website here.

  20. 20

    poppet said,

    does anyone know where i can get help (instant online chat) please as i dont have the time to sit by the computer a lot i have a young baby

  21. 21

    jamesbond1989 said,

    Darkness so painful that we are lost in the silence

    I think that is a really beautiful comment, and, If you don’t mind, the way i would like to start mine.

    I have only just found this page. I live in England, and have never spoken out before about my own experience as an ex-prostitute. I am 23 years old. I have been in counselling for 2 years now, and it has taken me this long to feel brave enough to voice my past. Ironically, I feel, what better way to take my first step than to do it anonymously over the internet, on a site which is hosted by someone living half way across the world! As you can tell I am scared.

    I had a really rough childhood. My mother suffers from a mental disorder. It is because of her disorder, that I did not receive proper and enough ‘real parenting’ as a child, that had lead me to believe a certain damaged image of myself as an adult. Dysfunctional families are the main reason why so any people have problems as adults.
    My mother objectified me as a child and never gave me any ‘self worth’. She then abandoned me when I was 15. I stayed with a friend and her family. This so called ‘friend’ then had the idea that it would be fun and easy way of earning more money for us when we were 17 years old, to work as escorts and as prostitutes in a brothel. I worked there for 2 months. I then left. The company I worked for charged £25 for someone to have sex with me. Anything else was charged at a lower rate. As you can guess it is a strange warped reality living a life where that is the going rate you sell yourself.
    Although I can’t say that at the time anything traumatic happened, on the surface it looked like it was my decision to do this (after being pursuaded by my friend.) But I am deeply traumatised by the memories of the time I spent working there. I was a 17 year old girl and men as old as 55 were using me for sex. My trust in men has been shattered. I have a boyfriend now, and because of the trauma I endured our sex life suffers. I don’t know what the next chapter in my life holds, whether I am going to continue enjoying sex or what.

    What people do not understand about the existance of prostitution is that these women have usually had a rough start in life. Yes, alot of the girls were taking drugs and live in the rougher parts of the city I live in. They think that all they are worth is nothing and that they can be used for sex.
    I can’t believe the ignorant minds of some people living in our society. The type of mind who will say ‘well, she was wearing a short skirt, she asked for it’. The reason why she was wearing a short skirt was because of how the media project this idea that women are suppose to be this sex symbol, with a tan, big breasts and short skirts. Not because she wanted to, not deep down, and if she did, then she really has a destructive view of herself that she should really look at.

    In response to ‘Amphibious’, I actually really appreciate you coming on here.
    You serve as a reminder to me as to where we are in society today. Just when we think we are being heard, and when we look back and think ‘wow, this is great if it wasn’t for women speaking out, we wouldn’t have the chance to vote.’…(women like you wouldn’t have the chance to vote…if it wasn’t for women like me.)
    Also, I love the choice you’ve made Amphibious, to come on here, onto a pro-feminism site, log in to a forum concerning a really thorny subject such as prostitution, and then decide to actually then attack a survivor, courageously speaking out about the neglected subjects of the world. A forum, which has been created to flourish concerns about women today. So if someone was to criticise or speak against this, they were always going to be scae-goated. Of course you did know all this, unless you are a complete idiot, which, i do not think you are, because brilliantly you have successfully managed to Victimise yourself…was that not the exact label you were stating other women were doing? But by doing this, and judging by the response you’ve received…are you not now the Victim on this site. Very clever.

    In any case, I much appreciate this space to express the views. Thank you for this site. It’s my first step into feminism and a new road in my life.


  22. 22

    It’s very effortless to find out any matter on net as compared to textbooks, as I found this post at this site.

  23. 23

    vikkidark7 said,

    Please tell your story here: http://www.desideriamo.it/desideri/protect-human-rights-pornography/
    We are building a campaign.

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