Thread: The Morality of Prostitution

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  1. #4368
    Wow Intransit, that is one of the odder articles I've read this year. Who would have thought of being an Animal Crossing Dom? Certainly not me.

  2. #4367

    Lockdown sex workers are flocking to Animal Crossing and Second Life

    https://www.wired.co.uk/article/video-games-sex-work

    Lockdown sex workers are flocking to Animal Crossing and Second Life.

    Legislation has pushed sex workers to the darkest corners of the internet, but during lockdown they've found an unlikely home in Borderlands, Minecraft and Animal Crossing.

    By DAISY SCHOFIELD.

    Kiara is a financial dominatrix from Michigan. Her clients get a thrill from the power-play relationship and from relinquishing all control to her – both financial and otherwise – from acting as the 'sub' to her 'domme'.

    Before the pandemic, she made most of her earnings through 'cash meets'. "I'the usually take money out of a sub's wallet, maybe say something humiliating, and walk away," she says of a typical day's work.

    Now the risk of Covid-19 has made this impossible, and to make matters worse, Kiara's partner was laid-off from his job because of the pandemic, leaving her with the responsibility of supporting them both.

    So, at the start of lockdown, Kiara started using the video game Animal Crossing to keep a close relationship with her clients from a safe distance, using the in-game mechanics to subdue and order them around. On Animal Crossing, subs may pay a fee to go to Kiara's or another domme's virtual island, and carry out various chores for them, such as weeding their gardens, tidying their homes, or planting flowers. In-game spoils are also welcome, with cash meets finding their virtual equivalent in the form of 'bell meets'.

    Video games are booming in lockdown, and they're providing a much-needed cash injection for sex workers like Kiara. She and other dommes offer similar services on Minecraft, charging their subs to shower them with diamonds, or carry out "grinding" tasks, such as collecting resources from the game's map and crafting. Another domme, who goes by the moniker Princess Void, says she charges $10 for players to join her Minecraft server, and an additional $25 to play with her. It may not sound like much, she says, "but it adds up. ".

    The games also act as a form of promotion. "Animal Crossing is definitely helping me get out there more, and drive traffic to my AVN Stars (a popular adult platform)" says Madeline, a domme from LOS Angeles. Any additional service a sex worker can offer, or marketing they can acquire, is likely to give them a competitive edge in what is becoming an increasingly saturated online market. As offline sex workers are forced to go digital, adult sites Charturbate and OnlyFans have both reported a 75 per cent uptick in subscribers since the start of lockdown.

    The pandemic has made the adult industry more precarious, exacerbating the deep harm already inflicted on sex workers by Donald Trump's FOSTA-SESTA bill. The legislation was intended to curb internet sex trafficking, but a number of websites – such as Craigslist and Backpage – barred posts from sex workers entirely to avoid any potential legal issues.

    The legislation has shut sex workers out of sites like Tumblr, Patreon and Instagram, often forcing them to resort to either more dangerous types of work – partly, because it hampers their ability to vet clients – or platforms which take an exploitative cut.

    OnlyFans takes a relatively low 20 per cent (most take 40 per cent), but largely tends to benefit performers who already have big audiences online. As it garners mainstream appeal, social media influencers and minor celebrities are now clamouring to sell their explicit content on the platform.

    "I think it is a problem," says Heather Berg, an assistant professor of Women, Gender and Sexuality studies at Washington University in St Louis, of the "tourists" who are flooding sites like OnlyFans. "But sex workers are just more shrewd than non-sex workers when it comes to figuring out alternatives. ".

    "Flouting terms of service agreements, or using platforms in a way they weren't intended to be used, has a long history among sex workers," Berg continues. "But as conditions get worse, because of FOSTA-SESTA and the pandemic, their creative strategies have to get even sharper. ".

    When it comes to video games, which more than often have a limited capacity for sexual activity, the need for creativity becomes even more acute. On Animal Crossing, dommes might spank their subs with a butterfly net as "punishment", or use the in-game wheel to determine whether their client should orgasm, or pay a fee.

    On Borderlands, where Princess Void charges subs $10 a mission, clients might be made to take off a piece of clothing, or 'edge' (getting close to climaxing and stopping), when their character dies. "Clients on Borderlands are more fetish people," she explains, "whereas Animal Crossing is really wholesome. " To get around Nintendo's strict terms of service, kink chat will usually take place over a third-party platform while playing a game, such as Discord or Twitter.

    There are other well-established options for sex workers looking to escape the limitations of these games. The simulation game Second Life is a "perfect storm for sex work," says Bonnie Ruberg, an assistant professor of digital games and interactive media. "I'm sure Linden Labs (the creators) would say it's designed for human interaction and the creation of community, but sex cultures have always been at the heart of Second Life. ".

    Meela Vanderbuilt (as her avatar is known) is well-acquainted with Second Life's erotic underworld. In 2013, she founded The Monarchy: a virtual brothel where clients can receive animated lap dances, sex and fetish exploration from one of the club's performers. Meela believes Second Life offers sex workers a safer option amid a harsher online climate – particularly when it comes to payment.

    "Because Second Life has its own currency (the Linden Dollar), you don't have to worry about providing a PayPal to someone and potentially exposing who you are or your address," she explains. What's more, doing business with Linden Dollars circumvents the growing discrimination against sex workers from payment platforms such as PayPal and Venmo.

    Second Life is also providing a solution to some of the problems around advertising that sex workers face after FOSTA-SESTA. Sarabi, a self-described 'stay at home mom' from Arizona, used to do private dancing, but since 2012, she's worked full-time as a Second Life sex worker, and more recently, she's been leveraging the platform to drive traffic to her OnlyFans. "It's introduced me to all types of clients," she says, "and those who have never purchased sex before. ".

    A few years ago, Sarabi set up her own academy to train other women in Second Life sex work. She says she's had escorts approach her whose businesses were "greatly affected" by FOSTA-SESTA and another surge of interest from people – mostly online sex workers – looking to sell virtual sex on Second Life as a result of Covid-19. She'll teach clients how to drive traffic to "literally any platform – OnlyFans, NiteFlirt, AVN, to name a few," by purchasing in-game adboards.

    But not even Second Life is immune from the censorship that is seeping into almost every corner of the internet. Meela said she's noticed a growing pushback from the game's moderators, which include having her in-game advertising blocked. "The platform generally doesn't have as healthy of an outlook on sex work as the residents," she says. When it comes to promoting the service on Facebook, she'll often run into similar problems, because it "sounds too much like real escorting".

    "Game creators are scared FOSTA-SESTA is going to be used on them," explains Ruberg. "Second Life is also moving to rebrand itself from this fun, shady place to go on the internet, to something more educational and kid-friendly, like Minecraft. ".

    Sex workers are subject to discrimination wherever they go. When it comes to video games, part of this arises from the conflation of sex workers with sexual predators. Ruberg gives the example of Twitch's policy documents, which group sex work and sexual interactions with children together. "Sex workers are very careful about age verification," says Berg, "for their own legal and ethical reasons. And not to mention, kids generally can't pay. ".

    The threat of being shut out of a platform – gaming or otherwise – is a real and constant one. "It's about being really savvy," says Berg "and making sure your customer base travels with you so you're not tied to one app".

    Sex workers are currently facing serious consequences for their health and livelihoods, but if history is anything to go by, this community's resilience will always lead them to find new and often unexpected ways to survive.

  3. #4366

  4. #4365
    Quote Originally Posted by Intransit  [View Original Post]
    I enjoyed this post. Very interesting. The more contemporary ones were also good reads but obviously contrived.

  5. #4364

    Inside the Medieval Brothel

    https://www.historytoday.com/archive...dieval-brothel

    Inside the Medieval Brothel.

    What was life like for medieval prostitutes? A case in the German town of andördlingen reveals a hellish world of exploitation and violence.

    Jamie Page.

    Published in History Today Volume 69 Issue 6 June 2019.

    In the winter of 1471, the municipal council of andördlingen in southern Germany got word of a scandal in the town's public brothel. It prompted a criminal investigation into the conduct of the brothel-keeper, Lienhart Fryermut, and his partner, Barbara Tarschenfeindin. After interrogating all 12 of the prostitutes working in the brothel at the time, the council learned that the brothel's kitchen maid, a woman named Els von Eystett, had been forced into prostitution and as a result had become pregnant by one of her clients. When Barbara discovered this she had forced Els to swallow an abortifacient.

    Drink that she had mixed herself, with the result that Els miscarried a male foetus whom the other women reckoned to have been about 20 weeks old.

    After forcing Els back to work only a few days later and swearing her to secrecy, things had returned to normal in the brothel for a couple of weeks. But it was not long until some of the prostitutes began to speak among themselves about what had happened. One, Barbel von Esslingen, had brought a pail of water into Els' room as she lay in agony and had seen the child's body laid out on a bench. After Barbara overheard her speaking about what she had seen, she sent Barbel away to work in the public brothel in nearby Ulm. But it was too late to stem gossip about the incident. Some regular clients had even begun to talk about what had happened, wondering aloud how it could be that Els, 'who had been big, was now so small'.

    Things came to a head when two officials from the city council in charge of monitoring the brothel paid a visit. They told the women that rumours of what had happened had reached senior members of the council and that an investigation was imminent. In a furious confrontation, Lienhart burst in on the women while they were eating and delivered a savage beating to Els, while she screamed defiantly back at him that he would have to hack off her arms and legs to keep her quiet. Later, as it finally became clear to Barbara and Lienhart that their cover-up had failed, they approached Els secretly to offer her a bargain.

    In exchange for her silence, they would agree to drop the debt she owed them and she would slip away quietly the next day while the women were eating dinner. Els agreed and, when the time came to enact the plan, Barbara sent her into the kitchen to fetch a jug of milk. As Els left the brothel and headed for the city gate, Barbara made a show of asking where she had gone and ordered the women to search the brothel for her. But, as one of the prostitutes, Margrette von Biberach, later testified, Els had already told them all about the secret plan. Even while they joined in the search, 'all of them knew how things really were'.

    The business of brothels.

    Sitting halfway down the Romantic Road, a stretch of some of Germany's most well-known tourist landmarks, andördlingen today is a quiet and prosperous place. Its most distinguishing feature is the wholly intact medieval ring wall that encircles the town, a testament to its past significance in the region. Among other notable events, andördlingen is associated with two of the bloodiest battles of the Thirty Years War and with a particularly savage witch craze, which made a heroine of one of its citizens, the innkeeper Maria Holl, who withstood 60 sessions of torture without confessing. In 1932, the town would host Adolf Hitler, who gave a speech there several months after losing the presidential election to Paul von Hindenburg.

    In the Middle Ages, andördlingen grew wealthy on the back of the textile trade, fuelling a significant population expansion and placing major demands on the town's council to provide peace and stability for its citizens. Like many other towns across western Europe, the provision of a public brothel was one part of this equation. In an argument still used today, licensing prostitution and concentrating it where it could be seen and regulated was regarded as a lesser evil than allowing it to flourish unchecked. This rationale was endorsed by no less a figure than St Augustine, whose treatise De ordine noted that 'if you remove harlots from society, everything will be unsettled on account of lust'. In parts of western Europe where licensed prostitution was the norm – a region that includes southern and central Germany, northern Italy, southern France, the Low Countries and Iberia, though not England – prostitution was thus assumed to provide an outlet for young and unmarried men who might otherwise endanger 'honourable' women. In some cities, most notably Florence, prostitution was also assumed to dissuade men from sodomy.

    Although there were some regional variations, most German towns that had licensed brothels followed a similar model. The brothel was purchased by the town and leased back to a brothel-keeper (in many places a man, though sometimes a woman), who was responsible for its day-to-day running. The keeper paid a tax to the authorities in return for the right to charge board and lodging to prostitutes living in the brothel and to take one third of the fee they charged to clients. Further income might be generated by selling food and drink. After paying for room and board, prostitutes were able to keep what remained of their earnings, as well as any tips a customer might give them.

    Broad acceptance of the social utility of prostitution ensured that it was a highly visible part of late medieval urban life. In many cities the social role of prostitutes extended to civic pageantry, where, as participants in dances, weddings and the entry processions of great rulers, they could be seen as part of the city's hospitality. The entourage of the Emperor Sigismund supposedly enjoyed the hospitality of brothels opened up by towns on his way to the Council of Constance in 1414, while an anecdote attached to Frederick III saw him greeted at the gates of Nuremberg in 1471 by prostitutes who captured him with a golden chain, only freeing him after the payment of a one florin ransom.

    Despite this recognition of their role in society, in comparison with respectable wives and daughters, prostitutes were considered dishonourable and sinful. Increasingly throughout the 1400's, any woman suspected of illicit sex risked being equated to the working girl of the brothel and might even find herself forcibly placed there by the authorities. This was not necessarily a one-way journey, though. Women who found themselves in brothels might hope to leave by saving up enough for a dowry that allowed them to marry and 'turn to honour'. In doing so they might follow the example of one of Christianity's most powerful symbols of redemption, Mary Magdalene, often portrayed as a prostitute in late medieval sermons.

    Like many of those in the Middle Ages who were not part of the social elite, the lives of prostitutes are known to us almost exclusively from accounts given by literate, mostly male observers. As the historian Ruth Mazo Karras has noted, although the concept of *****dom played a major role in policing the sexual behaviour of women at all levels of society, the voices of prostitutes themselves are virtually unknown. The testimony given by the andördlingen women is therefore unique in offering us a glimpse into the world of late medieval prostitution from the perspectives of prostitutes themselves.

    What do the andördlingen women tell us about this world? And what parallels might be drawn between their experiences and those of women working in the sex trade today?

    Exploitation.

    The criminal investigation carried out by the andördlingen town council proceeded along two primary lines of enquiry. First, there was the alleged abortion of Els von Eystett's child. Abortion (an act often conflated with infanticide at the time) was a serious crime, which could merit a banishment from the town; unlike some other parts of western Europe, it was not yet common in southern Germany to execute those convicted of it. Interestingly, Els herself seems never to have been under suspicion of aborting her child. From the start, the council seems to have accepted the story told by the other women in the brothel, which portrayed her as the innocent party. Most of the details of this narrative were actually supplied by just three of them: Els and two others, Margrette von Biberach and Anna von Ulm. Both women appear to have been special confidantes of Els throughout the traumatic events and described supporting her and comforting her as she lay in agony. Els herself actually testified in the nearby town of Weissenburg, where she had gone after being allowed to leave the brothel in andördlingen. This necessitated some co-operation between the two sets of authorities, revealed in correspondence attached to the trial record – a testament to the seriousness with which the andördlingen town council treated the matter.

    The second half of the investigation took the form of a general enquiry into the working conditions in the public brothel. Here, the council set out to discover whether and how Lienhart Fryermut had broken the terms of his oath as brothel-keeper, sworn when he began the job in 1469. Such oaths were a common means of regulating brothels in German towns. Because brothel-keeping was such a disreputable occupation, comparable with what the historian Kathy Stuart refers to as the 'defiled trade' of the hangman, binding an individual to his duties by an oath sworn to God provided a strong form of regulation that allowed authorities to dismiss easily those who abused their position.

    As became clear once the andördlingen women began to give their testimonies, there was more than enough evidence to suggest that Lienhart had done just this. Unlike the abortion enquiry, in which a small number of key witnesses provided much of the relevant evidence, evidence for this part of the investigation was spread across the testimony of nearly all the women. Their statements show that, although most of them simply answered questions put to them by the council, a number of the women took the chance to offer additional incriminating details about the ways in which they had been exploited and abused by Lienhart and Barbara.

    The first to come before the council was Anna von Ulm. Anna began her testimony by stating that 'the brothel-keepers treat her and the others very harshly' and that 'they compel and force the women to earn money at inappropriate times, namely on holy Saturday nights when they should honour Mary, the worthy mother of God, and should avoid such work'. She added to this that she, and almost all of the women, had been sold into the brothel, including one from as far afield as Italy, and were all heavily in debt to Lienhart. She said that he and Barbara 'force the women to let men come to them, and when they do not want to they are beaten'. In a similar vein, she claimed that 'when the women have their womanly sickness (menstruation) they are forced to earn them money and to let men come to them'.

    Anna then went on to explain how she and the others had got into debt. As soon became clear, Lienhart had subjected them to a range of arbitrary charges that not only wiped out their ability to earn, but ensured that they were trapped by ever-increasing debts, which he used as a pretext to forbid them from leaving his employment. Although this was not strictly illegal – numerous employers in this era imposed restrictions on their workers' freedom of movement and might confiscate property to prevent them absconding – the sheer scale of Lienhart's exploitation made this an exceptional case.

    His practices included confiscating their tips and forcing them to pay cash gifts at certain times of year, including Whitsun and Christmas. He also sold goods to them at inflated prices. As Anna said, 'when he had something to sell to them, whether cloth or other things that were worth half a florin or a full florin, he sold it to them for two, three or four'. She also said that the women were made to exchange whatever 'even' pennies they had for uneven ones of a presumably lesser value. Upon entry to the brothel they had had their clothing confiscated and pawned to Jewish merchants, which for Anna meant that she was forced 'to go about miserably and almost naked, having no more than a skirt and no undershirt', with the further consequence that 'she can hardly cover herself, and is unwilling to go out among honourable people'.

    Those who came after Anna added to the picture. Els von andürnberg stated that when she first entered the brothel she had given Lienhart a veil with a value of two florins and told the council that 'for the skirt which she wears, she has to give him money'. Enndlin von Schaffhausen and Adelhait von Sindelfingen both said that they had had their clothes confiscated by Lienhart; according to Enndlin, this happened 'whenever one of the women has good clothes'. When it came to paying for their food and drink, Wÿchselbrünn von Ulm said that Lienhart overcharged the women by providing them with meals for 13 pennies when the same was available elsewhere in town for 12. Chündlin von Augsburg said that wine was sold to the women for a penny more inside the brothel than outside it. Enndlin also described a practice by which Lienhart charged the women double the normal amount of 'sleeping money', a fee levied when a customer wanted to stay overnight in the brothel. Margrette von Biberach said that, when she informed the brothel-keeper in advance that she had an overnight customer who subsequently failed to turn up, she was still made to pay the full amount of sleeping money.

    Prisoners.

    On top of these exploitative arrangements were further practices intended to squeeze yet more income from the women. These included supplementary labour, primarily spinning, a task which brothel-keepers in some towns were permitted to demand of prostitutes, although not in andördlingen. Anna von Ulm reported nevertheless that the women were made either to produce two large spindles per day, or to pay Lienhart four pennies. There were also restrictions on the women's freedom of movement. Anna also told the council that Lienhart had 'taken their churchgoing from them', denying them the chance to hear mass. She also said that he habitually did not let them leave the brothel, with the consequence that they were 'unable to earn their food'. On the subject of food, she pointed out that the women were usually given disgusting meals and were denied extra portions during menstruation, as was required, and were not given bread and meat during the week.

    Some of the women also told the council about the fraudulent ways in which Lienhart deprived them of an income. One practice common in brothels across the region involved depositing all of the money paid by clients into a central strongbox, which was then distributed among the women at the end of the week according to how many clients they had seen. Catherin von andürnberg said that, when this was done in andördlingen, she had suspicions that several women were paid less than they had earned, while Margrette von Biberach told the council that she had sometimes seen Barbara deliberately undercount the amount of money contributed by a particular woman, with the result that Lienhart would become angry and tell the woman in question that 'he has no use for her, and they earn him nothing'.

    The consequence of all this was that, in Anna von Ulm's words: 'They are all poor women and cannot save money, and the debt grows for each one although they do not know how, and they cannot pay off anything. ' But Lienhart's regime was not restricted to financial exploitation. The deprivations suffered by the women were made worse by frequent use of violence and intimidation. According to several of them, both Lienhart and Barbara beat the women frequently, often when Lienhart claimed that they had earned less than they should have. Margrette von Biberach said that such violence was arbitrary, since Lienhart 'hit them more for innocence than for guilt'. At times the violence appears to have a sadistic edge. Many of the women said that Lienhart beat them with a bullwhip, while Wÿchselbrünn von Ulm said that he sometimes used a rod or a belt. To make things worse, Adelhait von Sindelfingen pointed out that Lienhart had even been known to assault customers in the brothel, 'preventing them from earning', thus perpetuating a cycle of violence.

    Truly hellish.

    One prevalent image of late medieval prostitution, sometimes repeated in popular culture via fantasy settings, depicts the brothel as a sensuous environment in which good cheer and innocent revelry are the order of the day. There is some evidence to suggest that brothels in fact sought to cultivate this kind of image for themselves by providing luxurious furnishings, a warm oven and the opportunity to eat and drink in the company of women, a setting which aped the ideals of courtly love.

    Images like these, however, use the notion of the 'luxury' brothel as a sanitised version of prostitution to draw a veil over exploitative working practices and the privileging of male sexuality. In the case of andördlingen, the women's testimony indicates that life in a municipal brothel could be truly hellish. In one of several such claims in the case record, Chündlin von Augsburg told the council that 'she has been in other houses before, but has never seen women kept more harshly or despicably than here', while Wÿchselbrünn von Ulm claimed that 'the women are not kept here as they are elsewhere'. Catherin von andürnberg seems to have had much the same impression, stating that the women's treatment in andördlingen 'exceedingly harsh'.

    Like all exceptional incidents, it is important to question how representative a single case can be. It is possible that the women exaggerated the scale of abuse – or even lied about it – to secure more favourable working conditions. But it is also striking how readily they seem to have been believed by their interrogators. As dishonourable women, the testimony of prostitutes ordinarily counted for very little in a legal setting and yet the council had no difficulty in accepting their accounts over those of Barbara and Lienhart. At the conclusion of the investigation both were dismissed from their posts and banished from the city forever. In Barbara's case the council took the additional step of branding her across the forehead for her part in aborting Els von Eystett's child.

    It was the abortion, ultimately, which made this such an extreme case. Financial exploitation and violence were common enough in municipal brothels, but the forced abortion of a prostitute's child – as the council evidently came to see it – was an act of brutality well beyond the norm. It was this act which also produced some of the most distinctive parts of the women's testimony. In both of their statements, Anna von Ulm and Margrette von Biberach describe acting as confidantes to Els in the aftermath of her miscarriage. They told the council how Els had wept bitterly, saying that the sight of Barbara had filled her heart with misery and that she had 'taken my child from me and killed my flesh and blood'.

    Els perceived Barbara's actions in the wider context of abuse and exploitation, by which Lienhart claimed virtual ownership of their bodies and their capacity to earn. Viewed in this way, the forced abortion of Els' child can be seen as an instrumental act of terror, one which made clear that the brothel-keepers had absolute control over the women's bodies.

    But, if the record shows evidence of trauma, it also communicates the women's defiance. Els' own determination to speak out is manifested in the descriptions of her facing down Lienhart. And when their day in court finally came, the evidence provided by the andördlingen women was enough to prompt the council to take action against Lienhart and Barbara.

    In the year following the investigation, the city council drew up a new set of regulations for andördlingen's brothel which forbade many of the exploitative financial arrangements that had made prisoners of most of the women working there. Unlike most brothel regulations used by towns in this era, the rules also included an explicit clause requiring a given woman working in the brothel to report to the council immediately any kind of abuse or breach of the rules so that corrective action could be taken – a further sign of the impact made by those who testified in 1471.

    Beyond cliché.

    It is tempting to think of the events described here as part of a depressingly familiar picture. Exploitative working conditions, violence and danger are often thought to accompany prostitution, even in regulated and thus theoretically safer forms of commercial sex. A modern observer of prostitution might recognise in andördlingen's brothel a certain model of prostitution catering for low status clients, designed to keep costs low and drive up profits by exploiting its workers. Such a response also seems to affirm the old cliché of prostitution as the 'oldest profession' – an unchanging and ever-present phenomenon in human society.

    But this cliché is not a harmless one. Thinking about prostitution in this manner is not merely ahistorical, blinding us to what was distinctive and local about the conditions in a place like 15th-century andördlingen; it also obscures the individuality of the women involved. As the historian Judith Walkowitz has argued, it is important that we regard prostitutes themselves as complex individuals, whose experiences and life stories are distinctive and worthy of hearing. Prostitutes are not merely ciphers of a larger historical trend; this is difficult to deny, whatever one's own position on prostitution as a social and economic phenomenon.

    We know little else about the women who worked in andördlingen's brothel in the years after the 1471-2 investigation. A second, smaller collection of judicial records suggest that by the early 1500's another brothel-keeper by the name of Bartholome Seckler was in trouble with the council for exploiting the women working for him. In any case, it was only a few decades until the sea change of the Reformation saw municipal brothels swept away en masse across southern German towns, as civic authorities grew increasingly uneasy about the moral compromise required to sustain them. By the mid-16th century an institution that had been characteristic of late medieval urban life had vanished, one into which the testimony of the andördlingen women offers a brief yet vital glimpse.

    Jamie Page is a research fellow at the University of Tübingen. He is writing a book on prostitution and subjectivity in late medieval Germany.

  6. #4363

    Sex workers are falling through the cracks in coronavirus assistance programs around

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world...-around-world/

    By Miriam Berger.

    April 29,2020 at 12:10 am GMT+8.

    Beth Reid's financial prospects are bleak. Her work is banned under Sydney's shutdown. Her limited savings are dwindling as bills accumulate. The 36-year-old is preparing to apply for Australian unemployment benefits, which have increased in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

    It's a familiar story. But Reid faces an added obstacle: While her line of work — as a dominatrix — is legal where she lives, it remains highly stigmatized. To receive benefits, she would have to register as a sex worker with the federal government, creating a record that could have implications for her future.

    Still, she knows she's among the lucky ones: In all but a handful of countries, the sex industry is illegal. That means millions of sex workers, mostly women, are excluded from government programs meant to address widespread unemployment and economic hardship as the coronavirus continues to spread.

    Even in Australia, where sex work is legal in some states, Reid said she has seen an increase in "precarious housing situations, and also super precarious mental health" among colleagues left out of the system.

    "There are loads of sex workers who don't have access to either of the welfare measures," she said, referring to the federal government's two unemployment programs, "like migrant workers or those who don't have a fixed address. ".

    Sex workers in Australia and around the world, she said, are in dire need of the same support that other people are set to receive for loss of income, health care and housing.

    "Many sex workers come from communities that already face high levels of marginalization and social exclusion including people living in poverty, migrants and refugees, trans people and drug users," the International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE) said in a statement. "Sex workers who are the primary earners in their families, or who don't have alternative means of support, are at risk of being forced into more precarious and dangerous situations to survive. ".

    Workers without recourse.

    Tens of millions of people work in the sex industry, according to some estimates — in brothels, strip clubs and massage parlors, or through escort agencies and on the Internet.

    Only New Zealand and two states in Australia have completely decriminalized sex work, meaning there are no specific criminal penalties for engaging in it. Other Australian states, as well as a few countries such as Germany and the Netherlands, have legalized it, meaning the state regulates sex work and permits it only in certain state-sanctioned ways, with more parameters and policing.

    The World Health Organization has advocated for the decriminalization of sex work. The question of decriminalization and legalization, however, is polarizing: Critics see laws that allow sex work as a cover for human trafficking and sexual exploitation, while advocates say it's a valid profession in need of protections, not policing. The countries that permit sex work follow a few different models, such as regulating brothels or allowing the selling of sex but not buying.

    Even in the few places where sex work is allowed, applying for unemployment benefits is unlikely to be straightforward. Many sex workers lack the paperwork to document their employment status. In Germany, migrant workers from countries including Bulgaria, China, Nigeria and Romania make up about 80 percent of the sector, according to Luca Stevenson, coordinator of ICRSE. These groups have been particularly hard hit by the closing of brothels where many lived, and many have been stranded by border closures. Some are now homeless and without access to assistance.

    In the Netherlands, recently unemployed independent workers are eligible for only about $1,000 a month — those in sex work included, said Nadia van der Linde, coordinator of the Netherlands-based Red Umbrella Fund, which supports sex workers worldwide. Not all sex workers, though, will receive that money. Many people in Amsterdam's red-light district are migrants who are undocumented or from elsewhere in Europe. Even some Dutch sex workers chose not to register, as the process is complicated and the designation carries stigma, van der Linde said.

    Demands for inclusion.

    Sex workers are used to being excluded from government services, said Reid, who has been in the industry for 17 years. To compensate, they have built tight support networks that are springing into action to set up emergency funds for assistance, in the forms of cash, food and health care.

    In some countries, the coronavirus crisis has created a new impetus to look out for sex workers. In Bangladesh, Thailand and Japan, countries where most sex work remains criminalized, although forms of it are regulated, governments have made efforts to include the sector in aid programs.

    Bangladesh shut down legal brothels on March 20 along with most other businesses in the country, leaving destitute residents with no income. After workers appealed, the government agreed to provide cash, rice and a rent freeze to women and families living in 12 brothels, Reuters reported.

    A few weeks later, when Japan announced a new subsidy program to help with child care during the outbreak, the country's labor minister expressly excluded the adult entertainment and sex industry.

    Two days later, on April 9, the government reversed course in the face of criticism. Determining eligibility for financial aid remains convoluted, CNN reported.

    In Thailand, adult entertainment venues employ an estimated 300,000 people and bring in around $6. 4 billion a year, according to Empower Foundation, a Thai sex workers advocacy group. The government ordered these venues closed on March 18. Days later, it announced an emergency relief, including $150 monthly for the newly unemployed.

    Most Thai workers who lost their jobs in entertainment venues qualified. Those who made money selling sex cannot apply, as that remains illegal, but workers such as dancers in bars were included.

    Even those without a contract could apply as a freelancer, said Liz Hilton, a member of Empower. Still, only about 60 percent of Empower's several thousand clients have applied, according to Hilton, who attributed the gap in part to the industry's high density of ineligible migrant workers.

    In Mexico, the coronavirus-related closure of hotels meant many sex workers suddenly lost their homes and income. Left with nowhere to go but the street, they were offered by Mexico City's government temporary shelters and cards with 1,000 pesos, or around $42, for emergency food and medicine.

    In Bolivia, France, South Africa and elsewhere, advocacy groups have been lobbying governments for similar measures, so far without much success.

    "Very few governments are actually taking positive steps to ensure the inclusion of sex workers in emergency steps that they are taking," said Ruth Morgan Thomas, global coordinator of the Edinburgh, Scotland-based Global Network of Sex Work Projects. "Nobody in this world can survive if they can't find an alternative way of feeding themselves or their families. ".

  7. #4362

    Chinese Moms In America's Illicit Massage Parlors

    https://supchina.com/2020/01/30/chin...pX5tKnOcus3EKw

    Normally I would post the full text of an article like this, but removing the formatting will take too long. It's a good story, especially for China veterans who are hoping to recapture their glory days in Beijing / Dongguan / Shanghai at an American AMP.

    Key quote: "None of the women I spoke to said they had been forced into sex work."
    Last edited by Intransit; 02-05-20 at 07:44. Reason: Fix punctuation error.

  8. #4361

    CNN travel: What it's like to live in Amsterdam's red-light district

    https://edition.cnn.com/travel/artic...nds/index.html

    I am in shock! CNN reports how the entire neighborhood of Amsterdam's De Wallen red-light district, including children, has no conflict with the presence of sex workers. Did CNN feminists fell asleep at the wheel? Where is the usual negative shit? Or does the attitude towards sex work in the US starts to change?

  9. #4360

    The ***** on Christmas

    Some seasonal material, from 2007. The title and choice of the W word is the author's, not mine.

    https://www.thestranger.com/seattle/...ent?oid=464318

    The ***** on Christmas.

    The Ups and Downs of Being a Sex Worker During the Holidays.

    By Mistress Matisse.

    That's sadder than a working girl on Christmas. ".

    The first time I had sex for money on Christmas, I was 21 and I'd been a call girl for a little over two years. I don't care a whole lot about Christmas. I have no objection to a one-day holiday, but I hate being beaten over the head with stockings and carols and Santa Claus for eight weeks, and I hate being told when I should feel jolly or giving.

    However, contrary to the sad-and-lonely working girl stereotype, I have a large extended family. I may be the black sheep, but my family is determined to gather me into the fold—whether I like it or not. It's not that my relatives aren't nice people. It's just that when we all get together to have a Christmas celebration, it's as if the punch bowl was spiked with 151-proof banality and tedium.

    Granted, at 21 I was still baiting my Southern-conservative family with my spiked hair, goth clothing, and sweeping pronouncements about the virtues of nationalized health care and gun control. I was used to being the target of some teasing. But attempting to be patient throughout a day of speculation about why I was the only female grandchild not married and pregnant left me deeply envious of orphans.

    I was sitting in a plaid recliner in my grandmother's living room, hoping the rum in my Coke would deafen me to the screams of my cousins and the roar of the football game my uncles were watching on TV, when my mother said, "Honey, something in your purse is beeping. ".

    My pager? The only person who had that number was the owner of the escort service I worked for.

    "Must be the alarm on that sports watch I got," I offered. "I'll go turn it off. ".

    I took the phone from my grandmother's bedside table, dragged the long cord into her closet, closed the door, and dialed my service.

    "Hi, sweetie," said my boss. "Thanks for calling back. Listen, I'm sorry to bother you on Christmas, I know I said we'd be closed. But this guy I know called, he's really nice, and he's stuck here on business. He wanted to know if we had anybody who'd come down to the Hyatt to see him. Any chance you'd do it? He'll tip you big time. ".

    An automatic, "No, I can't" rose to my lips, but before I said it, a piercing wail penetrated the closet door, as the effects of too much sugar and too little sleep took their toll on the Fisher-Price set. I heard my Aunt Alice calling me to come to the kitchen and whip the cream for the pies. I thought about my options for a moment: kitchens, football, and screaming children—or go fuck a strange man for money.

    "What's his room number?" I said. "I'll be there in half an hour. ".

    I told my family that my neighbor thought she'd smelled smoke by my apartment door, and it was probably nothing, but I just had to run home and check. The client was pleasant and uncomplicated, and the sterile beige serenity of the hotel, with its silent hallways and clean white sheets, was a balm. I returned to my grandmother's house to have some pie—someone else had whipped the cream—and then it was time for everyone to go home.

    It was the best family Christmas party ever.

    The expression "sadder than a working girl on Christmas" is based on the notion that working girls, presumably ostracized by loved ones (not always the case), are also deserted by their customers on December 25. While I am a pro domme now, I spent the first 10 years of my sex-work career straight-up fucking for money. And my experience says that while other people's Christmases may be white, Christmas can be nicely green for working girls.

    That's because I'm not the only one who needs relief from the pressure of enforced family togetherness. Whenever I've worked on Christmas, most of my clients have also been ducking out of family gatherings and they've fallen through my door like men pursued by wolves. And most of them have said something like: "I gave presents to everybody else, this is my present to myself!

    "Oh yeah, they say the same kind of thing to me," said my friend Jae as we stood surveying the buffet at a holiday party. Jae works as a call girl, and she's had similar experiences working on Christmas. "So I started putting long ribbons and bows around myself—if I'm a present, unwrap me. ".

    And, yes, she really does that.

    "Some years I get the sexy-Santa outfit request a lot," Jae added. "Especially if there's some kind of TV special with chicks in sexy-Santa outfits. Guys get triggered by the visuals. Guys will bring over those big, fat candy canes and want you to put it up your ass—or his ass, for that matter. Particularly if they've been drinking. You do have to watch out for that on Christmas—guys who've been hitting the eggnog all day. " She shrugs. "But the tips are usually good. ".

    When my friend Natalie was an escort we had weekly vent-about-work sessions over dinner. She's since left the business, but we still do weekly dinners, and she still has plenty of opinions about sex work.

    "I may be a Jew," Natalie said when I asked about her experiences on the holidays, "but I didn't work on Christmas. The way I see it, if you've got nothing else to do on Christmas, then you're nobody I want to deal with. All the good clients have other places to be. ".

    Even the Jewish ones?

    "Christmas is a secular holiday, too, now," said Natalie, "not just a religious one. Only weirdos and losers call on Christmas. ".

    Natalie has a point. I've been to Christmas gigs where it was clear that the guy wasn't escaping from a family gathering—because he didn't have a family. Some of them were contented loners, just looking to be entertained. But some of them—well, Jae pretty much nails it:

    "Sometimes you show up at the guy's house on Christmas and you feel sorry for him, you know? Like there's this sort of Charlie Brown-ish Christmas tree with one present under it, and it's for you. ".

    Now that's sad.

    I remember one particular Christmas client.

    It was midafternoon on Christmas Eve. The client and I had never met before, but I showed up at his house at the appointed time, and he quickly ushered me inside. The man of the house was thin and pale, with faded blond hair, and he looked nervous. I could understand why: There's a reason married guys rarely have working girls come to their homes.

    How could I tell he was married? Well, the fact that the house was decorated in a nauseatingly cutesy-country-crafty style was a big tip-off. Not just decorated—the place was stuffed full of ruffled chintz and gingham, designer teddy bears and American primitive wooden plaques with bunnies and angels and hearts burned on them. There was a flowered platter of homemade iced cookies sitting on the hall table. And there were a lot of family portraits on the foyer wall, with Mom, Dad, and three little rug rats.

    "So you can be gone by six, right?" he asked.

    "Sweetie, I'll leave whenever you want," I replied.

    I paused before asking the obvious question.

    "Is your wife coming home?

    He nodded jerkily. "She and the kids are at church. ".

    I couldn't believe it. This guy had a hooker come to his house on Christmas Eve while his wife and kids were at church? He is so going to hell for this, I thought, and I'll undoubtedly see him there.

    "Well, let's not waste playtime," I said, moving toward the stairs. "Where would you like to. ?

    "No, not upstairs!" he said, practically panicking. "I don't want to mess up the bed. Let's just—do it in the living room. ".

    Easier said than done. We edged around the eight-foot Christmas tree that dominated the room and sat down on the powder-blue couch. He handed me an envelope with the cash in it. I tucked it into my purse and then looked at him, waiting for him to give me some sign of how he wanted to proceed. But he just stared at me like a trapped rabbit. The room was dim, and the lights from the tree threw alternating red and green splotches on his face. The effect made him look like he had some kind of facial tic, and I doubted that it was enhancing my complexion, either.

    "Okay," I thought to myself, "if I have to be gone soon, I am going to have to take control of this fuck. ".

    I stripped down to my tarty black lace lingerie and stockings, got his pants around his knees, and started unrolling a condom onto his dick with my mouth. He moaned and leaned back on the couch—and then we both gasped and jumped as the tinkling strains of "White Christmas" suddenly rose into the air. He looked wildly around the room for a moment, then relaxed and said, "Oh, wait, it's this pillow. It's got a music box in it, when you lean on it, it plays. " he fished a red-and-green throw pillow from behind his back and tossed it away. It played on for a minute, before ceasing abruptly with a mechanical click.

    He lay back again, but it seemed that our musical interruption had made his little Saint Nick unhappy. Or maybe it's this house, I thought, as I sucked him. It's completely antisexual. Interior decor as visual saltpeter.

    I stood up, pulled off my panties, and bent over the couch. I knew I should give him some dirty verbal encouragement, but my vast repertoire of porn talk had deserted me, and the best I could manage was a come-hither expression that felt as painted-on as the faces of the knee-high nutcrackers flanking the fireplace. I watched him maneuver into position behind me in the gilt-framed, holly-draped mirror over the mantel. In my black bra and stockings, I was jarringly out of place in the room, an affront to the relentless, smothering cozy cuteness. It was hard to even breathe. As he fumbled around behind me, the bowls of cloyingly sweet potpourri that sat on both end tables began to make my eyes water and my nose itch. I was going to start sneezing uncontrollably in a minute, I thought, and my mascara was going to run down my face in black streaks. It was like a Stephen King Christmas house, where it looks all sweet, but if you don't behave, it kills you.

    It certainly killed our date. After 45 minutes of unsuccessful fumbling, he looked at the clock and announced that I should leave.

    "Thanks anyway," he said, holding the door open for me. "And, uh—Merry Christmas. Would you like a cookie? They're gingerbread. ".

    Like any customer-service job, sometimes whoring is a breeze, sometimes it's a grind. But there's one thing that always makes the season bright: the money. Because Christmas—secular and otherwise—means presents, preferably expensive presents. Every sex worker I know drops a lot of cash at Christmas. Especially when she's new enough to still be astonished by how much money she's suddenly making. The urge to share the wealth with your loved ones at Christmas is strong.

    I was 19 the very first year I was working. My mom had separated from my dad a few months before, and she was down about her first Christmas alone. So I bought her a ton of presents—a VCR, obscenely expensive bed linens, and blue topaz earrings that matched her eyes. After we opened them and she stopped crying, I took her to one of those ridiculously extravagant buffets with ice sculptures and hand-carved roast beef. She cried a little more, and then we laughed at how silly it was and ate too much.

    The Christmas I was 23, my lover had just won custody of her two daughters, aged 4 and 6, after a lengthy battle with their father. She weighed her staggering legal bills against her low-paying job, and said to me, "I want to do what you do. " The tricky thing was that Martina was a butch dyke, not exactly a sought-after look in the sex industry. But under her auto-shop jumpsuit, she had long legs, a narrow waist and the-cup breasts, and with a little makeup, we figured we could femme her up enough to get by.

    She grudgingly agreed to practice walking in high heels, but she flat-out refused to wear dresses. We bleached her crew-cut hair platinum blond and told my agency to describe her as a Brigitte Nielsen type. Martina didn't have much of a knack for the prefucking chitchat, but as she put it, "Once I can take those stupid girly clothes off, I'm fine. " A surprising number of guys found her unstudied tomboy manner quite attractive.

    Martina took the cash and bought her two little girls so much stuff at Toys are Us that she had to make two trips with the car to get it all home. We could hardly see the tree on Christmas morning, with all the boxes stacked around it. I have never seen two children so shiny-eyed with gratified toy lust.

    "I would even wear a dress if I had to," Martina told me later that morning, "just to see them happy. ".

    What do people mean when they speak disparagingly of "a working girl"? Someone who sells her or his body? I have news for you: Unless you're a ghost who still draws a paycheck, you use your body to make a living, too. Ever been nice to a customer you really didn't like, or acted enthusiastic about something you really didn't care about, just because you were getting paid? Congratulations, you're a working girl, too. You're just not getting paid as much as I am.

    I got into sex work thinking, as everyone does, that it would be something I'd do for a little while before I went on to a real career. The culture of sex work was different then. This was preinternet, and most sex workers were isolated from one another. The popular media presented sex work as a one-way ticket to hell. Clients and workers were both much warier, each fearing violence, disease, or exposure at the hands of the other. I dealt with a lot of disapproval from friends and lovers who I came out to. In spite of all that, somewhere along the way, I realized I wanted sex work to be my real career. I liked the money, I liked the independence, and I liked using my sexual skills.

    There's still a lot of stigma. Even now, my mother would be distressed if I gave her exact details of what I did to get the money I used to buy her all those gifts. Martina's daughters might be disgusted to find out their mother was once a call girl. But the world of sex work looks very different now. The lonely-working girl stereotype has been replaced by the hooker who snags a book deal by blogging about her exploits. Buyers and sellers talk to each other and among themselves online; escort-review websites allow clients and working girls to hold each other accountable. Since everyone is a bit less fearful, we're all a bit more relaxed and kind and human with each other. When I first began working, I usually saw a client only once, maybe twice. Now I have guys who I've been seeing frequently for years. The relationships have their boundaries, but I am my real self when I am with them, and they are my friends as well as my clients.

    The vast increase in the visibility and dialogue of real sex workers has changed my nonworking life as well. The misconceptions that I have to overcome on a daily basis have gone from massive to manageable. I have sex-worker pals who I can talk to when things get stressful. I have two committed partners who love me and understand and support my career. And I have a wide circle of friends who think I'm a good person. My family? Well, I'm still the black sheep, but they love me anyway. I am about as far as you can get from lonely, at Christmas or any other time of the year.

    I'm not on the run from any big holiday parties this year, so I'll be spending a mellow Christmas at home with my lovers. If you're a sex worker doing dates on December 25, I wish you happy clients, heavy tips, and an equally sweet Christmas of your own to go home to.

    Ho, ho, ho.

  10. #4359

    Aha! Such a big surprise!

    NY Times: Stamping out online sex trafficking may have pushed it underground.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/17/t...cking-law.html

    Many interesting comments from readers under this article.

  11. #4358

    Sue the Panties Off Them

    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nat...e35b94e2f819db

    Prostitutes in Australia can now be sued for bad or incomplete service. This is a good thing for humanity and a bad thing for this board as it will cut down on complaining.

  12. #4357

    Morality

    Prostitution in earlier days probably 1000 - 2000 years ago was considered as a respectable job in many countries in Europe and Asia. It was considered as a service. In Europe prostitutes were invited to test the potency of the prince before his marriage to a princess. In Asia prostitutes were invited by the king to serve his special subjects during a special ceremony. But now a days it is considered as a corrupt and immoral practice where as monetary corruption is a recognized as a normal practice. It looks like its just a matter of thinking. Certain necessities which were legal once have become illegal and vice versa.

    The mind gets caught in a dilemma. Right or not not right. Ultimately man does what he feel right, if immoral, then its done under cover.

  13. #4356

    Government subdized prostitution for disabled in UK

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/hea...-disabled.html

    "Councils pay for prostitutes for the disabled.

    Taxpayers' money is being spent on prostitutes, lap dancing clubs and exotic holidays under schemes designed to give more independence to the disabled. ".

  14. #4355
    Quote Originally Posted by Intransit  [View Original Post]
    Sex workers leave Twitter for Switter after controversial US law.
    I have found Switter fairly useless to find someone in a particular city. Other better options of sprung up but everyone is scattered all over sadly making it much harder to find real reviews etc.

  15. #4354

    Election ballot to stop prostitution in Lyon County, Nevada, USA.

    BBC News article Last call for Nevada's brothels?

    https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-45486174

    Same shit, different day feminism: pimps, trafficking, slavery, crime allegation, etc, etc.

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