Friday, June 03, 2005

I was reading a feminist blog yesterday, and the blogger in question had posted her opinion about prostitution. The short version is: she thinks it's bad. She thinks men who see prostitutes don't see women as human being and are using them "like toilets with pulses". She feels men think they have the right to buy sex and she thinks that's wrong.

(This is the link, if you want to go read what she said. It's long, I warn you. And even if you are opposed to her views, I would strongly advise against trying to debate with her, because I don't think that's what she's looking for.)

Naturally I myself don't agree with her, although of course she's entitled to her point of view. I did make a comment or two, but LiveJournal isn't always the best forum for such discussions, and then the author politely told me that she wasn't interested in what I had to say, so I politely left.
But I will paraphrase and expand on some of my thoughts here.

It's impossible to talk about prostitution like it's a thing, an institution. It is in a sense, but it's a really a collection of human interactions. It's like marriage that way - an institution, but one made up of many, many sets of two people. I was married once, and you know what - it wasn't a good experience for me. Does that make the entire institution of marriage bad? I don't think so.

So I don't go along with the theory that since some women are victimized by being forced to be prostitutes - and yes, this does happen, I'm not denying it – that if a woman chooses to be a prostitute, she's supporting the victimization of those other women. That doesn't follow. I also believe in a woman's right to have an abortion. There are women who are forced to have abortions. Does that mean that we should ban all abortions, everywhere, because those women's rights were violated? No. It's free choice, or the lack therof, that makes something right or wrong.

I don't think anyone has a "right" to buy sex. So, if there was no one who was willing to sell it, well, would-be customers would just be out of luck. But there are women who are willing to sell it, and I do think women should have the right to sell sexual access to their bodies. It's a question of ownership. Do I own this body I'm in or not? I think I do. And I think that as the owner and operator, I should the right to do with as I see fit. This dovetails with my beliefs about abortion rights – it's my body, it's my choice. As one of my favorite authors Pat Califia once said, "What I choose to do with my freedom may appall you, but it is none of your business."

I chose sex work because I've always felt strongly connected to my own sexuality and I know that I have a gift for understanding and nurturing other people's as well. I think the US is a very sex-negative society. I don't like that. As long as people are taught to hate and fear their own sexuality, they will hate and fear the people who stir those feelings in them. Part of what I try to teach people is some greater acceptance of their own sexuality, and I think I've had good success with that. I think I'm lucky to be self-employed in a career where I can do something I'm good at, something I think is worthwhile, and be paid well for it. I have total control over how and when and where I work, and I like that.

The downside is that most people don't understand and don't approve, and the legal issues. That, to me, is the part of being a sex worker that's most apt to be damaging: the pressure, the name-calling, the marginalization and isolation she may encounter. If she internalizes those beliefs - and for many women it's hard not to - she will start to hate herself, and with self-hatred comes a host of other self-destructive behaviors. But I think it's not the sex with men that's damaging these women, it's being told they're bad, dirty sluts. And I think it's unfortunate when the people calling them that think of themselves as feminists. That's not any brand of feminism I want to be a part of.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

In a shocking reversal of usual order of things, I'm putting up a link post today, instead Friday as I usually do. I'm just so full of surprises, aren't I?

I doubt the new column is up yet, although you can check. But the annoying thing is that with The Stranger site redesign, there no longer seems to be a way to link to the current issue. Each column is apparently assigned it's own unique URL, which makes all the links like the one on my sidebar there useless, since it will always take you to same damn column, even when it's a year old. I've written the webmaster about this and gotten no reply. Sigh. I'll let them iron out what are surely some other, major bugs with the new site, and then ask again. Until then, to read the newest column, go to, and then click on "Columns" on the menu on the left, and then click on "Control Tower".

Stolen from a meme: the last four websites I visited...

Pronation Explained: No, not a nation of pro dommes. God, that's a scary thought. I'm merely shopping for new running shoes.

And then, the polar opposite of running shoes: Punitive Shoes. You can't say there's no truth in advertising. (And no, dear boy, I do not want any of these shoes. Are you mad?)

A very interesting editorial from the LA Times about the stem-cell research debate. At least, I thought it was interesting, since I support stem-cell research.

And then, some humor: I cried with laughter the first time I read this, and I still go there when I feel cranky, because it always makes me giggle. Weight Watchers recipe cards from 1974.

More substantial thoughts tomorrow...

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

What I'm reading lately…

Sex with Kings : 500 Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge by Eleanor Herman. "Kings had flings and extramarital relationships through much of European history, and in her first book, Herman offers, with relish and dry wit, a delightful overview of their sexual escapades... History made as buoyant as fiction."

That's about the sexiest thing I've read lately, because I'm exploring a new literary tangent. I recently finished a book called The Burma Road : The Epic Story of the China-Burma-India Theater in World War II. Now, I generally prefer the 1600s-1900s for my pop-history reading. But this book awoke in me a curiosity about both WW1&2, neither of which I know much about. So I went over to Half-Price Books – a very, very dangerous place for me to go - and perused the Military History shelves. I bought:

The First World War: A Complete History by Martin Gilbert. "Profusely illustrated and containing 50 maps, it is both entertaining and endlessly informative in aiding the reader in understanding the specifics of how this first great tragedy of our century occurred."

The First World War by John Keegan. "In a riveting narrative that puts diaries, letters and action reports to good use, British military historian Keegan delivers a stunningly vivid history of the Great War."

Myths and Legends of the First World War by James Hayward. "While incorporating details of wartime life, this book gives a refreshingly different perspective by looking at the rich crop of legends that sprang from the battlefields. Many of these myths still persist in the public consciousness even today."

I figured I'd start with WW1 and move onto WW2 later. Then I wandered into the "Espionage" section and my interest was caught by:

The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography by Simon Singh. "The author explores the impact of cryptography, the creation and cracking of coded messages, on history and society. "

Code Breaking: A History and Explanation by Rudolph Kippenhahn. "Astrophysicist Kippenhahn attempts to introduce the general reader to the history of cryptology… more a collection of anecdotes and explanations than a standard history book, but interesting and hugely informative reading."

Secret Messages: Concealment Codes And Other Types Of Ingenious Communication by William S. Butler, L. Douglas Keeney. "Authors Butler and Keeney breezily survey the history of codes, ciphers and other forms of covert communication from smoke signals and Morse code to fraternity ties, gang colors and carefully stitched quilts, to name just a few."

And then I made myself leave, because I don't need to be bringing any more books into my house until I first take some out. It's getting a little scary in my office. The walls are covered, floor to ceiling, with shelves, and the shelves are all full. There's a sort of a path from the door to my desk, and a few little empty spots on the floor here and there. But mostly, there are stacks and stacks of books. When my cat knocks one of them over, it's like dominos - a whole line of them goes down. It's definitely time for a bibliographic purge around here.

Of course, that means going back to Half-Price Books, what a pity. But when I sell, I do try to leave there with fewer books than I came in with. Hey, it's progress.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

A note to my clients: after two weeks of extreme busyness on my part, the next two weeks look rather quiet. So if you're one of the boys who tried to get an appointment with me lately and couldn't - or if you've just been thinking, I should call Mistress Matisse - this week would be a good time.

A mixed bag today... First, some shots from my night-photography phase.

Night Chapel - From the Seattle University campus, The Chapel of St Ignatius. I liked the color reflecting off the pond.
Night Tunnel - I had a mild obsession with this tunnel for a while. It's an exit ramp off 99, and there's just something about it. It's creepy in an interesting way.
Toy Graveyard - I'm unclear about why these little tiny crosses had been set up like this in a Capitol Hill park - I think it was some kind of political protest - but they were visually arresting.


Black Sky - Infra-red series of Gasworks Park
Punks and Pup - snapped on Broadway. I used to walk down Broadway with my camera, and everyone who panhandled me, I'd ask them to pose for a picture first. I got some interesting shots - but this scene was was just a lucky catch.

And we have to have some naked girls.

Rose and The Door - I know, I'm obsessed with doorways. But they're so evocative.
HalfNude - And again...

Monday, May 30, 2005

Not That I'm Looking...

But it's entertaining to see what - or rather, who - is out there. So sometimes I cruise though the online personal ads and play "If I was looking, who would I write to?"

Naturally, a lot of the ads I see make me deeply grateful for Max and Roman. But there are some cuties out there. A few days ago, for example, I spied this pretty girl. (Click on through the "are you 18?" screen.)

I was startled for a moment, because she looks like someone else I know. But on closer examination - no, she's a stranger to me.

Why do I like her ad? Well, it's a good picture, for one thing. It's nice and clear and natural-looking and it conveys not only what she looks like but a sense of her personality. Kudos to her for showing her face, too. Neck-down photos just don't do it for me in personals. If you really feel you must obscure your face, well, okay. But the decapitated-torso shots are mildly disturbing.

She mentions "spanking" in her interests list, and calls herself submissive. Hard to say how much experience she's got, but that's a start.

Plus, you know, she's pretty. Yeah, call me shallow, but there it is. Nice smile, and I like her long dark hair.

Why I might not answer the ad: wow, she's young. Twenty-one? Jesus, she's a baby. Nothing against her, but there's just a lot you don't know when you're twenty-one. And if you're like me at twenty-one, you don't even know that you don't know. If you know what I mean.

I wish her ad said a little more about her - for example, what kind of thing she does for a living. Or is she in school? How about books she likes? Music? Movies? Favorite restaurants?

In spite of those petty quibbles, I'm guessing she's been deluged with responses, for all the reasons I mentioned. And I'm quite certain she's gotten a lot of email from guys that start out, "I know you said you were looking for a girl, but..." I hope she meets someone cool.

So, as I said - I'm not seeking another partner. But it's still fun to window shop.