Suki examines the elephant in the room that society deliberately overlooks — the reality of protitution with its terrible torture, enslavement and abuses of millions of young girls merely for the pleasure of men.
THANKSGIVING 2009. I went out to dinner with a group of people: polite men and well-dressed women with good jobs, and I felt like a ghost since I can never tell them who I am. As I side-stepped the turkey (since I am a vegetarian) and ate my mashed sweet potatoes with caramelized brown sugar and my crisp green salad with spicy mushrooms, and enjoyed all the paraphernalia of the feast, and engaged in the necessary social smiles and conversation, I was aware that I was not really there. The ghost feeling reminded me of my time growing up as an innocent girl on military bases and the way I was always aware of the ghost women outside the gate. These were the bad ruined girls, the unmentionable ones, who went with the soldiers; and when I lived in Japan, I discovered that the Japanese called these girls who were only bodies for sale "women of no importance." These girls were lower than the lowest of their kind since they went with the disgusting and terrifying foreigners. After this, they were considered 'contaminated' beyond hope by the Japanese. I knew my pity could never reach these girls or help them. I felt as ghostly as they were as I smiled at the glossy women and courteous men around during the Thanksgiving feast.
My mind is always full of these sorts of thoughts: what if these successful professional women knew what filth I was from so much unwanted sex inside me when I worked as a prostitute. Would they spit at me? Would the men be polite and open doors for me if they knew I was just a body to buy for sex? I am haunted by this ghost that I am who is never in the same world as the people around her. My parallel dimension encloses me in this unreal state, where I can never tell people who I am. Paradoxically, I am proud to be a prostitute since I think the prostituted woman is the only one with any reality; my glossy, refined, well-educated counterparts at the Thanksgiving feast are fakes: they take their safety and privilege and female empowerment for granted, with no realization that they could be broken and turned into filth after just a few hours of rape and degradation. Let one of them be 'trained' to take public fuck upended in front of a group of partying drunk 'clients,' and their fake 'empowered' existence would dissolve. Then they would know that brutal rape power overwhelms all fake female 'empowerment' — and it rules the world.
I am also a ghost in bed. I can never make love without fear. I might be with a gentle man that I adore and the sex might be very pleasurable, but I still know that outside the door is a world of unthinkable sexual violence and that it could destroy me or any woman at any moment. A tiny, tiny, tiny portion of that world of sexual violence was once visited on me: I got overused some when I worked as a prostitute. I was sore and bled. That physical pain has killed all safety in me forever. Just think if men got a hold of me and did it to me again — except much worse — like what happens to the trafficked girls now. Their 100 rapes a day make the half a dozen or so I withstood seem totally paltry. But that paltry handful of rapes taught me my body was vulnerable forever. The few times I feel safe and warm for a little while — like when I am at home and the door is locked and I am snugged down in soft blankets reading a mystery novel — those few moments seem like a miracle to be treasured. Their reality is so tenuous. I am grateful beyond measure for these warm, safe moments. I feel fortunate beyond belief that they are granted to me in this perilous world.
I am a ghost when I see or read the news. Anything to do with women being sold depresses me. The sheer normality of the sale of the body depresses me. The way it is taken for granted, with no delving into how the girl feels about being sold. Any mention of any war depresses me since there is always the hidden reality, the big dark dirty secret, that vulnerable bodies are being sold. There's a huge rape market hidden beneath the surface news of war. Hidden, in fact, beneath the surface all around us. Even in peace, there is sexual war being carried out on our bodies, in hidden places. Any mention of countries like Cambodia or India or Thailand depresses me since the sale of the female body is so horrendous in these places. I know the sale of the female body is everywhere but somehow India now conjures up in my head sweatshop cesspool brothels full of children and trafficked Slavic girls being fucked into disease and death at 'fun' sex-tourist spots like Goa. Any mention of Vietnam brings up memories of war-torn fucked starving prostituted girls and the 100,000 or more outcast throwaway children of these outcast throwaway whores. I can't even eat at a Vietnamese restaurant without thinking of this. Seeing Sean Penn in Casualties of War — he plays the crude, rough, tough soldier out to get laid at the nearest village brothel — reminds me of the Vietnam vets who gang raped me. It is personal. And I am a ghost as a result of these dreadful memories.
I can't even enjoy Miracle on 34th Street at Thanksgiving — the most recent version — since the actor in it played the soldier visiting those pathetic whores in Hamburger Hill. It's a shame to have all the warm bright green and red and silver and gold Christmas colors of the movie and all the cosy sweet warm feelings and the hot cocoa and peppermint sticks and visiting Santa atmosphere of this sweet movie ruined since those awful ghosts of awful used Vietnamese whores rise up and die in front of me. And most are probably dead now — from their ordeal. My life is full of ghosts. "The rain is full ghosts tonight" (Edna St. Vincent Millay). A deep mystery: when I shower or swim or am near a stream or a fountain or the ocean, images of comfort women come to me. Is it because they too find solace in the sound and feel of water, as I do? Do I share water as comfort with all these soft ghosts?
I hear those ghosts in the wind when I go up into the mountains and look at the clouds moving across the stars on cold nights.
Who are these ghosts, girls who are ghosts in their own bodies when they are alive and left out of history when they die? Your body is labeled for sale. You are entered by a lot of men who know that this is sex for money, not for real. This is not sex with tenderness. Being entered so much without tenderness for money distances you from your own sexuality and your own body. You are a ghost in it.
I just have to look at the local news to feel like a ghost. Any mention of prostituted women being further ostracized depresses me. I just heard, from another former prostitute, that our local Salvation Army will not help the prostituted. This really surprised me since I know that, at the national level, one of the women leaders of the Salvation Army is extremely gung ho about stopping sex trafficking. Does this organization draw a line between the trafficked and the prostituted? They are often the same person. I guess I cannot blame the Salvation Army if they draw this distinction since almost everyone else also does. Say 'prostituted girl' and people recoil in disgust. Say 'trafficked girl' and you get outrage and sympathy. It is 'fashionable' and 'respectable' to be trafficked — you are automatically accorded vulnerable victim status. But take your average throwaway prostitute and everyone calls her a whore, a ragged drugged-and-drunk garbage bin who gets what she deserves — and, as such, the social services organizations won't help her — is it because she is too filthy and degraded to be helped, or saved? Even though the prostitute may work under conditions similar to those of the trafficked and she may come from a similar background of abuse since those are the kinds of girls who frequently end up as prostitutes — still she is not 'trafficked,' so she can't be saved. She's not a good girl who got taken advantage of. She's just a whore.
We really have to stop putting up a big wall between the trafficked and the prostituted. Trafficking abets and encourages prostitution. Trafficking is intimately connected with large amounts of the prostitution in the world. Coercion of some sort is rarely absent from the life of the prostituted (trafficked). Eliminate it totally from prostitution and I will concede that there is a difference between trafficking and prostitution. But not until then.
The number of girls and women in prostitution who are there as independent agents, by choice, and who love what they do and work without fear or violence are in the minority. This is a major reason I condemn prostitution so heavily. Are there levels and different types of prostitution? Of course. But how can the free independent ones work with any safety if so many others are being forced — under totally horrendous conditions? The free ones could be forced next. After all, if a woman has 'lowered' herself to the level of prostitute (not that I consider it a lowering, but society does) she is no longer protected under the law or by polite society: she can be treated anyway you want since now she has no worth. For that matter, how can prostitutes work with dignity if their profession is not respected? Free prostitutes can tell clients, "this is what I will do, this is what I will not do," but the forced girl can't turn down 'requests.' That's what makes her plight so pathetic.
Every event calls up fear of men. If I see a scene in a movie with a bunch of rough-working class fellows/mates — whatever they call themselves — heading off to the brothel to drink and fuck and bond, it doesn't matter if those men are in Melbourne or Pittsburgh or Glasgow, and are in a movie, not in my living room — they still scare me to death. I think of the poor trafficked Asian girls in Melbourne brothels getting all torn up by those working class guys, and I think — that girl could be me if I were unprotected. Few women or girls want to be prostitutes under these circumstances — getting the insides banged out of them by a bunch of rough men. It's why you have to traffic: girls have to be forced into this trade. The small number of independent prostitutes/escorts are not representative of the trade. The majority of girls worldwide are forced, and many of them are minors and most are coerced into prostitution in early adolescence, way before their bodies are ready for sex. Most are in no position to negotiate condom use, so they run the risk of not just the usual STD's but AIDS as well. For ones who might be able to use condoms, they often suffer from condom abrasion, due to too much intercourse. Imagine how dreadful it must be to have to have continuous intercourse if you have sores caused by condom abrasion. The majority of prostituted girls have Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), and it is extremely painful to undergo intercourse when you have PID. All sorts of injuries can result from the brutal forcing of girls: prolapsed anuses, ruptured ovaries, infected wombs, inflammation of the cervix. Intercourse with too many men (the 30 to 100 a day who might be forced on a trafficked girl) would be absolutely unendurable as it, without all these diseases adding immeasurably to the pain. Who would chose this as a way of life?
In the above account of the plight of the helpless and the trafficked, I forgot to mention that women tend to attach emotions to sex. Who would chose sex forced on her without tenderness or care? The damage being done to the girl's emotions under conditions of continuous rape cannot be measured. Complete numbness is the only way to survive, and sometimes that numbness is permanent.
One of the biggest mysteries of the world is why any woman or girl should be reduced to a trafficked body. I found it enormously shocking that Slavic and Asian girls were being trafficked into London and used 30 or 40 times a day (sometimes even more). My mind tried to comprehend what this means. First of all, imagine, if you are a woman, just one man you do not want inside you forcing himself into you. Imagine the disgust you would feel. Multiply that by 40. Could you even comprehend the pain and insanity that would cause in you? Then, if you are a man, imagine being one of those 40 men and knowing that this girl you are using is pretty much a dead body from mass rape pain. Doesn't that bother you at all? Do you just go home after this to your wife or girlfriend, or do you help your daughter — who might be the same age as the girl you just used — with her homework? How can you possibly function as a normal male after you have done this? Is this the behavior of the normal male — of the men who are fathers and sons and brothers and husbands? It is a real puzzler.
Initially, I thought only assembly-line sex existed in military situations. I had read about the Roman soldier occupiers using prostituted girls in Briton until the girls died of bleeding and exhaustion; I had read of the assembly-line brothels set up for Napoleon's troops; the ones Hussein established for his army during the invasion of Kuwait. There are accounts of many others on the military front — two of the most famous examples are the Korean Comfort Women being used 50 or so times a day by the Japanese during WWII and the same sort of lines being formed by Allied soldiers eager to get at the bodies of the conquered Japanese girls. Bangladesh and the rape camps set up by the Pakistani military, where girls were held and sometimes used up to 80 times a day, is another famous modern example. Gang rape/mass rape by militaries is currently taking place in the Congo and the Sudan. We can find many others examples. My question is — regardless of the nationality of the soldiers — how could you do this to these girls? You must have known what was happening to the body that the men were all lined up to use. You were part of the line. You joked around about the hot sex that was soon to be yours. When you went home — back to where the 'good' girls were and you got married and had daughters, were you never concerned that you had sexually murdered a helpless girl's body? These are the big questions that I can never find answers for. These are the questions no one seems to be asking, except me, and I wish I did not have to. They cause me intense pain.
My whole writing career began when I read some terrible sexual details in a book by a Japanese male feminist scholar named Tanaka. He researched how the Occupation Comfort Girls were treated the same way by American and Australian GI's as the Korean ones had been treated by the Japanese: conscripted, labeled prostitutes, raped multiple times a day. When I found out, from Tanaka's book, that these poor girls were being used 40 times a day, I was stunned. I am still stunned. All my books and all my novels came out of reading about this in Tanaka. I needed an outlet, so stunned was I. I still don't understand it. The girls were terrified and they cried and the pain was tremendous and the bleeding and "the sadness and the horror." But still the men used the girls. This kind of behavior is beyond comprehension. It puts all males in the category of brutal rapists since these were average men. And average men are repeating this drama of incomprehensible rape right now, all over the world, as I sit here writing. The men who did this were just like the brothers and husbands and fathers and boyfriends of the women reading this. Put any of those men under similar circumstances, and they could not resist. It would be the 'fun' of buddy bonding gang rape group fuck. And almost all men are capable of this. Almost none hold back when vulnerable women can be bought and used with impunity.
It is the same female body being used: all the ones being used 40 times a day now, in Soho or Amsterdam or Berlin or Dubai, will bleed and die, just the way the comfort girls did so many years ago. So many centuries ago as well since the slave girls placed in Greek brothels during the Golden Age of Democracy had the same vulnerable tearable bodies when the free and noble citizens of Athens mounted these girls all day long. There is no democracy or country or political system that reflects the needs and beauty of the vulnerable feminine. Anything soft, men rape it.
Many years ago, when I used to know lots of soldiers, I didn't know about the details of what happened to the comfort girls. How could I? No one knew. Tanaka's book is quite recent. Now I would like to ask soldiers and civilians and all men: how can you do this to us? The damage is dreadful and the men see it and still they won't stop? Incomprehensible.
These questions turn me into a ghost at work since I cannot ask them or call attention to the dimension of the whore I exist in. There are some perfectly polite and kind people at work — most of them highly educated — but I might as well be on one of the moons of Saturn, so remote am I from how normal these people are. All these smart prosperous women with their protected vaginas and safe lives. All these polite men who might spit at me if they knew I was a prostitute. My life is safe now too but it never seems safe. I am always in a whore world, whether I am using the Xerox machine or chatting with someone or eating an apple. That is not me since I cannot share my whore ghost self with anyone around me.
The educated upwardly mobile self-confident women around me do not seem to realize that the presence of the whore impacts all of them. The way the whore is treated — with no respect, with violence, without care — tarnishes all female sexuality all across the world. No woman is safe as long as even one 'whore' exists. I always have more questions than answers. What is the appeal of the whore to men? We know why she disgusts the normal respectable women: so many men inside one woman. Normal respectable women find the whore body absolutely revolting. Her public fuck hole is something the protected women would rather not think about. They certainly never discuss it.
But why do men need to create a certain class of degraded women? My simple answer is that they want quick, efficient fuck without tenderness. As a wise male friend said to me, men are very brutal and prosaic about sex. For this reason I do not see any lessening of trafficking. If anything, the world, as it grows more ridiculously populous, will also grow more chaotic and violent — and so we will see an increased domination of women by men. More and more females will be prostituted and perhaps, in one possible futuristic scenario, all women will be prostituted. It is the ideal situation for men, given their biology: sex without tenderness on an enslaved body.
I find the whole world of sex a confusing mess, so it is no wonder that, for me, the misery of the forced girl encroaches on the free girl. I was one of the free ones but I was still afraid of being hurt since I had no legal protection; I feel to this day that if people know I am a prostitute, I will be disapproved of, if not subjected to outright scorn. I'm not very tough. Not a devil-may-care rebel who doesn't give a damn what the world thinks of her. Of course it hurts to be disrespected. Even if it doesn't lead to me being physically harmed, it hurts my already basement-level self-esteem. Whatever little self-esteem I have would plummet if those around me knew I was a prostitute and they looked at me 'funny.' In a paradox I cannot resolve or live with, I find that I am both proud and ashamed of being a prostitute. And the reasons are as complicated as my confusion about sex. I've always been afraid of male violence, ever since I was a little girl. Fear of men hurting me physically has ruled my life. But I am also powerfully attracted to men and their strength since I am very sexual. (It is why I write erotica — my strong sexuality.) I don't want men to hurt me with that strength. I want them to protect me.
To return to my ghost-like status: if I had had a different upbringing from the one on military bases, maybe I would be less depressed about prostitution-sex and less tenuous and wraithlike in terms of my own existence. Maybe I would be better off if I had not been exposed, as I was growing up, to the situation of there being two kinds of women — sharply separated from each other: us, the wives and daughters on base, inside the gate, the 'good' women; and the 'bad' girls outside the gate who went with the soldiers. The attitude among the military wives, and of course among their daughters as well, was that it was the fault of the girls outside the gate. They were just naturally bad women. It had nothing to do with the soldiers, the men who bought the girls. It was all the fault of the girls — because they were depraved and slutty enough to sleep with all these different men. I even heard the military wives call the prostitutes "that filth outside the gate." No inkling that perhaps poverty and rape and a whole flotilla of ugly circumstances had led these girls into being just bodies for sale. This whole attitude on the part of the military wives depressed me enormously as I was growing up. Pity and misery was what I felt for these poor girls outside the gate. And phantom rape pain between my legs ages before I ever had sex. Even way back then when I was a virgin, it seemed like it would be awful to have a lot of different men hanging all over me and pawing me.
Never mind that I was perhaps idealizing the prostituted girls. Prostitution makes a girl ugly. She has to become hard and greedy and grasping and desperate and without feelings. You can't be treated like fuck-meat all the time by hundreds or even thousands of drunk men hanging all over you and banging you hard inside, without tenderness, and still stay a nice sweet girl. You become ugly. Prostitutes are the ugliest of women. I could not know that back then. I never really met any of them.
I saw a documentary of African prostitutes working in these garbage-strewn sheds and fucking on filthy beds. The girls were monstrously ugly: they all looked half-dead and diseased and like they had been hit by a truck. (It's called the 'hit by a truck' look — soldier acquaintances told me, when they would run across whores in Asia who had had to take too much fuck. It's a kind of blunt deadness and nothing in the eyes at all, or so the soldiers explained to me.) The 'hit-by-a-truck' whores were being used by grinning men who looked as filthy as the girls.
As Emma Thompson says of the girls trafficked into London, "you are dealing with the least attractive of people." And it is no wonder. What sort of world is it that we reduce girls to nothing but pure ugly fuck? The girls have nothing left inside them — just pure ugly fuck. What else could you possibly have left inside you if you were being forced 40 times a day, like some of the trafficked girls in London are? This is a reality no one wants to know about. It's as if it is another dimension entirely — so far removed are these pure ugly fuck girls from the one who sits at a Starbuck's sipping a coffee crème de menthe latte and reading about the latest hot sex techniques and dashing daring revealing frillies and mind-blowing 'bad-girl' positions for love in her Cosmo magazine.
Really poor whores, the lowest of them all, fuck on pieces of cardboard. I was really shocked to think that any girl, even the poorest of whores, would have to fuck on cardboard.
Much later in life, long after I had left prostitution and was educated and safe, I met a Filipino social worker and a young man who had been in the military in that country. Both told me that many girls who become prostitutes in the Philippines may have been heavily used within their families before turning to the sex trade. Both men told me that there is heavy incest in the barrio communities: due to poverty families sleep in the same bed, so young girls are vulnerable to fathers and brothers, even grandfathers. It's common, these men told me, that girls often feel they are not worth anything after being used sexually in childhood since their religion puts such a premium put on being a virgin. So the girls feel their next natural step is prostitution, since this is all they feel they are fit for.
This may not be the story of all Filipina girls in prostitution, but it makes me really sad that even some of the girls outside the gate in the Philippines may have been initiated into prostitution by incest and that our U.S. soldiers were buying these poor girls — without even knowing, probably, what had happened to the girl. If they knew, many of the U.S. soldiers would probably feel sorry for the girl. Since American men accord their own women some status and equality back home, stateside, the American soldiers overseas often treat prostituted girls with respect and kindness. They still buy them, of course, but isn't this a far better scenario than the girl having to work under dreadful conditions — like in some cheap brothels in Manila where girls are heavily used all day long. I think the levels and conditions of prostitution are all important; and if we could change all prostitution to a matter of choice and safety and kind treatment for the girls, I would not object to selling the body at all. But the girl has to sell herself — voluntarily. No family selling her. No pimp selling her. And no brothel selling her.
Way back then, when I lived on bases, many decades ago, there was no sex education in schools, and all the pictures in magazines showing intercourse would have been as accessible to me as if they were on the planet Jupiter. Up until age 15, I didn't know what sex was — I only had the vaguest idea of what the relationship between the penis and the vagina was. Then, at that age, I read Fanny Hill, my first pornographic, explicitly sexual book; and I finally knew, at least in some minimal fashion, what men and women did when they were together. Sort of. Since my body was still virgin, I couldn't really know. The experience of real sex is way beyond what you can imagine when you are a young, virgin girl. That first penetration is more physically shocking than you can predict (even if your first lover is gentle, as mine was).
So, way back then, virgin as I was, it still hurt me to think of those poor girls getting pawed and used by all these different men. I think the depression from that era killed me forever — and is part of what led me into prostitution. I felt so guilty that all these poor girls were being used and ruined: I had to find out what it was like to be used and ruined myself. I felt really guilty I wasn't being prostituted myself. I've always been timid and afraid of men: I had to face my worst fears — being used and bought for sex — by enacting them. I had to become a prostitute since it was what I feared most.
It didn't make me any stronger. It just intensified how timid and afraid I am of men. It made me way, way more afraid of them — all that physical pain of being overused terrified me. Every day I am full of fear of assembly-line sex. I am hyper-aware that all around the world trafficked girls are being used up to 100 times a day — and there is nothing left of these girls except shredded remnants of people — after just one day of such treatment, let alone thousands. To be raped 100,000 times by 100,000 different men. Inconceivable — yet a norm in the trafficking world? Do the Rape Crises centers take these girls in, I wonder, if any can manage to escape after such an ordeal — or to even walk after such an ordeal? Or do the Rape Crises centers not consider the prostituted/trafficked girl a rape victim, even though she must endure thousands of forced violations of her body, rather than just the one visited on the 'good' girl who is raped? Here is a hypothetical scenario: A Slavic girl is trafficked into Dubai and broken in at a nearby Pakistani labor camp, where she is mounted all day long, for weeks, until she is seasoned and ready for 'work.' She 'works.' She escapes her traffickers. She makes it to a European country. She cannot ever sleep due to continuous rape nightmares. She is a wreck. She goes to a center that helps rape victims. They turn her away since she was not really 'raped.' She got paid for it. To keep some little measure of fading sanity, she tells herself she wasn't really raped either. After all, these well-dressed women, sipping their lattes, at the center, these women with their educated voices and clean safe bodies are the voice of all women everywhere. The whore has no place in that congress. She cannot join the conversation. She is defined as 'not raped' although her body and sexuality were taken from her.
Such norms of the modern world — the Rape Crisis center is only for the 'really' raped, not the prostituted — trouble me deeply. The phantom rape pain of my youth has come back a thousand fold.
The ghost of the whore. The whore ghost. She is everywhere, present by her absence or absent by her lack of presence. Someone at work has been bringing in issues of Harper's, one of those intellectually pretentious magazines that never notices the bleeding whore body. I used to read it decades ago, before I knew any better. I speed read the latest one (October 2009) plopped on the communal desk at work and discovered that — wouldn't you know it — even in tent cities whores are outcasts. There's a little list of rules for a tent city on p. 16 and one says, "Don't bring your tricks here." Utterly 100% absolutely egregiously friggin' fuckin' amazing, as the say. (Ordinarily I avoid the "egregious" word, as being one of most pretentious of the Latinate variety, but it seemed to fit here.) In a tent city full of the down-and-out, the most economically distressed and stressed, the financial desperation of the whore is not understood. The whore as ghost, in tent city. Where is she supposed to take her tricks — under the nearest hedge? Moral majority suffocating discrimination against the most wretched of women — those who must sell themselves — rules in tent city. Amazing. This same Harper's does not cover anywhere — at least no where I can find — one of the most important facts of the modern world — the bleeding, suffering, torn-vagina female body. She does not seem to exist for Harper's. Where is the whore voice in Harper's? It certainly is not in the article on Palestine in this same issue called "The Economics of Occupation." No where do I see coverage of the women economically turned into prostitutes by the occupation. All occupations prostitute women. Trafficked girls are raped in Israel, the same as in the rest of the world. Businessmen, college students, religious men, tourists, the Israeli military — these are just some of the types of men in Israel who buy enslaved trafficked girls. Are some of those girls from Palestine? Why wasn't this fact of the occupation important enough for the author to note? It was a male writer — but it wouldn't have mattered if it were a female one — they never notice the bleeding-whore, torn-vagina raped prostituted trafficked degraded female body either.
If I really want to feel like a ghost whore, a really depressed ghost whore, I look at the highly educated women around me. All those women's studies types who say they fight for social justice and the liberation of other women. Then these women's studies types come up with the astounding idea, "Oh, yeah, and I think prostitution should be legalized. To protect the women, of course." The blind insensitive abrasively brutal ignorance behind this statement stuns me. Every experiment in legalization has ended up in massive upswings of trafficking: girls literally forced into brothel beds and treated as sex slaves.
I can further depress myself by looking at the new books shelves in any library. A sample of current publications reveals a whole book on North Korea with only a brief mention of human trafficking. An entire book, A Place of Belonging, about women in the early years of Alaska with only a couple of brief sections on the prostitutes: sketchy, practically non-existent coverage of them, as if the 'decent' women were the only ones that matter. This book is by a woman historian and indicates what is wrong with almost all women historians: they leave the shredded, raw, miserable whore vagina almost completely out of history. Tiny token paragraphs, if that: usually just a sentence or two.
Next I see a book on power and intimacy with not one bleeding vagina in sight.
Then all sorts of scholarly works bristling with all sorts of ideas on "agency" and "embodiment" and "re-theorizing the epistemology of womanist feminist engendered spaces of gendered injustices" and of course yet one more much-needed study of Sartre and his famous paramour, Simone de Beauvoir (a woman who routinely ignored the prostituted) and a whole big fancy text on the body and WWI from which the raped vagina is wholly absent. This latter book was put together by a woman; and I wonder how come she overlooked one basic fact of the body during WWI: soldiers visited whores and gave them venereal diseases and tore up their bodies. It's a really big fact of all wars.
Where were these women scholars trained, that they overlook the bleeding raped vagina at the center of all wars? I guess the answer is easy to find: they went to universities that just don't include any of this in the texts or discussions — and these women did not come equipped with either hearts or vaginas, so women scholars are not really women. It should not be surprising when you have self-congratulatory pseudo-liberated women's studies professors supporting the legalization of prostitution, that is, they are supporting the legalization of the serial rape of the female body. If the women's studies departments are this blind, it is no wonder women historians and sociologists and anthropologists and the ones in literarature simply ignore that huge piece of life gone missing from all notice: the raped bleeding whore vagina.
I stay away from women academics since their callousness and blindness causes me deep pain. I guess I stay away from most women since they distress me so much. When I lived in Japan, I found all these soft, mincing, timid Japanese women intensely annoying. They reminded me too much of me. I am very soft and frightened, yet I don't like to be around other soft women. I realize I must be as intensely annoying as they are.
I like being around strong men who protect me. But I can't seem to find any who want to protect me. My current boyfriend is very polite and kind and treats me with great consideration. He is pleasingly deferential. But he does not know about my past. This haunts me. I am always a ghost with the men I am most intimate with since I can't ever tell them about what I really am.
While I was in prostitution, I had to numb out and live in a buffer dimension where no feelings were allowed. Feelings will kill you if you are a prostitute. Even the smallest of insults killed me way back then, when I was a prostitute, until I numbed out. I was a dirty joke and drunk men were being crude toward me before they fucked me. It killed my soul until I numbed out. I experienced only minimal physical violence, from these men, other than the pain of sex, and even the little roughness they visited on me killed me — because I am so naturally sensitive and timid. I am easily broken. I was broken forever by a man threatening to hurt my arm and burn my nipples with a lighter if I didn't do what he wanted. I did what he wanted — right away. I have absolutely no toughness at all.
Most of the men who bought me did not threaten me physically. I don't think that when they were drunk and partying and getting high and 'letting of steam' during their off-duty hours, that their intention was to hurt the girls they bought. They just wanted to have some fun and drink and fuck a whore and they didn't really mean us any harm. I don't even think they were trying to humiliate me. With rare exceptions, they didn't force themselves into me. I smiled and was timid and soft and did what I could to please them so they wouldn't hurt me. I was afraid all the time, even with the nice men. And most of them were pretty nice, despite being kind of drunk and crazy with wanting to get out there and party and have some fun. I didn't have any fun due to fear. I was a ghost girl with these men. I know now that I was way too timid to be a whore. I was not one of the ones with what I call the cast-iron vagina — the whores who say being a whore does not affect them at all. Those who say they can shrug off the humiliation and roughness and say it does not bother them at all. As I said, most of the men were not that rough and most did not seem bent on humiliation as their goal. They mostly wanted some fuck as their goal. But even a little bit of roughness from a half-drunk guy would scare me. I came into prostitution afraid of male roughness, and the fear got worse.
That deep fear of men rules me even now when I am pretty safe from them. And with them. In bed, I need a whole lot of TLC. And tons of gentleness. So much gentleness that it can strain the patience of even the kindest of men. I can handle some sexual roughness, but then a little unexpected incident might send me into deep freeze — what I call the way I close down if I become frightened. Not through any fault of my sexual partner. It's simply unpredictable. He'll say, "Hey, what did I do wrong?" And I'll tell him, "Nothing, just wait a sec till I do some deep breathing." So, I do some calming exercises and he sits up and smokes a cigarette. And hopefully I have not tried his patience too much — and we can get back into the rhythm and mood of the lovemaking.
I always have in my mind how much it hurt to have sex a half dozen or so times a day, maybe even a dozen times a day, if I went with several guys. These were young men who always wanted to go more than once — and they did me hard. This pain of being overused scared me so much that I always think how I would never survive the 100 inflicted on the trafficked girls if men ever got hold of me and hurt me in this way again. After one day, I would be dead. These fears rule me. No matter if I have a Ph.D. and write books — nothing can keep me safe from the sexual violence out there. And I very much resent that the good men in my life, my friends and supporters — of whom I have quite a few — are not making me feel protected from all this. I have been accused of being anti-men — an absurd statement since I love men when they are protective and tender and supportive. I only speak out against the men who hurt the helpless.
After I got out of prostitution, I stayed numb for years. Lately, I have had to become un-numb to write all my books since they required huge and intense immersion in feelings. Prostitution did not teach me anything except how afraid of men I am. And it taught me to be a ghost. And to be weak and frightened. I have no affinity with all these American and European and Australian women who are so strong and empowered, who stride through the world as if they have a right to be unafraid. I want to tell them to be very afraid. All a man has to do is overpower you physically and you have no power at all. I am well aware that to these empowered women I am a cowering frightened timid ghost. So be it. That is what I am.
I don't want to be strong and tough or 'empowered.' I just want someone to hold me and protect me. I never feel real. But I want to be warm and safe. I have a theory about Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series. Its deep archetypal appeal stems from the need of the female to be protected. Bella represents the soft, helpless, vulnerable feminine. Edward calls her "breakable." He is of course the male at his most terrifying powerful. But he also wants to protect her, while at the same time realizing his strength can easily destroy her. As soft, helpless, and feminine, she is attracted to his overwhelming strength, but also frightened of it. We women are fascinated by how strong men are, but also really afraid of that strength.
There is nothing wrong with being soft and helpless. It is what we women are.
In addition, rather than designating businesswomen and politicians in their expensive suits and with their high-powered lives as Women of the Year, I think we need to spotlight the most wretchedly disempowered. The complete helplessness of woman. Helpless soft vulnerable fragile — these are the characteristics of woman. Not power. It is a beautiful way to be — except that it leads to such brutal domination of us.
As I am writing this, World AIDS Day has once again rolled around. On the UNAIDS site, much lofty rhetoric proclaims that they are "uniting the world against AIDS." On this site we have a "statement by Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, on occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women." He tells us that "UNAIDS is fully committed to stop violence against women and girls." The statement links AIDS and women's rights and what they now term "gender equality programmes" and calls for much stirring action that will give women sexual rights so that sexual violence and forced sex and sex without a condom are no longer a part of their lives. Men, says the statement, must play a role in all of this. The statement tells us that "Violence and the threat of violence dramatically increase the vulnerability of women and girls to HIV by making it difficult or impossible for women to abstain from sex, to get their partners to be faithful, or to use a condom. The risk of HIV transmission increases during violent or forced-sex encounters."
Gosh, I say. How many decades, how many minds, how many well-fed privileged UN officials living off of the rich, fat-cat proceeds of that highly financially corrupt institution did it take for them to figure all that out? What a joke all of this is for the enslaved and the trafficked, for the for-sale girl chained to her rape-bed. All the high-sounding rhetoric in the world will not help her. Her existence and welfare are completely overlooked by World AIDS Day. Where, in all of this coverage, do we see the words "prostituted being/trafficked being"? "Forced-sex encounters," I assume, refers to the rape of 'normal' girls, not prostituted ones. Only the 'decent' girls of the world matter when it comes to AIDS. The whore is garbage. The Ghost Garbage Whore of World AIDS Day is everywhere for me — she haunts me by her absent presence — and no where for anyone else.
The UNAIDS site also quotes from Sidibé's World AIDS Day 2009 address in South Africa at an event attended by what sounds like the privileged and the safe and the well- fed. And the site quotes the President of South Africa as saying, "Our message is simple.
We have to stop the spread of HIV. We must reduce the rate of new infections. Prevention is our most powerful weapon against the epidemic."
This from the President of a country with the highest rape-rate in the world, outside of a conflict zone. This in a country which invented a bristly rape-deterrent device which women can insert into their vaginas (protected by a rubber layer from the bristles, of course) — if a girl is raped, the device latches onto the rapist's penis and he has to go to a hospital to get it taken off. So great is the chance of rape, I guess, that a girl dare not step outside the door in South Africa without her rape prevention kit. This in a country where the sex traffickers have been revving up the sex engines for ages now in preparation for the World Cup there in the summer of 2010 — with the expectation that they will making a financial killing by selling girls like mad to the sex tourists — all part of the fun-and-games of the World Cup. If the girls are trafficked, they will not be able to demand condom use. AIDS-vulnerable, helpless girls on the menu at the World Cup.
I did not notice any mention of these sorts of facts from the South African President or from Sidibé. Or any suggestions about how one can change male behavior. This will never come about — whether the male be South African or Cambodian or British or German or — add a nationality — he will have to get his fuck. In all of the UN speeches and other AIDS speeches, the salient point is left out: men use enslaved bodies and give them AIDS and then other men use the same girls and take the disease out into a wider circle, and give it to their wives and girlfriends. It follows the same pattern as syphilis did: soldiers and sailors using prostituted bodies and then giving the disease to non-prostituted women. Yet the Ghost Whore is blamed for spreading AIDS. "Uniting the world against AIDS" is totally meaningless to the prostitute and the trafficked. There are no laws to protect these girls, no clinics to treat them, no legislation to prevent discrimination against them. All human rights movements overlook the prostitutes. Every other marginalized group — 'gay bi transgender disabled' — name any of them — is protected under laws but, instead, the prostituted being is arrested for the crimes committed against her and blamed for spreading AIDS when it is the men who are forcing her legs part who are spreading it.
Any ideas of "social justice" or "human rights" or "gender justice" are meaningless to the girl forced without mercy to have sex. These concepts exist only in the linguistically privileged minds of politicians and academicians.
Add wars and conflict and post-conflict and occupation into the mix — and all the sexual violence and prostitution engendered by these situations — and you have yet another group of completely helpless AIDS-vulnerable women. This pretty-much forgotten group does not seem to occupy any kind of forefront of concern in the war on AIDS. The UN spouts its usual rhetoric about protecting women and girls in conflict areas — but is this happening? More and more wars and conflicts will fill the future of humankind. The more of us there are, the more we will savagely tear each other apart. So I cannot see anything but the most innovative and imaginative of strategies working. Mine would work: just remove all women and children from the line of fire and let the men (and warrior-like, high-testosterone women) make war upon each other. Big spaces of land still exist all over the planet. Just set up peaceful all-female communities in certain spaces called 'war and rape free zones.' Other areas we can designate for fighting and battle and let the men have a great time killing each other. But with no women as side dishes — no sexual violence for fun in between the battles.
When men want sex, they can just come visit our peaceful little spaces — oases and reservations of calm and harmony — and ask for it. Politely. No force.
I think the above plan is eminently sensible and humane.
Back to the UNAIDS site, we learn that "earlier in the day, Mr Sidibé attended a European Union (EU) World AIDS Day commemoration hosted by the Ambassador of Sweden Mr Peter Tejler, local representative of the Swedish EU Presidency at the Swedish Embassy in Pretoria." Other dignitaries were present, like Ms Gunilla Carlsson, Swedish Minister of International Development Cooperation, who "called for increased gender equality in the AIDS response, 'Women and girl's rights must be secured including the right to sexual and reproductive health. All forms of gender based violence must come to an end.'"
I ask: What on earth or in all the heavens or in all the galaxies or on those moons of Saturn I so much want to visit — what — anywhere in the universe — can be achieved by simply saying that "gender-based violence" must come to an end? What sort of action could ever work to keep man from getting his fuck? No matter what, he has to get his fuck. No matter how much he hurts the helpless, his fuck is primary. We have seen this. Evidence abounds. The rape-lines are everywhere. The prostituted/trafficked girls he is getting his fuck on are everywhere. And there will be way, way more of these girls in the future. With almost 7 billion of our pestilential brutal species swarming the earth now, and a predicted 10 billion of us (all the gods and goddesses in the heavens help us!) by 2025, just think of how many more female bodies will be needed so man can get his fuck. And the bodies will be there — the helpless daughters of the planet will be there, sold, so man can get his fuck. Trafficking will not be lessened; it will increase to meet the enormous penis-demand. The helpless, unprotected daughters of the world will meet that demand. Not the daughters of women like "Ms Gunilla Carlsson, Swedish Minister of International Development."
The safe and privileged daughters of the world will relax at Starbucks — in 2025, as they do now — with a cream cheese brownie and a peppermint latte coffee concoction, as the helpless daughters of the planet are hammered mercilessly into their rape-beds.
Another huge mystery is — how come? How come two different kinds of women? It's like the shelter kitten who is adopted and pampered versus the one who ends up as snake food. How come one kitten is special and the other disposable?
Language. I have spoken of my concern about the inadequate and inaccurate words and phrases we use. "Gender-based violence" does not in any way reflect the reality of the bleeding, rape-torn, bruised, trafficked body. It is a cold, cover-up phrase, part of the linguistically safe world of the privileged.
The contradictions in the attitude toward the prostitute are staggering. I ran across a UK Guardian story recently (November 2009) about a scientist with an advanced education, a Dr. in front of her name, who worked as a call girl for a London escort service so she could put herself through school. From her escort work, she writes a successful blog under the pseudonym Belle de Jour and this evolved into some books and a TV show. Until recently, she stayed anonymous but has now revealed herself to her colleagues and the world. Her real name is Dr. Brooke Magnanti. She says her colleagues are supportive of her. For me, the contradiction arises from the fact that she needs to hide this side of her life at all. The onus is immediately on her, as if she has done something shameful. Implied is a world of values where the men who purchased her did nothing 'wrong,' so strong is their sexual privilege and prerogative. We men are the masters; we can buy bodies. Yet this woman has to be apprehensive about 'revealing' herself. The common perceptions of the world invert humane and compassionate perceptions: from my point of view, the woman who sells herself has nothing to be ashamed of. But the weight of social condemnation crushes us prostitutes.
Will she regret her revelation/confession? Most probably. People will now look at her 'funny': alas, we do not live in a world that accords women any sexual freedom. Not that prostitution is a form of freedom — or, at least, it rarely is. I have not read this woman's blog or her book. The article hints that the blog is about the glamourous side of sex for sale. I can't find out if this is the case because I cannot force myself to read the blog right now. At times, I have to screen out more news of prostitution — I can only face so much before overload hits. The prospect of reading her blog right now depresses me since I too straddle two worlds: I have a Ph.D. and I am a prostitute. Ph.D. Post-Harlot Degree. I don't want anonymity, but if I admit to both the whore and doctoral status, people will look at me funny.
I have suggested that maybe a women's studies department at some university might like to take me on as their 'token whore.' After all, they make such a fuss about 'inclusion and diversity.' That has yet to extend to the whore. I have not been given tenure as token whore anywhere. Maybe it's time some of the more adventurous universities added a Token Whore Faculty Member to the roster. And didn't look at the woman 'funny.' But when I hear a Japanese feminist woman historian speaking calmly and matter-of-factly at a women's studies lecture about how many common prostitutes were available cheaply to Japanese men of different economic levels after the 'licensing' of prostitution in Japan in 1600, with no mention of the way girls from poor families were sold to stock the brothels, I am so disgusted with all women academics I do not want to be part of their ranks; in fact, I want to see them treated the way these 'common prostitutes' were. Typically, the girls were caged and continuously used until they could no longer tell one man from another. This was to render them incapable of any kind of discrimination so that they would never turn down a 'customer rapist.' That's just for openers.
Sociologists coldly term the breaking of a girl's body for prostitution purposes as "adjusting to a new identity." How is non-identity an identity at all, I ask? Do these sociologist have any idea how radically soul-destroying this kind of breaking is? Apparently not if they can so coolly call it an "adjustment." Sociologists also coldly tell us of the "usefulness" of the whore since one female body can be used to service large numbers of men, as for example, in wartime when young men need to get their fuck fast and efficiently. No comment on the torn body of the whore from these sociologists. Just that she is 'useful' for handling large amounts of fuck. Dispensing large amounts of fuck. Being a Fuck Factory. All coldly documented by the sociologists, as if a torn body were not involved at all. I will never forget the article on My Lai by a sociologist where the jargon was so dense and the heart so absent that you could never tell even one human being was killed there.
All the "identities" in the world are covered by scholarly studies: we have disability studies and bi-gay studies and gendered meta-gendered transgendered studies and Lesbian Native American Voices and Life Writing from the Ultra-Wooly Era of the Antarctic Woman and texts devoted to the Urdu-Turkish-Chaucerian Paleo-Feminist Epistolary Novels of 1350-1550. But nothing meaningful on the whore. The Ghost Whore. The only female with no identity. The Ghost of History. The big piece of history gone missing. The Whore as Ghost. Those academics who attempt to write on her are non-prostituted, so they fail abysmally in any understanding of her plight. I think that only prostituted scholars should be allowed to write on the prostituted. Take all these scholars and brothelize them right beside a busy military camp for a while. Or, better yet, put them in the rape-beds in the Pakistani labor camps near Dubia where Slavic girls are taken for breaking by a different man being let in to mount them every few minutes. And then let's see if the scholars are "adjusting to their new identity."
Is it doing anything to lessen suffering, I ask, of The Scholarship on the Whore (paltry as that scholarship is)? If not, it is self-indulgent and the scholars are as guilty as the men who are selling and buying bodies.
But I digress — I get carried away, so great is my disgust with the blind academic woman (and her male counterpart). With all of her enormous education, she is as ignorant as those 'common prostitutes' she so blithely refers to — and she is infinitely less noble.
Let me get back on track. My point about the UK scientist who admitted to her prostituted status is this: why should she be ashamed at all? If she liked her work, that is great. If she was sexually exploited, there should be no shame in that. Either way — whether she was agent or victim — no blame or criticism should be laid upon her.
Details about her work were sketchy in this little article. I could not tell from it if there was any exploitation involved with this London escort agency. I guess I will find out when I am able to bring myself to read her blog. I also could not tell how much of the blog was fictionalized and how much based strictly on fact. Is this a 'happy hooker' blog? If so, it may well be a first. The original happy hooker never sounded like too happy a hooker to me. I read that famous happy hooker book when it came out many years ago, and am in too much pain to re-read it — or anything about prostitution (or by prostitutes) right now. But I do remember the 'happy hooker' saying the customers were sometimes sweaty and pimply and crude and heavy and disgusting. I am not remembering the exact details, obviously, after all these years, but the passage contained similar ones.
Yuck, I say: to be climbed on by some big ugly heavy sweaty hairy male body. That doesn't sound like it would make for much happiness in being a hooker.
I am afraid to read the scientist's blog in case she is making it up and glamourizing what really goes on. That would betray the trafficked and prostituted who are being terribly hurt by the sex trade. If she has made nothing up to glamourize, if she has been authentic in her feelings, if she has enjoyed her work and given a positive slant to her prostitution experience, that is great. I apologize in advance if I have misrepresented her in any way — due to my inability to read her blog right now — so my only information is the UK Guardian article on her.
Yet, to make some money, I am tempted to write a glamourous colorful prostitution blog myself. One that makes prostitution sound exciting and erotic and exotic. I was not a colorful prostitute. Being a prostitute frightened and depressed me. It didn't make me feel sexual or sensual. But I have a good imagination. And I really need money, being old and ill and not able to care for myself any longer.
I guess I will have to read the scientist's blog — to see what sells.
Copyright © 2009 Suki