My name is Trisha Baptie and I was a prostitute for 15 years; I think one of the most sex positive things you can do is make sure people cannot buy sex.
The buying of sex is violence against women and is a direct deterrent to women’s equality.
Long has the conversation gone on that pitted current prostitute against former prostitute, indoor vs. outdoor, drug addicted vs. Gucci addicted, of which I fell into all those categories. By having that discourse it has long allowed the real question to avoid being asked “Do we as a society think men should be able to pay to sexually access women’s bodies?”
Do we think that a sign of an egalitarian society?
If we know silence and consent can be bought for a price (I remember how much mine cost) and that 92% (Farley et al.) of women in prostitution want out NOW. Should we allow a small minority of prostitutes who argue “choice” further their individualistic agenda on the backs of those who have no choice, on those who are there out of a perfect storm of oppression, neglect, abuse and human trafficking and instead of offering them a hand up to heal and reach their full potential we off them up to feed the demand for paid sex.
Prostitution is the dehumanizing of women by commodifying the female body to perform sexual services for men, which is sexual and social subordination. This thinking actually creates an environment in which all women are seen as a sub-class of human beings with little purpose outside of men’s sexual pleasure.
Allowing or tolerating prostitution affects every woman because the inherent inequality in prostitution becomes a reference point for sexual and social relations between the genders that is not at all rooted in equality, fairness or mutual respect.
I want to make it clear that it is not the prostituted women we must blame but rather the demand. For it is the oldest form of patriarchal and misogynistic oppression, which is why we must men paying for sex stand accountable.
I remember working indoors and men calling in and ordering a woman,
I want brunette, small boobs; will do ____ or Asian, round face, petite. You get the idea. How is it equality if women can be reduced to what amounts to ordering a pizza and picking the toppings? How are those men respecting, honouring and valuing women?
What I remember about my years as a prostituted women was how much I tried to find something empowering in what I found myself doing.
That by choosing who raped me, based on their ability to pay I was empowered.
That by consenting to the abuse, I was free from it.
That by caving into the demands of patriarchy, by working hard to look like what they wanted, talk like they wanted and when submitting to sex on their terms, for which I got money, that I had somehow bested them and was now in control of them.
But I was not, for I remember how much I flinched when they moved to quickly, how I would lay under them and would try to be anywhere else in my mind. How they always seemed to have a sob story for why they needed to buy me, but my sob story of not wanting to be under them, not wanting to have them in my mouth, was never as urgent a need as theirs.
Saying prostitution will always be with us is capitulation.
Sweden, which is a global beacon of hope, criminalized the buying; pimping, procuring and decriminalized the women in 1999.They have since seen a drastic drop in prostitution and Sweden in no longer a destination country for human traffickers. To me that is a country that says we value our women and Norway, Iceland and Bulgaria have all followed Sweden’s lead.
They also implemented exiting strategies, adequate welfare and a huge awareness campaign when the laws were implemented. I am based in reality and know it would be a hard transition period and a long one but what I find great hope in is that fact that there are 10 year olds in Sweden who have grown up in a country where that does not happen.
To me it is not about ones individual “choice” to be prostituted but rather about legacy. NO prostituted women I know, myself included, wants their daughter to be a prostitute for we all know firsthand how it devastates the mind, body and spirit so with every breath in me I will work towards creating a world rooted in fairness, and equality that values humanity and that is done by stamping out the world’s oldest oppression.