Last November, Ireland’s government, under pressure from anti-prostitution campaigners,announced a review of the country’s laws on sex work. (Ireland effectively decriminalized buying and selling sex in the 1980s, but soliciting and brothel-keeping remain illegal, accompanied by the usual sweeping laws against loitering.) The ultimate aim was to impose the so-called “Swedish model,” which criminalizes the purchaser of sex. The campaign to put the screws on the government offers interesting insight into how religious forces ensure their influence in the supposedly secular State. Ruhama was one of the main players. What a nice womany group, down to its ecumenical-lefty name (Hebrew for “renewing life”)! It says on its website that it
regards prostitution as violence against women and violations of women’s human rights. ‘Prostitution and the accompanying evil of trafficking for prostitution, is incompatible with the dignity and worth of every human being’ – UN Convention 1949. We see prostitution and the social and cultural attitudes which sustain it as being deeply rooted in gender inequality and social marginalisation.
This defense of “gender equality” is nice. But coming from Ruhama? Weird.
In fact, Ruhama is a project of the Catholic Church, not previously noted for its attachment to the idea. When it was founded in 1993, its registered office (legal headquarters, that is) was the Provincialate of the Good Shepherd Sisters in Dublin. In 1995, it changed digs (moving as often as Simon Dedalus!) to the Dublin address of the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity. In 1998 it moved again, relocating with the Sisters of Mercy. And in 2002 it found its final resting place, at least till today, at All Hallows College, a private Catholic school (directed by the Vincentians, a collection of orders that counts the Sisters of Charity in its family). They must feel nervous, typing UN language into their computers in these sacral locations; isn’t there some anti-Antichrist software on hand? But “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.” That’s Luke 10:19.
Sr. Angela Fahy (Sisters of Our Lady of Charity), 1993-2000
Sr. Evelyn Fergus (Good Shepherd Sisters), 1993-1996
Sr. Jennifer McAleer (Good Shepherd Sisters), 1993-1995
Sr. Noreen O’Shea (Good Shepherd Sisters), 1993-1998, 2003-2008
Sr. Helena Farrell (Sisters of Our Lady of Charity), 1995-2000
Sr. Johanna Horgan (Good Shepherd Sisters), 1995-2005
Sr. Aileen D’Alton (Good Shepherd Sisters), 1996-2000
Sr. Margaret Burke (Sisters of Our Lady of Charity) 1996-2006
Sr. Ann Marie Ryan (Sisters of Our Lady of Charity), 2000-2004
Sr. Clare Kenny (Good Shepherd Sisters), 2008-2009
It’s like Sister Act! Ruhama, as a service organization, also gets tons of Irish government money, some of which it then uses to lobby the Irish government for anti-prostitution laws. The whole thing illustrates the easy way that religious mandates can be repackaged, to mesh with and support State power.
But it’s more than that. Both of these religious orders ran Magdalene Laundries for decades. Their hands are stained with the sweat of the women who worked there, and the blood of the women who died there. These God-fearing enforcers are the “fallen” people, and not even their own slave laundries could wash them clean. The orders’ offers of compensation to the survivors of abuse have been risibly inadequate, and they’ve continued to rake in money from the properties where the horrors happened. (In land sales in 2006 alone, the Sisters of Mercy “received €32m for a 16-acre tract in Killarney. And the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity sold the site adjoining its Magdalene Laundry in High Park Dublin for €55m.”) Now, with consummate sliminess, they are using a feminist-sounding front to campaign against sex work, on the grounds that it’s — get this — “slavery.” Or as they put it: Ruhama’s ”view is that trafficking for sexual exploitation,” into which they lump all prostitution, “is a contemporary form of slavery, with a distinctly gendered bias.” Really! (On its off days when it’s not oppressing sex workers, the Holy See doesn’t even like the word “gender.”) Ambrose Bierce called hypocrisy “prejudice with a halo,” and you can see why.
the thing that got me sober and deadset on getting into college was like… it’s so hard to put into words but like being pregnant and trying to cope with how miserably sick it made me and work and make enough money for an abortion when I just wanted to die, and not drink even though I wanted to die, and the suffocating feeling of helplessness. The way people treat you when you’re poor and need healthcare, compounded by how they treat you when they find out you’re a sex worker and the health care you need is an abortion. Like, of course you do you fucking nasty whore.
Months later, after I recovered from the miscarriage and was back at work, a bill collector called me and when I said I didn’t have money to pay the bill just then (because I didn’t. tbh even though I’ve always been a good dancer I was a fucking awful hustler until a few years ago) she snapped at me “Do you think you deserve healthcare when you can’t pay for it?”
and that’s how people think of strippers. Poor people too obvs, but sex workers. Holy shit. We’re like leeches sucking the blood of society, corrupting decent men, we are actual literal trash and most people could not give a shit when we are murdered. “You can’t rape a sex worker,” right?
I don’t have a point here. Just that the feeling of disposable helplessness never went away even though it faded. I tried to explain it to a nonsw friend once and she tried to reassure me “You’re not disposable!” as if that in any way answered what I was trying to convey.
Sort of annoying bc it’s mostly shock abt her age & explanation of what an older woman might be doing in the industry (surprise! she needed money! colour me shocked) but anyway:
A Toronto man has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of a 72-year-old sex worker.
Blake Anthony Wilson, 26, briefly appeared at a Finch Avenue courtroom on Wednesday morning before being taken back into custody.
Firefighters first responded to a call at 5754 Yonge St., near Finch, around 1 p.m. on July 13. Once the fire was put out, Janina Wrigglesworth was found dead inside her apartment. A post-mortem revealed signs of trauma to Ms. Wrigglesworth’s body.
“One of the reasons they kind of do well is because there are not a lot of them,” said Ms. Grant. “They do kind of corner the market a bit on that older demographic. If you’re a guy who’s in his 70s, you may not be even comfortable seeing people in their 50s because that’s the age of your own kids.”
Another reason some sex workers continue well into retirement age is because they can hang on to a trusted client base built over many years, she said. The clientele would be “aging with you” and could be seeking a sex worker with whom, based on age, they have more in common.
But when sex workers of any age run their business independently and give out their phone numbers or addresses, as Ms. Wrigglesworth did, without the “safety net” of agencies, the risk factor rises, Ms. Grant said.
Det. Sgt. Browne said police believe Ms. Wrigglesworth, who was charged with sex trade-related offences in 1997 and 2000, “lived by very limited means” because she sent most of the money she made through her sex work and community tax work to family members in Poland.
STUDY: Sex Workers In Africa Face ‘Profound’ Exploitation and ’Repeated’ Human Rights Violations | Global Network of Sex Work Projects
The report further explored the impact of HIV and how most socities view sex workers in regards to HIV transmission. ‘The legal status of sex work and the entrenched stigma and discrimination associated with the profession in Africa means that sex workers have historically beenviewed as “reservoirs of sexually transmitted disease”, and blamed for the continent’s HIV crisis.’
The report also looked into reasons why people engaged in sex work. ‘Although many were driven to sell sex to escape severe poverty and unemployment, several sex workers reported that the work was attractive because it had given them financial independence and the ability to improve their economic circumstances.’ One participant in the study said: “My money comes right there and then, unlike other jobs where the money will come late” Another stated: “I manage my own business – my money is not taxed.”
The money acquired from sex work is used for various purposes, inclusding paying school fees, support family members, among toehrs, the report said. ‘A few used money from sex work to create alternative income-earning ventures, such as buying sewing machines or additional land to rent, or opening a bar.’
Apart from societal stigma, equally common was physical abuse by police, often taking extreme forms. Virtually all sex workers interviewed had experienced being beaten and assaulted by police at some point in their working lives.
While gang rape perpetrated by clients was distressingly common, gang rape by police and related authorities was also reported.
‘Our research found that these individuals frequently take advantage of sex workers’ vulnerable position and the illegality of sex work to extort money or sex.’
Regan broke my record for most lap dances sold in a month, by nineteen dances. What a b!
I’ve been out since the 17th and start work again this week, I can’t wait. If term hadn’t started I would have died of boredom almost immediately.
But still, what a b. I’m not sure I can beat her, she works two-three shifts more a week than I do and it’s slow now. She may hold the record until next bachelor season.
currently reading (instead of studying for exam Tuesday):
A few girls do this at my club–the trick, not rupturing people’s bladders–and it’s a subject of heated debate about who started doing it first; one girl exploding into a dramatic alcohol-fueled monologue about how stupid young bitches can’t come up with their own moves and have to bestealing her moves–this, from a 23 year old!–and I want to print the article from school and post it in the dressing room.
Also for the dressing room:
And more importantly, given all the unprotected oral happening at work:
Gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease that infects 700,000 Americans a year, already has become resistant to all but one class of antibiotics and could soon become untreatable, federal health officials warned. Doctors at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new treatment guidelines, hoping to delay the inevitable day when standard drugs no longer work. The guidelines call for withholding a potent oral antibiotic now commonly used to treat the infection. Instead, doctors should use an injectable form to which the gonorrhea bacteria seems less likely to develop resistance, along with a second type of antibiotic pills.
Gross and mildly horrifying.
And now, in the lazy Sunday spirit, a conversation I just had with Manny:
What’s up? You look concerned.
GET AWAY FROM MY MOTHERFUCKING RAWHIDE.
YOU HEARD ME. IT’S MINE.
Au contraire, mon per…ro. I gave you that rawhide. I even softened it so you wouldn’t lose your remaining teeth gnawing on it.
BACK OFF, SNEAKY HOBBITSES. GNARARAR. MINE. MIIIINE. THE PRECIOUS. WE LOVES IT… WE LOVES THE PRECIOUS.
…YOU’RE STILL HERE.
1- getting and recovering from a boob job, which, more on that later but let me tell you–I did my first laser hair removal Wednesday and it was a thousand times more painful than the boob job. I didn’t even take my pain medication after the surgery, which is good because I’m going to want it for the remaining laser sessions.
2- still in danger of that from Mandatory Science, though. In eight hours of class time she’s used four going over the syllabus and project requirements. I don’t understand–if she spent as much time lecturing as she did repeating herself it would be an interesting class. But she’s terrible, we spent 45 minutes going over the study guide for an exam on Tuesday, and three questions away from the end she suddenly dropped it to return to the syllabus. Her slides are poorly done and despite showing diagrams of the chemical composition of different hormones, she goes through them too fast to actually copy them. This is something Beautiful Professor scolded me about and in an irrationally resentful way I want him–or someone to get after this woman.
Angry Stripper got (sort of) outed today. Outed isn’t actually the right word since she has part of her real name on her twitter, but I doubt she expected anyone to go to the lengths this guy went to to publicise a fact that really didn’t need publicizing. This article is my favourite:
I’ll just quote from the end:
The fact that Connelly would try to act like there isn’t an element of slut-shaming in what he’s doing is just plain laughable. Strippers titillate. It’s their job. As a result, regardless of whether they sleep with zero or one hundred people, they’re going to be seen as “sluts” or loose women or what-have-you because of the nature of their job. I find it hard to believe that Connelly doesn’t realize that stripping comes with stigma, because without that stigma, it would never have occurred to him to write this piece in the first place, because nobody would give a fuck if she worked as a baker or photographer or landscaper to make extra cash.
How do I know that what Connelly doing is straight-up slut-shaming? Because there’s a way to write the “It’s interesting that you hold down these two jobs” story, and that way is to: contact the person doing the two jobs, set up some time to interview them, find out what their daily life is like, talk with their employers, explore the reasons why someone might do these two jobs, figure out what it means to be This Person one minute and Another Person the next minute, etc. That’s how you write the “this is an interesting juxtaposition” story. That’s what you do if you find it personally or anthropologically interesting that someone leads what seem to you to be two separate lives.
However, if what you want to to do is write gotcha journalism that serves the sole purpose of giving you the opportunity to publicly look down your nose at a woman you kind of want to maybe lose her job because you don’t approve of the way she’s chosen to live her life? I can’t tell you how to do that, but I think Richard Connelly probably could.
Angry Stripper (Tressler) seems to have taken about the same efforts to preserve her anonymity as I have. Which is to say, none. Because it’s just a job, and it says nothing about her intelligence or competence. It’s not news.
This isn’t the kind of thing you expect from professional, mature adults. I mean, it’s something I expect from certain customers, creeps with obvious bad boundaries and no lives, hobbies, or jobs consuming their energies and interests. Kat nailed it when she called it customer behaviour in the comments section on the original article, I’d link to it but I can’t put myself through wading that shit again, even though most of the comments are intelligent and positive.
It made me pause. Because I don’t expect this kind of behavior, it’s why I’ve done relatively little to hide this blog and regularly tweet about the club under my real name. I’m not ashamed or embarrassed–although that time a few weeks ago when a former coworker from the clinic where I had my first on-the-books internship recognized me while I was naked onstage was less than ideal, for sure. But I wouldn’t want my family finding out through something like that article.
My dad called yesterday; it’s been a few months since we last talked and he’s been ignoring my emails, so I started to worry that he’d googled me and figured out that I’m a stripper. We talked, he either doesn’t know or doesn’t care. The conversation was fine.
I told him back when I first started dancing; I was 19 and full of revolutionary zeal and third-wave feminist fire. I read a lot of zines, listened to riot grrrl and had a crush on Teresa Dulce (which, more on that later); I fully believed that the sex worker revolution was going to come along any day now. We were going to change the world, unionise, justice and health insurance for all. So no, I was not going to keep my mouth shut and let my father think I was working at Rite Aid or whatever 19-yr-old high school dropouts do. Out and proud. He was not thrilled.
A lot of things have happened since then: I took part in a notably unsuccessful and depressing attempt to unionise a strip club, I got a drug and alcohol problem fed by the fact that I felt like the smartest and most glamorous 20 yr old girl in the world, who was having adventures, I got depressed, I got sober, I got a dog, I got a girlfriend. Not totally in that order but mostly. I can’t remember where along the line I told him I quit dancing–maybe when I actually quit, more likely we just stopped talking about it when I got my first on-the-books internship (the obtainment of which was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. To go from under the table work for years, having no obvious job skills or experience to looking for a day job was terrifying and disheartening) and I actually kept dancing for two years after that because the internship (at a really amazing non-profit low income clinic and youth shelter) did not pay enough to live off of. Unsurprisingly.
And since I started dancing again a little less than a year ago, quitting my last nanny job in December, it hasn’t really come up. I don’t think it will come up until he comes to visit–my lifestyle isn’t really something you fund on a nanny’s salary. I live alone in a one bedroom apartment furnished with vintage Danish modern furniture, I pay my rent and car insurance on time, I write 20 page papers, I have leisurely mornings with my dog over coffee and I garden. It’s super awesome. It’s going to look a little shady. I’m not sure what he’ll say when it finally comes out. His reaction will be coloured by the memory of my 19-yr-old hijinks for sure, but also by the totally different place I’m in now. I have options now.
I’m gambling (safely, I think) that the grad and doctoral programs I’m applying to could give a shit. There have been notable out sex worker academics in my field and similar ones, and I don’t think any of my current professors would be deterred from giving me letters of recommendation should they find out–although I don’t plan on telling them because it’s none of their business and has no bearing on my work–
All of which highlights the fact that this guy is a total, total douchebag, I’m glad I don’t live in Houston, and I’m glad that I don’t (to my knowledge) know anyone who’s in a position (& willing) to do something like this to me.
And I hope this doesn’t affect Tressler’s life in any way.
*eta, Angry Stripper has apparently been made private. A not unexpected but still totally shitty outcome of that asshole’s stupid, poorly written, poorly thought-out, shameful attempt to discredit her, using her livelihood as an excuse. Fuck offfff.