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Violence Before Sex

I'm on a raw edge this morning, and the thought that the kind of institution I really, really want for comfort and support does not -- and could not -- exist in my culture is making me uncharacteristically snarky and bitter.

I am getting very, very tired of the sexual hypocriscy of US culture, especially in the area of the criminalization of prostitution and the denial of the spiritual aspects of sexuality.

If we are willing to pay soldiers to defend our country by killing**, and pay professional athletes even more money to pummel each other in modern arenas, and allow cigarette companies to churn out a product that has been proven to be lethal, why the hell do we make it a crime for women (and men) to earn money by selling sexual services?

At FormerMyCo, one of my co-workers had a computer wallpaper that showed Muhammed Ali in a boxing ring standing in an aggressive posture over a prone opponent. I think there were some inspirational words as part of the image, but they were not legible to someone just passing by. Every time I saw it, I thought about the fact that if I had an image of two people dressed in nothing but shorts embracing each other, I would probably be contacted by HR or my manager and asked to take it down as being "offensive" to someone's sensibilities. It's okay to show an image of the after-effects of one man beating another to unconsciousness, but not one of love and passion.

As the years pass and I continue my life as a single adult, I find myself wishing more and more that there were clean, pleasant businesses where I could go to experience sexual pleasure. I wish even more deeply that there were religious centers which understood and honored the link between sex and spirit, and which offered the opportunity of ordeal work for spiritual initiations or simple catharsis. I wish that someone could establish such a place without having the surrounding community go into a frothing panic about the wickedness and "nastiness" of such a place, and about how obviously calling such a place "spiritual" was just a front because any sexual element would negate any claim to authentic spirituality.

I can retain the services of a personal trainer who will help me push my physical limits in the realm of exercise or sports training; I can pay a massage therapist to deliver therapeutic touch (so long as there is not a hint of eroticism!); I can seek pastoral or secular counseling to deal with my emotional challenges. But there is no corresponding professional in the area of intimacy -- not with the same degree of openness and acceptance, anyway.

Meanwhile, specialists in war, professional athletes, and corporate executives ply their trades openly, with more or less support of the community, but sex workers of any kind are marginalized, criminalized, and in many cases considered to have no rights to legal protection. Just a few weeks ago, a defense attorney for an accused rapist argued not that his client did not commit the acts of which he was accused but that they should not be considered rape because the victim was a prostitute and therefore had forfeited any right to ownership of her own body. Convicting this man of rape, he argued, would be "a slap in the face of virtuous wives, mothers and daughters everywhere." (Fortunately, the jury disagreed and found him guilty.)

I'm not trying to romanticize prostitution. I'm aware of the evils of trafficking, and of the abuse of prostitutes by pimps, drug dealers, and others. However, I firmly believe that those evils would be diminished if prostitution was legal.

It infuriates me that our culture embraces sexual elements in advertising and media, but denies the actuality of the sexual needs and possibilities of ordinary people. You can sell the appearance of sex -- and make a great deal of money doing so -- but the moment the sex becomes real, the force of law and public opinion rises up in condemnation.

It's not just prositutition that gets this reaction, of course, it's any expression of sexuality that falls outside the realm of monogamous, heterosexual partnership.

And this morning, I'm plain sick and tired of it.

** None of this rant is meant to dishonor soliders. I'm on the record many times as supporting soldiers and warriors, even though I am against the current wars my country is fighting. I'm simply pointing out that there is a legal, acceptable way to make a living in this country through being trained to kill, but not one of equal legitimacy to make a living by being sexual.



( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 12th, 2009 05:33 pm (UTC)

And there is a temple devoted to honoring the link between the sexual and spiritual, and training people to serve others in this capacity. It's called Sedona Temple and they have a website. Feel free to backchanel me if you want more info.
Sep. 12th, 2009 05:58 pm (UTC)
All I'm saying is that I agree 100%.
Sep. 12th, 2009 06:35 pm (UTC)
I agree with and relate to much of what you said here.

I have more doubts about the benefits of legalizing prostitution than I used to, after having spent time in Germany, Switzerland, and (surprisingly enough) Turkey, where prostitution is legal and state-enforced...but there is still a prostitution black market with organized crime and sex slavery. Even with the legal prostitutes, many of them are impoverished women from the former Soviet Union. It was a different experience, though, having women come up and solicit men on the street or in passing cars and have it be a fairly open, public, legal thing. I still found the dynamics of prostitution to be disturbing and off-putting with all the gender and economic issues at play.

That was kind of a tangent and not meant to undermine the point of your post or the reality of your frustration. If anything, I think it reinforces the point that our society doesn't know how to deal with sexuality in a healthy way. I know that I personally have a hard time overcoming the ingrained view that prioritizing my spirituality automatically means de-emphasizing sexuality.
Oct. 10th, 2009 09:50 pm (UTC)
A Dream
I agree with both of you; we DO live in an uptight and hypocritical society that smugly ignores its own better impulses. Generalized polyamory would be a great social goal...though I admit it's not in the cards anytime soon.

I thought your resistance to de-emphasizing sexuality, Traumerin ("Dreamer"), would a good point. Why can't we be both spiritual and sexual in equal measure.

Hugs, Justine
Sep. 12th, 2009 07:46 pm (UTC)
Absolutely. And although I'm currently in a headspace where I can/will only let one person do anything remotely sexual with me, at one time I did consider (long ago) the possibility of prostitution. As at the time I was rather desperate for money, if it had been a legal trade I probably would have done so.

I have no idea where that would have taken me in my sexuality, and the lack of people I considered acceptable was another big thing in my discarding the idea... as it would be hard to make certain someone was clean, the possibility of rape after insistence on condoms was ignored... such things.

There are people out there that have to make their living that way, and I think they ought to be entitled to protection by the law too... and I wonder how that would affect cheating spouses that do so for the forbidden thrill... Might actually help reduce such cases. But I don't know for sure.

And this from a person that is usually considered a prude by those that know me IRL...
Sep. 12th, 2009 08:07 pm (UTC)
This is a topic I have felt passionately about my entire adult life. I have often written that loneliness is one of the most underrated and unaddressed social crises of our time. I usually don't think of prostitution as a solution, but I would be open to it. I am more inclined to design groups where spiritually aware men and women can meet to share love and affection and sensuality and sexuality along with good energy and healthy conversation. However, the same issues come up as with prostitution, especially if there is any exchange of money where prostitution could be alleged. There are often arrests in places where people try to be creative sexually.

I always found it odd that a person who was highly skilled in sensuality, sexuality, spirituality, and other skills that might be therapeutic was legally barred from making a living or partial living from these skills. I also find it odd that relatively few people are actually inclined to break out of the box on this one and attempt to design any healthy alternatives. My best solution has always been to locate like-minded people to form personal relationships with, just because I have to start somewhere, and it's easier to create my life than to change the world.

I don't believe that people who are not in committed relationships should be deprived of sex or sensuous affection. I personally also lean toward polyamory, not because I'm horny and looking for partners but because I like to express love when I feel it. There's a very low social tolerance for this even though it could probably be argued that Jesus was poly because he loves everyone.

Sep. 12th, 2009 08:41 pm (UTC)
You've taken the words out of my heart. I especially agree with this bit:

I wish even more deeply that there were religious centers which understood and honored the link between sex and spirit, and which offered the opportunity of ordeal work for spiritual initiations or simple catharsis.

That is something I have wished for for years.
Sep. 12th, 2009 09:10 pm (UTC)
Have you looked into Joseph Kramer's work, and particularly the EroSpirit Research Institute? He has been pretty much training people to do exactly what you've said above for more than 20 years; Dr. Annie Sprinkle is part of this effort as well, and he has a whole program of "sacred intimate" training. They are even certified to legally practice in California at present. He's based out of Oakland...You really should get in touch with him or his group if you're interested in this. (I've interacted with him for almost a decade now online, and have met him in person several times...he has helped out with the Antinoan Mysteries at PantheaCon back in '08!)

I do very much agree with you. I had considered doing this kind of work for a while, which is one of the reasons I'd been in touch with Joseph Kramer, but I'm not really wired for it...I'd ideally like to have the type of sexual hospitality that is necessary for that sort of work, but I just can't realistically do it, for a variety of reasons (some of them physical). But I certainly agree with you, and feel your pain on this matter quite deeply...
Sep. 12th, 2009 10:36 pm (UTC)
The latter part of your post reminds me of a quote my women's studies teacher said she'd heard... "Americans are oversexed and underfucked". Thought it was pretty apt.

I do agree with you, though. Often times I wish something from Jacqueline Carey's Naamah temples existed... where you can honour god and your spirit in an act of intimacy... *sigh*
Sep. 13th, 2009 03:08 am (UTC)
well said!
Sep. 13th, 2009 11:30 am (UTC)
great post!
Sep. 13th, 2009 06:36 pm (UTC)
What you said.
Sep. 13th, 2009 08:00 pm (UTC)
Totally agree.
Sep. 16th, 2009 11:22 pm (UTC)
Australia and New Zealand have legal prostitution nearly everywhere, which I really appreciate. True, it won't get rid of illegal trade and won't stop slavery and trafficking. But that's not a reason not to legalize it; it's a reason to improve and enforce existing laws.

Since I experiment with everything, I wanted to see what being with a pro would be like. A friend and ex-lover with whom I used to be quite close is an escort in the Bay Area, and talking with her was fascinating, though I don't think it was a good choice for her to make. And in cyberspace, I *was* quite a prolific pro, but that's another story.

I visited a legal brothel quite a while ago here in the Antipodes, and it was a fine experience. Not too different from going to a strip club and getting a lap dance; it had the same vibe, just with more decoration on top. I made as sure as I could that the girls were not exploited, and feel quite sure they were there entirely willingly, if cynically. They strictly enforced safe sex; I had to shower beforehand and they would not even touch my naughty bits without a barrier on. It was fun enough and I'm glad I did it, but it's not really what I'm looking for. The emotional connection of course was nil, and a big part of what makes sex satisfying to me is the validation from being desired, so that was missing too. But it satisfied my curiosity, temporarily gave me relief from the nagging urge to wearily troll a nightclub hoping for a hookup, and felt good. If I had no other sexual outlets I reckon I'd go once a month or so; it would be far better than nothing. Though I might instead want to invest in some really good cybersex gear and whore myself out in Second Life. :)

The biggest drawback was the fear that other women who I told about it would find me unclean. I got the OK ahead of time from my wife to give it a go as long as I had safe sex (we have an open/poly marriage, as I posted before), and she handled the news fine, but I am not certain if other women, including my girlfriend, would be as charitable. I am *pretty* sure my girlfriend would not be icked out by it since she approves of the profession, but even a small chance of her finding me too dirty to fuck anymore is too big a chance for me to take. Of course I have the right not to volunteer the info-- I think it's certainly no more unclean than bedding many of the people who would go home with you from a nightclub, so I don't feel obligated to tell lovers, as I would if I had herpes or HIV or something that must be disclosed. But I also never lie, so I fear them asking me if I ever have, and having to say yes or say it's really none of their business, and the fallout from that. Do I like prostitution enough to take a chance of missing out on genuinely good relationships and sex? Probably not. So I've stayed away from it for quite a while now.

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )


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