Sometimes, it's just a cigar

This is our truth, tell us yours

Nero fiddles while whores burn.

You probably saw the latest feminist attack on sex workers, where a barrister proved what a lot of us thought at college, brains are the last thing you need to get a law degree. The worryingly stalkerish and obsessive @anyabike decided to attack Dr Brooke Magnanti and another anonymous sex worker. The supposed proof was based on the whorephobic assumption that sex workers do not have opinions, or share them, or care about the same type of issues. That was it, no smoking gun except the one marked bigotry. Jude in London did an excellent rebuttal by showing how in fact she is Brooke Magnanti.

Brooke is disliked since she doesn’t fit the victim narrative and speaks intelligently on her choices. The attack on the anonymous sex worker, who has now left twitter in fear of being outed is part of a familiar pattern. She was, quite frankly, a no body,  a cam girl who popped up from time to time and vented, as so many of us do. Which is the problem for those opposed to sex workers rights. They want to be able to use the Grant argument, that those advocating for sex workers* are a few rare eccentrics who can be ignored as outliers. The existence of hundreds of nobodies, of ordinary women who just happen to sell a sexual service is the biggest threat to them. The fact we use twitter scares the hell out of them. Ordinary people speak to us, see us as human beings, thinkk about us as people who deserve to be listened too. So the need to attack and discredit the nobodies, to focus on them while the bigger names are usually left alone. This has happened so many times that it is clear we are seen as a threat, our very normalcy and lack of importance marking us out for attack.

The attacks on Brooke have continued though, by men who stand with feminists like anyabike in believing the biggest threat to patriarchy is women in control of their own sexuality and who don’t give away for free what men have historically demanded, often with violence, as a right. As usual the feminist blog and twitter sphere has remained silent, as slut shaming and misogyny follows hot on the heels of their actions. Someone more cynical than me might even suggest this is what they wanted, feminism as an attack dog for patriarchy, naming and shaming the women who have refused to conform. One of the men who seems most upset by the existence of sex workers current or former is Jeremy Wilson who wrote this piece for Brietbart, the home of the BNP, UKIP and people for whom The Telegraph is a namby pamby pinko commie mouth piece.

I have written before about how white feminism, and white middle class women tend to act as gate keepers on who is allowed into the class of women. Women of colour, disabled women, trans women, sex workers, are rarely allowed in except as tokens, and even then can have their membership revoked without notice. The core of Wilson’s argument is that Brooke cannot have been a sex worker because he does not find her fit enough. Many of the commenters agree.

Looking at her picture at the top of the article, I would “pay her to leave” before she did her job.

She looks like she would struggle to even make the bottom of the market. I am talking “Redcar Specials” – 5 quid per quickie (or 10 quid with tits out). £300? Ha! What was she doing? Gold plating her bits?

Just two examples of  the misogyny dripping from the comments, the kind of abuse that would usually have feminists up in arms, except of course in this case the feminists also questioned that Brooke was ever a sex worker, based on the testimony of her abusive ex. (#Ibelieveher only applies to women they think are acceptable to be accepted into the class of women it seems**)

One of the odd things about this article is it is in a website that supposedly believes in capitalism and the free market. Those comments come from people who, from looking at other comments they have made also believe in those twin idols of the free market and capitalism. However they seem to struggle with the idea of charging what the market will bear. Comparing current prices and prices pre the large number of east European sex workers entering the market is of course a complete red herring. I was not working when Brooke Magnanti was but I know people who were, and who were clients, prices were a lot higher due to a much smaller supply. Its scarcity value, as supply increases the price goes down. A friend was telling me today of a walk up in Barons Court in the mid eighties, a basic “rub and tug” place that charged £80 an hour, today in London the equivalent would be £50 0r £60, and much less outside the capital.

Of course there is more than economics at play here, I am what I am happy to describe as mid range, although you have to be careful of not reinforcing hierarchical structures with such terms. However could I be bothered I know I could charge more, become that strange beast “the top end” escort. The idea that one must be a super model and in your early twenties to work in the higher price bracket indicates more about antis attitude to sex than any criticism by me can. Once you are paying more than the very basic walk up price, where you really do get what you pay for, then looks are only one part of the equation, Personality and education are far better selling points, and far more likely to attract repeat customers, the holy grail of all service industries. After all if someone really just wanted a fuck with someone who looked good then they would go to a bar or club on a Friday night. People go to sex workers because they want more, and yes, they want someone skilled at what they do. The commenters assume this means scat or other unusual sexual demands, again saying more about their sexual hinterland than anything else. Great sex is a skill, it takes knowledge, openness, abilities, and people are willing to pay for someone with all three. One of the reasons walk ups are so cheap is clients know they are getting a lottery, and while I have zero sympathy you only have to read the reviews on punternet to see how often people would have been better having a wank and saving their money

So trying to attack someone because they worked in a different environment with different economic factors not only shows Nero’s and Wilsons’ total lack of understanding of sex work and their misogyny, but also how limited their understanding of sex, desire and human interactions are. Of course the point is to put a woman who dared not conform in her place, to slut shame, mock and belittle in the hope that she will retire to the kitchen and make them a sandwich. The fact this latest series of attacks was started by a feminist, supported by feminists and has not been condemned by any mainstream feminist proves yet again that sex workers can never expect support from feminism, we will always be lesser women punished by those who declare sisterhood but exile all but chosen few.


* many thanks to Brooke Magnanti who first suggested this idea of attacking the less famous to isolate the more high profile, it is a familiar pattern and does seem born out by the evidence.

** Proof of how they dont class sex workers as women comes in the use of an abusive ex’s account of event in the original @anaybike piece, #ibelieveher only applies to those women they think worthy, therefore can be thrown out of the window if the victim is a sex worker, or black or trans.


7 comments on “Nero fiddles while whores burn.

  1. Top Hat The Cat
    October 3, 2014

    It’s well known that men lie on the internet (and everywhere else) when it comes to harshly judging women they would or would not have sex with. It’s not a reflection on the women themselves, it’s the men posturing to each other for status. The comments under any article in for instance the Daily Mail about a supermodel would contain much the same insults.


    • jemima2013
      October 3, 2014

      Yup, such an illogical stance, if you wouldnt pay, well the very others do, why does this bother them so much?


  2. Elias Cresh
    October 3, 2014

    What are suggestions for countering such tactics specifically against sex workers, though I would imagine there would be versions of such tactics against a wide swathe of various interests.


    • jemima2013
      October 3, 2014

      Personal opinion? People engage their brains before they believe everything they read on the internet, however that seems to be expecting too much of people


    • Top Hat The Cat
      October 3, 2014

      It likely depends on how much a sex worker is out. Someone with a public name and platform can challenge directly without fear of outing, whereas, someone who could be outed needs less direct methods. Sharing media and online experiences among sex workers is probably key. Maybe a list of who can and can’t be trusted in media as well, with experiences. Maybe a private listserv to discuss these matters?


  3. Pingback: Power to the people; A post for International Sex Workers Rights Day | Sometimes, it's just a cigar

  4. Pingback: Invisible Women | Sometimes, it's just a cigar

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This entry was posted on October 3, 2014 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , .

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