A brothel tour during Frankfurt’s “Bahnhofsviertelnacht“ – the annual celebration of Frankfurt’s red light district – What counts as “information” on prostitution in Frankfurt.

translation: Inge Kleine

 

Merely walking through the area around Frankfurt’s Central Station where brothels stand wall to wall gives me the strange feeling of being in the wrong place here, as an onlooker. Looking up along the “Laufhäuser” (1) (operational room window to operational room window to operational room window (2) …) I experience the infallible need to want to go “to the room” rather: There at least I’d know how to act, there I know the procedure, the programme, that which I have to say, but here, like this, as a spectator in the “demi-monde”? Weird. To be here is like returning to your ex who hits you: It is like arriving home, everything is familiar and still feels all wrong. And this is how it feels when I tag along on the brothel tour organised by Doña Carmen e.V. and find myself standing in a room of the Laufhaus at Taunusstraße 26: Memories of my time in prostitution assail me.

The small rooms.

The coloured walls.

The dim light.

The blocked windows.

It is cramped. It is hot. It is bleak.

(And I know exactly how shabby this would look if somebody actually switched on the lights.)

Breathe in. Breathe out. Today I am here as an onlooker. Above all: a listener.

I’m in this operational room with several women, it’s getting cramped. The woman guiding the tour, Juanita Henning, introduces the woman to us (us? I just wonder, could I be confused with the other participants, most if not all of whom are unlikely to have anything to do with prostitution and who therefore have hardly any idea of it?) – introduces the woman to us, who will answer some questions. Since I do not know if this is her real name or her “working” name I’m not writing it here, but abbreviate it, she is called “D.” here.

D. is standing at the room’s only window that she has opened an inch. (Thank God. If I now had to smell this brothel mix – cigarette smoke, sweat, sperm, rubber – I think I would lose it.) She looks tired and wearied, and this is visible even in spite of the lack of light in this room. D. appears to be older than 45, she is wearing leisure wear and a baseball cap, maybe this is the end of her shift? “A woman to woman talk about prostitution” is what we were promised, and while we do that, a Doña Carmen member runs off and gets the money Doña Carmen pays for D. to answer our questions and to talk to us.

D. is a dominatrix, before that she was a beautician. She started 10 years ago. Why? “I got in through a woman friend.” “Women get into prostitution through women”, Juanita Henning says. (This, while the data provided by the police etc. show that between 80% and 90% of the women do not work on their own account, but with a man in the background.) I ask D. how much she pays for the room per day: € 100. And at what price her service starts: € 50. I look around the room, a trestle, corsages on the walls (“dressing up all costs extra”) and strangling collars etc. I remember that I always experienced being a dominatrix more exhausting than other things, I hated it, being booked for this. Doing standard service means that you can at least step away from the active part, check your fingernails in an unobserved moment or pull a face, but being a dominatrix means to focus 100% on the client, to get into his mind, having to do actively what you do not really want to do, i.e. giving satisfaction to such a man’s phantasies which you find disgusting. But I do not say this.

D. speaks in short sentences and not much. Now and then she is interrupted by Juanita Henning who finishes her sentences for her or who “straightens out” something. But it isn’t easy to straighten anything out with so many contradictions as are generated within the next quarter of an hour.

“You’ve got to be the type for becoming a dominatrix”, D. says, correcting this a few minutes later: “I am not a dominatrix by passion. I don’t really care what I do in here. It doesn’t affect me.” What does she offer? “Nothing really happens here. I don’t have to get undressed, I’m not touched. There are no sexual acts here. Very rarely a guy satisfies himself.”

What she does then?

“Oh, nothing really, I tie them up a bit, degrade them verbally a bit. That is nothing really. Now and then I slap them a little, very lightly. This here is only phantasy really, nothing more, no sex or anything. Nothing real.” It sounds a bit as if the punters just hover in here, give her 50 Euros and then disappear again, while she possibly shouts “filthy pig“ after them. A woman asks if she ever feels disgust. “No, why should I, nothing really happens in here. And it’s got nothing to do with me, nothing at all.”

Nothing happens. It’s got nothing to do with me. I wonder what the connection is between this obsessive minimisation, this diminution and denial and disassociation.  I am sorry for D. D. is paid by Doña Carmen to talk and answer to us today. And I would have done the same, I would also rather have been paid by Doña Carmen to say something: after all that’s one punter less. And to be honest, what else could she have said faced with more than 15 bourgeois, settled women? “No, it makes me puke, I find the men repulsive?” I wouldn’t have said that in such a situation either.

And Juanita Henning is fast and diligent: “About being disgusted, what kind of a question is that, it’s only ever directed at sex workers.” D.: “Imagine you are a nurse, that is the same.” A woman: “But they sometimes feel disgust.” Juanita: “You can’t compare that now, can you!” The woman: “So you’re not disgusted?” D.: “No, never.” Juanita: “Disgust is also some form of attraction in some ways. To feel disgust means to find someone attractive.”

I feel very dizzy by now. Is that because the place is so hot or because the situation is so absurd? The entire room is full of bourgeois women, and D. says there is nothing happening here, but what do the men pay for then? And how can this be, that this has nothing to do with her while she is in here, after all, when it happens. And then disgust is attraction. My head spins. This here is so grotesque that I’m doubting my senses for a moment.

A woman asks if there were transgressions sometimes. No, says D., she is always in control of the situation. No violence, ever. “I do not want this discussion of violence here”, Juanita Henning emphasises. “Violence is not prostitution. That is not prostitution!” “True, I decide what happens here”, D. says. But that is not really true – she only fulfils the johns’ wishes. And that these wishes come down to “nothing really happens here” – who is to believe that?

How many punters does she see a day? “That differs”, D. says, “One, two sometimes.” “But how can you then pay for the rent?” a woman asks. “Well, it’s three or four sometimes” D. says.

What happens then, one woman wants to know. “Well, first I’ve got to get the john into my room. Then I sit him down on the bed, and if he says “no” I say “yes”, D. laughs, and then the money transaction is done and then the best thing is for him to get a ball in his mouth so he cannot talk me to bits.” Her laughter sounds quite bitter. The longer we stay the more I feel sorry for D. Not only that she can’t talk about what happens here and that she is desperately trying to minimise everything although her revulsion comes through, she also does not seem to make much money. She doesn’t have regulars, she says.

Whether she talks about this to her acquaintances, a woman asks. “Not really”, D. says. “Only very few friends know what I do. I tell the others that I work in a fitness studio, they never ask about my work anyway. And when I have a partner I tell him what I do, but we never talk about it either.” Whether she talked to the other girls in the house? “Nope” she says, it’s only “hi and bye”. I immediately think that my friends and acquaintances always ask me what I’m doing. But prostitution makes for loneliness.

“What about the other girls here”, one asks, “you are a special case, aren’t you?” D. waves that off, “Yes, them, they have to do more, more performance and more clients, like 6 or 7 a day, but I don’t.” But why, I wonder, do they have to do more? If you’re supposed to be able to live comfortably by this, and that, although D. has only very punters? Because the others, unlike D., have a pimp? And then of course this defining herself against the others, and I cannot even blame her for this. In such a situation, it is a natural reaction to say, “I’m not doing too badly, look over there, they really have it bad, they really have to go at it.” Prostitution hierarchies. The escort lady looking down on those in the small brothels. And those in the small brothels looking down on those in the Laufhaus who have to let themselves be ogled, on their stools in the corridors, because this has long since become a popular sport among men, “whore-ogling”. And those in the Laufhaus look down on those in street prostitution. Defining yourself against those below at least conveys a feeling of not having ended up at the bottom yet.

“Don’t let anyone trick you into believing this is all so bad!”, D. shouts after us, as we leave the room after having thanked her.

After this there is a discussion in Doña Carmen’s rooms. Juanita Henning answers questions. It is a bit like a curiosities cabinet, just with more brain washing.

Asked if there was a problem with pimps here, Juanita responds by saying: “Pimps, they don’t exist, that is an invented term to stigmatise the prostitutes’ environment.” And Doña Carmen’s board member and co-founder Gerhard Walentowitz adds: “It is only two pimps a year who get sentenced. In all the country!” Then she compares homosexuality to prostitution in order to point to the discrimination. I sit here and wonder since when prostitution is a sexual orientation or preference. But Juanita goes for it now in full force. Prostitution is prohibited in order to control all women’s sexuality, also that of those who aren’t sex workers, she explains. Women are only permitted to have intercourse with men they feel connected to emotionally or socially. And it sounds a bit as if prostitution was liberating and very very feminist. “Men have a monopoly on buying sex. I don’t see anything reprehensible about this. But we women should learn to do the same. We need more call boys and such.” The aim, it seems, is that ALL of us should have sex in the future without caring about the other person, their sexuality etc. It’s just that easy, it seems.

“But the woman is selling her sexuality”, a woman remarks. “She doesn’t, that has nothing to do with her sexuality at all”, Juanita Henning says, who just a minute ago told us prostitution was about the liberation of women’s sexuality, “this isn’t about her sexuality. This is only about the man’s sexuality, this is only focussed on his needs.” Aha, I think, a moment of clarity, but that is over now: “That is why women do not become sick in prostitution, sick in their minds, disturbed, they don’t have any of that, because, this has nothing to do with them and their sexuality. They just briefly place their bodies at the man’s disposal.”

A woman asks about the Hell’s Angels. They’re no problem, Henning says. “None at all. There is no violence in prostitution here. They collect the taxes for the tax office.” Incredulous second question: “They collect the taxes for the tax office?” “Yes,” Henning says, “the city has commissioned them to do that and then practically collects them from them.” “So there’s no problem?” – “No, no problem.” “And forced prostitution? And the women from abroad? Who are beaten or who have taken their passports off them?” – “That’s mere clichés.” “Mere clichés?” – “Yes, mere clichés, all of that.” My head spins. Alarmingly, there are women here who believe all that. “I have never thought about it this way”, one says, “but yes, it’s true, it is like that, with women’s sexuality, and it is unfair, that there are no brothels for women.”

Why women come to Doña Carmen, one asks. A justified question, I think, since there are apparently no problems. “They come because of the taxes,” Henning explains, who a minute ago enthused about the Bulgarians and Romanians in prostitution here being able to finance themselves a nice little house of their own and above all being able to feed their families. “When they exit, they get problems with the tax office that estimates their earnings, and then they’re through. That is why they come here. When they exit, they are all broke and with debts. Totally poor.”

What else besides tax advice could prostitutes want from an association that says there is no forced prostitution, no trafficking, no pimps, no violence in prostitution? “But do the women really do this voluntarily?” one asks? Juanita Henning snaps: “The question alone is already so discriminatory.”

Once outside, I ask some women whether they believed what they heard inside. “Partly”, they say. Some thought it quite exaggerated. But others fell completely for what they had been told in there.

I return to the action “No place of pleasure”, an action that unlike Doña Carmen, is not mentioned anywhere in the city’s Bahnhofsviertelnacht programme. Abolitionist activists, women from several organisations, have placed coloured posters on the ground to commemorate the women murdered in prostitution. Although it is only the confirmed cases, and only of women who were “working” in Frankfurt, they are frighteningly many.  People come closer, place roses and light candles. It is a saddening view, and it is in fierce contrast to what I have just heard, and also in immense contrast to the surroundings: By now the streets are overcrowded, noisy, drinking, celebrating people among punters who are coming out of the brothels as if they’d just bought some cigarettes at a late night shop. Activists hand leaflets to people, engage in discussions. Most are affected by this. Some wipe away some tears, others recount that they have such a case in their families, and others tell us about prostituted women murdered in Frankfurt who have not as yet rated a mention in any report.

In a side street, strippers dance on a float. In another street, completely stoned people wander around in front of a drug room (3). A transsexual prostitute walks the streets, looking for takers. And I wonder: Does anybody have anything to celebrate here? Is this not inappropriate, to scatter glitter onto this misery, this violence here and to turn it into a circus? What is going on within these people who come here to have a party? Do they realise that their bout in adrenaline that comes from being in such a “demi-monde” area, is deeply bourgeois? That what is a one-off occasion to them is everyday life and practice to others?

And I wonder if this is what the City of Frankfurt takes to be proper information on prostitution? The brothel tours are no longer part of the official programme, that is true, Doña Carmen however is, it is to “inform” about prostitution with a presentation later, and a discussion following this. Along with all the churning out of hollow phrases, the distortions and minimisation that float around in my mind, I also wonder what is going on here, with the Hell’s Angles and the taxes. Dear City of Frankfurt – is this true? Are you collaborating with organised crime to get the dough for the tax office? And if you aren’t, why don’t you object to being presented like this? Is that good for this “demi-monde-ohhhhhownaughtyexciting” image? I’m surprised. An organisation that relentlessly speaks of “so-called forced prostitution” and “so-called trafficking” is supposed to enlighten us on prostitution according to the official brochure published by Frankfurt City, but people only learn about all the murders for example, all the violence by punters, all the data we have on prostitution, through a few tireless women activists who are not even part of the official programme. It seems as if Frankfurt doesn’t care about its prostitutes at all. At least when these can no longer pay any taxes due to their premature demise.

At home, I find reports in a punters’ fore on the internet, about women in the Laufhaus where D. has rented a room. It is quotes that make me shudder.

“Soo hot! Then we can ride this hot mare when she’s pregnant AO” (AO: without a condom.)

“Yes, this gal is “unfortunately” not all there! Well you go and be nailed and enspermed by around 30 guys a day. And Crystal does the rest with her.”

“Great photos! She really must have had it given to her last night, red as her pussy is!”

“S. is a very devout whore, sometimes she does AVO (4). She’s drugged, totally spineless. You can do what you like inside her, put anything up her from down there. Bottles, candles etc. She only does AO. She’s got a little sponge in there for contraception, lol. I regularly fuck her hard and jerk off deep in front of her uterus.”

“Hi guys, I too was with the (not meant badly at all) pregnant garbage can “S” and I have enspermed her (as much as was possibly) beautifully and deeply. The girl is only as already mentioned highly pregnant (the child comes out and away in February she says) and unfortunately she is really badly unhinged and so crass beyond anything, that you can hardly really concentrate on the fucking. (and it’s really hard to talk with her) She is still very nice in spite of that and I laughed a lot with her, we both had our fun, but I somehow feel sorry for her too. I’ll definitely go and visit her again these days… “

“Was there yesterday, too, and looked around for her, but in the room where she was and which you can see on the photos there’s a more plump Turkish woman now with 3-6 moles in her face … she then let herself be fucked and enspermed AO for € 25. Sex toys are no problem. In another forum there’s a description that she inserted a dildo she had found somewhere.”

“I’ll eat my hat if she isn’t pregnant …. She’s totally through: Fat ball belly, greasy hair, her feet displayed in flip-flops totally damaged, totally ruffled greasy bleached hair … When I think back to how she started … But she is clearly directed from elsewhere too much pressure on her or money pressed from her…”   (source)

“Early evening S. was already rather stoned, be that due to her medication or other psychoactive substances. She was sitting on the bad in one of her curious whore-rags and meowed when I came in. She let my manful mouth kiss and my greedy grabbing fingers on her tits and pussy happen just like that. Without gabbing I first undressed myself, then her. A three finger probe in her bulging pussy, furrowed by the birth, evinced a solid sperm level in the whore” (source)

L. is known to be one of the largest sperm repositories in BHV (Bahnhofsviertel). There is nothing to add to the description above, I find her typically gypsy-whore-pretty. As soon as you approach her room she begins a show with showing her tits, massaging her cunt (in my case she was wearing a bra only, no panties) and she immediately grabs you at your pants. “Come, sweetie, squirt sperm in my pussy”. What is a man to do? The price at € 30 was okay too. (source)

But none of that is a problem, right? Because disgust means finding somebody attractive. And is never felt in prostitution ever, at all. That’s what I learned today.

And a beer to that, a cigarette, some loud music, and partying with the colleagues – Bahnhofsviertelnacht Frankfurt olé! If this here isn’t a reason to celebrate, what is?

(C) Huschke Mau 2017

 

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(1) Laufhaus (running house): a very frequent type of brothel where the women sit on bar stools in corridors or on their beds and the johns walk through the corridors and pick a woman.

(2) “operational room” – I can’t find any term for this: “Verrichtungszimmer” – the term was also used for these drive in “sex boxes” favoured and then abolished by some German cities. “Verrichten” or “etwas verrichten” = getting something done, going through some routine to have it done with.

(3) Frankfurt (like many German cities) has rooms/ facilities where those with a drug addiction can be supplied with medication in a controlled and safe environment.

(4) Anal without a condom

 

What makes exiting prostitution so hard?

translation: Inge Kleine

 

Occasionally I am asked what makes it so hard to exit prostitution. It took me years to leave prostitution, I kept returning to it – and this is not only true of myself. What makes it so hard is the complexity of the situation. When I went to a counselling service for prostitutes in order to ask for help in exiting, I was told: “If you don’t want to do this any longer, just don’t go back to the brothel!” But it just isn’t that simple.

Most prostitutes have had very bad experiences with any kind of authorities or official institutions. In fact, these institutions may very well be the reason the women are in prostitution in the first place. Those who like me have learned how easy it is to slip through the gaps in Germany’s “social net”, in our social security system, know where not to go in need of help. In my case, youth services alleged I had run away from home not because of the violence, but simply because I hadn’t gotten “enough pocket money”. The help I only received due to the efforts of committed social workers at a girls’ refuge centre ended far too early: Come 18 years of age this help is over. Nobody took into account that this is a serious situation for a very traumatised adult who has no contact to her parents, no support at all and who is penniless. At the girls’ centre there was a girl who joined us because her father repeatedly raped her. Youth services got them to sit down together in a joined discussion, a “joined confrontation” to “talk it out”. The father admitted everything, apologised and Youth Services decided: “There you are, he apologised, he won’t do it again, you can go back home now.” I am fairly sure that this girl will never again turn to an official institution when she needs help. All these various offices, social security, students’ loan offices (1), job centre/unemployment offices, housing offices – same story. “Not within the scope of our responsibilities”, endless protraction in dealing with applications, stupid remarks.  Students’ office: “If your parents do not want to sign the application form (2), you must have done something wrong. It’s usually the children’s fault. Have you ever thought of apologising to the authorities?” Housing office: “We have been processing your application for almost a year now, we’ll let you know. What’s this, you cannot pay your rent anymore? Well, if you don’t have an apartment anymore you aren’t entitled to rent support, so we can stop processing your application.” I know prostitutes who want to exit, but the unemployment office refuses to grant financial support and threatens them with a three months’ ban on any payment, if they terminate their “contracts” with the brothel, as they aren’t jobless, after all. Others try to exit but aren’t provided with the full payments they are due because the office presumes them to be secretly further engaged in prostitution and thus to have an income – a completely imaginary sum based on fantasy alone, which is then being calculated into the payments to reduce them. Those who end up in prostitution or remain there because of such things are not there due to “free choice”, but due to a choice between two unwanted alternatives (starve / become homeless or prostitution), and thus a dilemma.

Advocacy and counselling centres that offer exit support in Germany are usually not on the side of the prostituted. Mimikry in Munich celebrate their anniversary with the owner of an escort agency, Stephanie Klee, so they are supportive of the operators in this trade. The head of the public health office in Dresden that also runs the advocacy centre there appears as a speaker at pro-prostitution events and glorifies prostitution as a great offer for punters with or without disabilities. Kassandra in Nuremberg maintain that violence in prostitution is rare and prostitutes may not be called an “at risk group” as this is stigmatising prostitutes and exposing them to violence. This, although in Germany alone more than 70 prostitutes have been murdered since the Prostitution Act in 2002. Most advocacy centres speak of Sexwork, engage in entry instead of exit help (like Hydra in Berlin) and claim that the greatest problem prostitutes face is “stigma”, not the “work”. I know of women who have turned to such counselling centres and who were told that the problem wasn’t the job, but they were, and why didn’t they just re-orientate themselves within prostitution? Could “escort” be an alternative or SM? Turn to such centres and you’re not only denied help, you are even shamed.

Another problem is the lack of alternatives. The job situation in Germany is not all that rosy. Things are difficult for those with a criminal record due to offences in the context of prostitution (like e.g. disregarding zoning regulations while “working”, or drugs ….) or gaps in the CV that cannot be camouflaged by the best of fabulation. In addition, women who spent years in prostitution cannot show any or only very little job experience, and sometimes never had any professional training. Jobs on offer then: those with a maximum of hours and minimal pay. Someone who has barely left prostitution usually has to contend with the disorders following trauma, that is: permanent stress. And that means they may not be able to endure these jobs for long. And if money is so short again and again and again, you do what you know to do and can do, and go back to “working”. No single prostitute I know has the self-confidence left to apply for appropriate or reasonable jobs.

And then: trauma. Most prostitutes suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder of the type shown by victims of torture. They suffer from anxiety disorders, lack of self-confidence, from obsessive behaviour – e.g. compulsive washing or a compulsive repetition of pointless rituals that supposedly convey safety. (I have to knock on wood when I have fearful thoughts. And I often have those. When I can’t do that, a panic attack follows. I know how crazy this looks to bystanders and that it is pointless in the end, but I can’t help it.) When I switched from brothel to escort, I wasn’t used /anymore to leaving the house during the day. I couldn’t abide daylight. Nor the many people. Someone whose boundaries are being violated daily and hourly may not be able to stay among others, because their inner alarm system will keep on going on alert: “This is a man, danger!” I do not even want to begin to talk here about what it means to be outside and being triggered, having flashbacks.  Nightmares and sleep disorders are exhausting. It is almost impossible to keep up appearances and to move over into a “normal life”. And you feel “different” from the others, inferior, more hurt. Broken. People seem creepy, the “normal ones” more than anybody, because they make you see what you yourself aren’t any longer: without cares, without injuries, without fears. Whole. Nice. In a good mood. – In order to endure prostitution, you have to split your awareness away from your body, to dissociate. The problem is that you cannot just slip back into it later. The body remains without contact to your soul, your psyche. You just do not feel yourself any more. It took me several years to learn that that which I sometimes feel is hunger. And that this means you should eat something. Or that that which I experience means that I am cold. And that you then put on something warm. It is exhausting to learn or to relearn that one’s body has its needs, to feel it, and it is even more exhausting to practice “selfcare”. Not to treat yourself like shit any longer. To sleep, when you are tired – because you’re not sitting in a 24-hour brothel and have to take the next punter. That you don’t have to feel cold any longer because you’re in street prostitution when it’s below freezing. That you can change situations that cause pain instead of eliminating the pain – through dissociation, drugs or alcohol. – But trauma won’t let go of you so easily: You get used to it. This phenomenon is called “trauma bonding”, and it is the reason why women who are battered by their husbands keep going back. Traumatic situations can be addictive because they cause a massive release of adrenaline – and that is addictive. Additionally, a violent situation is something well-known to people who have experienced as much violence as that in prostitution. I learned from early childhood on: The place where I am afraid, where I am hurt, where I am degraded, is the place where I belong. That is home. This is why even today I still have to struggle in situations that endanger me and to decide against the danger and to walk away. The situations are shite, but familiar; I know them. Situations in which people are nice to me, do not shout, do not batter, do not abuse me, feel creepy. I promptly feel inferior. My soul signals: “Something is wrong here. This is alien.” Prostitution is like self-harm. No, prostitution IS self-harm.

Addictions are another barrier to exiting. Many prostitutes numb themselves, with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, because that is the only way they can function. This develops its own dynamics and you promptly have an additional problem to deal with.

It is difficult to find therapy for former prostitutes. It takes a lot of time and nerves to secure a place in therapy, moreover, many therapists, both male and female, will not accept that prostitution is violence. (I will write a separate text about therapy one day.)

Like therapists, the entire society has a problem with recognising prostitution as something damaging, not only to society, but to the individual prostitute. Exiting prostitution when the dominant view “out there” is that prostitution is something entirely normal, something that can be advertised on huge billboards along the main streets, whose advertising can be plastered all over taxis, when articles repeatedly make you read terms like “sex worker”, “people who offer sex services”, when you keep being confronted with texts that minimise or even hype prostitution; that does something to you. Not even to speak of the people who feel the need to take it upon themselves to designate former prostitutes who dare speak up in public as “filthy whores”, “gold diggers”, “greedy for money” or “low life” – right below the articles these women have written or right below the interviews in which they have spoken. Exiting and then being told that this is your “own fault”, that you have “made poor choices” or that you are lying means you can just stay in prostitution, because being degraded happens there, too.

Disordered self-perception and extremely low self-esteem isolate most prostitutes from their non-prostituted surroundings. After years spent in this environment, most women simply only know others from this life. It is like a parallel world. And sometimes, it just feels like “the true world” to you. Because you don’t feel any trust in your fellow human beings, and above all none in men. You now know and have experienced what they are capable of on your own body, and therefore you know what to think of the bourgeois façade “out there”. For punters do not only parade around in the “underworld”, but also “out there”, in the “normal world”. Only there what happens is that you are being shamed as the (former) prostitute not merely by them, but by others, while the punters are indeed not shamed or held accountable. So you can just as well remain in prostitution: by comparison this place appears sort of honest at least, violence against money, everybody knows what you’re doing, does the same, the rules are known, as are the mechanisms.

No prostitute, German women included, would NOT be put under pressure at any attempt to change her “club” or to leave the brothel. The usual custom is having to buy yourself out, some transfer money to be paid. A German colleague who wanted to disappear from a brothel had the brothel keeper who had repeatedly raped her stuck to her heels for an entire year. He slashed her tires, appeared inside her apartment, threatened her boyfriend, enlightened her parents on how she had made her money. He only left her in peace after he had gotten the pay-off of € 3,000. (This sum is often euphemised as “debts incurred by the prostitute”. What is meant is: Punishment for being late, for not tidying the room, for turning down punters, “non-attendance” fees; rent for the room she had rented and that she had to pay for although she hadn’t had any punters or was sick etc.) I’m not even going to begin now on the prostituted women’s “partners” who also profit from their “working”.

And in all of this I still haven’t taken the foreign prostitutes into consideration, who do not speak German, who only know a corrupted police force in their home countries (and here in my own country I do not entirely acquit the police force from this… ), who are not even theoretically entitled to welfare or social security payments here, who have no health insurance, or who are being transferred to a different city or a different brothel by the week and who do not even know where they are.

And even if they did know: Who are they supposed to turn to?

The German state does not provide any help. It leaves the complete financing of the (new) “Prostitutes’ Protection Law” entirely to the municipalities and thus ensures that these municipalities will ensure the punters’ ongoing opportunities of smoothly engaging in their more or less droll endeavours. The state takes its taxes from these droll endeavours, and gorges on the revenue.

And this does in fact give rise to the question whether the state has any interest even in preventing women and young girls from ending up in prostitution or in helping prostitutes exit. It CANNOT even aim for this!


(1) In Germany, destitute students or students from very low income households are entitled to a state sponsored students’ loan in order to cover their costs of living. The loan has to be paid back once the students start their professional careers, but it is at a reduced interest rate and there are some provisions if the student remains destitute, or has children or close relatives to look after or care for. At the same time, bureaucracy puts up barriers, and delays also put students at risk.

(2)Parents need to sign the application as a statement of income for the students to receive this loan. Parents can be compelled to do so by the authorities, but students need to know which authorities to apply to and authorities or staff at authorities need to be willing to pursue this.

 

 

Against prostitution or against prostitutes? Opposition to prostitution, or abolitionism?

translation: Inge Kleine

Background:

A pro sex industry lobbyist, a woman who was very visible when the German Prostitution Act finally legalizing all sorts of brothels etc. was passed in 2001 (and came into effect in 2002) wrote a very personal statement on Facebook detailing her situation.

She had started out as a woman, a teenager, in prostitution, allegedly “voluntarily”, and proceeded to  small time brothel keeper. Her own “café” cum brothel went bust some time ago, when the bottom dropped out of the market following Berlin’s decriminalization approach, and the woman in question is now where the entire system of prostitution leads women, and needs to have them, to keep them and to lead them, to function: destitute, desperate and with very few if any options left.

In the comments that followed, the usual load of woman hating trolls and people aside, some commenters who oppose prostitution failed to make a distinction between this woman’s political views and her role as a brothel keeper, both of which we all criticise, and her situation as a woman in prostitution, and now as a destitute woman thrown at the mercy of welfare officials.

 

 

Hello.

Today I want to say something regarding my own situation.

The last days have been, to put it mildly, not good. I haven’t slept in three nights now, and wept a lot.

The last days have seen the rise of strange discussions and the dropping off of strange phrases. Things like:

  • Prostitutes don’t know what is good for them, “normally thinking people” know that
  • Prostitutes don’t know what is good for them, “psychologically healthy people” can tell them
  • Prostitutes have not defended their “dignity” enough, instead of, like “normal people” be decently poor (and heroically starve)
  • Prostitutes do not prostitute themselves, because they are in an economic, emotional or other crisis, but because they have a “leaning towards prostitution”

This from women who call themselves “allies”. Some of these women also think it is legitimate to designate prostituted women who are part of the pro prostitution lobby “Nutten” – the most offensive term for “prostitute” in German, and do not realise that when they shame one woman for her prostitution, they shame ALL prostitutes for their prostitution, and that it makes a difference if I disapprove of somebody because of her thoughts, because I think them to be wrong, or because of her prostitution.

Some women let themselves be entangled in discussions with women from the pro lobby. But instead of discussing the concept of prostitution they shamed prostituted women, made them responsible for the misery of the other women and arrogantly set themselves up as speakers for women in forced or in poverty prostitution, without seeing that they were actually talking to  women in poverty prostitution. No, not everything that comes from this lobby is garbage just because it comes from this lobby. Yes, when prostituted women tell us about the exit barriers confronting them, we should be all ear. No, to begrudge or deny a prostitute and brothel keeper like Felicitas Schirow her exit via welfare or social security is not okay. No, it is not her fault if she now, as she says, has to prostitute herself without wanting to do this, because she is being denied payment from ALG2, i.e. the social security that is her due.

Yesterday evening then saw a further discussion about which women we are to meet with understanding for their entry into prostitution, and which do not belong to this group. I have often heard something like “I don’t have any understanding for German women here, there are other ways.” It does not become true by incessant repetition. I am amazed at how often women turn into experts on other women’s lives and then pass judgements. She didn’t have to prostitute herself, she had other options. She prostituted herself voluntarily and thus has made herself guilty of contributing to the general view of prostitution in society, and towards other women. She hasn’t merited anything better now, it’s her own fault she can’t exit because she is being denied welfare, after all she helped get the 2002 Prost Act done. Where do you get this knowledge of other women’s lives? The readiness to judge them so fast? The ability to be blind to all the cracks in our welfare system that you can so easily fall through? The belief that poverty is the only reason for entry? And they even rub our noses into our poverty. There are other people, after all, who are poor too, and they don’t prostitute themselves. So there!

I am so tired and so sad right now.

I had thought, up until now, that we were FOR prostitutes and AGAINST prostitution. I thought our solidarity was for all women in prostitution. I didn’t know it was dependent on these women bearing their victim status in front of them like a shield. I did not know that as prostituted women we owed an explanation to anybody about why exactly we prostitute ourselves, why we entered prostitution, and I didn’t know that we may be condemned, shamed and found guilty if we don’t justify ourselves. I did not know that this solidarity was reserved to those showing proper behaviour.

Up until now I thought we all wanted the same.

Up until now I thought there was a consensus among us to show understanding towards women who are in prostitution and who, for whatever reasons, do not exit (because they don’t want to, because they can’t, because they don’t have any other options, because they have been in prostitution all their lives, because whatever), when they try to make prostitution as good as possible for themselves at least.

That women who explain that at age 60+ they are being harassed by the job centre, can’t find a job and then have gone into prostitution, are being shouted at it was their fault that all the women in “forced and poverty prostitution” are being exploited here, has hit, and hurt me. That women who have had it with prostitution at 60+ and who demand what is their due, i.e. welfare payments that guarantee their existence, are being mocked for not getting them, deeply shocks me. That they are told that this is their own fault is beyond good taste. That women who want to abolish prostitution do not somehow understand that prohibition takes away the possibility for these women to finance themselves without giving them any alternatives, bothers me deeply. A woman who prostitutes herself although she wants to exit does not need any lectures on awful punters. She will know this better. They are HER punters. And neither does this lecture help her. Because she can’t use it to buy herself food. And to charge her with minimising the dangers of “sex work” only because she wants to survive, isn’t fair.

It just isn’t fair.

So much coldness, so little empathy, so few analytical skills as in the last few days, so much readiness to condemn, to shame – to see this has really hurt me.

I am not talking here of all women. But of some, and there were some among them I would never have thought this of. That is paining me very deeply. But even when I said I was being hurt here, they just went on. My explanations were good for nothing. I really have to deal with that one now. For I am only a prostitute. And apparently these are not what this is about.

I want to be perfectly clear about this.

No, abolitionism does not mean to attack prostitutes. It does not mean sorting prostitutes into good and bad women. Into women who conform to our ideas of victims and who say what we want to hear and who get our support and our solidarity, and on the other hand women who do not think as we wish or who do not explain to us why they entered, or who appear too “privileged” for having to do this (because they are entitled to student support – i.e. a public student loan – or welfare, in theory, or whatever) and who we can condemn, shame for their prostitution. To disapprove of people because of what they say or think, is legitimate, if we don’t agree.  To deny solidarity to someone because she or he is prostituting, is NOT ABOLITIONIST. Damn it! It is NOT ABOLITIONIST to attack women for their prostitution! It is NOT ABOLITIONIST to shame women for their prostitution. It is NOT ABOLITIONIST to think it’s okay to impose further prostitution on women, to deny them their exit, just because they think differently from us! It is NOT ABOLITIONIST, to blame women who prostitute so that they can eat, to make these women responsible for other women being forced into prostitution!

I am so aghast that I can’t sleep any more. Some of these things apply to me, too. I, too, was (theoretically) entitled to student support. I, too, am German. I am educated. I studied. Why am I not shamed? But other women in my situation? And why is it not obvious that this means me, too? And where exactly is the difference between these women and me, why are they guilty and I am not? What is this supposed to be?

I am not allowing myself to be separated from other prostitutes. I am not allowing a splitting of the good victims from women who are not deserving of our solidarity. I am not allowing women who were never poor to condemn other women for wanting to survive and to use the possibilities that patriarchy offers them. Often, because they don’t see other possibilities. Often because there just really aren’t any.

I have the feeling that parts of this movement aren’t abolitionist, but merely against prostitution. There is a difference here. Being against prostitution, that is something that can be due to a contempt of the prostituted. Because they are deemed rotten. Stupid. Too traumatised to think straight. Fucked up and without any idea of what dignity is and self-esteem.

And I want to ask all of you to think about that. I do not say that any of you has bad intentions here.

But if you want to help, listen to us.

Do not condemn us.

Don’t play at being experts on our lives.

An analytical analysis of the structures is necessary.

To personally attack prostitutes for prostituting themselves is not it.

If you never had to prostitute yourself because you were never in the situation of entering: good for you. Enjoy that. But do not think it makes you a better person.

It is not abolitionist to use our statements in order to make things more difficult for us.

I can understand any woman in prostitution who tries to make things work for herself there (because she doesn’t want to exit or can’t). Please do not take that which we tell you about our prostitution and use it against other prostitutes or in order to make things difficult for us by pushing regulation forward.

Women who want to exit (and we know they are many) need ALTERNATIVES. The Nordic Model for example offers support in finding alternatives. And financial help and help with officials and authorities. It is a package of measures that is not made up exclusively of penalizing the punter, but that has many other component parts. It does not, above all, place the entire burden on the prostitutes.

A regulatory approach does none of that.

Fines, jail (for failing to pay the fines), registration with the police while that police isn’t trained, raises in taxes do NOT help women in prostitution. Women are usually in prostitution because they see no other option. To make prostitution harder for them, does not magically cause these necessary options to appear!

We need rules and regulations (and punishment!) for punters. For brothel keepers. Yes, the female ones, too. But it would be great to see, occasionally, that many brothel keepers once were prostitutes, and that going from prostitute to pimp was (made) easier than exiting prostitution.

And that is what we want, after all. An easier exit from prostitution. And that women who do not want to, and as we know those are the most, do not have to enter prostitution. Don’t we?

I’ll let you in on something.

My own personal situation is not that good, either.

And I have thought about going back into it for quite some time.

Because I just can’t take this permanent fear in safeguarding my existence and to live in such extreme circumstances any longer. Because right now I don’t see any future, any hope. An activist told me today – yes, you have the choice of shite without money and shite with money. And that is precisely what it is. And I am being despised anyway, from the rest of society, and as it turns out, from some of my allies, too. Because if you despise one prostitute for her prostitution you despise us all.

And I want to make sure my fridge is full. I want to live. I want to eat. I want to pay my kitty-cat’s medical bills. If that makes me egoistical and a perpetrator, as has been stated about other women in my situation, then so be it.

I do not feel not ashamed of this.

What I feel ashamed of is to have women use my statements to make life difficult for other women in prostitution and to scorn them for not managing to exit. I feel ashamed of some women using my engagement to make it so hard for other women, to condemn, to degrade and to devalue them, and when they say what they don’t want, for them to be told to leave thinking to the “healthy” and healthy means: able to think and not “bent” in their moral compass.

That is what I feel ashamed of.

And nothing else.

And I thank all women who have shown me in the last days that their solidarity is for ALL women. ALL prostitutes, including those whose world view they oppose.

Thank you for that.

Huschke

Paper on “Sex Work“ by the German group “Feminismus im Pott“.

translation: Inge Kleine

 

Feminismus im Pott (1) have published their position on “Sex Work in a paper I very much want to comment on:

Late to the show, but as a woman personally concerned I want to add my two cents to this, too. First of all, it’s nice of you to you address the topic and there is one thing on which I agree with you: Stigmatisation is vile. However, and this needs to be spelled out very clearly, it is not our biggest problem. Our biggest problem is in fact what punter do – to us. You are labouring under some deep lack of logic if you think you are helping prostitutes by finding a nicer term for what they (have to) do. A friend took the trouble to post an entry from a punters’ site in which he reports on what is happening in the “Freudenhaus Hase” – “The Hare House of Pleasures” (2) which you have joined forces with in order to battle the stigmatisation of prostitutes.

The report very clearly describes a “hatefuck”, a rape. Things like that are simply written off as “shock postings” by you, something you needn’t tackle. Why ever not? This is precisely what happens in prostitution. To be very blunt here: The prostitute will not even be able to report this to the police, after all sex for money was agreed on, and so the sex was a bit rougher than agreed to, so what? This is how police and other institutions will react. Why? Because they do not define prostitution as violence. Most prostitutes do, however. The majority of prostitutes suffer from disorders related to trauma. You simply deny this by calling prostitution “sex work”. What was posted there was not an isolated incident, it is a daily occurrence for us prostitutes. How can you say in one breath that you are in solidarity with us while you do not on the other hand want to look at what prostitution actually is? Do some reading in the punters’ fores on what “sex for money” really means. And then ask yourselves if “paid abuse” is not a much better term.

According to your definition of sex work – and you were nice enough to call prostitution from financial hardship or because of a drug-addiction a grey area – there are maybe about one hundred sex workers in Germany. All of them independent, self-determined, well-adjusted to their job. But what about us, the other prostitutes? We are several hundred thousands in Germany alone. Seriously, what about us? Are you not in solidarity with us? Don’t you like what we tell you about prostitution? Is it too much of a “shock posting” for you? For us it is everyday life, or was.

The stigma cannot be combatted without an abolishment of prostitution. Prostitution and the punters need the stigma of the women concerned to degrade them, hide them, enact violence on them. The Madonna and the Whore as a principle. There is no prostitution without stigmatisation.

What is also sadly lacking in your position is any context in society. Merely saying “prostitution is gendered under the current relations of power” doesn’t do it. With other relations of power there wouldn’t be any prostitution. Defining sex as a “service rendered to a man” would be offensive, it would be offensive for men to be able to say that they have a right to sex, it would be offensive to operate from a mindset that accepts the buying of women for utilisation, one which does not question or which accepts that this often does happen against the woman’s will. How do you think punters think? The way punters think is to say, I paid, she said yes, and so I needn’t bother whether she does this voluntarily or not, whether she likes this or not. The way punters think is to say I feel like sex, I’ll buy someone to do it with and then I’ll live it up like a board game on which I play a little chess and push my pieces around for a bit. Is that a kind of thinking we want to see more of? I don’t think so.

And then your paper completely lacks any analysis of the effects of prostitution. There will never be enough women to do this voluntarily. The larger group will always have to be coerced. By saying that prostitution should be recognized as sex work you are enabling an mindset that renders it acceptable in a society to – as you call it – buy “sex services” (only that tied to these “sex services” there is some sort of woman who somehow has to dissociate from all of this stuff). This means an increased demand. How often have punters said to me: “I’m doing this, it’s not illegal after all”? How many punters would NOT go to prostitutes if it were illegal?

It is nice that you keep showing a few examples of häppy sexwörkers again and again. But what about the legion of women who remain in the shadows behind them? Who have to bear the consequences of what publicly accepting punters’ actions has effected? There is an incredible number of johns in Germany. 1,2 million men visit prostitutes each day here. And their numbers are increasing. Are they all to visit your one hundred häppy sexwörkers? I wish, but with a rise in demand yields a rise in supply. Voluntarily or not. The “sex work is work” attitude increases: demand, supply, and thus also forced prostitution and trafficking. That can’t be what you aim for.

I’m not even going to spend more time on the organisations you are fraternising with. Brothel keepers, both male and female, people who say human trafficking doesn’t even exist, people who rejoice at a tightening of welfare regulations because this means more women entering prostitution. Neither am I going to say anything this time about your complete blindness to punters, you apparently don’t want to know that punters are perpetrators. Prostitution cannot be freed from sexism, classism and racism, because it is a system that is based precisely on these structures, needs them and reproduces them.

Punters are perpetrators. And they provide the demand. The solution lies in decreasing the demand. By spelling out what punters do and by making them take responsibility. Punishing the punters decreases trafficking, as we know from Sweden. It decreases violence against women, not only in prostitution. For me this is the more important battlefield in my battle and I do not wish to have my abuse defined as work.

 

 

(1) Feminismus im Pott: A group writing on feminist issues based in the “Ruhrpott“ area in Germany, a formerly highly industrialized area.

(2) Hase  = hare. Hase is a fairly common German surname, in the plural (Hasen) it is also a (sexualized) term referring to women or girls, like “bunny”.

 

 

(c) Huschke Mau

Thursday afternoon at the brothel

Translation by Inge Kleine

This text is a diary entry from the year 2005, when Huschke wasn’t yet called Huschke, but was sitting around in the brothel as SvenjaorCharlotteorWhosomever.

Why this total break down yesterday, this total sinking and giving up?

Maybe I can’t do this job any more, maybe I even can’t deal with it any more even now already, that this lying system exists in which old randy men fuck young girls, in fact basically break them any which way they want them – because just as in earlier times “defiled” or “fallen” girls were consigned to prostitution (everyday practice in medieval times – and later, once “corrupted” what’s it matter?) – so nowadays daughters are abused by their fathers, brothers, grandfathers and uncles and then logically enter this business branch and are again treated like dirt, criminalised, discriminated against, and abused.

It is from my miserable condition, for which I also hold the German state as partly accountable, which does not deem it necessary to give a chance, a second chance at least, to abused, mistreated, “a-social” children who start out in life in dismal circumstances and circumstances which these children cannot do anything about, it is from this miserable condition that several men and patriarchal systems profit: my punters, my pimp and the German state. I have been used and discarded from society, as if it were my fault that I was mistreated,  and now I’m placed offside – anybody can do to me as he pleases, apparently everybody can fuck me just for wanting to, well not quite anybody any more, now only those who pay, and they would love for me to at last and finally place all my holes at their disposal, and then the gentlemen from the IRS (tax offices) also want their cut, don’t they, quite aside from my pimp, whose house, Jeep, S-class Mercedes I’m fucking into existence, while of course he can fuck me whenever he wants to, goes without saying he can, view his treatment of my colleague who mustn’t say no to him, or else.

And the punter too profits richly, and he still takes more than his supposed due, but God what on earth are you not supposed to be allowed towards one who sucks so many cocks, to one who according to punter’s logic must therefore be hot all day long and for that too she should be punished, really, all she probably needs is a real good seeing-to, a real good fuck.

For it is just that which we enact for them, every day, for they daily complain to us about whores who won’t play along with anything, either we are one of the bad ones (and earn nothing) or they tell us about their Odyssey through the bordellos and all the horrible girls there you really can’t fuck at all, and we always get our share of “praise”. That hurts so much you can’t imagine.

First, we don’t do enough. And then they’re outraged: “What, no French pure, that’s standard, like that I won’t feel anything at all, and it’s no fun for you either really with that rubber” (and what fun, I think, am I supposed to have, do they really think I’d rather have sperm in my mouth and an unwashed prick? A rubber, any day.) and: “you like swallowing it, don’t you, that’s part of it, isn’t it, and what? no anal included, why not, that can be so nice, and you’ve surely just never tried it before” (yes, maybe it is nice for YOU, and no, I don’t wanna try it, this may cause me pain at size 34, ever thought of that?), but no No is a No: “well if really no anal I at least get to play around with you there for a bit, right?” and then they just do it and still try to shove their finger up your arse. And discussions continue: “What do you mean, kissing isn’t done in this job, what’s that about, I didn’t even know that, why ever not, I don’t get it” – exactly, why shouldn’t you demand entitlement to every last ounce of us, since you have most of us already anyway? “Kissing is what you do while fucking and can I squirt on your belly, on your tits, in your face, on your cunt – no, why not, that won’t make you pregnant and I’m healthy as you can see” – (Yes that one does get said again and again, that phrase)  and anyway, “come on, I can rub my naked prick in your fanny for just a bit, can’t I, nothing will happen, it’s so impersonal otherwise, so without any feelings”.

And so they gleefully step-dance on our boundaries all day long, and if there’s one thing I learned when I had to “expand” my “services” so that I’ll make any money at all and won’t starve: It’s never enough. Never enough “service”. Blow it naked and swallow, offer kissing, then they demand fisting, squirting off in your face after a hard anal and choking. Offer that, and they want to piss in your mouth, have you lick their anus, and drive you to the brink of choking or vomiting with deep throat.

That aside you can, as you please, shove dildos or pricks inside me just as you fancy, and lubricating gel or wetting it or even just asking beforehand isn’t necessary, for I am hot all day long anyway. The best for me is to have a go at them and to pretend I’ve only been waiting for one like him. I wanted it this way is what they then say, I acted like an animal – partly through pain, actually, physical and emotional.

And how they whine! God, they’ve got it rough. First, they have to try forever until they find a girl they can live it up with and her not getting “stubborn” (= i.e. dares decline certain sexual practices or set up boundaries). Best for her to be horny all the time like a bitch in heat, tight, please and of course good looking, otherwise they won’t condescend to abusing her, otherwise she isn’t acceptable, and while outside none of these punters deserve a second glance in here sometimes my tits are too small for them, or my French with rubber isn’t right or the colour of my hair is wrong or whatever. Sometimes I don’t look “German” enough for them.

But when they finally “condescend” – yes, that’s how they feel about it – to fucking me, they want the whole job and bells and whistles, the King’s name is client, and do I ever get to see one like HIM, who truly does it right, “services” me right, but really right? And then I listen to stuff like “I’m really good in bed, right? I should be getting the money here” or “Come on, I don’t look half bad, we can do it for 80 too, right?”

But the most degrading thing remains to have to fake an orgasm for them. Filthy whores, that’s what we are, and we don’t deserve any better, but everybody needs us to shove his damn dick into, and everybody makes money out of us. That’s the peak of capitalism, I think.

And then they want to leave fast, for now they have jerked off, there’s a short whine still “it’s not all easy for us either, to bear this conflict, but what can I do, my wife isn’t really open to this!”, a short wallowing in self-pity, short pretense at remorse, short pat on the bum and “see you soon”. A great spectacle and epic movie. That is the price they pay for their entitlement to the institution of prostitution, and – this needs to be said loudly and clearly: they enjoy paying it, for it is paltry, the only thing more paltry than that is us, the whores.

Enough of this. I could not do another client today, it would hurt too much. To own up to this, to open myself to this, feels lethal. It does free me somehow, but the fear of Monday is back, where I mustn’t be this vulnerable any more, where I must push aside my knowledge that this is abuse, if I don’t want another murder to be perpetrated against my soul.

13 January 2005

„I’m sick and tired of you!“

Originally published by Vulkantänzerin (scroll down)

After having read an interview with prostitution lobbyist Stephanie Klee, she’s had enough. Now, Huschke Mau ,who has exited prostitution, responds to her. “I am one of those ‚voluntary‘ prostitutes so many people talk about”, she writes. “And I am sick and tired of you prostitution proponents!”

Dear Stephanie Klee,

I am referring to the interview the city magazine Zitty Berlin has conducted with you and first of all, I would like to thank you for giving it. I would still be silent would I not have read it. Before I go ahead: I hope you don’t mind me talking to you from colleague to colleague. Because, yes, I too know prostitution well, having spent ten years in it.

You know, I find your statements concerning prostitution fairly remarkable. I am just wondering a bit that you have forgotten to mention certain things – things that seem rather important to me.

For a start, you forgot to ask the fundamental question as to whether there is a real need for prostitution at all. I am glad that at least, you do not use the same old, trite pseudo argument according to which the cases of rape would go through the roof if we didn’t have brothels (which means that men weren’t capable of controlling their impulses and if they didn’t crawl the kerb, they couldn’t stop themselves from raping).

But what does society need prostitution for, Stephanie? What for do we need the fact that men are allowed to buy women (because most prostitutes are female and those who are male serve homosexual buyers). How do you explain this fact and what does it tell you? Apparently, for you, it is no characteristic of a power relation. And there it is already, the first blind spot on your lens.

The only one
living it up in prostitution
is the punter!

You are writing that prostitution was sex. You know, for me, there is at least two persons involved in sex. It is not one person exclusively (!) serving the client’s sexual wishes while having to “remove” her own sexuality and herself, who she is, her personality.

I would like to ask you which sphere of prostitution your are living in if you haven’t noticed that the “varieties” of “sexualities”, i.e. the punters‘ “wishes” are becoming more and more violent and are more and more seeking to humiliate. Why don’t you read the punters‘ websites, dear Stephanie? It is clearly written there that men (punters) experience it as an expression of their own power when they can spit into women’s faces in brothels and “spurt” their sperm into them; if they can test how much the woman can take when it comes to anal intercourse; when they ejaculate on her face and insist on her swallowing their sperm, after they, the punters, have pushed their dick up to her tonsils.

Why don’t you take a look at the language in those punters‘ forums? Look at how they’re enjoying it, how they’re getting a kick from the knowledge that the woman does not like this, but only does it for the money, that she has to do it because she needs the darn dough or because there’s some dork sitting in the next room. How they consciously test out and violate limits and even if they may not fully indulge in their own sadist side, they at least are fully aware of it. In prostitution, it’s not about sex, but about power. Power and nothing else. Don’t pretend women could enjoy themselves in their sexuality there, the only one living it up is the punter who’s desires you satisfy – at your own costs.

And no, Stephanie, the punter does not forget this feeling of power that he’s paid for. He doesn’t forget that women are disposable, that he can take them for himself, that they are there to satisfy his desires, that they remove their sexuality and soul during the act and aren’t allowed to have needs/boundaries/wishes. Oh, no. He takes this feeling equating sex and power for him and carries it away from the brothel and it affects his demeanor with women who aren’t prostituting themselves. Prostitution is violence. A men-satisfying machine.

Don’t pretend you’ve never experience the punters‘ violence, and don’t tell me the fairy tale of the kind and gentle client who only wants some cuddles and always respects your limits. Germany has legalised prostitution and what has it led to? To even more prostitution and, most of all: to a more and more extreme demand. By this, I don’t only mean that there’s more and more punters, because men learn that it’s okay to buy women. (Yes, I already her the pseudo argument according to which the punter wasn’t buying the women, but a “service”, what nonsense! Can you separate your pussy, your ass, your breasts, your mouth and what you do with them from yourself? It’s always the whole person being touched.)

You do NOT speak for me, nor for any prostitute that I know!

Just take a look at what punters want: kissing, everything without a condom, anal intercourse (without a condom as well), French complete (meaning, swallowing sperm), tongue anal, fist fuck, ejaculating in the face, they want gang-bang and rape-parties, they want younger and younger girls, they want girls “with no taboos” who are conditioned to do EVERYTHING the punter wants. They want flatrate-fucking, as many girls/women as possible, all included in the club’s entry fee.

How do you explain this to yourself? It is clear that with its legalisation, prostitution has shown its true essence: violence. Complete disposability of women’s bodies. The unbridled acting out of male violence. And also: sexualised torture.

Because, dear Stephanie, if you took a look around the punters‘ forums, you would see that punters are misogynists. That they love to torment women, to go to the limits of what’s bearable for them. And there’s something else: punters want forced prostitutes. Because they can be sure that they (have to) accept practices that every “decent”, old-established German prostitute would reject. That is what punters want.

How do you manage overlooking the fact that by now, there are several big brothels in every city and that almost all of the women working there barely speak any German or very little, their “protectors” bringing them there in the morning and picking them up in the evening, women who offer practices that hurt and put their health at risk? Do they enjoy that, or what? All masochists? And you write that for these women (from Romania, from Bulgaria) prostitution was a great alternative? You think that prostitution is a great alternative to poverty?

You talk about prostitution as if it were something worth striving for, something that’s supposed to be great for women and girls. Why do you not mention the reasons driving women into prostitution? And I’m even leaving forced prostitution out of the equation here. By the way, what does coercion mean for you? Having to opt for prostitution out of a place of poverty and lacking perspectives? That is not coercion for you, but a great opportunity? Even the women who enter “out of their free will” are subjected to coercion in this business.

For example, when the room rent is so high that they have to accept a punter even if they don’t want to, because if they don’t, they are covered in debt they owe to the “landlord”. When they don’t dare to reject a punter or they will again get in trouble with the “guards” or the “brothel owner” who doesn’t like it when his girls have a reputation of “being difficult”.

You almost present things as if women wanted to live it up in this business. Dear Stephanie, I am one of those “voluntary” prostitutes so many people talk about. I have started at age 18, after having been battered and sexually abused by my stepfather for 17 years and after having run away from home. I thought this was the only thing I was able to do, that I was only good for fucking. And anyway, if this is the only thing I am good for, then this is my life insurance allowing me to survive.

At the beginning, I thought I had power. Well look, they’re even paying for you. I have regulated the access to my own body through prostitution. This is what I learned: anybody can jump on your bones anyway. And then, I was allowed to filter: nope, not anybody any longer, only those who can afford it.

I am not the only one in this. I have not witnessed one single prostitute who wouldn’t have been sexually abused/raped or experienced some other form of sexualised violence as a child or as an adult. I would even venture to say that the reason why our society doesn’t consistently shut down the mass abuse of young girls is that it serves it. Abuse is like breaking in a horse at an early age. Which comes in useful as with abuse, women/girls learn to dissociate, to remove themselves during the act. To not being there (and this is exactly what the punter pays for – for the women’s will not being there in that moment, because he has paid it away).

The link between sexual abuse and prostitution has long been proven and documented: at least 60 percent of all female prostitutes have been sexually abused in their childhood (with other statistics stating 90 percent). The only thing these women are living out, Stephanie, is the re-enactment of their traumas which they hope being able to process, but of course cannot. And with all of that in mind, you don’t want any support out of prostitution, but into it, right?

Don’t pretend you’ve never experience the punters‘ violence!

There’s women living in prostitution who are traumatised and prostitution traumatises them further. Or how, dear Stephanie, do you explain that there are tons of prostitutes (including myself) suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (studies show at least 60 percent with fully developed PTSD)?

You talk about prostitution putting prostitutes in high spirits, that they were happy from making the client happy and having money in their pockets. But what does “making the client happy” even mean? It only means that I have successfully turned violent against myself (by removing myself, my disgust, my revulsion and will) so that the client could turn violent against me by using me for his desires. And so this is what makes prostitutes happy, right? Does it make you happy to dissociate and to not be there?

You are saying that the prostitute’s traumatisation only starts when she steps out of the brothel’s door and that this traumatisation was based on society discriminating her. Relating to this, I would like to tell you something, you who thinks that there should be support programs for entering instead of exiting.

I am one of those having prostituted themselves when prostitution wasn’t offending against good morals any longer for a long time in Germany. Should I tell you what this has been leading to? Just like the majority of all prostitutes, I have not registered as such because I was afraid that then, I wouldn’t be able to exit. Because I was afraid of being asked why I didn’t want to work as a prostitute any more, when this was a job like any other. And this is exactly what happened when I wanted out. I had been seeking for help at the public health department and only received incomprehension. And didn’t get out.

What was I supposed to tell the employment office when asking for unemployment benefits so that I didn’t have to suck ten dicks a day any longer, so that I could have a place to stay and something to eat? With what, they would ask, had I made a living in those three months past? And if I would have told them, would they have asked me why I didn’t want to continue doing it, there was such a great brothel nearby, they’re still hiring…? Or would I have had to prove that I wasn’t prostituting myself any more? And how would you prove that?

What was I supposed to tell the employment office?

You also forget the use of drugs and alcohol among prostitutes, Stephanie. (Why? If everything’s so great? But apparently, it’s all just a great big party, a debauch, and it’s just part of living it up, hey?) There’s so many things you forget. You forget the forced prostitution, the punters‘ violence, the pimps‘ violence (oh wait, they’re not called pimps any longer, but “partners”, “security guards”, “landlords”). You forget the hatred of women, the self-hatred. You forget that landlords, brothel owners, newspapers (yes, those adds in which prostitutes promote themselves are extremely expensive), the state (taxes), that they’re all profiting. You forget that everyone makes money out of a prostitute and that they use her.

Who gets the least rewards for it? The prostitute. She receives the smallest share of the money, everyone makes money out of her, everyone gets something out of her (sex, money, a satisfied thirst for power), but what does she get? A Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a substance addiction and a whole lot of loneliness and self-loathing. And that’s all due to society’s discrimination, right?

What’s weird is that when I have those flashbacks that I get from the PTSD caused by prostitution, what I see before my mind’s eye are always the images of punters abusing me! Stephanie, why don’t you ask trauma therapists where the PTSD comes from that the prostitutes suffer from who (hopefully!) end up in their practice at some stage?

I’ve had enough of you prostitution proponents with no clue about what prostitution is, you who want to tell me that prostitution is a job like any other. I’m fed up with you, you who try to tell the fairy tale of the oh-so-great voluntary prostitution to everyone. You who have no idea about prostitution and blab something along the lines of “prostitution used to be an expression of power over women, but now, it’s a reversal of the power relations, the prostitute has power over the punter” in your leftist self-conception. I’ve never experienced any power when I lay under some darn punter and I don’t know any woman who’s ever experienced it that way!

You make me want to puke, you who are in prostitution and call yourselves “sex workers”. Because you arrogate the right to speak for us all, for all of us in prostitution, and because you make those who are not in prostitution (women – as men mostly know, such as punters, but they won’t tell you why they really go to brothels, what they’re looking for and what they’re doing there!) believe that it’s all just okay.

It’s NOT okay.

I can’t bear it any longer that you pretend speaking for ALL prostitutes. You’re a minority in prostitution. The reality you’re depicting doesn’t exist that way. You deny victims of violence their being victims, and, what’s more, advising them to be cheerful about it because it’s all so fabulous. You’re silencing the MAJORITY of prostitutes.

The majority that’s still boozing, taking drugs or enacting their abuse again and again, in the treacherous hope this would ease the pain. The majority that, at some stage, adopts the hatred of those committing violence against them, transforming it into self-hatred and “voluntarily” enter this spiral of violence. You spill your sneer over those women wanting to speak up about the violence in prostitution: “Oh well, I’m sorry YOU’ve made bad experiences”, as if the violence wasn’t inherent to the structure of prostitution, but due to the woman’s lacking professionalism, to her damaged personality that makes her unable to support such an amazing experience.

You are liberating nobody with your neoliberal drivel!

You want to speak for everyone? You do NOT speak for me, nor for any other prostitute I know. You profit from the fact that most prostitutes are simply too busy surviving, too traumatised to even talk. I forbid you to speak for all prostitutes, because you silence those who could name this violence, you use their silence and simply don’t mention them, making them victims once again.

When you say “everyone should be allowed to do what they want”, in reality, you only mean that the punters and pimps, those standing behind you, should be allowed to do what they want. Not the prostitutes.

When you say that prostitution should simply be freed from any controls, sanctions etc. and then everything would be super, you’re lying and you pursue a strange theory: If the victims of slavery feel unhappy from being slaves, will it help to legalise slavery so that the slaves won’t be “discriminated by society” any more and can have themselves enslaved even better within the walls of slavery?

Without regards,
Huschke Mau,

Letter to government minister Manuela Schwesig

Translation by Sabina Becker

Dear Madame Minister Schwesig,

I’m writing you today because I can see that the just-unveiled prostitution-law reform proposal has the clear markings of the bordello and pimp lobbies. That’s why I want to ask you to finally confront the reality of the red-light district instead of going on listening to people who keep retelling the fairytale of the self-determined, happy hooker.

I am exited from prostitution, in which I spent ten years. Thus I know well whereof I speak. The reasons for my entry were many: a difficult family origin, in which I was massively and also sexually traumatized by violence against my mother and myself, has had an influence on me, as did the then-widespread fairy tale about the happy prostitute. Also financial need and a lack of social and psychological help played a role.

Yes, if you like, I entered “voluntarily”. I’m one of the oft-cited “voluntary prostitutes”. But what is “voluntary”, Frau Schwesig, when a person traumatized by child abuse comes to this decision? For me, prostitution was a step up, because I had already learned that I, because I was a girl, am so helpless and without rights and am sexually abused. So I could also take money for it right away, and at least secure my own survival.

If you think that I’m a sad isolated case, I must contradict you. In those ten years I met many prostitutes, and there was not a single one among them who was not abused as a child, beaten, or raped as an adult. I have seen a psychic compulsion to keep repeating and repeating the trauma (in prostitution), and self-esteem broken by violence, in so many prostitutes. Of violence in the milieu, of the johns — who do things to us that you don’t even want to think of in your dreams — I don’t even want to start here.

Those are the realities of the milieu, Frau Schwesig, and that’s just the “voluntary” prostitutes. And yes, they too suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, dissociation, drug and alcohol addictions, because they can’t stand it. I really don’t want to talk about the fact that 90 percent of all prostitutes in Germany aren’t even from Germany. Your imagination will suffice to imagine what their life circumstances are.

Last November I wrote an open letter, because I couldn’t stand it anymore that the pro-prostitution lobby tells such fairytales as that of the free, self-determined whore. I’ve linked it for you, in case you’d like to read what it’s really like to prostitute oneself. Why do you hear that so rarely? First off, because the pro-prostitution lobby intimidates us (ever since that letter, I get really nasty e-mails, full of spite and threats), and secondly, because we exited women are too traumatized to speak.

Even non-prostituted women are affected by prostitution, because the johns are their men, and they take what they’ve learned in the brothels — namely, to despise women, to buy them, to torture them — back home to the bedrooms of their own women. Society gets brutalized, Frau Schwesig. It is an endless loop: When prostitution is legalized, the demand grows, because men learn that it’s all right to buy women’s bodies, overstep boundaries, abuse power. Availability grows, which means there is also more forced prostitution. This, again, increases the acceptance of prostitution in society, then demand grows, and so on.

90 percent of all German men have already been in a bordello. Every third one does it regularly. Do you know what goes through their heads, Frau Schwesig? I know, because I lived through it in the whorehouse. The same men, who shake your hands in a friendly way today, will spit in a prostitute’s face tomorrow during the act, get off on her gagging when she has to swallow sperm, and learn to enjoy women’s suffering. Would you like to live in such a society? That can’t be your vision!

There will never be a sexually equal society as long as men buy women and can abuse them. And there is also no “clean” prostitution!

That’s why I’m urging you not to listen to only those in favor of prostitution, who are incidentally mostly being guided by bordello owners. Go a little further into the swamp, and you’ll land among human traffickers and organized criminals. Listen to trauma therapists and exited women, too. The prostitution lobby does NOT speak for us prostitutes and ex-prostitutes! It doesn’t consist of even 100 people, who do not represent us, the 300,000 prostitutes in Germany, but intimidate us and work against our interests!

We don’t want to do this job. We don’t need legalization! We don’t need anyone who claims that we don’t want registration, mandatory condom use, etc.! Yes, we do want those things! And we would like more than anything not to have to do this job anymore. And that the men who abuse(d) us should be punished. We need alternatives, not more entanglement in the destructive, inhumane powers of the milieu!

Dear Frau Schwesig, it’s not so long ago that I left prostitution: three years. I had my first john at 18. Do you know what I would have needed most in the ten years that I was in prostitution, in which I was beaten, raped, retraumatized, despised, dehumanized and sick in body and soul? Help and a sensitized society that don’t expect me to want to “live it up” and even enjoy being abused.

I don’t know any prostitute who does it willingly. I don’t know any ex-prostitute who doesn’t have post-traumatic stress disorder. All the women I know have been wrecked in prostitution.

Please ban this inhuman, undignified prostitution. And if that’s not possible for you, then please rein it in as much as you can. Many thanks for reading my letter.

Huschke Mau.

The Left’s Love of prostitution

English translation by Survivor Megaphone

Open letter to Left Youth Solid, an official youth organization of the German party The Left, regarding the position paper “Solidarity with Sex Workers – No to the new prostitute protection act – No to paternalism and other-directedness in the sexual service industry” (“Solidarität mit Sexarbeiter*innen – Nein zum neuen Prostituiertenschutzgesetz – Nein zu Bevormundung und Fremdbestimmung im sexuellen Dienstleistungsgewerbe”).

Dear People of Left Youth Solid,

I want to make it clear that I am addressing those of you who voted for the proposal “Solidarity with Sex Workers – No to the new prostitute protection act – No to paternalism and other-directedness in the sexual service industry” [1] at Left Youth Solid’s federal meeting on April 8/9, 2016. I am assuming that this doesn’t mean all of you, so there is hope yet.

I am a former—as you call it—“sex worker”, I have read your proposal, and I would like to tell you just what I think of the “solidarity” you offer in this document.

First of all, it’s great that you signed it as the Left Youth. Because when I read the phrase “sexual service industry”, I was sure for a second that the [German economic liberalist party] FDP had risen from the dead.

But I did truly appreciate that you’re against “other-directedness.” Unfortunately, while reading the proposal, I had to discover that you haven’t understood that the “other” that is “directing” those in prostitution is the john, meaning that this quality is INHERENT TO THE SYSTEM—he wants sex, I don’t actually want it, I just need the money, and thus I consent to this other-directedness under coercion. Simple as that.

You write:

Even though sex work has long been established as a commercial service in our society and has been considered legal in the Federal Republic of Germany since 2002, sex workers are still severely stigmatized in their private and professional lives.

I’m simply baffled that you describe the act of prostitution as a “profession” and a “service.” Sexuality is the most intimate sphere of human life. Do we get to keep that at least, pretty please, or do we have to let every single part of ourselves be completely commodified and capitalized upon? Since when has the Left been the champion of the sale of all human desire? You call sex a service, as if it were possible to separate it from the Self, the Body, the Person; as if you could simply peel it away, place it in a nice little box on the shop counter, and then some fellow shows up, hands me 50 euros and walks out with the sex. Is that how you picture it, yeah? You even speak of “poor working conditions”—do you actually believe that the abuse we have suffered and so many of us still suffer is somehow ameliorated if we’re given a nice “workplace”, as you call it? “Working conditions”? What are you even talking about? Under which conditions is the abuse that johns inflict on us acceptable to you, pray tell? Or do you simply not see it as abuse, ignoring what exited persons and trauma researchers are telling you? Sixty-eight percent of all prostituted people have post-traumatic stress disorder [2], and that’s not counting depression, addiction, borderline disorders and psychoses. Do you think these things are a result of “poor working conditions”? Every exited woman I know describes what she experienced in prostitution as sexual abuse. Our having tolerated sexual abuse or having been forced to do so does not turn it into a profession!

And then you keep going on about the stigma, saying we mustn’t be stigmatized. I agree with you on this, but I have to stress that it’s not the stigma that’s raping, abusing, and killing us. It’s the johns. Sadly you draw the wrong conclusions from the demand that prostituted persons mustn’t be stigmatized.

You write:

This [stigma] is expressed in a lack of recognition of their profession.

To be clear, what you demand is basically for the abuse of prostituted women to become normal. You want it to become a job. You want the abuse to become ACCEPTABLE. In short, you’re fighting for women’s right to call the suffering of sexual abuse a job. Or better: You’re fighting for men’s right to abuse women and minimize that abuse by calling it “work.”

Another thing I don’t get is all your talk about “self-determined sex work.” All prostituted women I know “chose” prostitution because they didn’t see any other option. How do you interpret that as self-determination? Is it because I can choose WITHIN PROSTITUTION, between only doing blowjobs with a condom and losing my income because of all the “self-determined” women from Southern Europe, and just putting every dick into my mouth without any barrier whatsoever, ‘cause that’s the standard? Some self-determination!

Our problem isn’t “lack of recognition of the profession”, our problem IS the “profession”! Nine out of ten prostitutes would exit immediately if they could [3]. Why on earth are you blathering about recognition of the profession?!

Your whole pamphlet sounds as if it were written by the pro-prostitution lobby, and this actually appears to be the case. You refer to BesD [Berufsverband erotische und sexuelle Dienstleistungen e.V.; “Professional association for erotic and sexual services”] as “organized sex workers”—you do realize that they only represent 0.01% of the prostituted in Germany? What kind of organization for the prostituted is this if it includes brothel owners? The exploiters start a “union” to represent the workers? That’s the strangest union I’ve ever heard of. Who did you in fact consult? Apart from brothel owners like Fricke and escort agency owners like Klee? [4] Based on whose information do you actually take your decisions? If you do something on racism next, will you consult neo-Nazis?

The next paragraph makes me doubt that you possess any ability to reflect on this or any other issue. You write:

In addition to these legal setbacks, there is a great deal of victimization and paternalism towards sex workers even within the social left.

I wonder who’s victimizing prostituted women—the johns abusing us or those who name it as abuse? If you want to prevent us from becoming victims, abolish john-dom! Or do you perhaps merely want people to stop SAYING that harm is being done to us within and through prostitution? If this is the case, please just say that and stop pretending that people who recognize prostitution as inhumane are somehow victimizing us—THEY are not the ones doing that.

Then you write:

Thus parts of the left have repeatedly pushed for a ‘full ban on prostitution’ or the supposedly progressive ‘Swedish Model’, claiming that sex work/prostitution is the ultimate expression of patriarchy.

Let me get this straight: This sounds like you don’t think prostitution is an expression of patriarchy. If it’s not that, what is it, then? Why are 98% of all individuals in prostitution female and johns almost 100% male? Now don’t say it’s because we live in patriarchy.

Then:

Yes, sex work currently takes place under the circumstances of patriarchy, meaning that the question of voluntariness is unfortunately always difficult to answer.

So prostitution takes place outside of patriarchy too? Seriously? And which conclusions do you draw from it being difficult to answer the “question of voluntariness”?

Then:

It is predominantly women who work in this profession, while it is mainly men who buy the services of sex workers.

It’s just great how you take the perpetrators’ side and trivialize sexual violence.

Then:

However, the feminist response cannot be to take a paternalistic approach and try to tell sex workers what a decent life should look like.

I’m dying to find out where you get this from. People who see prostitution as destructive and inhumane aren’t being paternalistic, they’re expressing solidarity with us. And that’s exactly where you could do with a little practice. You need to stop flogging that stupid notion that every person who recognizes prostitution as harmful is some kind of conservative moralist trying to lecture “fallen women” [5]. Acknowledging the suffering and misery of prostitution and stating that it is violent doesn’t constitute lecturing; it means SEEING the real conditions that prostituted people live in and thus showing respect and care to those who suffer within and because of prostitution.

Then:

Both the Swedish Model and a full ban would endanger the agency and protection of sex workers even more dramatically than existing laws. These stricter laws would change nothing about the existence of patriarchy with its specific roles and its social power differential between women and men.

Why would this not change anything? Prostitution is one of patriarchy’s main pillars, just like all sexual violence is. Why wouldn’t it change anything to ban it? Why is prostitution the only sphere of life where laws suddenly have no impact whatsoever? Does prostitution take place in outer space or something? You could just as well say that rape should not be prohibited by law because it doesn’t do anything to change patriarchal roles and the social power differential! Are you saying you just want to leave everything as is? Sexual violence, patriarchal structures—this is what you’re going with? Does the Left not have a vision anymore? Or is it only out of visions when it comes to prostituted women?

Yes, I accuse you of meaning well. But if you advocate for decriminalization of prostitution on the john’s side (I believe we all agree that it should not be criminalized on the prostituted person’s side), then this is equivalent to saying: “Women affected by partner violence are stigmatized. In order to get rid of this stigma, we will decriminalize domestic violence on the perpetrator’s side. This way, the woman will no longer have anything to be ashamed of.” Is any of this getting through to you?

What your pamphlet doesn’t mention at all is the john—as usual.

Just do me a favor and read a few random posts on johns’ message boards, and then tell me how on earth you can support the legalization of something like that. How you can support men doing such things to women. I cannot wait to hear your arguments.

Then:

Those who want to illegalize self-determined sex workers criminalize the entire industry and force it underground, where no protection whatsoever may be provided. In order to be better protected, sex workers require more self-determination and the social and legal recognition of their profession. Only in this way and recognized as workers can they publicly organize as part of the working class and advocate for their own interests, better working conditions and social security. A ban on sex work or the criminalization of johns (as in Sweden) would only cause sex work to become invisible and less safe.

And then there’s the fairy tale of the underground. Please read some texts explaining the Swedish Model [6], which criminalizes the john and decriminalizes the prostituted. And read evaluations of this law where it has been applied, e.g. Norway. No, prostitution is not a clearly defined entity. Yes, it can be reduced. No, the Swedish Model does not shift it underground. Yes, it changes a society’s views on women when one sex can no longer buy the other. No, we do not need “recognition as a profession”, we need for prostitution to be recognized as ABUSE. And NO, we are not part of the working class, we are first and foremost people harmed by sexual abuse through prostitution! We do NOT organize as part of the working class, but in victims’ associations (e.g. sisters e.V., SPACE International [7]—which you refuse to listen to, though. We don’t need you to organize us or talk about us; we organize ourselves, thank you very much.

Then:

Those who truly advocate for an emancipated society must also advocate for physical and sexual self-determination.

Prostitution is the exact opposite of sexual self-determination. One party wants sex, the other doesn’t. Money is supposed to bridge that gap. Prostitution has NOTHING to do with physical and sexual self-determination because everything I do, the john decides—thus it is other-directed. I am so incredibly fed up of all your talk of sexual liberation when you mention prostitution as a path to that liberation in the same breath. Don’t drag us into it; we will not be instrumentalized in this way! Do your own sexual liberation, but you will not be permitted to use and gloss over our abuse to get there.

Furthermore I would like you to do a little bit of research; you will quickly discover that forced prostitution and prostitution cannot be seen separately, as you prefer. For one, the lines between the two are blurred, and secondly there will never be enough women who do this “voluntarily”; a large percentage will always have to be forced to meet the demand. This means that you cannot want prostitution without agreeing with forced prostitution; one does not exist without the other [8]. And by the way, if you support the full decriminalization and legalization of prostitution, you support the market being the sole regulating force, which means: the demand grows, the supply grows, the demand grows more because men see it as perfectly normal to be a john, the supply keeps growing, and so on. It’s an upward spiral. Have you ever actually read anything about the basic mechanisms of capitalism, seeing as you’re so eager to see capitalist value extracted from women as goods?

Then:

Asylum law must also be reformed so that migrant forced prostitutes no longer face the threat of deportation but instead receive residence and work permits. However, our intention behind this decision is to place the focus on those sex workers who are currently restricted in their physical self-determination, their health and their rights in their professional life as sex workers—on those who made the conscious and self-determined choice to provide sexual and erotic services.

Oh, and how many is that? One in ten at the very most. And that’s who you want to go by when determining things that affect the situation of ALL prostituted women in Germany? Do you not care about the rest or what? Who at BesD, that organization of brothel owners, did you listen to? You certainly didn’t listen to the 90 percent in this country who are migrant women, because they’re not part of that organization. And you’re actually happy to collude with this racist bullshit! The majority out there are NOT the brothel owners, high-class escorts, dominatrixes—the majority doesn’t even speak German! How ignorant can you get? Prostitution is classist and racist, or why do you think there are so many indigenous women in prostitution in other countries, and so many Romani women in Germany? How do you explain that?

And then you go and post stuff about anti-racist demonstrations on Facebook? You really make me laugh.

Then:

Thus it is our view that feminism that is serious about its concern for women’s self-determination and sexual self-determination must also fight for the rights and demands of sex workers’ associations. The Bremen regional association of Left Youth Solid stands for such a feminism and will advocate for the legal empowerment of sex workers and show solidarity in their struggles.

You are most certainly not showing solidarity to us in our struggles by labeling sexual violence a profession [9], ignoring the majority of us, and calling prostitution sexual and physical self-determination!

What the hell are you even talking about? You need to find your way back to reality. And if you can’t show us solidarity because you’re too busy listening to brothel owners, at least leave us in peace and don’t presume to speak for us! You have never had to bend over; you aren’t in prostitution—a privilege, as I’d like to remind you—and then you sit there in your Bremen regional association and at the federal meeting and blather about recognition as a profession? Get a grip.

At least once a week here at Sisters e.V., we are visited by a woman who is already exited (not to mention those who contact us because they still want out!) and who tells us she’s taken this long to break her silence because society only ever tells her it’s a PROFESSION and it’s WORK and it’s a JOB; it’s all happy, joyful sex work—and so all the injuries she suffered in prostitution indicate that there must be something wrong with HER. And this is precisely the political climate people like YOU create. All your talk is causing exited women to remain silent. I too was speechless for years because of texts like yours—because as a prostitute reading something like that, you don’t even know where to START.

Prostitution is sexist, racist and classist, and then you come along, having listened to owners of brothels and escort agencies, and want to tell us about sexual liberation? And you call that leftist? You can’t be serious. Never, ever can it be about getting as comfortable as possible within a sexist, classist and racist system such as prostitution. Who is it you expect to put up with this? Such a system must be ABOLISHED. You need to understand that supporting women in prostitution is NOT the same as supporting the system of prostitution! This system must be overcome and not further established and “recognized as a profession!” The only praiseworthy thing about your document is how exceedingly well you’ve copied and pasted from the pimp lobby—well done, indeed.

Seriously, is this what your solidarity looks like? Shame on you, and no thanks!

Huschke Mau (@huschkemau)

Signed also on behalf of the exited women of Sisters e.V.

Annalena, exited woman
Sonja, exited woman
Sandra, exited woman
Sunna, exited woman
NaDia, exited woman
Andra, exited woman
Esther Martina, exited woman
Eva, exited woman