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!“

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. Netzwerk Ella, 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.

In our activism group, 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.

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