2013, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
Before we can expect social change, prostitution must be recognised for the abuse that it is. -Rachel Moran
Julia recommended this book to my mother who wanted to learn more about prostitution because Julia is studying law in order to help fight against human sex trafficking. Mom lent it to me.
Moran tells of her experience growing up in a dysfunctional family which resulted in her placement in foster care and eventually to selling herself at the age of 14 on the streets of Dublin. For over seven years she worked as a street prostitute but also in brothels and for independent clients where she says, contrary to popular belief, she felt even less safe than on the streets. She eventually got out of prostitution and is now actively fighting against it.
Moran defines prostitution as the commercialization of sexual abuse:
The commercialisation of sexual abuse has created an arena within which this abuse can rage unhindered, precisely because it is unacknowledged and for the very reason that it is unnamed. This book strives to call attention to its true nature, and to assign it its true name. 115
She argues against prostitution myths:
MYTH: Prostituted people have personal control.
…there is no personal control in prostitution, but there is a very great need to believe so, and there is a very great number of women who adhere stringently to that belief. Their delusions are utterly understandable to me…since I once adhered to them so ardently myself. 134
The belief that prostitutes are in control has no basis in reality, but it has two practicable functions, related but distinct: to sanitise and excuse the economic and sexual abuse of women by men, and to obscure the core of prostitution’s true nature: the commercialisation of sexual abuse. 171
MYTH: Prostitution represents sexual liberation.
Prositution and sexual liberation have got nothing to do with each other, they’re exactly the opposite. 152
The only thing prostitution ever liberated me from was homelessness. 152
Nobody—not myself, not the other women—enjoys being pawed, poked, prodded and f**cked by men we wouldn’t give the time of day if we met them elsewhere. – Peggy Morgan, former erotic dancer, Living on the Edge
MYTH: Prostitution is necessary.
Countries with male-majority governments are implementing the legalisation of prostitution with frightening rapidity throughout the Western world. Where is the female revolt towards all this? There is no widespread female revolt because female sexuality has so long been viewed as a commodity that women have begun to believe in the necessity of a separate class of women to provide it. 183
When women tolerate prostitution they are actually tolerating the dehumanisation of their own gender in a broader and more encompassing sense. 183
There is no doubting the intensity of the sexual thrill men derive from the elevation of their power status in prostitution, although the majority of them will deny it. 173
…when two people engage in the sex-for-money exchange…they largely ignore each other’s humanity and put their own considerations in priority above that…As a species, the urge to violate is strong within us. It is up to us to be stronger than it is. 201
MYTH: Legalisation and decriminalisation will help.
To be prostituted is humiliating enough; to legalise prostitution is to condone that humiliation, and to absolve those who inflict it. It is an agonising insult. 221
Decriminalization of prostitution in The Netherlands and other countries, expected to decrease prostitution, has instead increased the trade, and facilitated more illegal human sex trafficking.
REALITY: Prostitution Legislation
After Rachel Moran left prostitution, she began fighting for Ireland to implement legislation known as the Nordic Model, first introduced in Sweden in 1999 as the Law That Prohibits the Purchase of Sexual Services. This legislation criminalizes the purchase of services from prostitutes, while decriminalizing the selling of services by the prostitutes themselves who are considered victims, and increasing the availability of training and education to help them find other means of employment.
After several years of public debate initiated by the Swedish women’s movement, the Law That Prohibits the Purchase of Sexual Services came into force on January 1, 1999. The Law is the first attempt by a country to address the root cause of prostitution and trafficking in beings: the demand, the men who assume the right to purchase persons for prostitution purposes. This ground breaking law is a cornerstone of Swedish efforts to create a contemporary, democratic society where women and girls can live lives free of all forms of male violence. In combination with public education, awareness-raising campaigns, and victim support, the Law and other legislation establish a zero tolerance policy for prostitution and trafficking in human beings. When the buyers risk punishment, the number of men who buy prostituted persons decreases, and the local prostitution markets become less lucrative. Traffickers will then choose other and more profitable destinations.
-Gunilla Ekberg, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1077801204268647
In 2014 Ireland decided to implement the Nordic model.
I hope I live to see government-funded prostitution alternatives programmes every bit as accessible to women as prostitution is, because only in a world like that would women and girls like my teenage self experience some of the ‘choice’ the world keeps telling us about. -Rachel Moran
Rachel Moran continues to fight against the legalization of prostitution through speaking engagements and her international organization SPACE (Survivors of Prostitiution-abuse calling for enlightenment). Membership is restricted to formerly prostituted women. firstname.lastname@example.org, www.spaceintl.org
Click here for an article from The Irish Times about Rachel Moran's fight.
Also read: Any Girl by Mia Döring, referenced here.