Anti-sex trade activists disagree with Samantha X that the work can be empowering.
AT RHIANNON’S lowest point, she agreed to sex for money with a man who found her drunk, high on prescription drugs and crying on the street outside the strip club where she worked.
Back at his home, she cut her wrists in his bathroom and stuck toilet paper on them.
“The man felt it was worth paying $100 to have sex with a woman who had a tearstained face and bleeding wrists, ” she said.
“I insisted on clutching the cash while he used me.”
She told him she was going to kill herself and he should call an ambulance. He shrugged, so she went outside and did it herself, staring at Brisbane’s Story Bridge and thinking that if it didn’t arrive in 10 minutes, she would jump off.
It was the start of her journey out of the sex industry.
PROFESSION OR ABUSE?
Her story is just one of the graphic first-person testimonies in Prostitution Narratives: Stories of Survival in the Sex Trade, a shocking book that will be launched at an anti-sex trade conference at RMIT University in Melbourne this weekend.
Former prostitutes and other women across Australia are coming together to talk about the “oldest profession in the world” in a different way. They don’t use the words escort, call girl or sex worker, because they say these legitimise men paying women for sex as a service or a career. Instead, they call it abuse.
Last weekend, prominent high-class call girl Samantha X gave a talk in Sydney to around 50 female fans. She spoke about her choice to leave journalism for highly lucrative sex work at 37, having quick sex and long chats with three men a day in hotels, and the safety of working for a reputable agency like hers, which screens its clients.
Many agree with her. But a growing group of survivors and abolitionists say they are disturbed at pro-sex trade lobbyists painting the industry as a profession, chosen by autonomous women because it makes them feel empowered.
Moira Geddes discusses the facts with Karen Willis, Executive Officer Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia.
Simone Watson says selling her body in her 20s left her with PTSD.Source:Supplied
“I was groomed very young by society, a neoliberal culture, ” former prostitute Simone Watson, from Western Australia, told news.com.au. “I came from a pretty lovely family. I called myself a feminist.
“I was about 23 and I needed money. I’d had sex with people I didn’t like very much before, why not get paid for it?
“Like the women around me, I took different kinds of medication. Then they can do whatever they want with you. You need to disassociate and leave your body. I used diazopenes. You couldn’t drink on the premises but I made up for it at home.
“I was in the higher end of prostitution, massage parlours and illegal brothels, as well as some street prostitution. People say [street prostitution] is dangerous, but women in brothels have about the same amount of time to gauge if a man is going to be violent — and you get to keep all the money.”
Simone, 48, is now national director for the Nordic Model Australia Commission. The model, which has been successful in Sweden and was introduced in France this week, sees prostitutes decriminalised and those who pay for sex criminalised.
“What can police do is sexual harassment is part of your working conditions? You can report rape, but it’s already a form of rape, ” said Simone. “You get lonely johns, aggressive johns, creepy old men, mundane middle-aged men and uni students who are incredibly rude.
“It’s all on the paradigm of male violence against women. It isn’t a job like any other. Men who buy women for sex have no respect for women.”