Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Is the Prostitute a Victim? Or Are You Victims of Yourselves?
The essay below is by Lynne Tansey, a dominatrix and writer in the U.K.
For some inexplicable reason, I have never accepted the fact that I am a victim. In spite of the fact that society says I am one. In spite of the fact that my contemporaries say I am one. Even in spite of the fact that colleagues and people who love and know me say I am one. I have never felt that within me.
I am not a fool with delusions about myself. I listen, read and absorb others’ ideas and views about life, whether it be philosophy, science, religion or politics. Yet throughout all these journeys of ideas and ideals, I’ve found only a shadow that might indicate who I truly am as a prostitute, or where my place is in the vastness of others’ reality. Social and humanitarian studies show me the history of prostitution from a very distanced prospective. Philosophy is only the musing of limited ideas and beliefs around the sexual personae. Religion just makes me feel like a pariah; unless I “reform” I can never be accepted nor respected. Politics makes me feel like a criminal carbuncle on the face of humanity.
All these perspectives only serve to make me feel like I have fallen into the cracks between various ideologies. I am isolated in a world of limited imagination. In society as a whole, isn’t it understood that to have family, friends and various other relationships is a healthy communal thing to do? Anybody denying themselves these relationships would be viewed with suspicion. Yet because I am a prostitute, society itself denies me free access to what others take for granted. If I have a boyfriend or husband, he is in danger of being branded a pimp. If my family accepts my profession, they are seen to wear the same label and face the same prejudices as myself. Any sons or daughters face the same disgrace. My friends are limited to others who share the same line of work. My occupation begins to feel like a contagious disease. My intelligence and wisdom are kept from others and my seclusion is complete.
I feel that I am the very symbol of humanity’s fear of its own sexual dysfunctions. Sexual dysfunction is the only way I can honestly describe a society that has such a lack of self-awareness about sexual behaviors. For instance, pedophilia and all forms of sexual offending are of significant concern to all societies, and yet we still repress the views of women who sit in the closest position to these offenders. Thus the reasons why human beings can hurt or kill on a sexual level are lost. Only those who hypothesize on academic or medical levels are taken seriously. These “experts”, valuable as they may be, are formed by the rules set out by other academics. There was never any alliance during the forming of these “ideals” with those of us who actually deal on a daily basis with sex and sexuality.
Jews have been stigmatized by society for thousands of years for the actions of a few witnessed by a few. Cataclysmic effects followed the Jewish tribes for generations as a result of ignorance and hate. The brand upon prostitutes has been as profound. We have just begun to realize the mistakes humanity has made in the past. No longer satisfied with the rigid rules of past generations, society has had to take another look at the way we perceive life and our duties to that life. This is why so many have broken away from the religions that our fore-parents held so dear. They may have been fine for those times, but knowledge, wisdom and love are energies that flow and bend with the rhythms of life and nature. The experiences of past creations should not be left on mankind’s dusty shelves, but they should move forward, blending with the continuing involvement of humankind in its entirety. Would you try to be a painter never having red in your palette? For myself as a prostitute, I will never cease trying to get this point across.
I hope within my lifetime to see the first prostitute take a stand for the profession, to be able to sit down with the academics, the politicians and religious leaders. To discuss together, in a respectful way, the subject of sex. Not until then can I see a real chance of change for humanity. We already have in place the beginnings of metamorphosis. People who would at one time have been imprisoned for their sexual beliefs are now in positions of power. The impatience I feel as a prostitute is the fact that those very people are not doing more for the rights of prostitutes. Not giving them the platform to be listened to with appreciation. My hope and appeal is that the metamorphosis will occur soon.
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
A Sickness of Words
Sometimes words just don’t do it. Don’t do anything. They flush themselves down the toilet, spit at fountains, glide glibly among cities of rollerblades. Why even have a voice? How many words do you think we toss out in a lifetime? And out of all of them, how many of them do anything meaningful?
It’s been striking me lately how much we’re encompassed by lies. We don’t even notice them anymore. We take it for granted that people will lie when we ask them how they are. We certainly all expect lies from politicians and sometimes even give them excuses for those lies. When we turn on the radio or TV, we judge the ads for the creativity of the lies. Lies are what it’s all about, we understand that. And we lie to ourselves about ourselves and the world through sitcoms or movies: This is what Real life is like. And of course lies creep into the most intimate of relationships and into mirrors as well.
I’m lying now by omission maybe, straining out the truths I know it wouldn’t be socially appropriate to utter. Like that I think I’ve used words like crutches, and maybe I’d like to just throw them all away finally, to see if I walk or fall. I once heard—though I never could confirm it—that one of my great-grandmothers suddenly turned silent, simply stopped speaking. What would cause a person to do something like that? A turning away from lies? A turning inward? A sickness of words? I actually don’t even think that story is true.
This began because I couldn’t write, didn’t want to write, felt like a lie. And words won’t get me out of that.
Thursday, November 04, 2004
Elephant in the House
Do you know that old metaphor about a family with an alcoholic and everyone in denial about it? The metaphor is that there’s an elephant in the living room that everyone just steps around and ignores. Well, we are a nation with a huge elephant in our midst taking messy dumps right on us. Some of us try to point out the elephant’s presence but others point at us instead and say, “What? Are you crazy? There’s no elephant here.”
There’s no doubt about it. In many ways, denial is easier. We don’t have to wake up and smell the shit every day. We don’t have to constantly fight off the hypnotic forces of the sleepers. We can cast off the weight of responsibility for anything besides our own personal lives. It’s understandable that some people prefer to ignore reality. Reality can be pretty horrendous.
We’ve all got to find our own balances as far as these things go. But please, no matter what political decisions you may make in your own life, know that realism and idealism—acknowledging the elephant’s presence and knowing there can be life without that elephant in our living rooms—are not crazy. As out of step as we may be with the larger masses, we’re not the crazy ones. And let’s not go back into denial.