"They were privileged. They were educated, only to second level usually but even so, I am talking about well-to-do fee-paying private schools. They seemed to have had other viable choices open to them; they could have gone to university, they could have gone to work in daddy's business, but yet here they were in this awful place doing something they clearly hated and that obviously made them miserable." Chapter 10 page 96.Moran wrote in the same chapter that she knew one woman who managed to save ten thousand pounds. This woman would have been even better off if she hadn't spent so much money on overheads - rent, advertising, mobile phone, taxis, clothes and shoes. Moran criticised her for this: "The whole idea was supposed to be about making a half-decent living, I'd say to her, for God's sake" page 92.
The ex-preacher Gavin Shuker (now an MP but not for much longer I hope) said this in a debate about prostitution in the House of Commons: "There is undoubtedly a huge supply of money, estimated by some to be £5 billion or £6 billion of our economy, but that money is not finding its way into the pockets of women who are exploited through this trade; it ends up in the pockets of pimps, exploiters and those who benefit from trafficking."
In the debate Moran's book was mentioned three times. It's almost as if they haven't read it. She wrote that the reason she and others became prostitutes was 'the opportunity to put roofs over our heads and food in our mouths' page 73. She didn't hand over her money to 'pimps, exploiters and those who benefit from trafficking'. So her experiences contradict what Shuker and other abolitionists say.
This leads us on to the question of is it a good idea to remove the opportunity for women to put roofs over their heads and food in their mouths. This is a question that has been answered by Molly Smith and Juno Mac in their excellent book 'Revolting Prostitutes'. On page 150 they write this:-
"One anti-prostitution organization, the Women's Support Project, write in support of the Nordic model: 'If men were not prepared to buy sex, then prostitution would not work as a survival behaviour.' When you enact a policy that makes a survival strategy 'not work' any more, some of the people using it to attempt to survive may no longer survive."I don't believe that all women who become prostitutes do so because they would otherwise be homeless or starve. Many will survive by low-paid work and then they turn to prostitution when they want something better than survival. We can all agree that there should be social security so that nobody remains homeless or hungry.
Another important question that Molly Smith and Juno Mac answer in their book is about how some laws can make prostitution more dangerous for women. It is important for sex workers to be able to screen potential clients. Street sex workers could do this but the 1993 law in Ireland and the 1999 law in Sweden made this much more difficult. On page 144 they write this:-
"Everywhere in the world, regardless of the legal model, street-based sex workers use a familiar range of safety strategies. For example, they might work together with a couple of friends, they might take time to assess a client before getting into his car, and they might have a friend write down his car's number plate to signal to him that someone will know who she's with."A woman who is was a street-based sex worker (as Moran was) either had to give up working on the street and work indoors (as Moran mostly did) or continue under more difficult circumstances. In either case she can no longer screen her clients in the way she used to. Moran said this was a big problem with the 1993 Irish law. Smith and Mac say this was a big problem with the 1999 Swedish law. Yet Moran and others successfully campaigned for the Swedish law to be enacted in Ireland. This happened in 2017, and according to newspaper reports it seems to have been a complete disaster.
A major theme of this book is trauma. She writes that she was traumatised by having to have sex for money. People don't usually do things that traumatise them a second time. You might think that she was forced to do it because she had no other way of making money. However, she seemed to have quite a few different ways of making money. I'm not talking about her early attempts at erotic dancing and erotic photography. I'm talking about her drug dealing and her pimping.
"I had progressed to snorting cocaine at that point and would procure it for certain punters, making a mark-up on it, so that I was profiting from the drug transaction as well as whatever bizarre fantasies I was helping these men indulge." Chapter 9 page 87.
"I rented an apartment in Terenure for a short time and opened an escort agency of my own. I was seventeen at the time and I'm quite sure I was the youngest person advertising an escort agency in Ireland. It was a very simple thing to do and only required an apartment, a mobile phone and an advertisement in the back of In Dublin magazine, but when I had to deal with the reality of the ridiculous overheads, I soon got rid of the apartment and advertised for call-outs only. I worked mainly in the brothels and escort agencies of others from then on and did my own call-outs to homes and hotels. If I'd get a request for a call-in on my agency line I'd use a bedroom in the brothel of one of the women I was associating with at that time. I'd pay them a fee for the use of the room, which was common practice. I'd made money that way when I had my own apartment." Chapter 10 page 93.As someone who has spent years on Job Seeker’s Allowance I'm not very sympathetic to people who sell drugs or pimp and who justify it by saying they needed the money. I never did that, I lived within my means on benefits. Many people in Ireland travelled to England and worked night shifts in factories. So to say she had no other option is far from the truth.
She wrote that she never had the opportunity to do an ordinary job, such as working in a bank. She wrote that she didn't feel worthy of that type of work. Well I would never have been allowed to work in a bank. You don't have to feel worthy to live on the dole or work in a factory.
Many women and men become full-time drug dealers or pimps. If she hated 'paid intercourse' so much why did she not do one or both of these? She said she didn't want to deal with the reality of the ridiculous overheads. Is she saying that prostitutes keep more money than pimps? She was 17 and hadn't yet developed her cocaine addiction. I'm not saying that women should do anything apart from prostitution, but if you are really traumatised by it then it's odd you should continue because of something about overheads.
Not once in this book does she express regret about the harm she did when she sold drugs or pimped. She does express regret about having been a prostitute. I don't expect anyone to feel guilty about being a prostitute, but I do expect people to feel guilty about dealing or pimping. Especially when pimps (and men like me) are demonized by people like her.
I have said that there are several different aspects to this book. One of them is her own personal experience. Another is her comments about her experiences. A third aspect is the quotations from Ruhama and others which begin each chapter and which I commented on in the first part of my review of this book.
There is a fourth aspect, and this is where she writes about some of her experiences but in a very vague and ambiguous way. It is clear what she intends us to believe, but it is not clear if there is evidence to back that interpretation. Consider this:-
"What was going on was the very same thing that was going on when I was lifting my skirt in a backstreet alley. The nature of prostitution does not change with its surroundings. It does not morph into something else because your arse is rubbing up against white linen as opposed to roughened concrete." Chapter 10 page 100.She said that she only did handjobs and oral sex up till 1993. Then, after a change in the law, she had to start working indoors. She went back onto the streets sometimes though. One can only assume this was because on the streets she didn't have to do the 'paid intercourse' that she disliked so much and only did 'sporadically'. So why is she writing about her arse rubbing up against roughened concrete? How would she know what street girls do?
My understanding is that street girls don't wear skirts. They wear jeans, and they pull them down a bit and bend forward so they can be taken from behind. So they don't experience their arses rubbing up against concrete, either that of paving or a wall. But then again, maybe they did it differently in Ireland in the 1990s. Why doesn't she make clear what the facts are?
Another thing that is odd is that for the first two years men accepted that she didn't want to do vaginal or anal sex. Later they accepted that she didn't want to do anal sex. Yet they didn't accept that she didn't want to be penetrated with fingers or objects both vaginally and anally. She says that men didn't accept the limits of the 'agreed contractual exchange'.
My own experience of prostitution is that few women allow digital penetration. It is not usual for a prostitute to say beforehand that she doesn't allow it. If I ask for it she will most likely say no, or sometimes she will say she charges extra for that. Occasionally she will let it happen without additional payment. I have never forced anything upon a woman.
If Moran had written "I told him to stop but he wouldn't listen" or "I told him he would have to pay extra for that but he went ahead anyway" then we would be clear about what happened. That would be sexual assault or rape. But she doesn't write that.
In Chapter 23 on page 252 Moran writes this:-
"A 2005 Ruhama research report on barriers affecting women in prostitution states: 'Studies in Ireland have found that 38% of women involved in prostitution have attempted suicide and 25% suffered from diagnosed depression and were in receipt of medical treatment'. It is my personal conviction that the twenty-five percent of prostitutes recorded as having depression in Ireland is a significant underestimate of the true figure and that many prostitutes have not been diagnosed simply because they have not presented their symptoms to a doctor."If you look for this Ruhama report it does indeed say this:-
"There are also high levels of stress related illnesses. Studies in Ireland have found that 38% of women involved in prostitution have attempted suicide and 25% have suffered from diagnosed depression (O’Connor, 1994)."The Ruhama report is Factors affecting prostitution – Damage and survival mechanisms. In the references section they give the full title of the work they say they derive these statistics from: O’Connor, A. M. (1994) Health Needs of Women Working in Prostitution in the Republic of Ireland, First Report for EUROPAP, Dublin: Eastern Health Board.
However, the O'Connor 1994 document says nothing about either suicide or depression. What's going on? There is another document, written by O'Connor and somebody else that does contain these statistics. It is O’ Neill, M. and O Connor, A.M. (1999) Drug Using Women Working in Prostitution, Report prepared by the Women’s Health Project, Dublin: Eastern Health Board.
Now that we know the correct title of the document we can tell immediately that it is not about prostitutes in general in Ireland, but about prostitutes who are drug addicts in Dublin. As the study itself says "Numerous studies have highlighted the fact that women working in prostitution who are drug users, particularly intravenous drug users (IDUs), appear to be a different population from those who are non-IDUs." The number of drug addicted prostitutes is a fraction of the total number of prostitutes.
The study was of 77 women. All were drug users. 95% were working on the streets. 45% were homeless. Between 11% and 28% had HIV. 52% had been charged with soliciting. This had resulted in 20% of those women being imprisoned and 12% fined. 29 of the 77 (38%) reported having attempted suicide. 19 of the 77 (25%) suffered from diagnosed depression and had received treatment.
"Living with drugs causes considerable strains. A woman drug user who is also a mother faces specific problems organising her drug-related needs around her commitments as a parent, especially where young children are involved. Another dimension to the drugs issue for women is dealing with the reality of prison sentences for themselves, their partners, their siblings or their adult children. Prison sentences for drug related offences severely cut across family networks and reduce still further levels of support for women." O’ Neill, M. and O Connor, A.M. (1999)Their problems were numerous: addiction, homelessness, imprisonment, fines, and risk of HIV as well as street prostitution. We know that drugs can increase depression, and people with depression may be more vulnerable to addiction. So to say that a quarter of prostitutes are so unhappy in prostitution that they suffer from depression and that even more attempt suicide is simply wrong. It is a deliberate distortion of research. They have hidden the facts.
What they are doing is using research that applies only to drug addicted street prostitutes and pretending that it applies to all prostitutes. They have used this tactic time and time again. It is dishonest. Another tactic they use is to bury information. Instead of referring us directly to the research which is the source of the statistic, they refer instead to a document that refers to it. Or a document that refers to another document that refers to the research.
So if someone tells you that the number of active sex buyers in Sweden is the lowest in Europe, or that there is no evidence that criminalizing men increases the risk to women, you should remember that you have to trace the evidence back to the original study. They know that most people, no matter how much they say they care, can't be bothered to do that.
The O'Connor 1994 study is interesting, resulting from interviews with 18 street-based sex workers after the introduction of the 1993 law. It says twice that they are not a representative sample of sex workers in Ireland.
"Three (17%) of the women felt very strongly that the new law is leading to the emergence of pimps (male protectors) and therefore, an increase in violence and intimidation on the streets. One said "anyone with enough money to rent an apartment and a mobile phone can go into business as a pimp. These men are offering protection and a "safe house" to women who are working. "They leech (latch) onto the women providing protection and paying bail, that's when the violence comes in"." O'Connor, A.M. (1994)We know that at least one woman was leeching onto the women and that was Rachel Moran. It seems that sex workers don't hate people like me, they hate people like her.
The only time Moran mentions decriminalisation is when she writes about the Nordic model decriminalising the sale of sex. It doesn't. Prostitutes go to jail under the Nordic model. There is no mention of New Zealand where prostitutes are genuinely decriminalised: they do not go to jail. She is not presenting both sides of the argument. She does not mention the difference between legalisation and decriminalisation.
There is the issue of why do sex workers get paid so much. At the end of Chapter 19 page 204 she writes this: "Their higher pay does not reflect gender parity; it reflects the difficulty involved in earning it". In a way she's right.
Incidentally, on this page she uses her most florid language. Phrases such as 'the decision to sell the flesh on one's bones' and 'to bear the burden of its corruption on their bodies' may go down well with the abolitionist audience and especially the Christians but to me they are laughable.
If you go to Manchester the going rate for half an hour with a sex worker is £35 to £40. If you go to Liverpool it is £70. In Liverpool the going rate for a straight massage with nothing sexual is £25 to £30 for a half hour. The reason why Liverpool sex workers demand more than Manchester sex workers is not because they hate what they are doing more but because the police have a different attitude. In Liverpool women find it more difficult to work and keep themselves safe. It is the police who create the difficulty not the punters.
In the epilogue on page 293 Moran writes that "Prostitution first fell sharply in one place and one place only. That is in the nation which suppressed demand. A global implementation of Sweden's laws, which criminalise demand, is the one thing I'd most like to see before I die." This repeats her statement that "prostitution in Sweden has plummeted" in Chapter 20 page 215. Although there has been an effect on street prostitution, none of the reports from Sweden show an overall reduction in demand. I have devoted a page to this issue, and I have devoted a post to the disaster that is happening now that the Nordic model has come to Ireland, with women being jailed not decriminalised. This dishonest book helped to bring this situation about.
In Chapter 21 page 233 she writes about 'pro-prostitution groups' who march in Gay Pride Festivals around the world. She writes that the gay community is being used and 'the pro-prostitution lobby is trying to pull a fast one here'.
By pro-prostitution groups/advocates/lobby she means people who believe in genuine decriminalisation for sex workers, as happens in New Zealand. They are not 'pro-prostitution', they just don't want sex workers to be arrested for working together for safety. It is the 'abolitionists' who are trying to pull a fast one by pretending that they don't want 'prostituted' women to be arrested. Ruhama is now pretending that they never intended this to happen in Ireland even though this issue was discussed before 2017.
Abolitionists are a threat to gay men and lesbian women. They are a threat to transsexual people. Jim Wells, the Northern Ireland DUP politician, is a Christian. He is a Creationist who has got into trouble with his views on abortion and gay rights.
He was instrumental in getting the Nordic model adopted in Northern Ireland, where the first man to be arrested was arrested along with three women. He used a false statistic to do that. He said in the Northern Ireland Assembly that 127 prostitutes were murdered in the Netherlands after legalisation there.
Rachel Moran repeated this false statistic on radio. Julie Bindel and Kat Banyard quote 'Mr Wells' in their recent books. Banyard uses his false statistic.
So it's not surprising that sex workers and people who genuinely believe in their decriminalisation are welcome at Gay Pride Festivals. Obviously they aren't a sexual minority, but then neither are transsexuals who are also welcome and also threatened by people like 'Mr Wells'. Third-wave sex-positive feminists belong here too.
If the abolitionists don't like it then they can have their own parade. What would that look like? They could have Jim Wells to lead it, but then maybe they would keep him out of sight because you don't want to let the mask slip. But you could have another evangelical like Ian Paisley junior or Gavin Shuker.
The nuns of Ruhama would be there, the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity and the Good Shepherd Sisters could each have their own floats.
Radical Feminists like Julie Bindel and Kat Banyard would be there. There could be a guest speaker from America, a social conservative who could talk about incarceration of men and women: after all the American model is the same as the Nordic model just without the hypocrisy. Another guest could be an African preacher or politician, one of the ones who put gay men and lesbian women in prison. Maybe someone from the Taliban?
Pride of place would be the survivors. Women like Rachel Moran and Anna, who we are all supposed to be listening to, despite the fact that they tell different stories. Anna's book 'Slave' makes 'Paid For' look like 'Belle de Jour'. Dr Brooke Magnanti wouldn't be invited because she doesn't count as a survivor. Also she's an expert in statistics so she might upset the nuns.
The biggest problem with this book is that the main message is women go into prostitution to avoid poverty. This is different from the 'abolitionist' message and Anna's book which says it is all about violent pimps or traffickers. Also, Moran contradicts her own message when she writes about the 'advantaged middle-class women' that she knew.
A big problem for her message is that if you say that women do it to avoid poverty then you are open to the criticism that most people work to avoid poverty. If your answer to that is saying that you feel offended by someone saying that sex work might have some similarity to working in a factory (even though she compared sex workers to bank robbers) and something about someone putting his penis up your anus (even though no-one put his penis up her anus) it's not convincing.
I found these on a Radical Feminist site