Let’s talk about prostitution

It’s Monday, and what better way to start the week with a post about prostitution.

prostitute

Most people think they know what prostitution is, what a prostitute is like and who the typical ‘Johns’ are who attend them.

Its an industry full of desperate, trafficked and enslaved women from Eastern Europe and third world countries, right?

If they choose to do it, by hanging out on street corners (obviously), its out of a desperate need to fund their drug habit or feed their impoverished families, of course.

And the people are seek the services are always dirty, old men who crawl the streets with windows down and cocks out ready for a quick, cheap fuck with some STI-ridden, sore-covered, skeleton-framed abuse victim.

I think this is a pretty accurate picture in the minds of the vast majority of members of the public.

But let’s shake things up a bit.  Let me present you with an alternative:

Meet Johnny.  Johnny is an escort.  Or a giggolo.  Or a prostitute.  He doesn’t care – they are all synonyms in his mind.

Johnny tells me he is proud of his work as a prostitute.

Of course, I surmise, he gets to have sex with women and get paid for the privilege.  What better way to earn money?!

Johnny rebukes, while he may get some physical enjoyment out of the act of intercourse at times, his pride is not in the sex but in the service and its outcome.  Sex, Johnny claims, is merely a small factor for many of his clients.  In fact, he states, for some, it is not a factor at all.

Johnny reels of a list of some of the clients he has provided his service for:

  • a divorced lady in early stages of Parkinson’s fearing the inevitable loss of sexual intimacy, wishing to explore this side of the human experience before she is no longer physically, and mentally, able to.
  • a doctor from India working 24 hours a day for 2 weeks running, with little time to pursue, and explore, a sex life of any description, let alone a relationship, or even a friendship, wishing to spend time in London having great conversation and, if the opportunity arises, some intimacy too.
  • a 40-something intellectual who wishes to have her virginity taken and experience sexual intimacy for the first time in her life with someone who completely understands her predicament, requirements and able to treat her with the respect and decency she deserves.
  • a 30 something who was repeatedly abused during her youth and had a long-standing fear of any level of physical intimacy, who sherked at the mere suggestion of being kissed.

Then Johnny urged me to read this first-hand review of his services from the last of those examples:

“I don’t really know how to express my gratitude to yourcompany and Johnny.
Thursday’s night booking went better than ever could havehoped for. Johnny was incredible, sweet, tender and passionate, but most importantly cleverly intertwined the upmost respect for my pace, but gently guided me to conquer my issues. At the end of the date he expressed how proud he was of me and we talked about how although this has happened it didn’t mean sex and my sexual journey was finished merely that it had just begun and doing this didn’t mean everything was going to plain sailing. This is so true. I feel now that I’vecaught up all that I physical side of things I missed due to the abuse and my next continuing hurdle is my emotional journey.

“I had the most incredible night and saying thank you,although it’s all I can say doesn’t really cover how much you have done. Johnny literally gave me back my body and my life. Please ensure he reads this.

Not that you will need it, but if anyone with an abusivepast approaches you and would like some reassurance or to chat to someone in asimilar situation,then I would be happy to do so.”

Johnny insists that there are problems within the world of prostitution.  That there people who are prostitutes that should not be, that are trafficked from far-off lands and forced, beyond their will, essentially, sex slaves to paying customers.  He never denies that this exists.  But, he argues, what must be fought is the criminal elements of human trafficking, slavery and physical abuse – which existing laws and law enforcement agencies already tackle, albeit not sufficiently enough.

The open and honest contract between a client and a prostitute (that being sexual and intimate services in return for monetary compensation) is not the problem, he insists.

Johnny is not addicted to drugs, has not suffered an abusive childhood.  On the contrary, he had loving parents and an enviable youth.  He is well-educated and been employed in various positing and professions over the last 15 years.  Yes, he has bills to pay and mouths to feed and needs an income, particularly while his recent start-up business is not providing him with any form of financial support.  But he is a prostitute out of choice.  He is proud and passionate about all the work that he chooses to involve himself with, prostitution included and believes in what he does – that, at the very least, he provides a service of sexual enjoyment, at times fantasy fulfilment, and, at best, life-changing results that empower his clients to re-discover and re-take control of their sexualities in order to, in many cases, move on with the next phase of their private lives.

You may wonder how I know Johnny so well.  I have known Johnny for many, many years.

Why?

Because I am Johnny.

A message to the politicians of Northern Ireland:

If you have to make a living by selling your brain, your values, your ability of individual thought and expression to that of a party machine, a four-line whip, toeing an age-old religious doctrinal line or as a desperate measure to hold onto your source of finance by appeasing your electorate in an effort to maintain your seat at the next election, let me reassure you of something: it doesn’t have to be like this. There is help. You don’t have to sell yourself in this way. You don’t have to allow your conscience to be controlled and your freedom of thought to be enslaved and chained. There is a way out. There is an alternative way to live a life that you can be proud of.

Choose the life of freedom: get f**ked for a living! (Literally, not metaphorically like you already do.)

We all love you.

We all believe in you.

You can do it!

BENDY IN BRIEF: Will I go ‘gay for pay’?

10370953_696529143738821_1745665813594968409_nIf only I got a pound…

Can we put this question to bed please?

Its not the ‘gay’ aspect I have an issue with, its the principle and basis of the question I don’t recognise and am deeply uncomfortable with:

 

FB ‘FRIEND’: ey. Benedict would you do gay for pay (no question mark)

ME: Do you enjoy paying people to do things that they are not comfortable doing otherwise?
Do you get pleasure from that?
Knowing the ONLY reason I would be spreading my bum cheeks or fucking your arse is because you paid me?
You like that idea, do you?
Does that turn you on?

 

Now, as I say, I may ‘go gay’, I may already have done so, this is not the point and nor is it relevant.

The point is:

A) Its not the fact I won’t ‘go gay’, its the fact I don’t want to ‘go gay’ for Tom, Dick or Harry who whips out his wallet. Its not something I am sexually confident or comfortable (physically, not morally) with to do with any person who happens to have a penis.

B) The idea my comfort and preferences can be bought for the highest bidder is something I am DEEPLY uncomfortable with.

Maybe I am naive. I am aware plenty of other people will just ‘bend over and take it’ (in more sense than one), because you are paying, but I have NEVER worked on that principle, and NEVER will I. If you want to INFLICT your pleasure on someone else who wouldn’t otherwise even look at you, just because your wallet is big enough for them to be convinced to cast any of their preferences and physical comforts aside, then go ahead. I hope you are happy with yourself and that you can sleep soundly at night knowing that that is how you treat your fellow human beings. I know, for one, that I could not.

 

Oh, and by the way, no I have not used the services of a prostitute. Obviously, I am a prostitute, so I have no issue with it. BUT, if I did use a prostitute, I would pay for the services that they OFFERED, not try to convince them to do things they DIDN’T offer.

Women: Why Anti-Porn Feminists hate you

Gail_Dines

Dear Anti-Porn Feminist,

No-one is denying that there are not negative ASPECTS of the porn industry that can affect SOME people.

Lets use an analogy that you, and Gail Dines, may indeed understand:

The lovely Gail Dines is a smoker despite the fact that she KNOWS that there are scientifically PROVEN direct negative effects. There is certainly a convincing argument to make that smoking should be banned because of these PROVEN negative effects, but others believe it is an affront to the choice of smokers to be able to enjoy a habit they have elected to involve themselves with. So, as a compromise, in our society, we might tackle the issues, such as smoking around children, smoking in public places, but we allow individuals the right to make the choice of actually smoking and not ban the whole thing, despite the OVERWHELMING evidence that smoking IS a massively negative habit.

Now to porn:

There are no PROVEN negative effects of porn whatsoever. Might it affect some individuals in a negative way? Absolutely, just like many industries.

You see this is the issue, every industry that exists has negative aspects to it and CAN affect individuals negatively, but that is not because it is the industry that it is, but because of actions of individuals and companies within those industries. Do we therefore, in any other instance, reach the conclusion that a whole industry should be banned because of negative aspects within it? Do we say that we should ban the manufacturing of clothes because child labour is used in Pakistan and because of shoddy factory structures that kill its workers in Bangladesh? Do we say the medical industry or farming shouldn’t exist because of the high suicide rate of doctors and farmers? Do we say food should cease to be manufactured because of the increasing rates of obesity in the world?  NO, OF COURSE WE DON’T.  We tackle the child labour, the conditions, the suicide, the fat content.  Because the problem is NOT the INDUSTRY, but aspects of it.

As a ‘porny’ man (as Gail Dines has so poetically described me), who has worked in UK porn and as an escort (i.e. PROSTITUTE) for the past ten years, I have never encountered sex-trafficking, violence or abuse and none of the other issues that you highlight, but do I sit here and deny that they might not indeed exist?  No, of course I don’t.  I don’t like the fact they exist any more than you do and we MUST do something about them.  But the problem is SEX TRAFFICKING, VIOLENCE and ABUSE not pornography.

The issue with so many Anti-Porn Feminists (APFs) is that they simply do not like pornography. If you can genuinely tell me that the principle of people watching other people having sex who CHOOSE to be watched having sex, is really the problem and are able to prove it to me, then maybe I might have some sympathy with your cause.  But it is not the problem.

I totally understand and appreciate the concerns of many APFs, but the conclusions they reach are irrational, disproportionate and disingenuous AND, might I add, do far more harm to the freedom and rights of women than the misplaced belief that they are fighting for them.

APF is bullying of women by another, poorly constructed acronymous, name.

They attempt to claim that women are bullied into their roles of paid sex objects by patriarchy and yet, use a far more aggressive form of bullying to try and TELL women how they should behave and, unless they toe that line, are doing a dis-service to themselves and to womanhood.

You see, APFs hate most women (indeed, very often they hate themselves, as most APFs are hypocrites at some point within their own lives).  They believe most women are ‘slaves’ to the patriarchy and are either too stupid to be able to understand this and, in turn, rid themselves of the ‘chains’ that men impose on them or, as is more often the case, despicable examples of women if you allow yourselves to go along with, and perpetuate, the status quo.  Unless you go along with what APFs wish to impose on you, you are not a proper women.  That is, of course, peer-pressure or bullying it its most classic form.

If you are ANTI-PORN then say it. Say “I DON’T LIKE PORN”. That is absolutely fine. I DON’T LIKE FOOTBALL. But I don’t attempt to campaign against the whole thing because there is racism, violence, hooliganism, nationalism, tribalism, associated with it.  Instead, you pressurise the industry and work WITH the industry, to sort out these things.  Where and when negativity exists (although this, of course, can be subjective), we discuss it and deal with it on a case-by-case basis. Where there is criminality (as so many APFs accuse), we deal with it straight away and get the relevant authorities involved.

We do need to get the idiots, the abusers, the irresponsible producers out of porn and prostitution and other aspects of the sex industry. We do need to make it a safe environment for all.  But APFs need to accept that many women (albeit, not the type of women they understand or like, but nonetheless, still women) DO choose to work in it and enjoy their work and should be afforded that right to do so.  APFs are perfectly entitled not to like pornography or prostitution, but do not deny that right to others based on your poor evidence and on your “well I don’t like it, therefore no-one else will” and “because there’s a few problems, ban the whole thing” attitude.

I might not speak for the whole of the sex industry, I speak for myself as an autonomous ‘porny’ man, so there will, indeed, be those in the industry who might disagree with me, indeed, I know there are. But one thing we do agree on is that pornography and prostitution SHOULD exist, but, like all industries, it may need reform from within.

Of course, I am a penis-freeholder, so you may choose to entirely disregard everything I have written because, obviously, I have NO understanding of the plight of women whatsoever.

Kind regards,

Benedict Garrett

P.S.  Here’s a video of a Cambridge Union Society debate I spoke at in opposition to Gail Dines:

 

 

Pornstars, others in the sex industries, and their supporters, will come together in London to protest against the Stop Porn Culture event that aims to censor sexual expression in the UK.  https://www.facebook.com/events/464149933684948/465962836836991/?notif_t=plan_mall_activity
Read why former pornstar Renee Richards will be protesting: http://sexandcensorship.org/2014/02/uk-pornstars-fight-back/

Please help build this event by donating to Sex & Censorship here: http://sexandcensorship.org/donate/

‘This House would recognise prostitution as legitimate business’ – Oxford Union speech

oulogo

Last night I had the privilege of attending and speaking as an invited guest at the Oxford Union.  I have already spoken at four university debates, however this was the first one not about pornography.  Instead, the motion proposed that “This House would recognise prostitution as legitimate business”.

The debate was well attended with some interesting guests on both sides.  As well as myself, the proposing team also had Oxford student Elizabeth Culliford, Nevada brother owner, Dennis Hof, and a last minute step-in from the English Collective of Prostitutes called Emma (her last name escapes me, I shall get back to you on that one).  On the opposing team:  Julie Bindel, authour and co-founder of Justice for Women, feminist activist Finn MacKay and campaigner Ellie Levenson, as well as another last minute addition (whose name also escapes from) of Cambridge University professor and expert in human trafficking.

Unfortunately, I can no longer claim to maintain a winning streak at these debates as the opposing team were victorious in the end.  However, I was very satisfied with the contribution I made and with how my speech was received.

As promised, below is a transcript of my speech.  Please feel free to add you comments and thoughts on the topic.

 ‘This House Would Recognise Prostitution as  Legitimate Business’
 
 
 
My name is Johnny Anglais.  Someone in this room, however, knows me as Benedict Garrett.  Mr.Garrett, in fact, as I was his teacher.  Now, I regularly perform as a stripper and in pornography. 
 
I am also a prostitute.
 
I am not ashamed of it.  I believe there is a distinction between porn performer and prostitute, but I have no problem with being called a ‘prostitute’. My main clients are either women but, more commonly, men who wish to hire me as a ‘gift’ for their wife or girlfriend.
 
I am not a prostitute out of any desperate need.  Although, like most people who are struggling to make money in this capitalist system that, rather than promoting a sense of community and self-worth, is about promoting individual greed and the accumulation of, through, essentially, whatever means, material wealth,   I do have rent to pay, bills to pay, a dog to look after and I also care for someone else’s child because they were incapable of doing so without harming him.  But I am not destitute or funding a drug habit.  In fact, I know many prostitutes (they might call themselves escorts, they are prostitutes).  Mostly women.  None of them are destitute.  Some, like many people, may have had troubles in their childhood, others not at all, some well educated, others less so. 
 
Prostitutes are not just poor, defenceless women.  I find it rather disingenuous the continual and disproportionate highlighting of concern that some so-called ‘feminists’ have for women in prostitution.  My concern is not for women.  My concern is for everyone.  I care not what the numbers or the differentials are between the abuses of women and men in prostitution.  The fact that any abuse exists should be enough for us to be sufficiently concerned for their well-being and a desire to take action to protect all regardless of their gender.  For there are also poor, defenceless men who have to suffer at the hands of such brutes as Boy George who, back in 2007, reportedly held a rent boy hostage by hand-cuffing him to a chair and attacking him with metal chains.  Equally, there are empowered, confident women who are prostitutes and doing it because they enjoy it and choosing to do it as a REAL option and not because it is their ONLY option, despite what some ‘feminists’ may have you believe.
 
This is not to say that I am happy with the current state of prostitution in this country.  I am absolutely not.  Of course, there are corrupt and abusive pimps who treat their prostitutes like little more than slaves.  There are women trafficked over from abroad and imprisoned in properties up and down this land (reportedly over 8,000 in London alone) and forced to work as prostitutes.  There are women, and men, who dangerously walk the streets, taking their lives into their own hands and never knowing where they could end up that night, if even still alive. There are women and men who do it simply out of desperation: to feed themselves, to keep themselves warm, to support their families or to fund an addiction. There are clients who treat the prostitute whose services they acquire with little or no respect.  But there are bad and risky elements to many industries.  Do we say that fashion is a non-legitimate business because some companies use child slave labour in Bangladesh, that we should live in a state of anarchy because some politicians fiddle their expenses so lets ban them,  or that all teachers are perverts because a few may have slept with their students?  Bad apples does not equate to a rotten crate.  The principle of producing and providing apples is still a good and well-intentioned one.
Indeed, I too take my own risks as a prostitute.  I may be a 6ft 2in, well-built, healthy male, but in the possibility, slim or not, of being potentially confronted by a sadistic, psychotic and deranged individual what protection do I really have against a knife or a gun? 
These are indeed real risks.  But many jobs are risky, some riskier than others.  By illegitimising a business and driving it underground, these risks are not eradicated.  On the contrary, these risks become greater.  What we need is the creation of a legitimate prostitution trade that is regulated and where the welfare of its workers is protected.
Some see prostitution as an evil in our society.  Some see it as something that simply panders to the whims and desires of a still male-dominated society.  I actually see it as a helpful and important service in our society.  I’ve argued publicly many times that our national attitude to sex needs to change drastically.  Its getting better but there is still vast room for improvement.  Equally, our attitude to prostitution, the one that treats it as something sleazy, the people who work in it is as dirty and those who seek its service as depraved, also needs to be reviewed. 
A desire for sexual gratification is a human need that, although not as crucial as oxygen, food, water and perhaps even shelter, follows closely behind them and rivals such things as our need for education, loving parents, physical exercise, leisure time, an active social life, having people we call friends around us.  All of which we could survive without, but with enormous difficulty, leading to serious voids in our lives, potentially causing depression, stress, lack of opportunity and so on.  Sexual gratification is a human need on this level.   
Many times, a simple wank is enough as an outlet for our frequent sexual urges.  Many are able to share their sex lives with another and along with it, the intimacy and touch of another, human skin against human skin, the kissing of lips, and simply being in the company of another human being while sharing in, what for most people, is a moment of great vulnerability and self-discovery.  Many people can form loving, intimate and physical relationships with another human being very easily.  Some people however, struggle (either through lack of confidence, skills or because their appearance, personality or characteristics renders them less attractive to many), or go through great periods of their lives without the company of another.  While frequent self-romance may be enough to satisfy the urges of sexual release at times, often the desire to share the experience or be in the company, presence and intimate entwine with another is one which, in my mind, does not need to be denied.  Unless you live a life of high moral values in relation to the sanctity of sexual expression within only the bounds of a marriage, or unless you choose, or, more likely, have been indoctrinated, to believe the unquestionable values that have, apparently, been bestowed upon you by some great mystical, supernatural entity, then the principle of a sexual encounter within a consensual arrangement should not need to raise concern or any controversy.  If it does, I would suggest this is the result of such memes as I have aforementioned and not based on a realistic and rational response to the complexities of human sexuality.
I don’t like marriage or even civil partnerships.  I have no problem with long-term committed relationships.  In fact, I have far more respect for people in long-term relationships who have never entered a legally binding contract to force them to stay together.  If two people really love each other, why on earth would they need it?  For essentially that is all that a marriage or a civil-partnership really is: a legally binding contract between two people.  I hate the idea that so much to do with human relationships, and not simply romantic ones, is brought down to contracts.  But unfortunately it is a necessary reality in so many cases.
The contract between a prostitute and his/her client is, or at least should be, open and clear:  One is exchanging capital for the sexual services of another.    In many cases, this service is carried out respectfully and received in much the same manner.  Most prostitutes take their sexual health very seriously and insist on having their clients use protection or, in my case, ensure I am wearing it.  It is a clear, honest and open contract between two or more consenting adults. 
 
Let’s contrast that situation with the alternative that occurs every weekend in every town in every bar or nightclub up and down this land.  Let me introduce you to the men and women of this country who are little more than ‘Prostitutes by Proxy’.  I’m sure we’ve all seen it, I’m sure we all know of people, we may have even done it ourselves.  We call it ‘going on the pull’.  Men do it.  Women do it.  Going out, of an evening, with the express intent of, without any prior knowledge of who will be present at the venue, finding a member of the opposite, or same (take your pick), sex with the sole purpose of having sex with them.  And how is it achieved?  Frequently, it is by payment.  But payment is not usually made directly to the person with whom eventual sexual activity occurs, it is exchanged with a ‘bar professional’ for an alcoholic beverage… or two, or three, or…. well, however many is usually enough to get them into whatever state is required for sexual conquest.  Where is the contract?  Where is the consent?  Can a contract and consent for such activity really be sought from someone so intoxicated as to fail to stand correctly or incapable of pronouncing their own name, let alone remembering yours.  How high is the likelihood that these individuals will a) care about using contraception and b) be capable of putting it on correctly?  What are the chances that one or both of these individuals may infect the other with a Sexually Transmitted Infection or impregnate the other?  Judging by our national statistics on these two things, particularly compared to our European neighbours, I would say pretty darn high.
 
 
So, I leave you with this thought.  How different might the scenario be if the same people lived in a society where brothels weren’t treated like sinister, sleazy centres of smut and filth, but actually seen as useful and regulated services, where the well-being of its workers were properly cared for,  that could be accessed in order to fulfil a basic human need, perhaps having one on every high street next to your Primark, Superdrug or JD Sport, where men and women of all ages could go in the moments of their life where their desire for sexual gratification needed more than simply a quick tug on the chap or session with the rampant rabbit, where men or women, for lack of sexual satisfaction in their own relationships, but loving their partner nonetheless, could seek the sexual fulfilment without the fear of attachment or greater intimacy that an affair might bring and potentially, in the long term, holding their marriage or relationship together?
 
As much as this scenario may make you laugh or sound so outlandish as to not be easily imagined, I would actually suggest in all seriousness that, compared to the current situation, living in that society would create a far more productive, healthy and happy community than the one in which we currently reside, not to mention one where those who work as prostitutes are treated decently and their well-being cared for.   If we are able to fight the cultural memes we have all inherited, but some of us have been able to shed, if we can rise above the irrational, unproven claims of the god-fearers, if we can begin to actually think about the reality of our society, the dangers our current national view of sex and anything related to it poses, often to our most vulnerable, and the complexities of our human sexuality, rather than the arbitrary rigidity that such memes, traditions and religions have attempted to impose on us, and begin to fathom how actually a recognition of the legitimacy of prostitution and an elevation of its reputation would improve the lives of its citizens then we would, in my opinion, be taking humanity in the right direction and not a step back.