Once that hour is done

In the Independent: what a student sex worker in the UK thinks of her job.

“Sophie” is 22 and paying for her five year course at university via sex work.

“You get a lot of weird requests. Before you meet you get that out in the open by messaging, they [the clients] say what they want, and you say yes I’ll do that, or no I won’t do that,” and, Sophie says, “you hope they pay attention, but they don’t.”

There is no safety net. “I think it’s hard to…you can pull out every stop to make sure you are going to be ok, and it just doesn’t always work that way. You think its ok, and it’s not,” she said.

There’s a long pause. Eventually she says: “It has happened but, I don’t know, it’s part of the job really, it’s a risk.”

After an ‘outcall’ when she couldn’t get away from the client, “I decided I wasn’t going to do it again, and it was too much.” Having quit, she found herself struggling financially and faced with dropping out, she went back to working in the sex industry.

But she didn’t like it. She doesn’t like it.

Sophie is resigned and bitter about the perception of sex work – particularly the character of Belle du Jour. “I hate it. Because, say I work for a hundred pounds an hour, that it makes it sound very classy, whereas I tend to be going to real s***holes … Yeah, it is a hundred pounds for an hour, but you can be thinking about that hour for the next month.”

She wonders how her clients afford her, continuing, “I don’t like a lot of them. I wonder why they’re there. I’m wary of them, why they’re not seeing women their age when they’re a lot older than you.”

Maybe because they don’t like women. Maybe they like sex but not women, and sex for money does away with the need to interact for all that time when you’re not having sex.

Sophie’s work is carefully separate from her university life. “I’ve met my best friends here, and they are my best friends, but I certainly believe they wouldn’t look at me in the same way if I told them what I did.” None of her friends or family know.

It’s difficult for her to keep up a relationship, never mind start one. “There’s guys I like now, and I’d like it to be more, but it’s just not possible, not at the moment. Because this is not ok, and a guy would not accept this.”

“I walk down the street and I think if people knew what I was like, they would not…” She tails off.

“You just do it, get the money and then get on with your life.”

When she graduates she will leave escorting and her clients behind her, but while she remains at university she will carry on working: “I need them [her clients] at the end of the day, but I don’t like them. I don’t like them at all. I pretend to like them, and then get out. Once that hour is done, it’s out the door, goodbye.”

Definitely not Belle du Jour.

Will our heroes always disappoint us?

David Koepsell has an interesting piece at the CFI blog titled Ideas, not Idols.

A danger, of course, to making idols of intellectuals or anyone else is that once we learn more about them as persons, their very real and valuable contributions to their fields may become tinged, just like Heidegger’s work now seems iredeemably blighted by his antisemitism. How shall we confront this danger? As Arendt urged, there are incredibly valuable elements of Heidegger’s work that have changed the nature and path of modern continental philosophy. We would be foolish to ignore his contributions, and we should remain compelled by those ideas within his work that seem devoid of hateful ideology. But we would be equally foolish, in my opinion, to view the fact of these contributions apart from his personal failings, and unwise in any case to idolize anyone, be they layman, genius, or god. [Read more...]

Guest post: Oh, and it would be better if we women didn’t speak up in meetings

Originally a comment by Katydid on Horror of the female.

About 6 years ago, my company brought in a sub-contractor. Before he started, there was a meeting to tell the women that because this man was an Orthodox Jew, he would not shake hands with us. Okay, fine…who shakes hands with a co-worker they see every single day anyway?

Then he started, and our seating arrangements had to be changed because he couldn’t tolerate sitting in an area near any of the women. Then, in meetings, the women had to wait for him to seat himself and arrange ourselves as far away from him as we could because his special, special self couldn’t tolerate being in a meeting with women. Oh, and it would be better if we women (all software engineers) didn’t speak up in meetings, because it made him uncomfortable, you see. [Read more...]

You are not funny. You are not clever. And you are not excused.

US military veterans have written to Fox News to tell it that a sexist joke one of its hosts told was not cute. That’s good; let’s have more of that.

During Wednesday’s broadcast of “The Five,” co-hosts Eric Bolling and Greg Gutfeld ridiculed Maj. Mariam Al Mansouri, the first female UAE pilot and F-16 squadron commander leading airstrikes against ISIS.

“Problem is, after she bombed it, she couldn’t park it,” Gutfeld said. “Would that be considered boobs on the ground, or no?” Bolling followed up.

No. [Read more...]

Women in particular

There’s always the “it’s just part of life, get over it” defense. Being groped or plied with drinks or raped is just what happens if you’re female and young.

Rosie Millard makes that [cough] argument in the Independent. She starts off reasonably enough by saying that squeezing a woman’s breasts probably doesn’t merit a prison sentence. But then she veers off into full-on “deal with it” mode.

Yet in many people’s eyes, Dave Lee Travis – another name from the 1970s whose fame surrounded him like a blinding cloud – will have “got away” with it, as if his actions were as repugnant and evil as those of Clifford, Harris and Savile. The unnamed victim of the assault, who said she was paralysed with fear at the time, has spoken of her luck in being able to get on with the rest of her life after the event – the event being having your breasts squeezed for 15 seconds, backstage at The Mrs Merton Show. Hello? If such things really caused deep trauma, half the female population of the UK would be in long-term therapy. Women get their breasts squeezed. They get their bottoms pinched. Without asking for it. It is not particularly exciting, but it is part of life. Get over it.

Um, no?

Those are two different things. A jail sentence for breast-squeezing is one thing and treating unrequested unwanted breast-squeezing as part of life that you have to get over is quite another. Physical molestation, even minor varieties, shouldn’t be taken as normal and just part of the price of being female.

I have worked in television shows similar to Mrs Merton; this sort of thing happened all the time, so much so that it was almost funny. While I was working on one show years ago, one of the executive producers was so used to it that he devised a simple slogan to yell at us humble researchers: “Look, loves, don’t fuck the turns!” Because you know, the turns would turn up and they would, well… hope to have favours granted. Again, I am not referring to or indeed excusing sexual assault. I am pointing out that there was, and probably always will be, a certain amount of irresponsible behaviour in the entertainment world, whether from Radio 1 DJs or anyone else, and women in particular have to negotiate it as they see fit.

But that’s not ok. Dumping an extra burden on “women in particular” is not ok. Treating women as there for the fucking is not ok.

Closing ranks

Adam Lee has a post about the obfuscations and denial about Michael Shermer by some Big Names (he more politely calls them prominent individuals) in atheoskepticism.

One is Randi, because of what he told Mark Oppenheimer – you know, that whole thing about how Shermer’s a naughty boy, and if there had been any actual violence then somebody would have done something, but as it is it’s just a matter of getting drunk and boys doing what boys do, but hey if he gets many more such reports he might possibly ask Shermer to show up less often. [Read more...]

Horror of the female

Prepare to be gut-wrenched.

Elana Sztokman was just in the US for a ten day book tour for the publication of her book, The War on Women in Israel: A Story of Religious Radicalism and the Women Fighting for Freedom. Then she got on the plane for the 11 hour trip back to Israel.

The plane took off 20 minutes late because an ultra-Orthodox man was negotiating with passengers so as not to have to sit next to a woman—me—on the 11-hour flight. [Read more...]

The more demeaning the commentary about women, the more popular it would be

Eric Michael Johnson, who writes the Primate Diaries column for Slate, takes a primatologist look at the culture of online misogyny. He starts with “the Fappening”: a 4chan gathering to celebrate the hacking of those celebrity naked photos.

While some reveled in a shared orgasmic intensity, others tried to be as descriptively misogynistic as possible, to the delight of lurking males. The more dehumanizing and demeaning the commentary about women, the more popular it would be, as demonstrated through the upvote feature on the website. [Read more...]

Rote learning

A madrassa in Kenya has been closed down.

The school in Machakos, about 65km (40 miles) from the capital, was targeted after local youths were detained on suspicion of joining Somali militants.

It is the first Kenyan madrassa to be closed because of allegedly extremist teachings. A police chief warned that others could follow.

Madrassas aren’t really “schools” in the normal sense, as I understand it. They train children to memorize the Koran in Arabic, whether or not they understand the language, and they don’t teach anything else. That’s not really a school.

Interior Ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka told the BBC the decision had been taken to close the Daarul-Irashad centre, which opened in 1997, on the advice of the police’s CID, anti-terror and intelligence units.

The recent arrest in the Machakos area of 21 young men suspected of being recruited for al-Shabab first raised suspicions, he said.

The police then profiled suspects arrested in other terror crackdowns and found that others had passed through that madrassa, the spokesman said.

Memorizing a holy book isn’t an education.