My Feeling Good, Your Experiences and Thank-You's  

Posted by H in ,

I have to say that I actually don't think I've felt better about starting this blog since the last few weeks.

Strangely enough, at a time where I myself doubted my own relationship for various reasons (and mostly my own lack of self-confidence and strength), I was blessed to see people voice their opinion right here on this introductory post on My Guide to Dating an Escort* and in my mailbox.

(* A guide I still have to write and publish here in more details... I know, I know. But after all, who am I to write a guide when I am still learning?)

To these people, who expressed their views and shared their experiences either publicly or privately, here's to you:

1) Thank you very much for your time and attention. There are no words to express how I felt while I read your messages. It is an incredible feeling to know that people go through the same experiences and are at different stages of the process. Ones you have already been through, ones you have not reached, and maybe even some you'll never cross path with (for good or bad).

2) I also hope you will come back and enjoy reading these pages as much as you have in the past. I would gladly hear from you again and read how things evolve on your side.

3) And last but definitely not least, I sincerely wish all of you all the best in your own endeavors and with your personal relationships. I know they can be weird and tricky, but I still think they're worth it, and it's always with great pleasure that I see people proving me right.

Thanks again and good night, as the artists say.

My Answer: So Wrong...  

Posted by H in ,

I just came across this article on real life sex-trafficking and prostitution, which apparently is written by a self-defense training organization. And it made me react a little bit.

At first I just amusingly thought of Sarah Summers, because if you've been reading her Inspired to Blog site you know as well as I do that she doesn't take well people demonizing her line of work and calling all girls out there just a bunch of poor little defense-less victims.

Then it actually got to me gradually and I wanted to post a comment. And noted I couldn't. Ah. How we get used to the wonders of the internet. Where's the hell is my comment system? So I thought I could just write back here in reply, but nobody would notice, it's not like there's a lot people reading me, and I guess not that many on that website either. So I thought of using Google Sidewiki and posted an entry (you can write one yourself!). I'll post it back here for backup purposes and easier accessibility for those of you not familiar with Sidewiki:

First of all I want to say that I do not encourage prostitution, and do not want to incite any young girls or boys to start selling sexual services as a mean of paying their college tuition fees when they could have other options, or for any other reason for that matter.

However, what is written here is just plain wrong. If you have such high figures, please come forward and cite them. Give me a study. Give me numbers. Give me sources.

There are not that many girls that would sleep with 15 to 30 men a day, and it would in no way be an average value.

And yes, I do agree that many pimps or even legal escort agencies (in countries where prostitution is legal) do target girls with difficulties, whether it is totally meant to be like that or not. There's of course a socio-economical pattern to it and of course a girl who didn't have the benefits of an education giving her social boundaries and who is struggling in her life (or simply feeling that she's struggling, when all she's going through is merely life, but cannot get a good grasp on it) is an easier target for them, and most of the girls I know do indeed fit that pattern.

Not all of them though. I do know some girls who do this willingly. As in *totally* willingly. They have an education. They didn;t have difficulties. They could have paid for their studies and life another way and they know it. But the job satisfies them. either fully for some of them, and sometimes only partly for others. But aren't there a lot more people in "normal" jobs who are only partly satisfied with their jobs? Here maybe they have an ethical problem with it, but it satisfies they sexual side. Or they enjoy the advantages (time and money, primarily).

While I do appreciate the attempt at addressing an issue (trafficking exists, both in developed and developing countries, and direct and indirect exploitation is a truth, as are some of the practices pointed at here: gang-bangs for introduction, exposition to drugs, demeaning physical and psychological treatments), this perspective won't solve anything. Unilateraly demonizing something won't solve the issue, and the only positive point will be to raise awareness.

But you provide false information, and you take away the focus from the real solutions. For the ones already at work, legalization ensures a better coverage and better conditions, at least in developed countries. And in general, a right to education and social security support would solve most problems for the ones who fall into this because they are in need.

I should have thought all of this more through, but I was kind of in a rush and have to leave now.

But my realization here is that Sidewiki can be a useful thing after all. It's a double-axe thing: it can bite you, but it can in the end be a tool for open-ended discussion. It's hard to control, but so are the minds of our fellow human-beings, aren't they?

Note: you don't have to install the Google Toolbar to browse and use Google Sidewiki. There's an handy SideWiki bookmarklet, which lets you write on any page you want.

Our Remembrance Day for Long Lost Friends  

Posted by H in , ,

December 1st was the World AIDS Day. I think the importance of such events is pretty obvious and considering the topic of this blog, I am sure everybody visiting these pages knows already why it matters and how serious the issue is.

I could though rant for a little while on the less well-known *negative* impacts of such events, as they sometimes do to have the opposite effect of boring people to death by asking them for contributions every year, eventually becoming part of a routine that only reminds people of bad things: money, death, and the long-road towards possibly more effective treatments.

But that's not really my point. Today, I just want to remember. Remember a friend of mine who died of AIDS a couple of years ago. He received a call from a girl he occasionally had sex with a few years ago on a Saturday morning, and she told him she had been diagnosed with AIDS and was warning all of her past relationships and flings. The news hit hard at first, mostly because he had not been in touch with her for a while but cared for her dearly, but then he let go and it's only weeks later that he finally went to get himself checked-up. He was single at the time she called and felt fine. When he finally met someone and things started to get serious, he went to the clinic. And learned he was positive. Then he lost it a little, went on travelling for months when he could have undergone treatment, and eventually the disease got the better of him. He died just 20 months after receiving this dreaded phone call, and left behind his girlfriend, who had stayed with him through his final hours. 2 lives stolen and 1 shattered for months.

I told G. this story when we saw an announcement for the World AIDS Day on TV last week, and we realized that even know we had been talking about this disease as a couple, we never shared these memories. As it happens, she lost 3 co-workers (one of who was not a sex-worker but a "normal-life" / "normal-job" co-worker, by the way) to AIDS.
The first of them, she actually lost when she was still rather young and starting in the business. It was a girl of her age, who was reckless and eventually probably came across the wrong type of punter. She didn't get checked-up regularly, had left very quickly the agency where G. worked back then, and started as an independent. She got sick for a while but refused to see a doctor. G. used to think it was just her way, reckless and restless as usual, too young to die as she was. Now she thinks she might actually have had more problems to cope with her lifestyle, and that she felt too embarassed to seek help and talk about it.
She eventually asked her former colleagues for support, and after a while she finally accepted their advice of finally seeing a doctor, unfortunately too late.
The other girl was working with G. in another agency, a few years before I met her. In another country also, actually. She was older than G. by roughly 2 decades, and had been in the business for years. It was her death which actually finally made G. become more aware and more careful about everything related to STDs. From G.'s recollection, she was depressed for months after her death. This particular girl was actually sort of a mentor for her, both in terms of professional services, but also for many other aspects of her life. They also ended up having a thing together for a while. Nothing serious, just all in good fun. But always safe-fun, on this girl's own terms. She felt strongly about protection, and rightly so. Yet she caught it, without knowing it. Either from a casual unprotected encounter she never confessed, but according to G. probably from a simple accident. She was getting checked very regularly and found out quickly. She fought the disease for months, and G. kept in touch. She felt a bit sad for her, as she says lots of the other girl in this agency suddenly looked down on that poor girl. In some countries and areas, getting the bug is like being branded. You become an untouchable.

After exchanging these stories, we decided we both wanted to commemorate these friends and acquaintances, as they had impacted our lives. Especially in the case of that last girl, as if it weren't for her, G. could have caught it herself later. Maybe. Who knows. But she did have a great influence on her, and taught her lots of the tricks and tools of the trade.

So G. and I went to visit the graves of two of them with flowers, who are buried in our area. We then decided to make a donation. So should you. For the locals of San Francisco, you can donate on the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. For others, pick any organization that matters to you, like the National AIDS Trust.

We spent the rest of the day sharing memories of these 4 people, both good and bad. It was a time for laughter and tears. We thought of attending some local events surrounding World AIDS Day, but eventually decided to just keep reminiscing on our own. We talked for hours in bars we used to frequent with some of them, and eventually spent the evening in one of our favorite spots outside of SF, watching the sky during a cold cold night.

Here's to our lost friends.

Their Influences  

Posted by H in , , ,

Google already announced the 2009 edition of its Zeitgeist annual overview of the web in search.

I went to have a look to see if some of the major events of the year with regard to prostitution were ranked noticeably, if at all.
Unfortunately, I didn't find anything, note even a mention of Dr Brooke Magnanti's coming-out as Belle de Jour. Not even in the UK-specific edition.
Could it be that Google prefers to filter out search terms and themes that are a bit too raunchy?
Or maybe it is just too early, as Zeitgeist seems to cover historical data only up to September, unfortunately.

But then I figured Google Trends could give me some data. And it surely does, as shows this graph for Belle de Jour. As it seems, the biggest news of all definitely was her late coming out, maybe because of the notoriety she acquired over time. Or maybe because of the pop-effect of the TV series? Or simply because of simply human voyeurism to read about tendentious cases, especially when we smell someone could loose some feathers in the fight? I'm afraid the 3rd option might be quite important.

Still, it is a very satisfying to notice the impact Belle de Jour had, and no matter where you stand on the debate (you know, the usual stuff, whether she's glamorizing prostitution and might make it more appealing to the youth as a way to get financial support by selling sexual services - more or less willingly - instead of working a few more hours and sleeping a few less), one cannot deny that it benefits everybody by raising the issue.
Or maybe it won't benefit everybody, as raising the awareness might actually allow some ill-advised politicians to surf on this wave to start new crusades against prostitution in the wrong ways! I could surely see that happening in some conservative regions and counties of several countries.

Google Trends for "Prostitute" and "Escort"

You can also surf for other trends of interest. It's an interesting way of revisiting past news and see how they were received.

Your Wearing RED for World AIDS Day ?  

Posted by H in ,

Wear red for Worlds AIDS Day. Even Google Does it.

Or make a donation, it could happen to you, your clients, your co-workers, or your friends and relatives.

Your and Their World AIDS Day  

Posted by H in , ,

What are you up to for World AIDS Day?

If you can spare a 2 minutes and a few bucks make a donation to fight AIDS!

AIDS can happen to you, your friends and relatives, your co-workers.

If you are a sex-worker, keep in mind that your clients are obviously potential bearers as they represent an increased risk for you. Sure some of them are as careful as the escorts they encounter - who are, fortunately, notoriously very aware of the risk and not really risk vectors as the media used to spread years ago* - but it takes only one.

(* and if you are fortunate enough to live in a developed country).

To all sex-workers and normal sexual beings, this is a good occasion to remind you all to be safe.

G. and I are spending the day in some special way, but there'll be more to this later.


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