Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sex Workers and Domestic Violence........

Interestingly anonymous posted a comment on the financial issues regarding men and women and possible power imbalances while I was drafting this post.

I have a few words about the financial exploitation of women who sell sex - and it is often the men they live with who take this role.

Not all women who sell sex hook up with violent and abusive men who are financially exploitative. However, some do, it is not uncommon. Perhaps one issue is that not many men would feel comfortable with a partner who has such a job, and women in that profession attract men who are predatory and out for what they can get for that reason. But like any kind of domestic abuse, the tendency of women to put up with such treatment lies partly in a lack of self esteem or self doubt.

But what I don't believe is this - that men who are the partners of sex workers who are abusive (financially, physically, emotionally or otherwise - they can be all of those things) should be jailed for living off 'immoral' earnings. What their partners do for a living is really not the issue - the issue is that they are abusive, end of. They should be treated as any other abusers - if they are to be arrested for anything it should be for assault or extortion - not outdated and vague terms of immorality. Would it be any less 'immoral' if, say, a woman worked in a bank, had an unemployed husband at home who not only hit her but demanded control over their joint account? I think not. He would be arrested for assault - not for being the partner of a bank employee!

Also, there are labels given to male partners of sex workers which are innappropriate and unhelpful. In the old days a 'ponce' was a homosexual male. Now the term is taken to mean a man who is on the take - and is most commonly referred to men on the take from women who sell sex. What link is there here with homosexuality? There is none - unless it is taken for given that a 'real man' is a breadwinner and provider - while a man who stays at home is taking on a feminine role. This is a sexist and outdated term that is used by police as well as being street slang.

Truly if a woman wishes to stay in a relationship where the man does not contribute financially (even exploits her in that way) it is down to her. If she wishes to get out of an abusive relationship she should be given the support to do so - but what is the point in arresting her partner due to what she does for a living? Even if she is being taken for a ride, it is up to her to learn. Demonising her male partner due to her profession is unfair on her as it only ensures she will remain socially stigmatised. He is stigmatised not due to what he is (an abuser) but due to what she does and therefore is perceived as being.

The issue is therefore diverted from the main one (that of domestic abuse) and channelled into the futile debate over the rights and perceived wrongs of her profession.

What women do for a living is irrelevant to whether or not their partners abuse them physically, emotionally, or financially.

Those are my thoughts for the day. Don't know why I got onto that one but financial exploitation of any kind is always an issue, I guess.

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