Prostitution survivor to pro-lobby: I’m sick and tired of you!

This is a letter written by German ex-prostitute Huschke Mau. I don’t know the name of the translator, but thank you, whoever you are! The original can be found here. Please read the whole thing to support Huschke Mau in her activism.

I’M SICK AND TIRED OF YOU!
After having read an interview with prostitution lobbyist Stephanie Klee, she’s had enough. Now, Huschke Mau, who has exited prostitution, responds to her. “I am one of those ‘voluntary’ prostitutes so many people talk about,” she writes. “And I am sick and tired of you prostitution proponents!”

Dear Stephanie Klee,
I am referring to the interview the city magazine Zitty Berlin has conducted with you and first of all, I would like to thank you for giving it. I would still be silent had I not read it. Before I go ahead: I hope you don’t mind me talking to you from colleague to colleague. Because, yes, I too know prostitution well, having spent ten years in it.
You know, I find your statements concerning prostitution fairly remarkable. I am just a bit surprised that you have forgotten to mention certain things—things that seem rather important to me.
For a start, you forgot to ask the fundamental question as to whether there is a real need for prostitution at all. I am glad that at least you do not use the same old, trite pseudo argument according to which the incidence of rape would go through the roof if we didn’t have brothels (which means that men aren’t capable of controlling their impulses and if they didn’t crawl the curb, they wouldn’t be able to stop themselves from raping).
But what does society need prostitution for, Stephanie? Why do we need to allow men to buy women (because most prostitutes are female and those who are male serve homosexual buyers). How do you explain this fact and what does it tell you? Apparently, for you, this does not constitute a forced relation. And there it is already, the first blind spot on your lens.
The only one living it up in prostitution is the punter!
You are writing that prostitution is sex. You know, for me, there are at least two persons involved in sex. It is not one person exclusively serving the client’s sexual wishes while having to “delete” her own sexuality and herself, who she is, her personality.
I would like to ask you which sphere of prostitution you are living in if you haven’t noticed that the “varieties” of “sexualities”, i.e. the punters’ “wishes” are becoming more and more violent and are more and more seeking to humiliate. Why don’t you read the punters’ websites, dear Stephanie? It is clearly written there that men (punters) experience it as an expression of their own power when they can spit into women’s faces in brothels and “squirt” their sperm into them; if they can test how much the woman can take when it comes to anal intercourse; when they ejaculate on her face and insist on her swallowing their sperm, after they, the punters, have pushed their dick up to her tonsils.
Why don’t you take a look at the language in those punters’ forums? Look at how they’re enjoying it, how they’re getting off on the knowledge that the woman does not like this, but only does it for the money, that she has to do it because she needs the darn dough or because there’s some dork sitting in the next room. How they consciously test out and violate limits and even if they may not fully indulge in their own sadist side, they at least are fully aware of it. In prostitution, it’s not about sex, but about power. Power and nothing else. Don’t pretend women could enjoy themselves in their sexuality there, the only one living it up is the punter whose desires you satisfy – at your own costs.
And no, Stephanie, the punter does not forget this feeling of power that he’s paid for. He doesn’t forget that women are disposable, that he can take them for himself, that they are there to satisfy his desires, that they delete their sexuality and soul during the act and aren’t allowed to have needs/boundaries/wishes. Oh, no. He takes this feeling that equates sex with power for him and carries it away from the brothel and it affects his behavior towards women who aren’t in prostitution. Prostitution is violence. A man-satisfying machine.
Don’t pretend you’ve never experienced the punters’ violence, and don’t tell me the fairy tale of the kind and gentle client who only wants some cuddles and always respects your limits. Germany has legalized prostitution and what has it led to? To even more prostitution and, most of all: to a more and more extreme demand. By this, I don’t only mean that there’s more and more punters, because men learn that it’s okay to buy women. (Yes, I already hear the pseudo argument according to which the punter isn’t buying the women, but a “service,” what nonsense! Can you separate your pussy, your ass, your breasts, your mouth and what you do with them from yourself? It’s always the whole person being touched.)
You do NOT speak for me, nor for any prostitute that I know!
Just take a look at what punters want: kissing, everything without condom, anal intercourse (without a condom as well), French complete (meaning, swallowing sperm), tongue anal, fist fuck, ejaculating in the face, they want gang-bang and rape-parties, they want younger and younger girls, they want girls “with no taboos” who are conditioned to do EVERYTHING the punter wants. They want flatrate-fucking, as many girls and women as possible, all included in the club’s entry fee.
How do you explain this to yourself? It is clear that with its legalization, prostitution has shown its true essence: violence. Complete disposability of women’s bodies. The unbridled acting out of male violence. And also: sexualized torture.
Because, dear Stephanie, if you took a look around the punters’ forums, you would see that punters are misogynists. That they love to torment women, to go to the limits of what’s bearable for them. And there’s something else: punters want forced prostitutes. Because they can be sure that they (have to) accept practices that every “decent”, old-established German prostitute would reject. That is what punters want. How do you manage to disregard the fact that by now there are several big brothels in every city and that almost all of the women working there barely speak any German or very little, their “protectors” bringing them there in the morning and picking them up in the evening, women who offer practices that hurt and put their health at risk? Do they enjoy that, or what? All masochists? And you write that for these women (from Romania, from Bulgaria) prostitution is a great alternative? You think that prostitution is a great alternative to poverty?
You talk about prostitution as if it were something worth striving for, something that’s supposed to be great for women and girls. Why do you not mention the reasons driving women into prostitution? And I’m even leaving forced prostitution out of the equation here. By the way, what does coercion mean for you? Having to opt for prostitution out of a place of poverty and lacking options? That is not coercion for you, but a great opportunity? Even the women who enter “out of their free will” are subjected to coercion in this business.
For example, when the room rent is so high that they have to accept a punter even if they don’t want to, because if they don’t, they are covered in debt they owe to the “landlord.” When they don’t dare to reject a punter or they will again get in trouble with the “guards” or the “brothel owner” who doesn’t like it when his girls have a reputation of “being difficult.”
You blandly present things as if women wanted to live it up in this business. Dear Stephanie, I am one of those “voluntary” prostitutes so many people talk about. I started at age 18, after having been battered and sexually abused by my stepfather for 17 years and after having run away from home. I thought this was the only thing I was capable of, that I was only good for fucking. And anyway, if this is the only thing I am good for, then this is my life insurance allowing me to survive.
At the beginning, I thought I had power. Well look, they’re even paying for you. I regulated access to my own body through prostitution. This is what I learned: anybody can jump on your bones anyway. And then, I was allowed to filter: nope, not anybody any longer, only those who can afford it.
I am not the only one in this. I have not witnessed one single prostitute who hasn’t been sexually abused/raped or experienced some other form of sexualized violence as a child or as an adult. I would even venture to say that the reason why our society doesn’t consistently shut down the mass abuse of young girls is that it profits from it. Abuse is like breaking in a horse at an early age. Which comes in useful, as through the abuse, women/girls learn to dissociate, to delete themselves during the act. To not being there (and this is exactly what the punter pays for – for the women’s will not being there in that moment, because he has paid it away).
The link between sexual abuse and prostitution has long been proven and documented: at least 60 percent of all female prostitutes have been sexually abused in their childhood (with other statistics stating 90 percent).The only thing these women are living out, Stephanie, is the re-enactment of their traumas which they hope to be able to process, but of course cannot. And with all of that in mind, you don’t want any support out of prostitution, but into it, right?
Don’t pretend you’ve never experience the punters’ violence!
There are women living in prostitution who are traumatized and prostitution traumatizes them further. Or how, dear Stephanie, do you explain that there are tons of prostitutes (including myself) suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (studies show at least 60 percent with fully developed PTSD)?
You talk about prostitution putting prostitutes in high spirits, that they are happy from making the client happy and having money in their pockets. But what does “making the client happy” even mean? This, too, only means that I have successfully turned violent against myself (by removing myself, my disgust, my revulsion and will) so that the client could turn violent against me by using me for his desires. And so this is what makes prostitutes happy, right? Does it make you happy to dissociate and to not be there?
You are saying that the prostitute’s traumatization only starts when she steps out of the brothel’s door and that this traumatization is based on society discriminating against her. Relating to this, I would like to tell you something, you who think that there should be support programs for entering instead of exiting.
I am one of those women who entered prostitution when prostitution stopped “offending morality” in Germany. Should I tell you what the effect of legalization was? Just like the majority of all prostitutes, I did not register as such because I was afraid that then I wouldn’t be able to exit. Because I was afraid of being asked why I didn’t want to work as a prostitute any more, as this was a job like any other. And this is exactly what happened when I wanted out. I had been seeking help at the public health department and only received incomprehension. And I didn’t get out.
What was I supposed to tell the employment office when asking for unemployment benefits so that I didn’t have to suck ten dicks a day any longer, so that I could have a place to stay and something to eat? With what, they would ask, how had I made a living in the past three months? And if I had told them, would they have asked me why I didn’t want to continue doing it, there was such a great brothel nearby, they’re still hiring…? Or would I have had to prove that I wasn’t prostituting myself any more? And how would you prove that?
What was I supposed to tell the employment office?
You also forget the use of drugs and alcohol among prostitutes, Stephanie. (Why? If everything’s so great? But apparently, it’s all just a great big party, an orgy, a debauch, and it’s just part of living it up, hey?) There’re so many things you forget. You forget the forced prostitution, the punters’ violence, the pimps’ violence (oh wait, they’re not called pimps any longer, but “partners”, “security guards”, “landlords”). You forget the hatred of women, the self-hatred. You forget that landlords, brothel owners, newspapers (yes, those ads in which prostitutes promote themselves are extremely expensive), the state (taxes), that they’re all profiting. You forget that everyone makes money off of a prostitute and that they exploit her.
Who benefits the least? The prostitute. She receives the smallest share of the money, everyone makes money out of her, everyone gets something out of her (sex, money, a satisfied lust for power), but what does she get? She gets post-traumatic stress disorder, a substance addiction and a whole lot of loneliness and self-loathing. And that’s all due to society’s discrimination, right?
What’s weird is that when I have those flashbacks that I get from the PTSD caused by prostitution, what I see before my mind’s eye are always the images of punters abusing me! Stephanie, why don’t you ask trauma therapists where the PTSD comes from that the prostitutes suffer from, the prostitutes who are lucky enough to manage to exit?
I’ve had enough of you prostitution proponents who have no clue about what prostitution is, you who want to tell me that prostitution is a job like any other. I’m fed up with you, you who try to feed everybody the fairy tale of the oh-so-great voluntary prostitution. You who have no idea about prostitution and blab something along the lines of “prostitution used to be an expression of power over women, but now, it’s a reversal of the power relations, the prostitute has power over the punter” in your leftist self-conception. I’ve never experienced any power when I lay under some damn punter and I don’t know any woman who’s ever experienced it that way!
You make me want to puke, you who are in prostitution and call yourselves “sex workers.” Because you arrogate the right to speak for us all, for all of us in prostitution, and because you make those who know nothing about prostitution (women — as men being punters mostly know, only they won’t tell you why they really go to brothels, what they’re looking for and what they’re doing there!) believe that it’s all just okay.
It’s NOT okay
I can’t bear it any longer that you pretend to speak for ALL prostitutes. You’re a minority in prostitution. The reality you’re depicting doesn’t exist that way. You deny victims of violence their being victims, and, what’s more, advise them to be cheerful about it because it’s all so fabulous. You’re silencing the MAJORITY of prostitutes.
The majority that’s still boozing, taking drugs or enacting their abuse again and again, in the treacherous hope this will ease the pain. The majority that, at some stage, adopts the hatred of those committing violence against them, transforming it into self-hatred and who “voluntarily” enter this spiral of violence. You spill your sneer over those women wanting to speak up about the violence in prostitution: “Oh well, I’m sorry YOU’ve had bad experiences,” as if the violence wasn’t inherent to the structure of prostitution, but due to the woman’s lacking professionalism, to her damaged personality that makes her unable to bear such an amazing experience.
You are liberating nobody with your neo-liberal drivel!
You want to speak for everyone? You do NOT speak for me, nor for any other prostitute I know. You profit from the fact that most prostitutes are simply too busy surviving, too traumatized to even talk. I forbid you to speak for all prostitutes, because you silence those who could name this violence, you use their silence and simply don’t mention them, making them victims once again.
When you say “everyone should be allowed to do what they want,” in reality, you only mean that the punters and pimps, those standing behind you, should be allowed to do what they want. Not the prostitutes.
You aren’t liberating anybody with your neo-liberal drivel. When you say that prostitution should simply be freed from any controls, sanctions etc. and then everything would be super, you’re lying and you pursue a strange theory: If the victims of slavery feel unhappy from being slaves, will it help to legalize slavery so that the slaves won’t be “discriminated against by society” any more and can have themselves enslaved even better within the walls of slavery?
Without regards,
Huschke Mau, huschke.mau@web.de

Huschke Mau has sent this letter to the German Feministische Partei as they’re the only political party in Germany advocating for a ban of the purchase of sex and for the punishment of punters according to the Swedish Model.

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Survivor Jillan Mignon testifies on CBC

Jillan Mignon entered prostitution at age 13 and has now gotten out and is going to college. You can listen to her testimony in this podcast.

“My story of entering the sex trade is not very unique. It’s very very very typical. I came from, you know, a middle class family that struggled. We had abuse in our household, there was also some sexual abuse, and that made me a runaway. I started out on the street and it was very dangerous. I started out with survival sex, and survival sex is just, you’re not really trading sex for money, you’re trading sex for needs, you’re trading sex to be able to take a shower at somebody’s house, you’re trading sex to be able to sleep at somebody’s house, you’re trading sex for somebody to take you out for a hot meal. That’s survival sex. And that gradually progressed into working what we call “track” so that’s on the streets. I started in basically skid row of Winnipeg which is Higgins and Maine. You drive past there, you lock your car doors, it’s, that is, scary. And I’m still to this day I’m amazed that I actually stood there and sold myself there and made it out alive there. Because there’s no number of women who went to stand there at night and did not come back alive. So many of them, so many beautiful women, just didn’t even have a chance. Where I was, I was a nobody. In Winnipeg, the police sometimes won’t even, you know, they don’t even harass the girls that stand on the street. In Winnipeg, the police drive past them, they don’t care about who you are. They don’t care if you’re 12 years old and you’re standing on the corner. They don’t care that it’s midnight and you’re a little kid and you’re outside. They don’t care. In Winnipeg they have a phrase called a “ditch pig.” And that’s what was used at that time to describe somebody that worked “track,” that stood on the streets. Teenagers would drive, slow down and roll their window down and yell at you “hey, you ditch pig” and drive away and laugh about it.”

Please go and listen to the whole thing.