Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Legal prostitution in Nevada[2]

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Several quotes from a very interesting book written by a former brothel-madam (Lora Shaner), "Madam, inside a Nevada Brothel"(2001).

She wasn't a prostitute herself, but she previously had a job in journalism. Funny thing is that she is a strong supporter of legal prostitution, but instead tells horrific stories about the women in the brothels. Some even work for pimps while she knows about it!!! She even sees women who work for pimps in legal brothels as "independent contractors" because after all, they can refuse customers.

One common "mythconception" about prostitutes is that they hate men, that they were abused early in life and now. In retaliation, take pleasure in rendering men defenseless-making them gasp, pant, and grunt in the throes of lust. Though this isn't true of all prostitutes, some women, who well remember their own defenselessness as victims of men's lust, rage, or contempt, do rejoice that they are now the ones in control. They feel a sense of power in their abilities to manipulate sex-hungry men to give up large amounts of money in return for the sexual acts other men forced on them in childhood. These women bubble with joy when their daily take breaks the thousand dollar mark. It's likely that their pleasure springs not so much from the money they've eamed as trom the temporary boost it gives their self-esteem. (Their services must have value if so many men are willing to pay so much for them!) Whatever antipathy prostitutes may feel toward the male gender, however, is overwhelmed by their intense need for a special man in their lives-someone they can love and trust who will, at least, pretend to love them in return and thus provide them with some ongoing sense of personal worth, no matter how fragile. And therein lies the fantasy (of being loved for themselves) and the puzzle (why do they choose the men they do?). Early on, prostitutes develop a sixth sense about men. Unlike many of their less experienced straight sisters, they know at a glance which are the good guys and which are the rotten bastards. It's an ability they put to profitable use at the brothel every time they close their bedroom doors behind some horny stranger, knowing precisely what buttons to push to get maximum cash. They mold their acts around their audience and it usually works. Amazingly, though, most prostitutes don't use the skill to size up men in their personal lives. Knowing a man is a despicable sonofabitch may send up a red flag, but almost all of the girls respond to it much the same way a bull responds to a red cape. There seems to be a fascination among prostitutes, especially those who support pimps, for arrogant, greedy, and dangerous men. Nice guys bore these women. The psychology behind it is unfathomable. One school of thought is that they've been victimized by such men all of their lives and are strangely comfortable with them. At least they always know what to expect. On the other hand, one would think that after a lifetime of abuse at the hands of sociopaths, they'd run from them as they would from a king cobra. But they don't. They fall for them over and over again. I overhear the girls on the pay phone in the hallway and listen to the stories they tell about the men in their personal lives. Whether these stories, like others they tell, are factual or fabricated is beside the point. I only know that I'm constantly amazed by how easily (and often) so many of them tell me that they've "fallen in love." They leave the brothel for a week's vacation and come back filled to the brim with girlish glee over some man they met in a bar, grocery, laundromat, shopping mail, Disneyland, Sea World, SixFlags over Somewhere... These love affairs tend to be fleeting. The lover learns of the girls occupation and dumps her. During her next vacation the girl meets another guy she likes better and dumps the last one. Occasionally, the lover learns of the girl's occupation and becomes her pimp. Few prostitutes have the knowledge, ability, or motivation to get out into the real world and take care of themselves, their kids, and their lives on their own. So many seem to need a man to love them and, as are suit, to direct them. These women have a fragile sense of self. Only the belief that they are loved by a man, no matter how abusive, gives them validation. The same is probably true of the great majority of women everywhere who believe they need a man in order to be complete. Consider how diligently many married women, regardless of rank or station in life, work at matchmaking for their single friends once they, themselves, have "snagged a man." As Kipling said:

"The Colonel's Lady an' Judy O'Grady Are sisters under their skins!"

The girls spend a lot of their spare time on the phone talking to their men. I've overheard countless one-sided conversations. Inquiries into the health and welfare of parents and children, lively interest in the men's activities, questions about the homestead, animals, neighbors, gardens, and weather have kept phone lines busy from Pahrump to Paramus. I've also heard girls talk to their men about nothing but how much money they've made so far this trip, how much more they hope to make before their time off, and how they intend to get the money to their pimp-boyfriends, pimp-husbands, and plain (no-euphemism) pimps. On weekly paydays, which are also "doctor days," many of the girls rush from their medical exams to the local Western Union office to wire large amounts of cash to men as close as Los Angeles and as far away as Vermont. Sometimes the girls hang up the phone in tears--either of longing for their homes and families or of pain after a vicious diatribe from their pimps who are not pleased with the amount of their earnings. Invariably, whether their men speak to them affectionately or bitterly, whether the women float down the hall on the Love Boat or burst into tears, they declare their undying love before they hang up. And yet, with all of their man-dependency and obedience, brothel prostitutes are not wimps. How could they be? They know who and what they are and announce it publicly every time they stand in a line offering sexual services to men they neither know nor care about. Forget morality--that's a meaningless term that's not in the brothel phrase book. Simply consider the guts it takes to do what they do. Think of the strength of purpose that keeps the ones who make it in the business sane and centered in the face of strong social condemnation.These women are prostitutes, but they're not cowards. They take money for services rendered but, with few exceptions, they don't take any crap - not from each other, not from customers, not from management. Again, the women only take it from the men they love, some of whom beat and abuse them. Don't try to analyze it. It's beyond comprehension.

Another quote:
Almost every civilized society has established rules to regulate sexual behavior. Religious beliefs, polities, socioeconomic factors, educational levels, sexual orientation drug and alcohol use, and a dozen other influences are brought to bear upon how we behave sexually and what is considered acceptable, perverted, or criminal. In the less rigid cultures, rules change along with the times. American attitudes toward sex are, in comparison with other Western countries, quite puritanical. While prostitution, for example, is condoned or at least countenanced in many other parts of the world, it is strongly condemned in the United States. Even in Nevada where brothels are legal, residents of nearby towns prefer to ignore their existence--until various community organizations need to raise funds; then the brothels are among their most lucrative sources. I continue to be amazed at the number and variety of local "causes" that approach the brothel to solicit money. It's a widely held public perception in this country: Prostitutes are scum-of-the-earth low-life wretches who wilt do anything for money, no matter how disgusting, depraved, or dangerous. (Some will. And some supermarket clerks and corporate executives will too.) The fact is that prostitutes, like all other women, are willing to perform some sex acts and unwilling to perform others. Street prostitutes who have pimps looking over their shoulders, ready to beat them if they turn down a trick regardless of the nature of the act solicited, are less likely to have a choice. On the other hand, brothel prostitutes, even those who have pimps outside the brothel, can pick and choose the activities in which they will participate. Their pimps won't know if they turn down a trick. Girls who work in Nevada brothels are free agents. Each is an independent contractor who sets her own limits. When a new girl comes to work at Sheri's, she's given a menu on which she indicates what brothel activities she will and will not do. Each activity is listed on a separate page. The girl examines the menu and signs her name only on the pages listing the activities in which she is willing to take part. Management respects her choices. We never try to persuade her to do anything she doesn't want to do.

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Lora Shaner said...

As the author of MADAM: Inside a Nevada Brothel, I congratulate your choice of quotes from the book. They express the pith and substance of voluntary prostitution. It continues in Nevada today and, for reasons hypothesized in MADAM,the profession is still a successful enterprise. Younger women replace those who are no longer in demand and and, as the saying goes, the band plays on.

Donkey said...

Thanks for responding!

I found your book interesting and peculiar. Do you know what you are saying plays right into the hands of the likes of Sheila Jeffreys, Donna Hughes and other radical feminists?

You acknowledge that many of the women in brothels actually do have a pimp. So it is not entirely a myth. Your story shocks me. You confirm the most horrible stereotypes about prostitutes having pimps and being sexually abused as children. But your opinion is that these women somehow choose to be sexually exploited and molested. A very peculiar and counterintuitive conclusion. I think other people would say otherwise. That their awful background forced these women into this behaviour. They don't know what it is like to be respected in a humane way. They have grown up with the idea that it is normal to grant sexual favours in return for affection, and that it is normal to be beaten by a man whom you are supposed to love.

(I have read this blog post again,and I notice many OCR-mistakes, I didn't notice it at first. I won't correct them, I stopped with my blog anyway.)

Donkey said...

I couldn't restrain myself. I just had to correct some mistakes!

I must say again that I find your outlook peculiar.

I wish to ask a question. Do you believe that these women actually like being molested and pimped? Some sort of SM-fantasy that they continuously live out?

I actually know of some people who have proposed this theory, that women actually choose the horrendous exploitative situation they live in, even get turned on by it.