Sunday, 29 November 2009
The symbol of pure sin itself.
A symbol for the promiscuous woman, the plague ridden harlot, the witch, the untamed, the rebellious, the sexually aggressive, the hungry and the needy. Throughout history the whore has it's place.
The profession reached its peak and downfalls side by side with world economy, war, plague, industrial revolution, cultural change, art, religion and so on. Prostitution is not the oldest profession we know of, but it has a very old history. There is no way I can write about every important event in history when it comes to prostitution, but I will try to mention the events I feel had a important impact. I wanted to take my time on this entry, to do the women and men in this profession proper justice. I hope I succeed.
The harlot was mentioned for the first time in the 4000 year old story from Mesopotamia: Gilgamesh.
The epic tale tells us about the prince Gilgamesh, and his very potent sexual appetite. No virgin, boy or girl, is safe in his presence. His subjects saw this as a result of boredom leading to rape. Subsequently the gods created Enkidu, to be his equal and companion. But before the two met, Enkidu had a 7 day long encounter with a harlot from Ishtar's Temple (Ishtar is the protector of all harlots, goddess of love, war and sex).
Over these 7 days she taught him to bathe, to break bread, she taught him motherly affection, orgasmic sex and more. He was given a course in civilisation, resting on authority from the highest level in the temple of love. At the end of these 7 days, Enkidu was a changed man:
"The woman reveals her breasts. She separates her legs and gives him her flesh. She shows her arts and awakes his manhood. Enkidu plows in the fields of love. For 6 days he is captivated by Ishtar's woman. The 7th day he is full with this human game. And he wants to go to the wild animals...But the knowledge weighs him down, his foot is paralyzed.
He sinks down at the feet of the harlot.
And his new mind, receives her words." [My translation, from Norwegian.]
(This should make most of you men out there sigh and nod, I would expect)
Gilgamesh and Enkidu meet, and after a long battle they realize they are equals. Both in strength and in bravery. Gilgamesh was tamed through his new friendship, and Enkidu through his lessons with the harlot. The two continued to do great deeds together, with less than subtle undertones of homosexual relations. The epos teaches us the importance of sexuality combined with respect. And most important of all, it teaches us that these two great warriors had their life changed and their perception of society altered, due to the wisdom of the Ishtar temple harlot - The whore.
Implicitly we can see that prostitution developed in and around Ishtar's temples in Mesopotamia.
The temples had it's function as residence for gods and goddesses, also creating a form of collective identity.
The priests and priestesses engaged in complex business activities, lending out money and accepting gifts and in return giving the people their protection. The priestesses participated in holy weddings (hieros gamos), and man was represented in the ritual by a king. The idea was to secure earth's fertility by collaboration between the earthly regent and the world of the goddess. Basically this was a sexual fertility rite, common round harvest time. As mentioned in an earlier blog entry, the woman's fertility is closely linked with harvest throughout history. Simply put, if the various kings didn't bone the temple harlots, the people lost faith in earth's fertility. The Ishtar temples are actually the first we see of organized prostitution, and even modern nunneries are vaguely based on this system. Proper role models if you ask me.
A commonly encountered question is "why would any woman want to be a prostitute"?
In Mesopotamia, women had few rights, they had no property, or legal protection.
Most families could not afford the dowry, and did not want their daughters to end up as slaves. (Inscriptions tells us that girls from aristocratic families also spent some time in the temples.)
Sending their most beautifully daughters to the temples, meant she would learn dancing, she would learn proper etiquette and knowledge about sexuality. Time spent in the temple functioned as a time of transcendence for the young girl into womanhood. The aristocrats and kings paid an offering to the gods, in order to have divine sexual relations with the girls. But not only for sex, mind you. Religious inscriptions tells us about medical healing and magical uprising, making the girls both nurses and sex therapists. Just like many prostitutes are to this very day. The magical ointment used by the temple harlots, was a well kept secret only known to them (more about this here). As the girls grew older, they made more money, gained more knowledge and became desired wives for aristocratic men. The harlots of Ishtar's temples were actually highly respected.
In most parts of the world, archaeologist have found female figurines, categorized as the neolithic primal Venus. With large breasts, wide hips and butts, these are for the most part found closely located to sacred and holy places. The woman has through out time been worshipped for her fertility, therefore she is seen with such voluptuous curves. We see her as the Sumerian Innana, in the Greek Aphrodite and roman Venus, or Astarte, the hindu Devi and Druga, as well as various Celtic, Germanic and Norse representations, such as Nerthus and Frøya.
Common to these, are their relations with a son, lover or relative. He usually dies, and rises along with the duality in rain and drought, sowing and harvesting the corn. We see him as Frey, Osiris, Priapus, Eros, Adonis, Attis, Ba'al, Tammus or Shiva. We can see the woman as the stable, strong and fertile mother earth herself, and the male as the growing, ejaculation/sprouting, and then the fall. Like the cycle of the year and grain itself.
If this was the early image of the prostitute woman, how did it change?
In the old testament the whore is more or less the sum of all the negative qualities a woman can have. And what actually happened in the Garden of Eden? We all know the story about Eve literally getting both herself and Adam thrown out from paradise. Eve manipulated by the phallic snake, tempting the innocent Adam to eat the forbidden fruit from the three of the knowledge of good and evil, or so orthodoxy tells us. According to the Gnostics, Adam was the embodiment of psyche, or soul, while Eve stood for the pneuma, or spirit. (Eve translates as "Breath" - Pneuma - Breath, while Adam is related to Atman, breath or soul). In gnostic mysticism Eve is actually the liberator, the one who awakens Adam and herself up to knowledge, the snake being the real God, in fact, freeing human kind from ignorance. Thus the serpent earns his name Lucofer - the bringer of light. (From the latin lux, meaning light.) Little is known about the mysterious Eve, some trace her back to a Sumerian legend of Ninhursag containing interesting links to the Garden of Eden and the myth concerning the rib.
Centuries later Orphic mysticism dealt with the evil nature of woman, and we can read about her evil doings in letters from both Paulus and Johannes. Both judaism and protestant christianity have been kinder to Eve than these early christians. In the medieval jewish book The Alphabet of Ben-Sira, she is actually Adam's second wife, his first wife was the demanding and rebellious Lilith, a fallen female angel. Lilith refused to submit to Adam, and she refused to be on her back in the missionary position, laughing in his face when he tries to force her, and left him on the spot. Adam grew lonely and God gave him Eve, the submissive and obedient wife.
Lilith went on to become mother of all demons and other creatures of the night (excluding goths - LOL) both incubi (male) and succubi (female). Known as the sex demons, raping helpless men and women in their innocent sleep. Lilith is in modern time now known as a feminist icon, lending her name to numerous feminist organisations all over the world. Jewish protestant beliefs, preach the downfall of humanity resulting from the army of the demonic seductresses in hell. Lead on by Satan himself. When women become whores, and when men are tempted, it is all due to these demons of evil, and not because of Eve and woman's nature, as the papal church has traditionally held. According to them, Eve, the woman, is the main reason for all things bad.
By now the woman has transcended from The Mother Goddess, to be seen as The Mother of Sin.
One can maybe say that the woman was doomed due to Eve's actions in the Garden of Eden. She is no longer the all knowing, all seeing, fertile mother figure with immense sexual powers. She is the originator of sin, and the destroyer of man. In christian religion that is.
Let's move on to some of the types prostitutes history has shown us.
In Greek history around 400 BC, there were 3 different types of prostitutes, and these types we still see in modern society. The working girls of today are not at all that different.
Deiktrides were women on display much like we see in the contemporary sex industry, we see them in windows with red lighting, popular in the Philippines, Netherlands and Germany. These Greek girls were lower class, often sick, mocked and laughed at by the public. Almost all were slaves.
The alutrides were dancers and singers, much like the strippers of today. These girls had knowledge and skills. They were hired for parties and much praised by the public, free to do what they wanted and they made quite alot of money.
Then we have the Hetaera. They were the classical type of sex worker, publicly offering sex for money, but also hosting expensive parties, engaging in philosophical conversations with clients. We can compare these girls to the high class prostitutes today. These women were more free than the classical wife at the time, The Hetaera could go anywhere, while the married women had to obey her husband and was rarely seen in public. The Hetaera would also host parties ending in sex orgies, taking place in their own luxurious homes.
In Scandinavia, female slaves (thralls) kept the men content, so there are no known signs of prostitution until 1200-1300. We know all slaves throughout history have been sexually abused by their masters/owners. In Bergen, Norway, prostitution started to flourish druing the hanseatic trade period. In England and northern Italy app 1200 the authorities instigate public supervision of the prostitutes by various efforts, all depending on who was in charge. Public baths were built, and it was common knowledge what was going down inside. Public baths are still a common location for gay subculture. These baths were found in Norway, Germany, Denmark and England and so on. In brothels and baths, there was usually a woman in charge. Prostitution was mainly a woman dominated business. And in Paris they were organised as well, fighting for causes they believed in. (I will write more about the politically organized sex workers further down the blog.) The prostitutes had to be clean, and by that I mean clean inside out. They were not not allowed to engage in anal or oral sex, because the missionary position was the only approved position, both by the brothel mother and the church. The more acrobatic sexual practices didn't appear until the 1500-1600 in Paris, with the most expensive girls. It was also illegal to visit the brothels during fast or holy days, and this was a constant debate between the brothel owners and the authorities. So having sex with a prostitute was not illegal, it was common for both priests, young men, aristocrats, and married men. But fucking a whore Christmas eve? Unheard of!
Many of the prostitutes had live in partners or were married, so nothing has changed there. Some countries had laws against marrying a prostitute, and in Florance in 1403 a law made it illegal for all men over 30 to have sex with prostitutes, hoping this would make them want to get married. Since most men got their rocks off by a working girl, few saw the need for marriage. By 1400, the prostitutes had to stay in specific streets, and live in specific houses, and the stigma began to grow. Although there were annual celebrations such as Mary Magdalen day, where the prostitutes participated, it became more and more important for the government to separate the sex workers from the decent women, both in dress and head gear. The clothes varied in color and shape, such as black or red capes, or bells in their hats, depending on where in the world they were located. There were also color codes so the public would know the woman with a red ribbon was "one of those". Another important change was that when times were bad, the prostitutes were to blame for say a bad harvest, or say an increased death rate. A huge difference from what we saw as customs in Mesopotamia, where the whore was the main source for a fertile harvest.
The prostitute went from being popular entertainers, to being the hated, public scapegoat.
An important woman in history, is Mary Magdalen.
As the middle ages were replaced by the renaissance, Mary Magdalen became more and more sensual, in the Gothic period she wore her hair covered up, whereas she was now seen in art with free, flowing red hair and revealed breasts. Mary, as history's most famous prostitute, was portrayed by the most luxurious of courtesans. She was portrayed as the repenting and remorseful, retired prostitute, and the church loved the repenting whore. But there is no evidence that Mary was in fact a prostitute, and the difference between a prostitute and a promiscuous woman became very vague, and this distorted the government's attempts at keeping records of the amount of sex workers at the time, making the numbers seem higher. Some theologians held that any woman who slightly blushed by just thinking about "sex", was a harlot at heart. We can now clearly see the stigma of the whore, and the suppression of female sexuality coming to life. A woman having several sex partners, was simply labeled a whore.
1500 years of theology, art and writings, had changed the pictures of the new testament second most important woman from love goddess, to ex prostitute, to a repenting, celibate young girl: The ideal woman of the time: a married and submissive wife, obedient, and with no sexual urges.
And then came syphilis.
This disease would turn the sex industry up side down. Syphilis is a venereal decease - sexually transmitted. The word venereal actually has it's root in the name "Venus", the roman love goddess. In keeping with the ongoing reform of female sexuality and prostitution, the choice of word seems fitting.
And the general public was agreed on the source of this horrible disease: they all blamed the prostitute. Any woman infected, was chased out of the city in the 16th century, brothels got closed down, and hospitals refused to attend to the infected. These were horrible times for the working girls. Outcasts, sick and mocked by everyone.
A fantastic piece of art by Sandro Botticelli, "mystic cruxifiction", shows us the syphilitic Florence in the background, with the crying Mary Magdalen in front, embracing Jesus. With her in the foreground, Mary became the very symbol of guilt. The harlot, not Jesus, must carry humanity's sin on her shoulders. Just like Eve.
The prostitute is no longer known as the skilled, intellectual teacher. She is now the scum of the earth, causing sickness, and as the very core center for all depravity mankind engage in. And these events sets stage for what we see next.
Josephine Baker, Emma Goldman, Margaret Mead, Karen Horney and Simone De Beauvoir and Margot St. James all based their philosophies on freeing the woman from her biological role. They were pro sex, and the liberation it self was found in the power of choice. According to these feminists, the woman should be sexually active, they wanted the women to re-discover their desire. On their own terms, and with whomever they wanted. Birth control, such as being on the pill or inserting a diaphragm, was in it self an act of liberation. Being in control of the body, and choosing sex partner, was a liberation from the conservative religious views. These feminists knew their history, and the fight was against the conservative church, not men per say. They also propogated masturbation as a form of self discovery and liberation.
Some of these pro sex feminists, like Elise Ottesen-Jensen (aka Ottar), have more in common with Jenna Jameson than the man hating, sex loathing radical feminists who use her name today. (Thanks to Gird for that comparison.)
And these ladies affected the sex industry.
Up until now, young unmarried men, sailors, students, immigrants and solders had their sexual encounters with prostitutes. But as women became liberated, these men could get their satisfaction and sex without commitment, from more and more girls. The sex workers lost their function as sex educators. Syphilis also changed environment, now infecting the common man and woman due to the liberated newly discovered sexuality. Prostitution decreased side by side with the feminists who playfully called themselves "whores". This led to an interesting shift in the sex industry. The prostitution market advanced because of the need for kinky and advanced sex that the "descent" girls never even knew was possible, and if they did know, they certainly would not try any of it. Yet another very important factor is that as time went by, men started to find the courting, wining and dining, expensive and tedious. Some women started to button up their pants and wanted to wait longer before parting their legs. With sex, came a demand for commitment and respect. Some men felt insecure now that women were so liberated, free and demanding, some men lost their self esteem. This again led to men yet again turning to the experienced and elder whores for problem free, commitment free sex, and the sex therapist once again rose from the ashes, comforting men, making them feel powerful and masculine.
An important event took place in France, Lyon in 1975. The police, then as now, made life miserable for the sex workers, fining them on the spot, and throwing those with no cash in jail. June 3, 150 prostitutes sought church sanctuary. The result was 40 police officers breaking down the church doors, dragging the girls out by their hair. Other churches had similar experiences. This led the sex workers to get organized. In the 70's and 80's strong unions were founded in USA, Great Brittain, Thailand, Brazil, the Philippines, France, Australia and Norway. With names such as Coyote, Pony, Puma, Hydra, Passion, Ocelot. In Norway, Pion was founded in 1990. And they all had the same demands: De-criminalization of the profession, legal protection, freedom of speech, the right to keep their children and more. The International Committee for Prostitutes’ Rights was founded in the mid 70's.
In the 1970's some women felt they'd had "enough sexual liberty", and started to look down on promiscuous women. Lesbian feminists were taking over the women's movement, and feminists such as Kate Millet and Gloria Steinhem were important. And the stigma against the prostitutes now came from the feminist themselves. The prostitute was a fallen woman, weak, or animalistic, and not fully aware of her actions. This was in line with contemporary marxist theories. The women's movements shifted gear into a battle concerning who was with them or against them. Abortion became an important cause for the feminists, the right to decide over their own bodies. But not when it came to selling sex. Abortion was "good", prostitution was "bad".
To paraphrase the feminist Sheila Jefferey: prostitution is guerrilla training, and a rehabilitation center for sexual terrorists" This period in feminist history can be labeled as authoritarian, if not totalitarian.
Kathleen Barry (author of Female Sexual Slavery) invited Margo St. James (ex-prostitute, pro sex feminist and founder of COYOTE ), to participate at a congress consering prostitution. But as soon as Margo and her organised sex workers came with their politics, the fight was on. The right to decide for themselves was the main source of disagreement. During the congress, the prostitutes were not alowed to present their arguments, only to answer questions, and they had to leave the podium immediately thereafter. It was a horrible treatment of intelligent and strong women. Still Kathleen Barry was crowned "wonder woman" in 1983 for her feminist agenda. Go figure. Margo St. James on her side claimed: "A blow job is better than no job!" She was infuriated with the feminists and how they wanted to force sex workers out of their profession, based on the feminist's own feelings about this line of work. In 1987 prostitution was labeled a world wide problem and a threat against mankind, by the international abolitionist federation, founded by Josephine Butler. Prostitutes were denied access to this meeting, but several managed to sneak in, and one forced her way to the microphone shouting her anger and resentment, and another one said "you are treating us like dogs!". The prostitutes were enraged, and it was now very clear that the feminists was not siding with the prostitutes in any way, shape or form.
Then we had feminists like Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon. Feminists like these had gotten the idea into their heads that penetration itself is suppressing women. The only non-suppressing sex was between women. These feminists saw men as animals, rapists, and as violent suppressors. Read up on your own, I can't be bothered to waste time on them.
What is the situation for the sex workers today?
Prostitutes are still harassed by the police, some are forced to give the cops all their money, or free sex, many are raped, many have their condoms slashed by the cops and so on. The prostitutes in Norway have a hard time in the judicial system, as she/he is seen as a low priority. The girls working indoors often have a security system with body guards and girls working the phone, thus making sure the customer gives his full name, address and phone number. These girls, usually live 2-3 in the same flat, the rent is being payed by the pimp. The girls commonly have from 3-12 customers in one day. These girls are mostly drug free, and they usually never go over their own limits as to what they are willing to do. Some work alone, choosing the clients she wants, having several regular men and as a result creating some security.These girls are often more specialised, offering a wide range of fetish and bondage, and they make large amounts of money. The girls working the street have little security, make a lot less, and have to settle for a huge number of various customers. Some of these girls are being beaten, raped and have a drug habit. Life is very hard, and the new law on criminalizing the sex customers, is making their job so much harder.
In 1982, the English Collective of Prostitutes used a church to stage a 12 day protest against police brutality and racism. They are still very active so stop by their site.
Last year the Norwegian government decided to criminalize the sex customers, claiming that this would help the sex workers. The authorities have this distorted image that if they remove the customer, the woman won't have to sell her body. They have this twisted view that every human engaging is selling sex, is weak, abused, forced, on drugs and living a live in hell. Yes. Some women fit this category, alongside a huge number of other women in different professions all over the world. Abused women, abused individuals of both genders are found in every kind of home, in every job, in every social class. But because some of these girls are in the sex industry, the profession is seen as the greatest of evils.
The whore, the mother goddess, the teacher, the skilled, the wise, the brave, the strong.
The whores will always live side by side us, doing one of the hardest job known to mankind, Please respect them.
I want to end this with a quote by Annie Sprinkle. I had the pleasure of interviewing her back stage a few years back.
"Some women are born sex goddesses, Some are born farmers. We are all different"
Monday, 16 November 2009
Telecommunication data retention. In a proposed EU-side law, european internet service providers are requested to retain not only email, but any metadata of communication originating from their network . This issue is currently under debate in many europan countries, and several have voiced reservations, labeling the proposed law as unconstitutional. The politicians who are in favor of the law can't seem to dig up important arguments as to why we as civilians should welcome, or even accept such a restriction of our freedom.The reason for this is, of course, simply because there are no good arguments. There is now way this law can be utilized as an effective tool for safety in our so called democratic society. Storing data from everyone, is labeling everyone as a potential criminal. A potential pedophile, a terrorist, a member of an organized crime network.
However, the claim is that the data will be available only if you commit a serious crime in the future. Then, and only then, will the police get access to your data trails. Well, atleast that's what they say now. Big Brother is watching you, and people are being watched in their sleep. What scares the shit out of me, is the amount of people who just don't care, claiming there is nothing to be afraid of - unless you are engaged in something dodgy. I want to reprase that to: "As long as you do as you're told."
Today John Ståle Stamnes from Kripos (the investive branch of the norwegian police) wrote about this in the biggest news paper in Norway. And by doing so, he reveals Kripos' lack of understanding of the internet, and also their unvillingness to attack internet crime from a different angle. The pedophile is a returning villain in his line of argumentation. I suppose this is in order to hopefully trigger the well known knee jerk response most people get from the word by itself. But the pedophile who downloads the child porn, is not the same person who raped the child in the first place. That child is allready a victim, and will remain so no matter how many people get arrested for wanking off to some underage filth. The child is primarily being hurt in the real world, not in cyberspace. The crime it being commited in homes, by dads and moms, by other family members and friends, by strangers, by pimps and by the mafia. These are the people that should be taken down. Take the producers, not the consumers.
The police don't need suveillance of you and me in order to do their job. By accepting this transgression against your privacy, you lower the bar for future abuse of power. you are in fact opening a door that cannot be closed. You are being watched while walking down the street, you are being watched while in the store, while in the bank, on the buss, in the train, on the plane. Everywhere. You don't need to be watched while you're on your computer as well.
Crime will not be prevented by watching you and me. Claiming so, is nothing more than an insult to these children. The people engaging in these crimes, are way ahead of the police, way more technically advanced using proxy servers, fake IPs and so on. Anyone who's spent alot of time online knows that child pornograpy is not rampant on google. It's a very closed lid business, with very limited access, for very few people. I've seen every sick site out there, I've seen fucked up shit you cant even imagine. BUT I have never once seen child porn. Have you?
Tust me, that "Barely Legal Teen" is a 25 year old porn star with room for a double DP and more. Sporting pig tails and a pink plaid skirt, does not make you a 8 year old virgin.
You and I do not need or want to be afriad of being labeled as perverts, nor do we want to be afraid of using the internet, or our phone, in fear of doing something potentially illegal. You want to be able to wank off to your tentacle hentai porn and not be looking over your shoulder while doing so.
You want your freedom. You want your right to privacy. Remember that.
There is no NEED for this law. And the need can not and will not be created through mass propaganda that taps into constructed fear. In China, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Burma and Belarus we label cencorship and internet surveillance as violating human rights , while here it's for "our own protection".
Not only does this law invade your privacy, it blurs the boundries between public and private spheres.
In the words of Michel Foucault surveillance creates a feeling of always being watched, thus enabling the public to self police. A terrifying dystopic future.
And who watches the watchmen?
" Nineteen Eighty-Four " anyone?
Listen: Your child is safe, your child is not in terrible, immediate danger of falling into the hands of the millions of pedophiles out there on the net. Beacuse there aren't millions of pedophiles on the net, or living next to you. You protect your child. Not the goverment. This is the goverment way of trying to create fear, a false need. Don't let them fool you.
This is not about protection, this is all about control.
We are sleepwalking into a surveillance Society.
And I ask you all to wake the fuck up.
Say no to techno- fascism.
Please stop by these links: