Language Cuts Me to the Bone

I write often how language keep the prostituted class sub-human. In this post, I will write language of our allies that either on purpose or with ignorance keeps us sub-human.

This is hard to write, for many who use this language would imagine they fully aware of how to speak to the prostituted class. But many allies do not speak with the prostituted class as equals – but they speak for us for they keep us in the victim-role, so unable to speak our own truths without their interpretations; they speak through us,only using our words as examples or our lives as statistics; and they speak over us, seeming to speak of the prostituted but never seeing our human face.

Language has always been used to destroy the prostituted class, and when our allies are part of that destruction, it cuts deep to the bone.

Your words are silencing us, your words are shattering our hearts – your words remind us the prostituted are the bottom of bottom, and should remain there.

Language round anti-porn work is all about them and us – them being the women inside porn, us being “real” women who may be harmed by porn.

I sit in rooms listening to anti-porn debates, and all too often as a woman/girl who was made into porn or had porn poured into me as a prostitute – I know my life, my feelings and my rage is invisible.

It is the language of the porn-world and the real world; the language where the collateral damage done women outside the making of porn is the most vital issue; the language of distance and detachment from the realities of the prostituted.

When I hear the expression “collateral damage” used in the context of the sex trade – I feel despair hit my heart and bile go into my throat.

It is used say the “real damage”  of porn is that some men who consume porn may copy the porn into the bodies of their partners.

This of course happens – and yes, it is terrible. But if it the only reason to be anti-porn, then you are abandoning the prostituted class.

To say that, is to say the violence done to women in porn is fake or not that important – it is to imply that women in porn have “chosen” their lifestyle, so with regret it could be their own fault.

To speak in the language of collateral damage is to speak in the language of innocent victims and non-innocent victims.

In the context of war, collateral damage is innocent civilians, whilst soldiers are guilty and must have chosen their lifestyle. Their suffering is not made equal, and speak of collateral damage and you are automatically judging those who you classed as non-innocent victims.

That is how it sounds to exited women – we cannot be innocent, we are not allowed to be “real” victims.

No, women in porn must be made the Other, made women who are unreachable, women who cannot be empathised with.

They must be women who can named as plastic women, women who are just acting, women who have a different attitude to pain and humiliation.

They must be women other women can feel a void between them and us – they must never be known or seen as real.

To see porn inside those women as women – is to feel, see, hear and know it is real pain, it is real torture, it is real degradation – and it really kills all the life-force inside women in porn.

To know that with a deep clearness, is to know that it is worse for women inside porn than women outside porn who are abused by copying porn into their bodies.

Women inside porn have violence, usually extreme sexual torture repeated into their bodies thousands of times.

In a shoot, the violent sex is repeated over and over and over.

It is repeated to get the right angle to show the degradation; it is repeated coz the light is not right; it is repeated because she is not smiling enough; it is repeated to make sure her pain is clear and visible; it is repeated just to make sure she knows she is the bottom of the bottom.

It is repeated pain and degradation done in a mechanical way. She is never a human, just a fuck-machine that make the right noises and is never human enough to be truly damaged.

In this view, the real violence is when porn is poured into the bodies of women and girls outside the sex trade.

Gang-rape only counts if it happens to women and girls not classed and are the role of the whore.

That is why is a deep shock if a non-prostituted woman is gang-raped walking home; but it is just entertainment to view gang-rape on a porn DVD or in the computer. That is why we are outraged if teenage girls are gang-raped on a housing estate; but ignore the flats, hotels and brothels where under-aged prostitutes are gang-raped on a routine basic.

There is general outrage that sexual practices from porn – say double anal, deep-throating, arse-to-mouth etc – is allowed into the real world. It is seen as degradation and violence when done to non-prostituted women and girls.

But each and every violent sexual act in porn has always been put into the bodies of the prostituted for many centuries, and in nearly every country in the world.

Pain and degradation through sexual torture has always been the norm for the prostituted class – and it really hurts that it is only noticed or counts if it is happening to the non-prostituted.

We are made to know our pain and degradation is of no importance – it just used as example of how low women can go.

Until our allies start speaking constantly of our realities – and speak in a loud and clear voice that we are in a human rights crisis – then it is very hard for the prostituted class to have full trust.



4 responses to “Language Cuts Me to the Bone

  1. Fantastic piece Rebecca. I recognise so clearly what you say about innocent victims and non-innocent victims, or as I have previously discussed it, ‘deserving’ and ‘non-deserving’ (in the context of support services for women). I encountered so much of this language and attitude among the very people positioned to raise awareness, impact policy – make REAL changes. It is so important to challenge the language that supports this attitude. Your work is so valuable. Thank you.


  2. I would really like to hear how to talk to people who argue that prostitution should be legal, that it is just sex and not rape, that pornography is “free speech” and choice, again. Do you have suggestions for me as to how to effectively argue with these people? I get so emotional and angry. I have not been through it myself but it’s around me, and I have empathy. I’m sick of people thinking the sex industry is harmless! Please, if you have any suggestions, I want to know how to speak intelligently on the subject. Thank you for your blog, it’s very helpful.


  3. Rebecca, your honesty is nothing short of the brutal truth! I also don’t have the words to argue against porn or prostitution. The violence and the propaganda the conditioning words stripped me of any defense and which got replaced with deadness, though the turmoil in my gut and mind scream – no one listens – no one wants to hear. The law says everyone except the one filmed or the one bought has free speech. Even the law says it doesn’t matter about the subject being filmed or the one being bought and sold. This, here in a blog, is about the only place I feel I can speak freely and it still costs me and probably you every time I expose the truth. The pain of being rejected by the persons on the band wagon of support to rescue girls sold into prostitution stings nearly as much as the real pain I was forced to endure. Anger oozes out in controlled spurts. I don’t what it to alienate me from friends who try to understand and support. Still the control to keep myself in check to not overwhelm people to not be too intense is …. like wearing a girdle …. the constraint and control is still alive and well and living in me. The mainstream mentality has been so conditioned and contorted that it sets the knife just a little bit deeper into my soul. But I have to keep speaking out even if other prostituted women don’t want me to say anything….because there are countless others who are coerced drugged forced and filmed and they are speechless. What sicko decided that our pain and blood was not the same as theirs? What sicko decided that asian and black women have no feelings? Who decided this was fact? When I get hit sideways with flashbacks, PTSD, and dissociation the devastation all over again seems to strip the top layer off of my freshly wounded soul. I read your posts because you have words that seem to highlight what my conditioned silence, which has little to no value in the real world, wants to say. The pain and violation, the anxiety and overwhelming dread of being filmed repeatedly scratch in my mind – it wants out. I learned to leave in my mind only to be brought back by the pornographer, the next assault, the next man, the next object … like a teased mouse is by a cat! The anguish of watching another girl be hurt knowing it would be my turn next is unspeakable, there are simply no words. The fear of not complying erases all sense of right and wrong, I wish I had the words to describe the terror and fears of saying something and letting loose. Mainstream mentality says it is not right to speak of the horror, it is right to remain silent and in agreement. It is not right that prostitutes discount porn….I so appreciate that you address this and are not afraid of it. When I was told so many years ago that I was setting a precedent, it sickened me. I was bought and sold, forced and silenced all for someone else’s few minutes of pleasure, just like you were. The fact that the films were viewed over and over by numerous men makes the shame encapsulate me strangling me with that horrible silence. The fact that edited footage became enlarged stills for others to gawk at, even now after all these years out and safe, slaps shame and humiliation on me. I believe sometimes that I will live the rest of my life in this filthy lie of silence.


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