It Is Rape (a prostitute’s POV)

Crossposted from my blog, Whore Is A Compliment .

No, not prostitution itself. But that’s another post.

What I’m talking about is customers who have sex with us and then refuse to pay and/or steal the money back.

There was a post on Feministing a while back where someone asked if it’s RAPE or THEFT if customers refuse to pay prostitutes. Several people claimed that, by turning their bodies into a service, prostitutes turned the stealing of sex with them into theft instead of rape.

That is fucking bullshit.

There may be prostitutes out there who actually agree with that, and far be it from me to say they can’t define their experiences in any way they want, but that’s not how I define it.

If my necessities of consent are not met (whether that involves using a condom or cash payment), it’s fucking rape.

Lemme make this clear: I like my job, but only comparatively. I like it better than working at Starbucks or something. But I’d rather stab myself in the eye than have sex with someone I’m not at all into just as a charity service.

I remember the first time I had a good bit of money from whoring. I told my partner how much I had, and he said, “Oh, you know, I need a new pair of pants.”

I lit into him. I was ON MY BACK for that money, and though the money makes it worth it [to me personally], it still is not a little thing. It is a big fucking deal. And if I get nothing in return for it, it’s fucking rape. It’s letting me do a thing I’d never do otherwise simply for the other person’s pleasure. It’s taking advantage. It’s cruelty. It’s stealing, sure, but there’s no such thing as sex being a totally simple commodity. Sex is not a car. It is not a pair of diamond earrings. It is entrance to one’s body.

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  1. alixana
    Posted February 21, 2010 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    How about undertones of, don’t appropriate MY experience of actually being raped to describe sex that you consented to. ‘Cause that’s just infuriating. You just canNOT compare someone not upholding their end of the trade of terms you mutually agreed to ahead of time to someone having sex forced on them against their will. It’s insulting to everyone who has been on the receiving end of that unwanted attention.

  2. kandela
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Except that you can legislate based on intent. Manslaughter is different to murder.

  3. Spiffy McBang
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely. And it would fit to make this a lower degree of sexual assault- but assault it is, rather than theft.

  4. UnHingedHips
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think it has anything to do with ‘knowing’ that you’re being raped at the time. It’s about whether or not consent can be given conditionally, or can be retroactively withdrawn after the encounter is over. If there was never any consent to begin with (i.e. someone was unconscious) then it’s clearly rape.
    I tend to think of consent in very clear yes/no terms, and don’t see a place for “yes, but only if…” in discussions of rape. I would describe many of the situations discussed in the comments to this post as abusive, exploitative, and in some cases assault, but not as rape.
    On the other hand, it’s certainly possible to consent to some sexual activities and not others, so maybe the question really boils down to this: Is, say, PIV sex for money a completely different sex act than PIV sex without money exchanged? Is sex with a condom a completely different sex act than sex without a condom? Is sex with someone who is single a completely different sex act than sex with someone who is in a relationship with another person?
    It’s obvious that if you only consent to vaginal sex and your partner penetrates your anus, that is rape. But if there is no difference in the activity itself (only in the context- money/no money, married/not married) can that change it into a whole different act and thus make any previously given consent irrelevant?

  5. Spiffy McBang
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    The ideas are not mutually exclusive. On the whole, with 99% of customers being at least decent enough to do their thing, pay up, and get out, the general working conditions of prostitution could very well be so much better to someone than slinging coffee that it’s still preferable, on balance, despite the fact that 1% of the situations are considerably worse than anything Starbucks can throw at you. That doesn’t make complaints about the 1% invalid or necessarily mitigated.

  6. Melina
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    How dare you assume I haven’t been? Really. Fuck that. Maybe I was wrong to call not paying a prostitute rape, but maybe it feels that way to me because I was raped as a kid and the feelings I get from being stiffed are the same way I felt as a kid — didn’t know te sex was a bad thing when it happened, but traumatized by it after.

  7. Melina
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t realize at first that I was diminishing the horror of rape because the way not being paid for my escorting is the way I felt after I was raped as a kid. Sorry.

  8. Melina
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    Exactly. It’s a job with rewards greater than anything most jobs I’ve seen could possibly offer, but also with that 1% chance of much worse problems.

  9. Melina
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    No, it’s more akin to working Somewhere for a year and, at the time you’re supposed to be paid, not being given a cent. In other words, maybe of similar quality, but of more seriousness than not getting your tip. With sex.

  10. kandela
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Except that assault necessarily implies violence/threat of violence/force or similar. In this way I think a term like “sexual theft” or “sexual fraud” would fit better.

  11. kandela
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    I have a question about the reverse (fictitious) situation. Occasionally in movies we see a man go to bed with a woman he met in a club, only to find in the morning he has been charged for the encounter. Sometimes the prostitute, when tracked down, says something like “you didn’t think I’d sleep with you for free did you?”.
    Now, presuming this has ever happened in real life, what do we call this? In the scenario the man has slept with the woman for what he thought was their mutual enjoyment, only to find that was not true. The conditions of the encounter were not those he agreed to. Indeed, the man may not have slept with the woman if he’d known she would charge him. Some men would probably feel cheated of more than their money in this circumstance.
    Many people above have argued that sex received by deception is rape. Would this scenario also fall into that category?
    To me, I’d call this ‘sexual fraud,’ and the situation described by the OP as ‘sexual theft.’ Both are worse than regular fraud or theft but I don’t think either is rape because the act of sex wasn’t forced in either case.

  12. Spiffy McBang
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    Is coercion or sex with an unconscious drunk considered assault or something different? I don’t actually know. If it is, I would think this could fit as well.
    I think we pretty much agree, though. If the powers that be would legalize prostitution and write an appropriate law for this situation, our differences would likely vanish.

  13. ElanaFulana
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    If they were the same for you, then I say don’t let anyone tell you that they’re different.

  14. ElanaFulana
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    I feel like I should rephrase that. If both experiences were the same for you, then anyone trying to tell you that they were different is out of line.

  15. Spiffy McBang
    Posted February 23, 2010 at 3:43 am | Permalink

    Alright, let’s break this down.
    Man and woman have sex. Man wakes up mysteriously having been “charged”- I’m going to assume there’s money missing from his wallet, as I can’t imagine any other way for that to happen. Man finds woman, demands money back, and is then informed woman is a prostitute who, in her mind, was collecting her pay.
    This is clear theft. Nothing sexual was done under concrete, previously agreed upon conditions that went unfulfilled. Therefore, it’s clearly not the sex the guy would have objected to, but the payment. Likewise, his problem with her is not that she got sex out of him, but that she took his money when he had no inclination she planned on doing so. The money is what he lost and what she took from him, ergo, larceny.
    In the case of failure to pay, the situation is mostly reversed. The condition is laid out ahead of time that sex is only acceptable pending the exchange of funds. If they make no deal, she gets no money; if they make a deal, have sex, and he reneges on payment, she still gets no money, but has been subjected to sex under conditions to which she did not consent. Yes, this can be construed as theft of services; however, given that the situation is sex under unacceptable conditions and the prostitute is out money she should have received, I believe that creates a situation that is both rape and theft rather than something in-between.
    Please note, given that I’m making this argument, that I also said if payment is made and then stolen back, it’s simply theft. All conditions for the act were met, and the crime came after the fact. The above scenario is only related to the man never handing over a cent.

  16. kandela
    Posted February 23, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    That seems a logical position.
    A related quesion then might be, what if the prositute overcharges a customer? Is that the same as the customer underpaying the prostitute? And what do we call either of those crimes? Is there a difference between not being paid at all and only being paid part of what was agreed. And then are either the same as being taken for more than what was agreed?
    Note that a wallet to ‘take’ money from need not exist, the prostitute could use a portable EFTPOS machine. In which case an amount more than what was agreed could be debited without the customer noticing, and this could take place before the service was rendered.

  17. Spiffy McBang
    Posted February 23, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    School beckons, so I’ll be brief.
    If the prostitute is in the wrong, and has taken more than the man expected (whether more than zero or more than a predetermined amount), that’s still theft because money is the sole issue.
    If the man pays but not enough… honestly, I don’t know. If prostitution were legalized, there could be a contract with a price on it and then we could use your idea of sexual theft or fraud for such a situation. I don’t know of a better way to handle it.

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