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Letters to the Editor 

The Madam Writes In

As I read the article 'Quitting the Business' (April 6), it was like reliving my life, except for what made us turn to this profession. I'm hoping people will see how hard society has made it for women who choose this profession. I also hope that they will see the pain we suffer and why we must live a lie. Prostitution is a choice women should have, like any other job. I don't think people should or could run out and do this type of work. I wouldn't be happy being a maid or nanny. I believe you must feel comfortable in your skin and with who you are, but most importantly, you must enjoy what you are doing. I chose this profession because it allowed me more time to be with my children and to support my family, myself and others I loved.

Unfortunately because of the way society views prostitution, we have to put up walls and can only allow a few people in who accept us, which isolates us from the rest of the world. The 'provider' in the article and I are so much alike it brought tears to my eyes. Just because we serviced men didn't make us bad people; the laws did. We are both caretakers, animal lovers, volunteers and your neighbors. We are loving, caring people and want to be loved and accepted for who we are on the inside and not judged by the laws of men who keep this business going. We want to be whole and not split apart by lies.

People need to open their eyes -- some men cheat (all right, a lot of men). I would rather my man go to a brothel because the risk of STDs is greatly reduced and the 'provider' doesn't want your husband. We are just doing our jobs. If he doesn't go to a brothel, he will go to a bar; the next thing you know, some strange woman is calling your house to tell you she loves your man and is pregnant with his baby. You can't stop a man from cheating but how he does it can change your lives together forever.

I agree with the provider. What two consenting adults do in the privacy of their own home for love or monetary gain is nobody's business. How many people know that if you have sex in the state of Louisiana in any position other than missionary that you are committing a felony? How would you like one of your neighbors peeking in your window as you and your husband are making love and calling the police? Now you are a felon. Kiss your future goodbye.Welcome to our world.

Like the 'provider,' I don't know what tomorrow will bring for I, too, am out of the 'business.' But every day is a struggle. Your story will help me make it through this hard time. And when things get easier, I hope to help others.

-- Jeanette Maier aka'The Canal Street Madam'


Defending the 'Business'
I am a provider in the Seattle area. A hobbyist posted the story 'Quitting the Business' (April 6) to one of the chat boards mentioned in the article, and I happened to read it. He asked, 'Can anyone read this and not reassess?' I thought you might be interested in another view on the topic. Here's my reply:

I don't feel sorry for this woman. She made a lot of really bad choices in her life and is refusing to take responsibility for them. She seems determined to play the victim, and I find that revolting.

She's single and childless, jobless and careerless because she chose to be. No one put a gun to her head and forced her to make the decisions she made (spending that five-figure savings account on drugs, for example).

I also know for a fact that being a provider does not preclude true intimacy. I've been an escort for three years and have had a partner the entire time. (No, he is not my pimp. He has nothing to do with my work life. He's a kind and wonderful man who knows my whole story, understands why I've made the choices I have and stands by me anyway.)

It's a bad idea to try and fulfill your emotional needs within the hobby. It's also the most common mistake providers make. She says that she would (now) need to be completely honest with anyone she got into a relationship with. Too bad she didn't figure that out 20 years ago; it would have saved her some heartache.

She does makes some good points. The 'glass wall' between the hobby and the real world really is a terribly stressful aspect of the job. Society hates us and makes it clear in a thousand ways. I don't like lying to people, especially those I care about. But guess what? Without that glass wall, we wouldn't be able to command the rates we do. Providers are paid very well to deal with that stress.

Being a provider is not an inherently self-destructive choice simply because the women in it have been victims in the past. When one endures a period of abuse, one learns how to cope, how to deal with emotional stress, in some quite fascinating ways. Most women who haven't had those experiences simply aren't able to handle the emotional toll of being a provider who is hated and shunned by the society in which she lives.

Remember when I said that every adult is completely and utterly responsible for his or her own choices? This means that I refuse to feel responsibility for the choices of other adults. Here's a theoretical example: If a man were cheating on his wife with me, that would be his choice to break his promise. Not my choice, not my promise and therefore not my guilt. If you feel guilty for the choices of other adults, take my advice -- get out of the hobby. Get out now.

-- Name Withheld by Request


Defending the 'Business,' Pt. 2
I read with interest the story by the anonymous ex-provider ('Quitting the Business,' April 6) about her life and what it cost her and what she valued. She often refers to the wall between her and the rest of society held up by the need to lie and keep silence. But she never questions or analyzes the mutual complicity each side contributes to this discomfort.

I know what she is talking about because I am a provider. I have a 15-year-old son and parents, a sister, friends, a banker, and a dog-walker. I have volunteered, and I recently got my B.A. I am planning to attend graduate school. People always ask, 'What do you do?' At PTA meetings, at parties, when you meet your boyfriend's parents. Answering this question causes me huge amounts of anxiety. However, when more is revealed about sex workers and what transactions are like between providers and clients, the status quo is changed and the myths perpetrated by media that villianize, pity and denigrate us are shown to be fallacious.

At the root of this belief system lies sexual negativity. Fascist dictates say that sex is only OK if done under these (heterosexual, monogamous, loving) exact circumstances. It is fear of the force of our sexuality that has crippled us (as a culture) in our expression of it.

If we want to arrive at freedom in our minds, bodies and spirits, the path is truth. Truth will widen the avenues of what is accepted sexual behavior and thought and allow diversity, enjoyment and growth of our sexual selves. Name Withheld by Request

sex and violence I want to ask the Rev. William Byron, if, as he suggested ('No V-Day at Loyola,' Feb. 17), women cause violence directed at them by dressing provocatively, is it the provocative dress of children that is causing the sexual violence directed at them by priests? Someone ought to send this intellectual neanderthal back to whatever cloister he came from and free the students of Loyola University to produce The Vagina Monologues. I've seen the play. It is emotionally healing for women, especially women who have suffered from sexual abuse. Perhaps that is what is most threatening to the church, that women would find a way to heal themselves apart from the church.

-- Elizabeth Cook

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