NYTimes Dead Whores Article

By Kendra Holliday | July 1, 2013 at 10:34 pm

Hello! Do I know you?

I’m just the whore next door

The New York Times published an op-ed piece by Robert Kolker called “The New Prostitutes.”

I read it with keen interest and was going to just post a link to it on fb and twitter with a one-liner, but I have too much to say about it, so I’m going to do my best to break it down here.

First of all, I am what the author refers to as a “New Prostitute.” I have sex for money. I do it by choice. I love what I do. I am independent, a mother, middle class, close with my family, and am out and proud about who I am.

I am also very much healthy and alive, unlike the women he features in his article. They are all dead and rotting away in burlap bags. The image at the very top of the article is a dreary, ominous photo of law enforcement combing a desolate area, searching for dead hookers.

Nice way to set the tone.

Everyone knows that trafficked women and streetwalkers are at great risk, but this article points out that online escorts are as well.

I maintain that if you leave your house and interact with other people, you are at risk of being hurt or killed. And sometimes you don’t even need to leave your house to get violated. Just ask this 12-yr-old girl.

I suppose working as a prostitute is a higher risk job than, say, working at a phone help desk. Why? As a prostitute, you come in intimate close contact with strangers, and since what you are doing is technically illegal, you don’t have the support of your community.

So what can sex workers do to protect themselves?

Here is my advice:

Don’t mess around with drugs and alcohol.

Screen your clients in a public setting before you commit to meeting them in private and putting their genitals in your mouth. When you are your own boss, you get to choose who you spend time with. You can do things on your own terms.

Come up with a system so that someone you trust knows where you are going and who you are with. My partner is always in the loop. In fact, he knows a lot of my clients.

Most importantly, read The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence. I recommend this book to every woman, as well as every man who wonders what it’s like to be a woman. After all, according to the book, a man’s biggest fear is being laughed at. A woman’s biggest fear is being killed.

The article states that “In 2011, Jennifer Hafer, a researcher at the University of Arkansas, said people embraced online prostitution ‘for many of the same reasons that people enter the conventional job market — money, stability, autonomy and even job satisfaction.’”

This is very true.

The article also states that “Nearly half of the New York City online escorts surveyed by the Urban Justice Center’s Sex Workers Project in 2005 said they had been forced by a client to do something they did not want to do, and almost as many said they had been threatened or beaten.”

This may well be true, but I’d like to state for the record that as a woman who has posted escort ads on Craigslist and other spaces online, I have never been forced to do something I did not want to do. I have never been threatened or beaten. I’ve been intimate with countless men who had no problem exchanging money for sexual services and they have been overwhelmingly respectful and kind.

On the other side of the coin, one of my dear friends was recently robbed when he responded to a Backpage ad. He ignored several red flags, and paid the price.

TRUST YOUR GUT.

The article closes with, “Escorts face danger not because of the Internet but because they’re still forced to work underground.”

TRUTH.

Our society needs to acknowledge that prostitution will never, ever go away. It’s our responsibility to extend compassion and understanding to both the people who choose to have sex for money, and the people who desire sex and are willing to pay for that service.

It’s critical that more people speak openly and honestly about this topic. There’s no need to feel ashamed.

By putting this post out there, I’m doing my part.

Comments

Capn Marrrrk 2013-07-01 22:46:40

Do you always have someone generally know where you’re going and when you should be back?

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    Kendra Holliday 2013-07-01 22:49:25

    YES!!! thanks for mentioning that, updating post now!

    Reply

himself 2013-07-02 07:50:55

These problems are, of course, the ugly underside of making something illegal and stigmatizing it. Hundreds of years of experience doing this, and we STILL haven’t learned a thing. You can’t stamp it out this way, or it would have happened long, long, long ago, yet we as a society keep on trying the same failed thing.

Nurses in the home healthcare industry do a very similar job, going to places and being alone and intimate with strangers, albeit not sexually intimate. Yet they are at much less risk of injury or death, because what they do is not illegal, not stigmatized, and not forced to be underground or clandestine. I posit that if sex work were similarly legal, sex workers would have similar risks.

If the truth be told, EVERY sexual encounter is at heart an economic one. Even if cash doesn’t change hands, the parties make a trade of some sort. Maybe it’s for love, maybe it’s for security, maybe it’s for fun, but both get something out of it, or it stops happening. Trades for cash are just one type, and it’s never made much sense to me that all of them EXCEPT the cash deal should be legal.

I applaud your efforts and success at staying safe, Kendra, and I thank you for all that you do. Please carry on, stay safe, and live a life of the beautiful kind.

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    Stephen 2013-07-04 21:19:28

    I don’t think that’s a fair comparison (tho I like your comment overall).

    Home health care workers do not get intimate with their patients (rape and murder are very intimate acts), and there’s no negotiations over money.

    Yes, they both visit houses, and sometimes my home healthcare friend will text me before she goes into a shady house, but it’s different.

    I’ll grant you that we do have a certain expectation of how to act around our healthcare professionals based on societal experience – whereas it might only be a first or tenth time with a prostitute.

    They are both intimate and often vulnerable relationships for the client, tho.

    Reply

The Lusty Chick 2013-07-02 12:45:47

Another sad fact is that most sex workers are killed by their regular clients. This usually happens after a dispute about money happens, or after the client becomes obsessed or feels rejected by the escort! That’s usually when violence happens!

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    Stephen 2013-07-04 21:19:59

    Where do you get that information? That doesn’t sound correct to me at all…but I have no idea.

    Reply

WD 2013-07-02 15:34:10

Yours is a truly noble calling. Nothing is free and its instructive that having a price is a good way to level the playing field and allow men (and women) to have access to intimacy who otherwise would miss the human connection. Instead, engaging solely in auto-erotic (no judgement– since 95% of men masturbate and 5% are liars)practices to internet accompaniment. Men and women without partners need a human surrogate so the experience is shared and for the most part real vs. purely fantasy (which has its well deserved place for sure). When everyone wins, no one loses. Yes, street walkers and traffic women/men need special services to assist them with a transition away from being victimized, or remaining too vulnerable. I pray that some day all “victimless” crimes will truly be eliminated and men and women can freely exchange their bodies for cash without judgement, risk, danger or punishment (well, as long as its mutually consensual, then fine!). It seems to me that women who are trafficked are the victims of the law that outlaws their behavior and forces them to be pimped and exploited. I for one, would never have a session with anyone but an independent sex provider. Be safe, all you sex workers, you are truly angels on this earth.

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polynewb 2013-07-02 16:26:15

Kendra, my fear for you is that since you’re out in the public, that you’ll attract people that may not be mentally stable and in turn develop obsessions especially after becoming clients. I’m sure your screening process is thorough, but this must be worrisome.

Be safe!

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Angelia 2013-07-02 21:42:06

Can you say what the red flags were that your friend ignored leading to being robbed?

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    Kendra Holliday 2013-07-03 08:05:14

    Actually, I wish he would write a guest post about it so others can learn from his experience and avoid the trauma themselves. His story mirrors the story another man shared with me that happened a few years ago, so it is a common scenario and not an anomaly – he responded to a Backpage ad. The ad had pics that looked like stock photos/too good to be true, but he responded anyway. The person posting the ad wouldn’t call him back, only text. Finally when they did connect on the phone, it was a black woman talking, not the white woman posted in the pics. The address he was given was to a shady North City address. He had misgivings, but went anyway. When he got to the location, he saw men lurking around, but he entered the building anyway. Once inside, he was confronted by a woman and a man, who demanded his money. Luckily, he only brought in enough for the session, not his whole wallet, so he gave that to them and escaped without harm. My other friend was driven to an ATM and made to withdraw more money before they let him go.

    So in summary, the moment you start to realize that facts don’t match up with what you expect, back out, even though it is psychologically compelling to keep walking into the trap. Read The Gift of Fear!

    Reply

Rex Jones 2013-07-07 22:03:22

I’m a firm believer that ALL women should learn and practice the uppercut style punch. It is the last punch most men would expect from a woman and is hard to block. If done properly it will split the underside of a guy’s tongue muscle wide open, hurts like hell, and gives a woman enough time to make herself safe.

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