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This year it provided an occasion for sex workers and erstwhile colleagues including Brooke Magnanti Belle de Jour to highlight the vicious abuse they have received under the Twitter hashtag whenantisattack. Writer and former call girl Magnanti is forced to live in secrecy, her number taken to the top of any summons list because of the innumerable threats she has received. One recent example proposed that she should be gang-raped and then executed. She has been accused of being responsible for rape, sexual slavery, and prostitution itself.
Her family's privacy has been invaded to find the "causes" of her choice and her personal appearance derided, not least within what might otherwise be called the sisterhood. Is it not time we came to terms with prostitution? Instead, the prostitute herself and it is usually her as regards societal venom becomes the target for culture's anxieties about sex. The collective attitude would appear to be: The result being that across societies, our own "liberal" state included, whore-bashing — literal and metaphorical — is somehow deemed acceptable.
Notably, said bashing includes a cohort of feminist critics who, in abhoring the activity, choose to hate the perpetrator. This is evident not only in Julie Burchill's string 'em up stance, but the notion that, as "all prostitution is rape", sex workers cannot know their own minds, or be in control of their bodies, and thus consent.
Hatred of prostitutes has implications for all women who desire to determine their sexual existences. These obviously stigmatised targets allow a kind of thin-end-of-the-wedge, sanctioned misogyny. It is a small step from being able to dismiss some women as stupid sluts to dismissing all women as stupid sluts, the former operating as some sort of entry level for the latter. That's me guilty as charged, then, and my eight-year-old niece. Marriage continues to be considered to veil sex with respectability, whatever its financial motivations.
Nobody campaigns against the career courtesans who are Belgravia bankers' wives, or the footballers' consorts of Cheshire. Prostitutes, in contrast, are "asking for it", and by "it" we appear to mean everything: It is as if their work renders them inhuman. They are "fallen women", and what they have fallen from is humanity itself. As a teenager I witnessed this punitive pack mentality inflicted on a child.