Julie Bindel on prostitution yet again

She\’s been doing some research into why men use prostitutes. One point stands out:

Discovering the women were ­trafficked, pimped or otherwise coerced would appear not to be so ­effective. Almost half said they ­believed that most women in prostitution are victims of pimps…..

The presence of a pimp does not indicate either victimisation or coercion. A pimp can be simply an agent and be working to the advantage of the prostitute (and it is thus an example of a mutually beneficial voluntary exchange: even the division and specialisation of labour):

Where pimps are active, prostitutes appear to do
better, with pimps both providing protection and paying efficiency wages.


Our analysis also sheds light on issues of organizational form. Perhaps
surprisingly, in two of our neighborhoods that are side-by-side, prostitution activities are
organized along completely different models. In Roseland, there are no pimps and
women solicit customers from the street. Just a few blocks away in Pullman, all women
work with pimps who locate customers and set-up tricks, so that the prostitutes rarely
solicit on street corners. Under the pimp model, there are fewer transactions, but the
prices charged are substantially higher and the clientele is different. Prostitutes who
work with pimps appear to earn more, and are less likely to be arrested. It appears that
the pimps choose to pay efficiency wages. Consistent with this hypothesis, many of the
women who do not work with pimps are eager to work with pimps, and indeed we
observe a few switches in that direction over the course of the sample. Pimps are limited
by their ability to find customers, however, so they operate on a small scale.

Fewer transactions for higher incomes with less danger of arrest: it\’s very difficult to say that this is either coercion or victimisation.

Unless, that is, you want to say that anyone taking a cut of the wages earned by the sweat of another\’s brow (perhaps not the correct bodily part) is exploiting them. But in the English scenario one could run that the other way around. Prostitution is not a criminal offence. Pimping is. So the prostitute is earning higher wages for less work by the pimp exposing himself (or in the case of madams, herself) to the risk of prosecution and fines or jail time (and yes, I know someone who has done jail time for running a web site connecting escorts with customers under such laws). We might even say that the exploitation is running the other way.

Until this point is addressed by Bindel I\’m afraid that I\’m not likely to take anything else she says on the subject seriously. And this is entirely separate from the lunatic assertions she\’s made about trafficking (seriously, she\’s insisted that the presence of foreigners is proof perfect of trafficking. Does no one read Gary Becker any more? Given the cost to social capital of the profession of course people tend to do it away from home.).

7 thoughts on “Julie Bindel on prostitution yet again”

  1. If the presence of foreigners is evidence of trafficking (in the sense of against those foreigners wishes) then presumably all those other foreigners cleaning cars etc. are also trafficked- perhaps by this logic we should have a campaign to return them to their happy homelands.
    Alternatively, if we accept that most people follow the best (least bad) option open to them, perhaps the presence of foreigners indicates that native women have better options.

  2. Somebody counted up the number of times Bindel used ‘I’ in her (self)important but short piece on why she quite liked some men : 29.
    This may be fewer but she does start a lot of paragraphs with it in the most grating way.
    Then she does n’t proclaim she’s a lesbian (as if you did n’t know).
    Presumably that research by Laura Agustin that sex trafficking was a myth has been superseded recently.

  3. “Unless, that is, you want to say that anyone taking a cut of the wages earned by the sweat of another’s brow … is exploiting them”

    Err, isn’t that, in effect, what employers all do? If not, business would die on its arse tomorrow.

  4. Yes, she should declare herself as a lesbian before she pontificates on prostitution, a lesbian and a man hater, which is very apparent to anyone who has seen her on television.

    She should disclose her sources before quoting from this “research”, though it is not likely to have been carried out under proper scientific conditions. Bindel has been associated with the Poppy Project which has been funded by the Department of Justice to provide accommodation to working girls picked up by police raids who do not have a proper immigration status here. “We could deport you, but you can stay here if you undertake to give evidence against your traffickers. The Poppy Project people will look after you.” They lied to immigration when they came here, so they can be depended upon to lie to the courts when it comes to comes to nailing their facilitators in the courts.

    I think Bindel has it slightly wrong when it comes to impending legislation against men who pay for sex with a trafficked or pimped women. These provisions have been amended out of the bill. This is wishful thinking on her part. However it is bad that the government is proceeding with legislation coming from the likes of Jacqui Smith and Harriett Harman without any reliable research.

    I suggest anyone interested in supporting the continued freedom for men to pay for sex (and for women to sell it) to write to their MPs and find out where they and their parties stand on this issue. My MP Susan Kramer (Libdem) has made it clear that she doesn’t support the bill.

    Also write to the readers’ editor of the Guardian ([email protected], not to [email protected] as suggested) acknowledging that this is an opinion(ated) piece but lamenting the lack of info on sources and correcting her about the factual error concerning legislation.

    I am all for women in journalism and politics, but if they are going to oppress us, then we must fight them. In particular, let us fight the tyranny of the bedroom.

  5. Isn’t it said that in the main, men do not pay prostitutes for sex; they pay them to go away afterwards ?

  6. From what I can tell, you are arguing that the presence of a pimp does not indicate a victimisation or coercion, and are even suggesting that the pimp or madam is a victim.

    This is a black market profession and so does not run like a normal business with the normal rules. In the majority of cases, women are vulnerable and easily exploited and controlled. Here are some UK figures, taken from Home Office research or academic papers:

    Up to 70% of women in prostitution spent time in care, 45% report sexual abuse and 85% physical abuse within their families

    More than half of UK women in prostitution have been raped and/or seriously sexually assaulted. At least three-quarters have been physically assaulted

    Up to 95% of prostituted women are problematic drug users, including around 78% heroin users and rising numbers of crack cocaine addicts

    68% of women in prostitution meet the criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the same range as victims of torture and combat veterans
    undergoing treatment

    75% of women involved in prostitution began when they were under 18

    74% of women cite poverty/the need to pay household expenses and support their children as a primary motivator for entering prostitution

    Are you still going to tell me that most women want to be prostitutes?

    It seems to me that all the men who have commented here want to cling on to the fact that women want it and are therefore asking for it.

    One even accuses Julie Bindel of ‘oppressing’ him. This is of course laughable, given that women have been oppressed since time began, but it does make me think that we might be on our way to stamping out sexism. We might just have got to the nub of it. Julie Bindel has made you feel uncomfortable and angry (enough to expose your homophobia), and I don’t think it’s because of she says. It’s because of what she found. The men who were interviewed in the study were one of two things. Either blatant misogynists, with no regard whatsoever for the welfare of the prostitute they were using, or men who did have some feeling. Feelings of loneliness, neediness and desperation, which we can only feel sorry for. And you do not like that you are people to be pitied.

  7. Oh My! Delilah!

    For comment on your “UK” statistics on prostitution I would refer you and your readers to Nick Davies’s article in the Guardian on 29th October 2009 http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/)ctober/20/government-trafficking-enquiry-fails. This discredits most of the Home Office statistics. I recognise the 68% of women meeting the criteria for traumatic stress disorder figure. It was quoted by Tanya Gold in her Guardian on 17th November 2000. Tanya did not quote her source but it comes from Melissa Farley’s Prostitution and Trafficking in Nine Countries. Ms Farley is from San Francisco and the nine countries she tells us about in the report include South Africa and Zambia but not the UK. Ms Farley’s declared aim is the total abolition of prostitution, and her “research” would not pass any serious scientific or academic assessment. It does however provide pithy quotes for the likes of Julie Bindel to use.

    An interesting source for those looking at the motivations behind human sexuality is “Why Women Have Sex”, a new book by Cindy Meston and David Buss. Yes. Some women do have sex because they like it. Are you one of these lucky ones, Delilah? I am not suggesting for one minute that is what motivates your average hooker. Unfortunately I am not Tiger Woods who has the looks, the sexual prowess and the charisma to cause beautiful women to take him to their bosom. Maybe I once had. But now I am grateful for what I can get, and I would rather pay for it than beg.

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