Tag Archives: Prostitutes

Escorting: The Joys of Scumbag Men

I was called a whore today. It’s been a while since someone has called me a whore. The person who called me a whore was someone I had not met, but rather a a man who called to inquire about my escorting services… (story continues a few paragraphs below).

Whore-Slut-Shaming

All sorts of men will contact a prostitute to inquire about her services. Some men have thoroughly read my ad and website, so when they contact me, they are ready to book. Then there are men who barely read my descriptions and contact me with questions about my services, rates, etc. I do not mind answering questions, and I am not offended when someone is just causally inquiring. When I talk to a prospective client, I get an indication of whether or not he is decent. I judge based on his demeanour, his manners, etc. The process is known as screening, the process of an escort filtering prospective clients (or in other words, filtering out the good from the bad clients)

Now, screening can be very annoying. This is because some men who contact escorts are just time wasters — or also complete low-lifes. They do things that annoy all escorts, such as asking for discounts, asking for risky services, whining why risky services are not offered, trying to flirt or talk sexual, asking for additional photos, booking then not showing up, etc. Good clients do not do these things — they are respectful, easy going and are straight forward. For an escort, a good sense of screening is, sadly, only learnt through trial and error. Which means every escort will encounter scum men in the screening process.

For this reason, I have a policy that prospective clients must either email or phone me. If they email, they will still need to eventually call me. Hearing someones voice gives off many cues to a persons’ persona — are they polite? Are they educated? Do they speak well?

A lot of men who contact escorts are low-lifes  (pathetic excuses of men) — and they can usually be detected via their telephone etiquette. As mentioned, decent clients are very kind, respectful and straight forward. But lowlifes are all kinds of unpleasant. Whenever I answer my phone and there is a disgusting man on the other line, I politely say that I do not offer what they seek and say goodbye. Sometimes, when I hang up the phone with one, I cuss them out, “Idiot!” “Disgusting pervert!” I do not, however, cuss them out over the phone — no no.

But today I did. I answered the phone. It was not clear at first whether this man was a low-life or not, so I entertained his questions. First, he did not read anything on my ad, so he asked several questions — okay, fine. Then he asked if I provided a certain service and I said politely, “No, sorry I don’t offer that.” Then he started whining and said, “Why not? Listen, I am really good looking, do you think you can make an exception for me?” I rolled my eyes, “Like I said, I do not offer that, so maybe you will have better luck with another lady.” He then said I was rude. I was about to hang up, but I felt compelled to cuss him out. I never do that. I wasn’t even in a bad mood. “You’re shameless. Disgusting man — don’t you have any shame talking to a someone in such a dehumanizing way? Idiot!” Then I hung up. Just before I blocked his number, he instantly text me. I knew exactly what he was going to say, as any low-life would say when their fragile ego is tested. He text me, “YOU FUCKING WHORE!” “You are a whore!”

I laughed out loud. I almost wanted to reply,  “Wow! Damn, right in the feels….how original! LOL!!!”But then I realized there was no point. I just blocked and deleted. And then I regretted my outburst. I don’t think it’s wise that any escort cusses out pathetic losers as such. Why?

So What Should An Escort Do?

In cases like the above, it’s best to do nothing. When creeps contact an escort, it is best to just politely say goodbye and do as I do (cuss them out in head your head, have a good laugh and move on). Yes, it is extremely tempting to stand up for yourself and call out an indecent man for what he is: disgusting, dehumanizing, pathetic and creepy. But for an escort, a man who’s ego is so fragile can be potentially dangerous. He can retaliate. He can change his number and contact you again. He could do many things to try to book you under a different alias. He can harm you. It’s simply not worth it. There are some escort sites where ladies warn each other about bad-clients, by posting their phone numbers on a blacklist. This is one thing an escort can do — warn others. But again, creeps can change their number. In the case where there is severe harassment, then do contact the police or a local sex worker organization that helps with sex workers rights. 

This post is meant to be part funny and part serious. I don’t actually care if I was called a whore — call me slut, hoe, thotiana, whatever…. I could care less about someone’s opinion of me in that sense. If anything, it tells me about how hateful and pathetic a person can be.

Times like these makes me nostalgic about my brothel days. In between seeing clients, girls (escorts) would all sit together and discuss how stupid and creepy some men are. We would laugh until it hurts. It’s also quite sad at the same time because it’s scary to know a LOT creepy, predatory-like men like this exist (men who might, for instance, behave differently behind closed doors).

Recommendation for Escorts: For any escorts who work alone, I recommend visiting a Reddit forum called Client Cringe or r/ClientCringe. It’s brilliant! It’s a place for escorts to discuss and post screenshots of the funny and cringe-worthy idiots who contact them.

**Big thank you to all the Respectful Men (Clients and non-clients) who respect escorts (and women, generally) and make our lives more humane **

To my Fellow Escorts & Readers: What sort of creeps have you encountered? What’s the funniest or oddest thing someone has said when contacting you? Please feel free to share your stories. Lastly, who do you tell when you have funny stories to share about your escorting life?

19 Comments

Filed under The Escorting Business

Prostitution is Increasing in Society: Why?

money-for-sex

I have seen how prostitition has increased in the just-over-a-decade that I have been in the sex industry (I never ever imagined this would have been my life!). I became a prostitute a few years before the Internet Escort Craze began. At it’s peak in 2008/2009, the Craigslist Erotic listings truly changed the nature of the sex industry. Later, websites like Backpage would also act as a popular medium for sex workers and clients to connect. I jumped on the Internet craze a bit late, starting in late 2010. In essence, I have witnessed a LOT of change in the sex industry from my early days until now. The pivotal change is how the Internet made sex work more easily attainable for both clients and sex workers. The Internet mediums for selling sex, in alignment with the 2008 economic recession, also led to an increased number of women joining the sex industry due to economic woes.

The Internet, however, increased negativity for women in the sex industry. More and more women were joining the sex industry, and yet standards within the sex industry became more degraded. The price of sex, for one, has barely increased in line with monetary inflation. Instead, the inflation of women has cheapened the price of sex. As a result, many sex workers have to truly lower their dignity and price to attract clients. When I began sex work just over a decade ago, there was no such thing as “quickies” as a high-class escort. Now, there are beautiful women who will do it all for much less. I feel deeply sad whenever I see escort ads —  I had never heard of “15 minute specials” or things like “blow and go.” I can’t even look at those ads anymore without feeling immensely sad at what the lives must like of the women who post such ad’s. Moreover, it makes me sad (and scared) to imagine there are men who will contribute to a woman’s worth being reduced to a quickie or “blow and go.”

In my case, I was able to maintain the same standards that I had from the beginning of my sex work days, thankfully. This is because I had the ability to work low-volume, or part-time. Most prostitutes don’t share my experience, however. Most are subjected to having less control over their bodies, which leads to severe emotional (and sometimes physical) trauma from their work. Despite all the sadness I have felt all these years, I cannot even dare to imagine the pain that most other prostitutes experience (again, my situation is not comparable to the majority).

Why is Prostitution Increasing?

Screen Shot 2019-01-02 at 9.43.36 PM.png

The answer is: Society is increasingly losing it’s humanity. Inequality is increasing. Unhappy, stressed and overworked people are increasing. Relations between men and women are more conflicting. The family unit is decreasing. Wisdom/morality is decreasing. All of these social ills are related and are the result of a capitalistic world system based on consumerism (ie: $$$$$$$$$). When people are unhappy or stressed, most will resort to various outlets (drugs, sex, porn, food) to cope.  Prostitutes fill a void for the men who visit them.

In times of increased stress, the demand for prostitutes will increase (this is the world we live in now).

For clients, prostitutes are an escape from a stressful work week, stressful responsibilities, etc. People, in general, are stressed more so than ever before in history, and thus there is an increased demand for escapism (the sex industry is one form of escapism for men). Are prostitutes a healthy outlet for escapism? There is no simple answer, because men visit prostitutes for a wide variety of reasons and at different frequencies. In essence, the demand has risen, and thus the supply (prostitutes) has increased.

I have traveled quite a bit of the world, thankfully. From my travels and my anthropological studies, I observed that only certain societies can allow prostitution to thrive. Despite prostitition being “the oldest profession in the world,” not all societies in the past had the conditions for prostitution to occur. Historically, more simplistic societies with a strong emphasis on kin/family had no reason for women to prostitute themselves. Many simple societies had little sense of individualism, so therefore it would be extremely rare for an individual to be neglected and left on their own to care for themselves. A woman is prone to become a prostitute in a context where she is neglected in some form and left to fend for herself —- such a phenomena can only occur in the society that has the conditions where exploitation and inequality can occur. In the current global context, a woman has very little security to protect her well-being and thus many can be easily ‘pushed’ into sex work. It’s an unfortunate reality.

I live in a city where there is a high ratio of women who are in the sex industry in some shape or form.

I remember sitting on a train a few years ago, and I overheard two college girls casually discussing sugar daddies. One girl was telling her peer that she really needs to considering getting a sugar daddie online to help pay her bills. Both girls looked like completely normal, typical college girls. It was a shocking realization for me, because when I was a teen I would never imagine “normal” girls casually discussing schemes on making money by through sex. But clearly I was out of the loop, because THINGS HAVE CHANGED. When I was 16 years old, I had no idea what an escort was! But nowadays, young ‘normal’ girls know all about the sex industry — they know (thanks to music and social media) that a viable option for them is to became an escort, cam girl, sugar baby, stripper, or porn actress. Now, the sex industry has become normalized. It’s even glamorized (for the dark purpose of indirectly trafficking more girls into sex work).

Hip Hop, Social Media & the Entertainment Industry is Making Prostitution ‘Cool’ 

slut-tshirts-society.png

Celebrities like Amber Rose are promoting apparel that tells women to proudly say they are a “hoe” or “slut.”

“You’re such a fucking HOE, I love it!”

Kanye West and Lil Pump in ‘I love It’

“Fuck him and I get some money. Yah! Fuck him then I get some money…”

– Cardi B with G-Eazy in ‘No Limit’

THE NEW PIMPS are popular music entertainers and other celebrities:

They hook their viewers by telling them it’s fun to take drugs (smoke a lil weed to dumb and numb them down ), which then weakens and makes the victim complicit in their exploitation. 

I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a young man or woman these days (mind you, I am talking as if I am super old…..I am an old soul!). Young minds are so impressionable. A young girl these days faces tremendous pressure from the most soulless, superficial role models. The most popular music ‘artists’ are ones promoting women to literally hate their natural selves. They glamorize a woman’s worth based on her ability to be being a sex object. This kind of objectification was around when I was a teenager too, but it was not to the extreme that it is today. When I was a teen, there was NEVER any popular music that was openly telling me to sell my body as a prostitute. I was in my late teens when I entered sex work and I had literally no idea of what I was getting into. But nowadays, things are much different. Young girls may already know about escorting or sugaring as a career option due to sex work becoming mainstream. Instead of the traditional pimps, celebrities are the new pimps, telling women to become sex workers, to be petty. And now, many women are actually doing it since it has become so mainstream (escorts, strippers, porn actresses, cam girls, etc). Women will have less hesitation to join the sex industry when it is NORMALIZED and ENCOURAGED by pop culture. It’s truly heart breaking, because these women are led to believe lies of empowerment and happiness through false propaganda. Even some escorts will pimp out other women by selling the false image of a luxurious lifestyle. What women are not told about are the consequences of living such a life, and moreover how materialism only creates a VERY short-lived sense of fulfilment. No woman feels empowered when she is treated like an object (where her inner qualities are rejected or ignored). There is short term joy for newbies to the sex industry, but the long term consequences always contain harm, exploitation and psychological distress. As mentioned, almost all sex workers will resort to drugs, drinking, and other harmful habits to cope with the lack of wholesome love that led them into sex work.


Given that the Internet explosion of sex work is still relatively new, it will be very interesting to observe the long term effects of this new attempt at making sex work ‘cool’ and ‘trendy.’ 

***************

**For any of my readers unfamiliar with street slang, a “hoe” is the same derogatory meaning as a whore, slut or prostitute. 

Dear Readers: What do you think? Have you, too, also noticed the expansion of the sex industry? Are there any things that influenced you to the sex industry?

28 Comments

Filed under The Escorting Business

To Hope for Nothing, To Wish for Nothing

“To Wish Impossible Things”

Remember how it used to be
When the sun would fill the sky
Remember how we used to feel
Those days would never end
Those days would never end

 

Remember how it used to be
When the stars would fill the sky
Remember how we used to dream
Those nights would never end
Those nights would never end

 

It was the sweetness of your skin
It was the hope of all we might have been
That filled me with the hope to wish
Impossible things
To wish impossible things
To wish impossible things

 

But now the sun shines cold
And all the sky is grey
The stars are dimmed by clouds and tears
And all I wish is gone away
All I wish is gone away
And all I wish is gone away
All I wish is gone away
All I wish is gone away
All I wish is gone away

 



Having hope hurt her. She should have never dreamt of something that could never be. But she was human, with a yearning heart, so she dared to dream. And it killed her. Like her, I realized that I almost became foolish enough to dream. But I stopped myself, because I remembered something I learnt when I was around 17 years old: When one doesn’t hope or dream for anything, then they cannot feel disappointed. I forgot about this, and I fooled myself. Dreaming is dangerous.

After her death, we found her cell phone. It was locked with a password. Others tried to open it with no luck at guessing the password. Then I tried, and my first guess at her password was a word that bled through out all of her art and writings, so I typed L-O-V-E, and her phone unlocked. The irony is that love had hurt her — false love, that is. The demons in society know very well that humans crave love and belonging, so they play with people’s vulnerabilities and masquerade as ‘love.’ Beware dear kind souls, keep your guard up. 

Rest in Peace to the Angel who once dreamed.

إِنَّا للهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ


An 19th Century Courtesan’s ode to fellow Prostitutes:


“My poor, simple prostitutes! Never entertain the false hope that any man will love you with a true heart. The lover who gives his body and soul to you will depart in a few days. He will never settle down with you, and you are not even worthy of that. Only the virtuous, who see one face and never turn to another, will have the pleasure of true love. You women of the street, will never find such a blessing from God. What was to happen to me happened. I am resigned to this and have fulfilled all my wishes. I have no desires left, though desire is a curse that never leaves you till your dying day.”

Umrao Jan Ada, (From her biography “Umrao Jan Ada” by Ruswa, 1899)

To hope for nothing is not to be hopeless. One must look at life from both sides. Joy requires pain. Dark requires light. Night requires day….. All stages matter.

“It’s life’s illusions I recall….I really don’t know life…I really don’t know life at all.

-From the masterpiece song below:

Comments Off on To Hope for Nothing, To Wish for Nothing

Filed under Emotional Aspects Related to Escorting

Where Do Prostitutes Go for Comfort?

Clients come to prostitutes for a variety of reasons. Most come to escape the world, to get comfort, pleasure — to feel intimacy.

The Comfort of a Woman's Lap for a Man is a Haven

The heavenly comfort of resting on the lap of a nurturing woman…

 

Clients come to Comfort Women (prostitutes) to escape the harsh realities of daily life. For clients, prostitutes are appealing because we are (ideally) a soothing, pleasurable fantasy that men can retreat too at their convenience. For the most part, we dress up and act/behave our best while with clients.

For men whom have some money to spare, they have the option to pay for comfort with a prostitute. It is, for the most part, a one sided comfort that only benefits the client. And what about the prostitute? 

The reality is that most prostitutes do not have a healthy outlet to find comfort. Furthermore, most prostitutes do not derive pleasure/comfort from their encounters with clients. Most are, in fact, repulsed by intimacy with strange men (of course, they will conceal their displeasure). So for many years, I used to think about this: clients come to us for comfort, but..

Where do prostitutes go to escape the harsh realities of their lives?

The answer is: there is no safe haven or outlet that any prostitute can retreat too. As a result, most prostitutes escape and cope with life with very unhealthy habits: drugs, alcohol, excessive materialism, unhealthy relationships, seeking sexual attention from strangers to validate their self-worth. What prostitutes need is wholesome care/love. Wholesome love is the only thing that has the potential to soothe/comfort her (in the form of family, friends or spouse — and above all, spirituality (Allah, for me, as a Muslim). Love, however, is not something that can be purchased nor easily attained. Moreover, love can be something so strange and conflicting for a prostitute. It’s not easy to welcome love into one’s life or even give love when one comes from a traumatic past or is experiencing PTSD (something most prostitutes endure knowingly or not).

A Problem With No Solution

Society did not make a wholesome outlet nor alternative for prostitutes. Instead, we are silenced and often have no one to listen to us. Even if there was an outlet, we often fear to disclose our personal thoughts. We know society jokes about how “hoes” ain’t worthy of respect, we know society shuns us. We know that if we make one mistake, it will be thrown back into our face that we are simply just whores. In essence, we have no wholesome place to go for comfort. Love is the only outlet that can soothe us, yet ironically, a prostitute is very much a fool to hope or dream for love.

Sex as a Coping Mechanism?

IMG_0017

In my personal experience (which is definitely not the experience of most prostitutes), I also adopted unhealthy coping mechanisms. Physical intimacy, as one example, became my escape from the realities of life. Intimacy and passion seemed to make all the stresses of the world minimize. Although I stay away from drugs and alcohol, my erotic coping mechanisms were not much better. I had a very poor sense of discipline and limits. I am now understanding and applying the value of discipline. I have come to realize that an undisciplined life based off one’s desires/passions comes with negative consequences. Let’s not forget that many clients who seek to escape with prostitutes, for instance, are often married and thereby harming the well-being of their spouse. A brilliant quote has stuck with me as I grow older and am making more sense of the world:

“The exhaustion of the passions is the beginning of wisdom”

-Lost Horizon, 1937, James Hilton

 

———————————–

Bless The Hearts of Good Clients

A reader of mine is adamant that all men who see prostitutes are inherently bad. This is not true. I could never say all clients are X — there is too much diversity in clients. Not all clients want to just fuck a woman like an object and go ‘high-five’ their soulless peers after. Yes, there are a lot of soulless, perverted men who are clients of prostitutes. Yet there are also ones with genuine souls.

Good clients are ones who have empathy. They think about the well being of prostitutes. Rather than just take take take, they want to understand, give and act respectful. These are the clients who adore the escort they see, whom put her comfort and dignity above everything — who don’t just see her as a sexual object. Yes, some even literally bow at her feet in servitude. For me, I feel grateful I have known many kind-hearted clients who literally serviced me, and allowed me to escape and relax — they massaged me, they listened to me, they comforted me. So indeed, in some cases, the feeling of escapism can be mutual with clients.

Comfort-Massage

Traumatic events, by definition, overwhelm our ability to cope

-Susan Pease Banitt (The Trauma Toolkit)

Dear Prostitutes & Readers: What Comforts You? How do you Cope? What do you think could help you?

19 Comments

Filed under Emotional Aspects Related to Escorting, The Escorting Business, Types of Clients

Healing from Abuse

Dear Readers, this post is very hard to write about. I am not sure I will keep it. The intention in writing this is to bring awareness. It is to help others who might be suffering — maybe they can learn from my pain. Abuse is not always obvious, which is why many survivors will endure years of abuse until they take action of leaving the situation for good.

To anyone who has been subjected to abuse, please know that: You can heal. You are already perfect as you are. You are not alone in your suffering. Healthy love and kind people do exist and you are worthy of it. What happened was meant to happen and the goodness of why that happened will be realized later. Have patience. Be easy with yourself. Don’t give up.

Videsh-Heaven-On-Earth-Film.jpg

The above photo is from director Deepa Mehta’s Videsh (Heaven on Earth, 2008). A poetic film that portrays a young woman’s experience of domestic violence.

Idealize, Devalue, Discard

I was in denial. Sure, I had heard about the abusive cycle, but it didn’t occur to me that I was experiencing it. In the aftermath, it all makes sense now. With him, I experienced the narcissistic abusive cycle (idealize, devalue, discard) multiple times over the past 3 years. In other words, multiple times in three years he would come back to me after discarding me, and would declare he was now ready to be serious, he was sorry for his past behavior and he was madly in love with me. The pattern became predictable towards the end. Our ending itself proved everything that I came to suspect towards the end — that he is abusive, he does lack complete empathy and therefore, there was never any love at all.

 

A Short Summary of My Experience:

In the beginning, he mirrored my personality so I would find commonality in him. He would love-bomb me with affection to make me feel we had something special and shared endless commonalities. He seemed intellectual, he seemed cultured, he seemed non-conformist and uninterested by typical trends in Western pop-culture. Looking back in retrospect, it was a lie and a tactic for him to make me feel he was someone I would find interesting. I would have never liked him nor welcomed him in my life if I saw his true persona beneath the mask he put on.

Then once ‘in love’, his actions shifted dramatically. This was the devaluation stage. In an abusive relationship, this shift occurs because the abuser got what they wanted from the “love” stage. For my ex, having a woman fall in love with him fuelled his fragile ego and filled him with confidence, but sadly not in a wholesome way. I now know that he, a narcissistic abuser, is incapable of reciprocating love in a wholesome form — they are only looking to benefit themselves. After the ‘ideal’ stage, his abuse always started off subtle, eventually becoming more severe and obvious. Abuse, anger, threats, intimidation, lies, hypocrisy, projection.

Now, the irony is, I am not a submissive type at all. I consider myself quite resilient and intolerant to being mistreated. However, my ex abuser really had me confused, and I later realized this was a very common experience among other abuse recipients. When the abuse gets severe during the devaluation stage, an abuser will throw in breadcrumbs of affection/kindness to confuse their partner. The purpose of doing that is to excuse the abuse that occurred, and also to instil hope that the abuser has good intentions after all. During these tiny moments of kindness, the abuser will do things such as future-faking, which could be promises of marriage, declarations of ‘true love’ or the infamous, “I promise I will get help and change.”

It was always at the times when I was convinced my ex was being abusive where he would throw in his speckles of kindness and affection. I recall a day when my ex and I had a public altercation, which led me to break down in tears and hurry to go back to my home. We went to my home together. Once back at my home, his previous hostile attitude turned soft. While I was crying and rather traumatized, he began apologizing and caressing me lovingly. He then started trying to pleasure me in erotic ways while I was in that traumatized state. It was extremely strange and confusing, but I wanted to believe that he was sincere and really cared. I accepted his apology. The next day he raged at me in anger, screaming at me that I had the audacity to break down in public, run away from him and “cause a scene.”

Reacting to the abuse and defending myself was a way he could manipulate things and blame me. I had never been with an abusive man before, so I would defend myself and say often, “Men who truly love a woman do not behave this way.” He would then break down and say I am attacking his manhood by comparing him to all the other men I had — I felt really guilty for making him feel that way. Defending myself always resulted in me apologizing to him for causing him distress. I made excuses and justified his abuse — he, himself, admitted he mistreated me, yet he later would justify it because I was “a prostitute” or because I reacted ‘crazy’ in response to his abuse. Back then I didn’t realize this was his tactic of gaslighting (psychological manipulation). Gaslighting was a way for him to deflect from the fact that he was abusing me.

At the discard stage, like a typical abuser, his attitude towards me became the exact opposite of the Idealize stage. The “I love you for you are and I don’t care that you are prostitute and have had every man in the world! I want to be with you for the rest of my life” reverts to You are a whore and you will never change. I can’t trust a woman like you. Go back to whoring yourself.” By the discard stage, I was always partially destroyed by his endless campaign of devaluation — it harmed me not just emotionally, but I would physically begin to feel unwell. At that point, an abusive narcissist see’s their partner as useless, so they usually discard their partner or treat them incredibly cruel so the partner walks away themselves. The reason for this is because the abuser needs new supply to fuel his ego– a destroyed lover is useless for his ego that constantly needs inflating — so as such he will seek out a new supply (a person) to idealize.

Why Did I Take Him Back?

I had empathy and patience for his “I will change” declarations. He was very convincing in the love-bombing stages where he went to all lengths to convince me to take him back. He would send me money to prove he was serious in caring for me. Beautiful flowers. Sweet words. He apparently wrote poetry about us. I foolishly believed his declarations of love and his “we are soulmates” claims. But more than anything, I had hope in who he claimed to be as a person. He told me he suffered from severe anxiety and other mental health issues, which made me want to help him and not give up on him. I believed that he was sincere deep down, and I thought his own pain would make him a better person in the long run. I didn’t want to believe that he lacked empathy. It was only until his repetitive abusive patterns became so apparent and destructive that his mask truly came off. Everything was a lie.  Words truly mean nothing. The entire three years was a fraud. There was NO love at all. His intent was to destroy the confidence and strength I built for myself, which he lacked and craved.

Why Did He Gain?

Men-who-use-women-for-sex-emotional-rape

For a sociopath, the gain is sex, power and ego. They wallow in self-hatrid. The sad part is a sociopath cannot overcome their insecurities. It is normal to have low self-esteem and insecurities — but there are wholesome ways to gain confidence. I knew my ex was insecure, which is why I loved him and wanted to care for him. I thought he was simply a product of his circumstances and was battling to be become a better person in a healthy way. I thought loving him and showing my affection would help him. This simply never worked because he was devoid of emotion. He was incapable of introspection, incapable of empathy. His true character was hidden, so I fooled myself in the end by thinking compassion could cure him. Normal people do not destroy others to fuel their self-worth. His love-bombing tactics were all a ploy to get me to lower my guard and trust him again, which would make me consent to giving my body for love. Falsely claiming love and promising a woman a future (security) to get sex is an utmost cowardly act.

The Aftermath:

art-pain

Hypervigilance. Fearing to trust anyone. Depression. Stress. Wounded. The negative physical effects of emotional trauma and pain. What a woman should feel the most excited for is now something that fills her with fear and pain.

I worry more about other women that experienced what I went through. What is the fate of women who have been harmed and whom cannot cope without numbing their pain? How many women react in self-destructive ways in response to being harmed by an abuser? How many women blame themselves for the abuse they endured and believe that they were “not good enough?” The truth is many abused women are not coping. Most abused women I met suffered severely from being harmed by others. Many develop a very poor self-image and self -esteem. Often, they get plastic surgery or take drastic cosmetic measures to appear more superficially beautiful. They end up attracting the same type of shallow, unempathtic, conformist jerk. In some extreme cases, some women will seek revenge on all men, thus perpetuating the cycle of abuse. So how does one cope with just feeling the pain raw? The answer is: invest in your SOUL. Take care of your soul. Your soul is a garden that needs proper care and nourishment. It takes time, it will hurt, but you will heal. 

For any male reader — if you are wondering why some women are starting to view ALL men with fear and mistrust, ask yourself WHY did she become this way? I completely denounce Feminism, because indeed good and decent men do exist. However, the abusers are giving decent men a bad name. It is time for MEN to start calling out indecent men who think it’s “cool” to brag about the number of women they’ve slept with or discarded like an object (which is essentially bragging about exploitation and abuse). The normalization of sociopathy and soulless attitudes needs to be exposed. Silence only allows harm to continue, which, in the end, hurts everyone in society.


Reflections

Many years ago I used to work with other escorts. I noticed a sad phenomenon that, back then, made no sense to me. Many escorts I met were in relationships with abusive men — pimps and/or controlling, manipulative, abusive jerks, for lack of a better word. I used to feel sad for these women, and I couldn’t understand, “Why do these girls stay with men who treat them bad?” Back then, I felt lucky that my partners were very loving and compassionate men.

But now, I understand those women. I understand why they resorted to drugs and other harmful means of numbing —  they were hurt and in pain. I understand why they tolerated abuse — trauma bonding. I understand why so many went from vibrant souls to empty shells — depression, addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder, hyper vigilance (ie: fearing to trust anyone).

I understand now the behavior of so many fellow escorts I used to know. I remember my sweet former escort friend ‘Parisa’ who was once a vibrant flower. After many months of absence, she came back to the brothel. She was no longer the vibrant flower — her eyes, once alive and filled with life, clearly indicated she was broken. She told us girls that she ended things with an abusive ex. I remember when she broke down at the brothel in tears, when she began drinking excessively to numb the pain, when she broke down and confessed how she was suicidal. Broken women — these are the women who find themselves in prostitution. And then to think there are some (not all) men who brag about how they ‘conquer’ prostitutes as if we are objects to be claimed — soulless demons.

I now realize — the last three years of my life I became one of those girls —  I was with an abusive man. I justified the abuse. I made excuses for his abuse. Very typically, I believed things would get better. I blamed myself for defending myself. I thought his apologies would eventually become sincere.

During the painful ending, earlier this year, my ex abuser was completely unmasked. I feel disgusted and completely violated at realizing whom he truly was. Since his recent abusive episode which resulted in our ending, he has since attempted to repeat the whole cycle of abuse again – -apologizing, telling me he will change, pretending to care about my well-being. No more. The mask is off. The pattern of his abuse taught me that whenever I began to heal, he wanted to reappear in my life only to break me down again. Nothing fuelled his ego more than breaking down a strong, resilient woman like myself by exploiting her biggest strength: my heart. 

In my religion, Islam, we have a saying for all situations that occur in life — we are thankful always in all circumstances (good or bad). We say “Praise to the Creator” Alhamdulillah. This was my fate, and I know this happened for the best of reasons. Allah deals justly. SubhanAllah.

That’s Not Love

Love is imperfect in the beautiful sense that it has ups and downs —but love is certainly not abuse. Love is not supposed to harm. Love is uplifting and gives a sense of tranquility. Sadly, as noted in my blog, we live in a world where love is now grossly abused. The reasons are complex, and I hope to elaborate on this topic in further posts (ie: How Porn has dehumanized women and enabled the normalization of exploitation).

Resources for those Being Abused

The following books “Why Does He do That” and “Psychopath Free” provide great clarity to very traumatic and confusing abusive relationships. It can also help one refrain from going back to an abuser by explaining their false tactics of idealization, or guilt-tripping.

Psychopath-Free-Book                  Why-Does-He-Do-That-Lundy-Bancroft


**************

Great Explanation on Narcissism (starts at 1:13):

————————————

For my dear fellow prostitutes or readers, please feel free to share any experiences you have had with individuals who violated, abused or conned you. How did you heal or cope? Or did you heal at all?

 

 

39 Comments

Filed under Relationships

One-sided Love: When a Client Falls for an Escort

escort-diary-love

The first client to profess serious love for me in terms of getting married was about 9 years ago. Let’s call him James. This took place when I lived overseas. Back then, I was a very young lady who did not fully understand how critical matters of the heart were. I had met this client James once, and then unknowingly I made such an impression that he very quickly became a frequent and generous regular client. He was very easy going, kind hearted and generous — so I quickly began to enjoy his company as a client. Since he came to see me so frequently, I eventually became comfortable to go out with him publicly. We started going to dinners and theatrical shows together. To me, James was just a client and a lovely guy who’s company was joyful — but nothing more. But for him, it was much more. I was young and oblivious, however, to his intentions. It did not occur to me until later that he was spoiling me with the hopes of winning my heart.

During this time, I had also met my ex-fiance as a client. My ex, however, was someone I truly felt connected too — and very quickly we became a couple and then started living together. Once my ex and I started living together, I cut off all non-business communication with James. And very quickly, I decided to abruptly end business relations with him too. I was occupied with my ex, so I felt seeing James was too much time and effort. It was at this point, I was shocked to discover the hurt I, unknowingly, inflicted upon James — James had the idea that I was growing closer to him and we would settle together. He started showing up at my home or at the brothel I worked at, waiting for me. I was startled and shocked, because I had zero feelings for him and only considered him like any other client –the only exception was that I was closer to him as a client because I saw him so frequently. James had the best of intentions, but he mistook my kindness for something serious, which made him panic when I suddenly dropped him. It was my fault for failing to outline my intentions towards him. Looking back in retrospect, I should have taken cues of his desire for me — and moreover, I should have stated early on how I was not interested in anything beyond a client-escort relationship. But again, I was young and knew nothing about matters of the heart, so I was innocently unaware. This was a huge learning lesson for me, and a lesson I still have to apply until today: make your intentions clear from early on, and never play with someone’s heart. 

This example with James occurred when I was very young. I had no intention to mislead someone or play with their emotions whatsoever — it is my biggest fear until today to exploit someone’s heart. I have made mistakes and caused pain indeed. But I, too, know the pain of deception, so it would burn my heart to intentionally cheat someone. I was simply oblivious at my early days of escorting on how to deal with clients who became attached or fell in love.

And then the story of my ex-fiance and I — again, I was young and naive while I was with him. I did love him, but I was not sure of what I wanted through out our relationship. I was scared to settle down so young with him, and for this reason, I tried to leave him numerous times early on in our relationship. Out of love, I felt it was unfair to stay with him when my heart was not sure of what it wanted. But anytime I expressed my desire to leave him, I saw his eyes and felt like a Mother abandoning her child. This was my first true relation, so I did not know the rules or the consequences of love. Fast forward two years, I ended up leaving him. I was unsure of what I wanted throughout our entire relationship — I was poisoned with thoughts of the ‘grass being greener’ while with him. He dreamt of marriage and family, and I killed that dream for him. It was all unintentional. Only years later, once I faced rejection myself, I realized how dangerous love is when there is no structure or morality to guide it.

Now, the examples above shows how being oblivious and ignorant are part of being young. It is hoped that one will eventually learn empathy (the ability to consider the emotions of others) which distinguishes them from childhood into adulthood. Sadly, some people have no sense of empathy — they kill souls and feel no remorse. But others learn through trial and error. I had to be the neglecter and be neglected myself to learn the valuable lesson of empathy in love: don’t play with someones heart, don’t use someone, don’t make empty promises and more importantly, be clear with your intentions. 


IMG_8286

And so, there have been subsequent clients among the years who have expressed a one-sided admiration for me. And out of deep fear of hurting their dear hearts and inflicting them with pain that can be lethal, I have to hurt them with honesty…

Tonight, a client just left my home. He is reading this, as I felt comfortable to tell him about my blog. He is an all-round lovely, young man. Tonight, before he came to see me, he sent me two writing pieces he made about me. I read them. He wrote about me in the tone of love and admiration. But instead of feeling flattered, I felt concerned for his heart. Rather than applaud his efforts, I crushed his heart with the harsh tone of my bluntness: “I don’t feel the same.” He claims he has fallen in love — he wants to express it in all ways. Just moments ago, he sends me a photo of a cardboard cup that sits in the cupholder of his car. It was the cup I drank last week, filled with tea. The cup has a pink lipstick mark, my lipstick. He keeps the lipstick stained cup in his car as a memorabilia of me. And in his writings, he writes about how my scent stays with him after he leaves my home. He must have read those ‘scent’ posts on my blog, and he must think I feel the same way. Am I supposed to feel flattered? No, my dear. I am sad for you. Sad for the situation. I know my honesty hurts, and I don’t want to hurt you —  but honesty is my duty.

After learning from my past mistakes years ago, I have since become very blunt when I get an inkling that someone has feelings for me. Sometimes, regular clients confuse an escorts’ kindness for a deep, intimate connection. It is important for anyone to be true with their intentions with another –after all, one’s character is defined in how they treat others

So I said to him tonight, as I have numerous times in past meetings….”I don’t feel the same, I am not in love with you nor will I ever be.” This must confuse him, as my behavior with him seems otherwise. I understand his confusion. Yes, I can genuinely enjoy someones companionship, but that does not mean I desire them.

What worries me the most, and causes me to be more harsh, is his sense of hope for “us.” In his writings, he wrote his hope to eventually “win my heart.” So once again, I have to crush his hopes again and again, being firm and harsh — when will he understand? I tell him he must stop seeing me. Now, I feel bad for accepting his generosity. How can I feel comfortable taking his kind gestures when it means I am leading him to eventual heart ache? But I told early on, I have been honest. Yet he says I own his heart now — and I shout “I never asked for it!”

As an escort, I must be blunt, I cannot pretend to love a client to line my own pockets — that is heartless and apathetic.  I tell him that he has no choice but to accept the fact that I have no feelings for him outside a business relationship. And that doesn’t mean he is unworthy — not at all. He is too young to understand that sometimes unrequited love or losing someone is a blessing in disguise. I fear that he does not make this realization, but instead blames himself. It is not him who is lacking at all — he must learn a lesson that many need to learn: chemistry is not a choice. There is no such thing as one not being ‘good enough’ — no. There are reasons why people come together and why they part — it requires immense patience to see the spiritual importance of why people come into our lives, who remains and who departs.

I cannot exploit his heart. I cannot exploit his generosity to benefit myself without thinking of how this affects him. No. I have seen the abuse of love and its consequences. I have seen how love is falsely proclaimed when it’s simply a ploy for one’s selfish gain. I have seen suicide resulting from false promises of love. So much dishonesty masquerades with the label of ‘love’ and so many broken souls who once dreamed. This is the result of a society with no structure or morality  — I learnt the lesson long ago, do not play with hearts.

Final Remarks:

Despite I used the term ‘love’ in this post and past posts of mine, I have come to realize that there is no such thing as wholesome love without structure/guidance. I wrongly assumed that I experienced ‘true’ love in the past — but I no longer believe that was love. Perhaps at best, it was just a glimpse of love. There is no love unless it’s given the correct conduct that it deserves — love is a serious responsibility, not a toy to play with. But sadly, today, love is treated as something so casual, something to play with and discard once ‘bored’ — and alhamdulilah for Islam, because Islam makes awareness of the societal ills that result from the falsehood of unrestricted love. As a Muslim, I finally see how love is only granted when one follows the guidelines of Allah swt. Islam recognizes how love, when outside the responsibility of marriage, is often misused and leads to social chaos (fitna). For this reason, Islam prohibits the relations between men and women outside of marriage  — after all, sex without responsibility renders people being exploited, used, heartbroken or deceived (all things which Islam seeks to protect one from).

15 Comments

Filed under Emotional Aspects Related to Escorting, Questions for Escorts And Clients, Relationships

A History of Courtesans In South Asia — How Colonialism lead to the Degradation of the Lives of Prostitutes

 Ghazala-Javed

Ghazala Javed, popular Pashto singer killed in 2012 by her ex-husband

—–

I recently submitted an essay about the history of Courtesans in South Asia. It’s quite lengthy, but I thought it would be of interest to those interested in how notions of gender and sexuality changed dramatically with regards to modernity. Here is a brief summary of some key issues:

1. Notions of gender and sexuality in Non-Western parts of the world were quite relaxed and fluid compared to today’s context. 

2. Colonialism projected European discourses of gender and sexuality onto the world and posited prude Victorian morality as ‘superior.’ These discourses were adopted and internalized by many leaders of the non-West. 

3. To understand the ‘strict’ norms of sexuality in certain parts of the non-West today, one must look at how colonialism changed former notions of gender and sexuality. 

My own interest in this topic was sparked by common stereotypes that I hear about men from South Asia or Islamic parts of the world. More often than once, I encounter white-European clients whom are often quite shocked when I tell them that my lovers of the past and present have been Muslim men — they become more shocked when I tell them that I prefer men from my own culture, or similar backgrounds. The common thing I hear is, “But don’t Muslim, or brown men, treat their women terribly? I usually giggle slightly and say something along the lines of, “My dear, that’s not true. There are good and bad in all people” And then, if they are interested to hear, I give them a little history about how the Western media is obsessed with portraying the non-West (namely Muslim-majority countries) as oppressive, especially towards women. It is an unfortunate reality that many people have accepted incorrect discourses (constructed stereotypes) towards certain cultures, which has inspired myself and many others to challenge this narrative.

I started my essay by talking about the 2012 murder of a popular Pashto singer, Ghazala Javed, and how her death can easily fall into the widespread “Oppressive Brown/Muslim Man” narrative. Ghazala was killed by her ex-husband, allegedly on the grounds that her career as a mujra, a combination of both singing and dancing, was considered morally shameful for a woman. Yet contrary to popular Western narratives, female entertainers like Ghazala Javed, historically more broadly known as courtesans, were once held with cultural significance and social esteem in many parts of South Asia. Ghazala Javed was of Pashtun descent, an ethnic group in Pakistan and Afghanistan, more recently known for their affiliation with the Taliban. Pashtuns, in particular, are often stereotyped for their rigid control over women, which became more pronounced with their association with Taliban fundamentalism.

The media’s portrayal of certain Islamic/South Asian cultures as cesspools of male violence against women is an ongoing trend, a continuation of Orientalism. In 1978, professor Edward Said wrote Orientalism, in which he argues how knowledge of the non-Western world, the Orient, was imagined through a Western lens. Western writings about the Orient, which Said called Orientalism, were presented as objective knowledge — meaning, they were presented as factual. In reality, however, European Orientalist writings about the Orient were shaped by dominant European ideologies, such as social Darwinism. In Orientalist writings, cultures of the non-West were viewed as static, or unchanging, and essentialist, meaning peoples of the non-West were all essentially the same. The framework of Orientalism helps to show how dominant Western stereotypes about women in South Asia do not depict the reality necessarily. Many stereotypes today about the non-West stem from colonialism, which portrayed peoples of the non-West as ‘inferior’ and thereby valourizing the West as ‘superior.’ Such stereotypes had a powerful effect, and manifested in various forms of colonial rule. In essence, colonialism irreversibly changed the roles of men and women in colonized parts of the world. It is particularly interesting to note how colonialism changed notions of gender and sexuality in colonized parts of the world. For this post, I will focus on how colonialism degraded the status of the esteemed courtesan. 

Tawaif

courtesan-palace

Depiction of Courtesans relaxing in the kotha

South Asian Courtesans Before British Colonial Rule

Prior to high noon of British colonialism, courtesans were esteemed in the sense that they were able to attain wealth, exercise power and hold status in society independently of male control. The memoir of the Lucknow courtesan Umrao Jaan, provides one insight into the life of courtesan before and after the establishment of the British Raj in 1858. Historian Veena Talwar-Oldenburg attributes how Umrao Jaan’s elevated lifestyle coincides with testimonies of other courtesans of the early colonial period. As Talwar notes, courtesans constituted a matriarchy, where they were able to run their lives, thereby subverting patriarchal norms that existed outside the kotha. The kotha, or female apartments, were spaces where females held authority, where they could exercise their agency over men, such as clients, musicians, male servants, etc. Many courtesans were highly skilled in Urdu and Persian literature, kathak dancing, singing and various other arts. In many parts of precolonial India, the arts of the courtesan were highly praised and patronized by the wider society. For instance, a courtesan was not only courted by men, but courtesans were also summoned by women to perform at weddings, ceremonies, etc. From these snap-shots, it seems courtesans were not simply sexual objects with no significance, but were instead valourized as artists, offering an amalgam of entertainments beyond just sex. The historical role of these women is in stark contrast with their fate after colonial rule and independence.

courtesan

From 1858 onwards, British colonial rule fundamentally changed the social fabric of South Asian society. Many British narratives expressed the urgency to bring ‘civilization’ to uplift Indians from their alleged primitiveness. The very idea of ‘civilizations’ stems from social Darwinist theory, in which cultures were ranked on an evolutionary scale. In this European ideology, Europeans were ranked at the top as racially ‘superior’ whilst peoples of non-West were considered primitive, backwards, inferior, uncivilized. The British often posited their ‘superior’ treatment of women as a justification for their superiority. In British colonial India, the British expressed ‘humanitarian’ agendas to ‘uplift’ Indian women from ‘barbaric’ cultural practices, such as child marriage, polygyny, and the esteemed courtesan tradition. If these practices were deemed ‘inferior’ then it indirectly was juxtaposing the British Victorian womanhood as ideal. Such colonial discourses were influential in the 19th century, because the British had the imperial power to assert their dominance on a global scale. Said’s framework of Orientalism, however, shows another dimension to British narratives of ‘protecting the brown woman.’ Many European discourses were strategic in denouncing cultures of the non-West, as stereotypes were powerful ideological tools to maintain imperial interests. In other words, in order to gain support for imperial exploitation of the South Asia, the British had to portray their missions as ‘humanitarian’– to bring ‘civilization’ to people of the non-West. While social Darwinist ideology is dismissed as pseudo-science today, it is important to note how influential such stereotypes would become when pertaining to gender. In the mid-19th century onwards, Indian male nationalists, fearing to fall behind on the so-called evolutionary scale, were keen to show that their women were ‘civilized’ along British ideals of womanhood. The ‘ideal’ Indian woman became redefined along the lines of Victorian morality — she was now domestic, chaste, and hailed as the ‘Goddess’ of the house. This new ‘ideal’ woman was in conflict with former notions of gender, especially for the courtesan, whose livelihood gradually became constructed as ‘immoral.’

courtesan-languishing

Oil Painting Depiction of an Elegantly Attired Courtesan

This new ‘ideal’ woman, projected by British colonial discourses, became internalized and promoted by Indian male nationalists from the 19th century onwards. These new gender ideals also became institutionalized, and resultantly had dire implications for courtesans. One major blow to courtesan tradition was the 1864 Contagious Diseases Act, a British law that mandated state regulation and control over the bodies of courtesans, subjecting them to mandatory testing, thereby reducing their agency and reducing them to what the British envisaged as a common prostitute. The 1864 Contagious Diseases Acts were propagated to protect women from sexual diseases, but it also indirectly functioned to stigmatize ‘unregulated’ sex as ‘unhygienic,’ thus giving prostitutes a stigma of being ‘dirty.’ In 1892, the Anti Nautch Movement was another aim to stop the courtesan traditional, and had wide support by both the British and educated Hindu elite who collaborated with the British. In 1893, in The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood, a British missionary named Mrs. Marcus B. Fuller dedicated an entire chapter to denounce the ‘nautch’ tradition and endorse the Anti-Nautch Movement. In her words, she described nautch girls (courtesans) as “rich, beautiful and very attractive, besides being witty and pleasant in conversation; and they are the only women that move freely.” Ironically, this description she gives of courtesans is what she considers immoral, or “disgraceful” and overall, a danger to social harmony. It was during the late 19th century when prostitutes became posited as ‘The Great Social Evil’ by European missionaries and moralists. Clearly, Mrs. Fuller was an advocate of colonial ideals of ‘ideal’ womanhood. Interestingly, she posits the clients, or patrons, of courtesans, as victims of the courtesan’s seductive power and thereby men are “wasting” their money on these women. Mrs. Fuller’s account was not out of the ordinary, as even British men related to her view. In 1851, the infamous British explorer Richard Burton wrote about courtesans whom thrived in Sindh, and like Mrs. Fuller, he seemed quite displeased at the social esteem given to these women. Accounts like Burton and Fuller echo the prevailing Victorian discourse of gender and sexuality that ‘ideal’ women should be chaste, domestic. Indian male nationalists, keen to prove they were ‘civilized,’ often supported campaigns against courtesans too. In effect, laws and campaigns to regulate women’s bodies gradually lead to the degradation of South Asian courtesans. Despite crackdowns, however, the courtesan culture continued to exist, yet now marginal, criminalized and stigmatized due to new colonial realities.

European critiques of South Asian culture were not without protest. In fact, many nationalists saw reviving their cultural traditions as a form of anti-colonial protest. While the courtesan represented elements of traditional culture in South Asian society, revivalists, however, seldom embraced the once noble courtesan tradition. One would assume being anti-colonial would mean rejecting the colonial gender discourses that were projected onto South Asia, yet ironically anti-colonial discourses were often propagated by Western-educated Indian elite, who’s views were heavily fused with European ideologies. Hindu revivalists, for instance, often wanted to revert back to an imagined ‘pure’ ancient Hindu past, and European notions of what it meant to be ‘pure’ heavily influenced their modern interpretations of ‘purity.’ Because the recent courtesan tradition was associated with elite Islamic culture, Hindu revivalists often discredited acts from the Islamic period as not part of the ‘pure’ Hindu past. Even Mahatma Gandhi adopted this flaw; he was determined in his anti-colonial stance, yet was not keen on the courtesan tradition. Tula and Pande explain this irony, “nationalists saw them [courtesans] embodying everything that a modern, educated Hindu woman would not do.” Rather ironic, yet many nationalists and their supporters, including women, adhered to new discourses of ‘ideal’ womanhood. These attitudes continued into the post-1947 contexts of independent India and Pakistan, and thus the modern nation-state is not without its colonial legacies. As historian Shahnaz Khan notes in “Zina and the Moral Regulation of Pakistani Women,” women became, “the biological and cultural reproducers of the nation. As such, their sexuality is a valuable resource that is utilized to service their families and the nation” In other words, Khan highlights how gender control became vital to the nation-state, as it’s instrumentally used to retain hegemonic power. Therefore, any potential support for the courtesan tradition would be undermined because it poses a challenge to the prevalent and internalized discourses of ‘ideal’ womanhood. In any case, women who continued to entertain or sell themselves did not have much of a voice, but instead those in power were deciding their fates. The practice of silencing a group, and stereotyping them was, however, a strategic practice from colonialism onwards.

Pashtun tribal 19th Century

Pashtun Tribals in the 19th century

            The colonial discourses on the Pashtun people provide an interesting insight as they were often stereotyped as the most culturally ruthless groups in South Asia. In many contemporary and colonial Western accounts, their violent ‘nature’ was often described in essentialist ways. For instance, R. E. Newman’s Pathan Tribal Patterns describes how Pashtun culture follows a strict adherence to a code of honor, or Pakhtunwali. In reference to them, he notes, “The tribal people are most renowned for their physical acts of violence.” Newman also notes how women are tied to the code of honor, where “zan, zar, and zamin (woman, gold, and land)” are part of a man’s honor. In Newman’s view, it’s as if the Pashtun ‘code of honor’ remains static, ahistorical. Recent scholarship, however, has shown how and why such stereotypes came about.  In The Pathan Unarmed, Mukilika Bannerjee makes used of Said’s Orientalism to explain how the British colonial discourses were influential in demonizing the Pashtuns of Afghanistan and colonial India. In 1840, British attempts to conquer Kabul were defeated by the Pashtuns, and thus arose British discourses vilifying Pashtun people. In other words, the British, with their imperial arrogance, had to show ‘face’ by showing that they were only defeated because the Pashtuns were culturally ‘barbaric, brutal, violent,’ etc. This does not mean the Pashtun were actually hostile people, yet the British constructed them in negatives ways to uphold British status-quo. Unfortunately, these stereotypes were widely disseminated. Popular literature, such as Rudyard Kiplings Kim, for instance, echoed this stereotype of the ‘fierce’ Pashtun tribal man. These stereotypes of Pashtuns continue today and were reinforced in new ways with the Talibanization of North-West Frontier provinces after 9/11.

Unlike today, Pashtun notions of honor were different when considering they were once able to accommodate and even valourize the existence of courtesans. Therefore, notions of honor that remain today cannot be considered culturally ahistorical. As historian A.T. Fildis notes, “honour is a relative term and can be defined and redefined in various socio-economic and cultural contexts with different attributes and its sources and meanings varying from culture to culture.” In “Dancing Girls of Swat Valley,” Shaheen Buneri compares the historical esteem of courtesans in Swat, Pakistan to their position today, where such women are held with contempt by the public society.  Buneri interviews a woman named Nagina, a modern mujra, who states “We don’t have any respect in society (…) Generally we are not considered morally good people.” The fact that modern ‘dancing girls’ do not have any social respect is quite puzzling, given courtesans of Swat, in particular, once were held with high regard. Before the inception of Pakistan, the region of Swat was a princely state, ruled by a Wali. Under the Wali of Swat, the arts of the courtesan were patronized and embraced, and even one Wali is said to have married a courtesan. Even the writings of colonial moralist Mrs. Fuller, despite condemning courtesans, noted that courtesans of the North-West Frontier provinces were “treated with as much courtesy as if she were a princess descended from a distinguished royal line.” Like other parts of India, courtesans in Swat were subject to the same gradual degradation that came with colonial influence. Like Indian male nationalists, Pashtun men also became courted by the allure of nationalism, with its European ideological underpinnings, between 1930 and 1947. And of course, women came to be redefined by nationalists as the bearers of culture and nation. Thus, new notions of womanhood also shifted Pashtun notions of honor with regards to new realities.

pakeeza-tawaif

Bollywood’s adaptation of a life of a courtesan in “Pakeezah,” starring the lovely Meena Kumari. A courtesan could seduce and mesmerize her audience whilst fully dressed, and therefore was not an insignificant object.

From Artist to Object

            In Pakistan, as with India, the former tawaif (courtesan) tradition gradually died out in terms of its traditional function within society. It transformed into a degraded state of commercial sex work, with some women also providing imitations of the courtesan tradition by way of singing and dancing along with selling sex. In “Performance, Status and Hybridity in a Pakistani Red-Light District: The Cultural Production of the Courtesan,” Louise Brown provides an ethnographic account of more recent sex-work in the once thriving kotha district of Heera Mandi in Lahore. Brown’s research shows how realities in independent Pakistan, where prostitution was made illegal in 1960, shapes the lives of the women who continue to live and work in Heera Mandi. Brown notes that some of these women do attain wealth and prestige for short periods in their youth, yet wider social attitudes towards these women remain hostile. Thus, even if a courtesan is desired or gains wealth, it remains in secret and as Brown notes, “it is highly unlikely to be translated into power and status outside the brothel quarter.” Unlike the past, Brown also notes how most clients of today’s courtesans do not have an appreciation for the traditional arts of the courtesan, which coincides with Buneri’s interview with Nagina, a mujra who claims her clients are “more interested in my body rather than in my art.” It’s clear that modern courtesans are in a degraded state, which is an implication of colonialism and aftermath. What is more unfortunate is the overwhelming majority of women in Heera Mandi, according to Brown, were selling their services to overcome economic hardships. Buneri’s research also highlights how many Pashtun women from Swat, due to the poverty after the Taliban insurgency after 9/11, fled to Peshawar where many had to sell their bodies along with singing and dancing to survive. The popular Pashto singer Ghazala Javed, also from Swat, moved to Peshawar and is said to have resorted to singing and dancing to escape poverty. The current unfortunate realities of courtesans and sex-workers stem from the colonial period and the resulting powers that intensified the role of the ‘ideal’ woman within society.

Iqbal Hussain Painting Mujra Tawaif

Poverty & Despair: Iqbal Hussain Painting of Heera Mandi prostitutes in their ‘down-time.’ Iqbal Hussain is a famous painter known for his ‘un-glamorous’ portrayals of modern, impoverished prostitutes in Heera Mandi. Interestingly, he is the son of a former courtesan from Heera Mandi in Lahore.

The Impact of Fundamentalism on Gender and Sexuality

Like the Hindu-fundamentalist revivalism that started in the nationalist period in India, post-independent Pakistani leaders also had their own Islamist fundamentalist agendas.* In 1979, General Zia al-Haq implemented Zina Laws, aiming to criminalize any sexual acts outside of marriage. As Shahnaz Khan notes in “Zina and the moral regulation of Pakistani women,” Zina laws were part of the 1979 Hadood Ordinances, which was General Zia al-Haq’s “first step in his Islamization policies.” As Khan notes, Zina laws were intended to create a ‘moral’ and just society in Pakistan, yet her and others have argued that it was a process of the state aiming to regulate the bodies of women. In other words, Islamic fundamentalism has nothing to do with the true ideals of Islam as a religion — it is important to note the difference, since fundamentalist agendas re-interpret religion for political motives. With regards to sex-workers in Pakistan, the Zina Laws were not entirely enforced, yet it compelled sex workers to be more discreet, made them vulnerable to criminalization and overall, further discredited their livelihoods. After September 11th 2011, when the U.S. launched war on the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Taliban fled to the Swat Valley region of Pakistan. In Swat, the Taliban were extreme towards women, in that women were not allowed to go to school or work. These measures were the Taliban’s interpretation of a ‘pure’ Islamic society. Yet again, Taliban fundamentalism is a political movement that has nothing to do with essences of Islam. For courtesans in Swat, the Taliban insurgency is said to have drastically disrupted their roles, as “women and villagers affiliated with the arts” were first targeted and banned. Given that Islamic fundamentalism was widespread, it would indeed influence social attitudes. One can speculate that Ghazala Javed’s ex-husband, her murderer, internalized fundamentalist rhetoric, and likely saw her career as a singer and dancer as ‘un-Islamic.’ Yet how can female entertainers be considered ‘un-Islamic’ if they once were tolerated in pre-colonial Islamic societies? The Taliban, therefore, like other fundamentalists, are painting their discourses with colonial gender ideologies. Moreover, when fundamentalists condemn courtesans or other female performers, they fail to note how many of these women are resorting to this work out of economic hardship. Shahnaz Khan notes how poverty plays a role in contemporary Pakistani society: “Families with little means to cope with increasingly inflation and chronic unemployment often find that their daughter’s sexuality is a valuable asset.” Islamic fundamentalism, like Hindu fundamentalism, is a consequence of European colonialism and has been intensified by new post-colonial global realities. The implications are that women, today, are left in a vulnerable position, as there seems to be no fight against discourses of using women as cultural markers. With regards to Pakistani women, Tahmina Rashid depicts their murky position within society: “In Pakistan, the female body has been politicized to such an extent that it functions as a battleground for ideological, philosophical, and religious debates and agendas between pseudo-modernist military regimes and traditionalist mullahs.”

The 2012 murder of Ghazala Javed highlights how certain women are in South Asia are caught in the deadly rift between new state regulations and fundamentalist agendas, both implications from colonialism. The media propagates the vulnerability of South Asian women as a cultural problem, yet media representations ignore historical and socio-economic aspects that have made the conditions for violence against women to occur. Without historical analysis, then Ghazala Javed’s murder will be considered just another ‘honor killing’ that’s typical of South Asian/Islamic cultures. When the problematic notion of ‘honor killing’ is accepted, then it takes away from the fact that European colonialism and it’s legacy caused social disruption to such an extent that it played a defining role in establishing the conditions for violence against women today. Cultural essentialist notions on the oppression of women indirectly, as Eva Reimer notes, posits the West as a role model for better treatment of women, thereby ignoring how Western women too are subjected to oppression within the nation-state setting. It’s clear that Orientalist stereotypes still holds sway and continues to valourize the West as the ‘ideal’ to aspire too. The fact that contemporary courtesans today, seen as ‘dishonorable,’ were once the most esteemed of women in many parts of precolonial South Asia makes cultural essentialist narratives invalid. Therefore, it is the onset of colonial discourses that disrupted former notions of gender and lead to the problems today. And unfortunately, the colonial ‘legacies’ of gender are still yet to be untangled. Yet at least with more understanding of how gender is constructed, shaped, changed and remade, then individuals can be more accepting of those who do not fit with the current ‘ideal.’ Perhaps Ghazala Javed would still be alive if her ex-husband and her community were aware of how notions of gender and sexuality were once embracing of women in her position, rather than see them as women ‘with no honor.’

*Note: The term ‘Islamist’ is used to refer to fundamentalists, which are political movements that uses the rhetoric of reviving an imagined ‘pure’ past. The violent and oppressive aims of certain Islamist movements have nothing to with the religion of Islam. A great quote from the film Water (2005) captures fundamentalists of any kind, “Disguised as religion, it’s just about money.”

Bibliography

Banerjee, Mukulika. The Pathan Unarmed: Opposition and Memory in the North West Frontier. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Brown, Louise. “Performance, Status and Hybridity in a Pakistani Red-Light District: The Cultural Production of the Courtesan.” Sexualities 10, no. 4 (2007): 409-423.

Buneri, Shaheen. “Dancing Girls of the Swat Valley.” World Policy Journal 28, no. 3 (2011): 73-81.

Burton, Richard. Sindh and the Races that inhabit the Indus Valley. New York: Oxford University Press, 1851.

Fildis, A. T. “The Historical Roots and Occurrence of Honour-Related Violence in Non-Muslim and Muslim Societies.” Journal of Women of the Middle East and the Islamic World 11 (2013): 1-15.

Forbes, Geraldine. Women in Modern India. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Foucault, Michel. A History of Sexuality, vol. 1, 1978.

Fuller, Mrs. Marcus B. The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood. New York: Young People’s Missionary Movement, 1900.

Khan, Shahnaz. “Zina” and the Moral Regulation of Pakistani Women.” Feminist Review, no 75 (2003): 75-100.

Kumar, Deepa & Stabile, Carol A. “Unveiling imperialism: media, gender and the war on Afghanistan.” Media, Culture & Society 27 (2005): 765-778.

Massad, Joseph. Desiring Arabs. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2007.

Newman, R. E. Pathan Tribal Patterns. New Delhi: The Caxton Press, 1965.

Pande, Rekha., & Tula, Meenal. “Re-Inscribing the Indian Courtesan: A Genealogical Approach.” Journal of International Women’s Studies 15, no. 1 (2014): 67-82.

Rashid, Tahmina. “Militarized Masculinities, Female Bodies, and ‘Security Discourse’ in Post-9/11 Pakistan.” Strategic Analysis 33, no. 4 (2009): 566-578.

Reimers, Eva. “Representations of an Honor Killing.” Feminist Media Studies 7, no. 3 (2007): 239-255.

Said, Edward. Orientalism. London: Penguin Books Ltd, 1995.

Sarkar, Sumit & Sarkar, Tanika., eds.  Women and Social Reform in Modern India. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008.

Talwar, Veena. “Lifestyle as resistance: the case of the courtesan of Lucknow, India.” Feminist Studies 16, no. 2 (1990): 259-287.

 

10 Comments

Filed under Facts About the Sex Industry