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11/2020 Sex Work In Germany: We Need To Talk!

Klicke hier, um die deutsche Version zu lesen: 11/2020 Sexarbeit: Deutschland, wir müssen reden!

Only since 2002 has sex work been legally recognized as a profession, and once again voices are being raised to legislate penalties and prohibitions to eradicate sex work, all brazenly under the guise of the Corona crisis.

Corona as a backdoor to German repression of sex work

We gays already know this shit, because when we finally made sure together with the heterosexuals that the state was denied the authority to defend the „moral order“ with the means of criminal law, there was the §175 for us gays for a long time. It contained an oversized juvenile protection in the case of a homosexual attack.

Under §175 many unfair legal problems arose for gays and it was still applied in Germany until the 90s. It found its place again and again in every discussion about gay rights as a justification that being gay is just „something different“.

In 1990, 10 out of almost 100 people convicted in Germany were still in prison for „fornication“, while the opening of marriage for homosexuals was already under discussion. It was’nt until 1994 that the paragraph was repealed.

And why was there §175 for men? Because of morality, of course, because being gay is something bad.

By the way, men were persecuted and punished because male homosexuality is so much worse for psychological development than female homosexuality. That is, for gays, sexism within sexism. And why was that? Back then, women were not thought to have independent sexuality – so for lesbians, a clear case of luck in disguise. It still exists for sex workers today, because, for the anti-sex workers, sex work cannot be seen as positive by any provider. *(shakes his head)

In the 80s, the role of the „hooker“ and the „back-loader“ was for the first time politically and morally addressed in the context of the AIDS debate. A new image of sexuality emerged, as one suddenly had to deal with „routes of infection“ and „frequency of contact“ in society as a whole.

Now, in 2020, we have the coronavirus, and once again we have to explain ourselves because people outside have crazy images of prostitution in their heads.

Examples

  • Customers are rarely unknown; in the event of an infection, it is almost always possible to contact the customer. This is even more true during a pandemic:
  • Sex workers‘ clients are not hormonally insane people either, because they too have a vested interest in their health.
  • Yes, there are commissioned gangbangs, but they are rare because prostitution is usually a „1 to 1“ business, and that applies to all sexual orientations, as well as all genders.
  • If you think you can serve 20 clients a day in sex work, you should calculate how rich we whores would be if we did that for a few months. Any physiotherapist usually has more clients.
  • In brothels or S&M studios it’s not dirty because hygiene has been compulsory for centuries. Sex workers are usually pretty good at it.

Sex work hygiene at a domina studio

My client Alex explains the latter point: „I’m a frequent guest at the LUX Dominastudio in Berlin. I find the ambiance there much more appealing for living out dark fantasies than my living room at home in Hamburg.

When I go for a drink with the Dominus – or Master Andre, as I call him – after a session, I also get to see what happens behind the scenes after he has exchanged his heavy leather outfit for comfortable blue jeans and a black t-shirt.

Master Andre blows out the candles, carefully removes the wax marks and opens the windows to air out the room. Towels are changed and the bed is freshly made (although it only served as a seat for us this afternoon). Then collars, masks, chains, straps, and any other used items are disinfected one by one and rubbed dry.

„We have a cleaning lady who does the rough stuff, but we do the fine work ourselves,“ he says.

Finally, it’s the floor’s turn: damp mopping, down to the furthest corner. The glasses go in the dishwasher, the used towels go in the laundry basket, and the windows are closed.

Finally, he always has a knotted bag with the physical remnants of our session (condoms, paper, disposable gloves, etc.) dangling from his hand, which he throws in the trash on his way out. When we leave the room, it looks like a freshly cleaned hotel room.

Looking at the Corona-related hygiene requirements today, all I can say is that the LUX was in compliance long before the pandemic hit. I can testify that cleanliness and hygiene are a damn high priority here.“

The main point in the vexed Corona debate is that if the state does not prohibit its citizens from having sex with each other through sanctions, as is currently the case, it must also apply – if not to a greater extent – to sex work.

Commercially organized sex work will logically be even more cautious because of its economic interest. And not only because the body of the sex worker and the health of the client are the capital of the sex worker, no, but rules can also be introduced and controlled with the surrounding entities (brothels, support services, etc.).

But what happens? Do they talk to us? Do they find solutions with us? No, we are „banned“. Sex work is still illegal months after the hairdressers are back to cutting our bangs.

Everyone involved knows that prostitution happens anyway. Almost everyone is working again – somewhere and somehow. The fact is that the work is done with less hygiene (hotels, private homes, toilets, etc.). From an epidemiological point of view, this is complete nonsense.

In addition, the counseling centers are closing – but no one asks for health advice in an illegal situation anyway – only for help, because there is no money left, because Hartz 4 is barely enough, and even this allowance is basically not available for many migrant sex workers. Not to mention the physical protection of female sex workers – which is currently completely lacking due to the abolition of brothels and the associated security.

This is an unparalleled exclusion, which is justified by the „lack of controllability of hygiene concepts“ (see: Written question 22/823 by Dr. Ensslen and Mr. Özdemir (Die Linke) „What about the professional freedom of prostitutes? Printed Paper No. 2020/1280). Apart from the fact that very few shops and offices have huge, controllable window fronts, all other justifications are far-fetched. Just read for yourself.

Don’t be fooled, this sex purchase ban is once again about morality – just like the AIDS issue.

Why is spontaneous mutual oral penetration via Grindr, Tinder, etc. currently not punishable, while the second you buy a blowjob, you are committing a hefty misdemeanor? The virus is certainly not triggered by the payment process, is it? Nevertheless, the police are currently standing in front of the trans streets trips on Frobenstraße and spoiling the already Corona-conditioned lousy business.

Excluding people in sex work

Clear exclusion of the sex workers – and of course it is started with the smallest ones. Ralf Rötten (managing director of HILFE-FÜR-JUNGS e.V.) on this:

„Those who are particularly affected by discrimination in sex work are also, once again in the Corona crisis, the ones who have to make the greatest personal sacrifices.“

This exclusion of unwanted groups under the pretext of health is all very familiar to me. In 1987, Horst Seehofer suggested that AIDS-infected and sick people should be collected in „special homes“ in the future. At that time, the Minister of Culture, Hans Zehetmair, went even further: (…) Homosexuality belongs to the „fringe of degeneracy (…) The environment of ethical values must be rediscovered in order to dilute this degeneracy. (translated from Spiegel.de)

Thank God, these values did not prevail at that time, and the CSU’s desire for compulsory registration and the planned deferrals were not introduced, because at some point people talked to each other and solutions were worked out.

„Using a pandemic as a cheap pretext to paternalistically protect sex workers against their explicit will from possible dangers in the future is neither democratic nor emancipatory, and certainly not feminist. This questionable alliance of Bible-thumping Christians, social democrats and old feminists will deepen the misery of sex workers and drive up STI infection rates (as among men in Sweden). The best protection against exploitation, oppression and sexually transmitted diseases is still education and open discussion about health, sexuality and self-determination in a society. AIDS has already proven this over the last 35 years.“

– Ralf Rötten

Until 1977, the Civil Code stipulated that a woman needed her husband’s permission to work for herself. When this was abolished, the conservatives painted a frightening picture of neglected children because mothers could no longer care for them because of their careers, and used traumatized children of divorce as evidence.

Sex work and sex buying ban

It is similar to the thinking behind the sex-buying ban – only backwards. Take victims of human trafficking, lump them together with sex workers, and now demand a big, simple ban.

Don’t be fooled, one has nothing to do with the other. Nobody claims to be able to fight crime 100% anyway – in any industry. Even opponents of sex work don’t go that far with their calls for bans and punishment.

But can a ban actually help here, at least a little? It sounds like a populist approach, if only because of its simplicity. Let’s take a look at the history of the USA: here the – for some people certainly – big problem „alcohol“ was not defeated by Prohibition (= total ban on the consumption and sale of alcohol, 1913-1921).

In retrospect, it seems to be one of the most stupid measures for such a complex issue, which is in the area of tension between „deadly drug“ and „casually applicable positive enhancer“. What have we people around the world been counting on? Education, self-determination and sensible rules – not a blanket ban.

I demand a clear distinction between crime within prostitution and sex work. We should be able to expect from today’s society that they’re able to tackle a problem area without destroying the career choices of 40,400 people* and incapacitating them through blanket victim attribution, as well as restricting the freedom of every German citizen in such a way.

Sex work and „paying for sex“

This is what my client Alex says: „It’s not difficult at all for me to find a suitable sex partner to get the quick kick of a hotter number. Sexually, I have no need to catch up or unfulfilled desires. I don’t pay for sex, I pay for the experience.

When I go to Studio LUX, it’s about much more than sex. Much more! I’m ready for an erotic adventure of a special kind, where creativity, curiosity, courage and trust are at least as important as sex.

It’s the search for the extraordinary, for the unusual… perhaps also the desire for a short-term escape from reality and the immersion in a world that is not „forbidden“, but to which adjectives such as „wicked“ and „perverse“ have always been attached.“

Women’s movement and sex work

Let’s go back to the women’s movement: Many laws have brought women to where they are today, and yet, 50 years later, we still have to come up with new measures, such as quotas for boards of directors and political parties, so that women have equal rights. Where the hell did we get the idea that the new prostitution law of 2002, which will be in full force by 2020, will work in practice in such a diverse environment? Of course we need to make improvements – that’s logical.

But the new regulations of 2018 are a joke in terms of objectives. Does anyone really think that our registration, i.e. the registration of sex workers who are already known, like me, is going to help any victim of trafficking? This was an expensive grab in the toilet for the taxpayer. It should only be mandatory to register with the tax office, as with other self-employed people.

It would be desirable to talk WITH us sex workers – not ABOUT us. I never tire of asking for things that really make a difference, namely

  • financial support for anonymous and easily accessible helplines
  • free screening and treatment at health clinics throughout Germany
  • access to the artists‘ social insurance fund
  • establishment of a low-threshold education and training system for sex workers – in-service and voluntary
  • inclusion of sex work in the General Equal Treatment Act
    Possibility of a work visa for migrant sex workers, and most importantly
  • right of residence for victims of trafficking

When we make laws, we often have to oracle about what the better solution is. Regarding the 2002 law, we already know this: before it was demonstrably worse for 40,400* people because sex work was not legally recognized – period. Illegality, enforced by punishing our clients, takes us with it – logically – or back into the abyss.

Every time a trafficked person tells their story in detail, proving that prostitution is the root of all evil, ask yourself why anti-sex workers do not fundamentally address the problem of „violence and oppression of people“. That would include the often-beaten woman with a normal job.

No opponent of sex work is interested in this, because this beaten woman is a well-behaved married woman, who conforms to a moral code. Only if she is a prostitute do we have to create a new law.

Don’t be fooled – this is about changing the morality of sex work through a law.

Every time you hear about the „disgusting evil john“ who makes derogatory comments about sex workers on john forums, ask yourself how many sex workers you see on the street complaining about it. You will find only a few dropouts who lacked the professional distinction of the profession. Sex workers can handle a negative review because we know we are providing a service.

Don’t be fooled – again, this is about changing the morality of sex work through legislation.

Every time you hear the insane claim that over 90% of sex workers are suffering and want to get out, just ask for proof of that 90%. There won’t be any because no one knows those numbers. They’re just „assumptions“.

Assumptions are not enough for legislation. And certainly not for destroying the 40,400* sex workers in Germany alone who have endured appointments with the Public Order Office and forced interviews with the health authorities – and who have thus logically clearly proven their consent to the profession.

Each time, they’re expected to agree to return to a sexual culture, tradition and morality of a Germany that no longer exists.

Sex work within our „tolerant“ Germany

The country is already tolerant of sex work. „It’s a normal job,“ I often hear.

We are about to internalize this value. It won’t be long before I’m no longer pestered with 100 questions, admired or pitied for making money from sex.

However, there is a little sex worker in all of us… Don’t believe it? Think about it: do you want to introduce me to your parents as a life partner with a job description? Despite all the rational-positive thoughts you have about my work, you just recoiled, didn’t you?

Of course you did – but why? Because we have been raised to believe that sex work is a bad thing. Many people have only heard about sex work in the context of Christiane F. and not at all else.

Slowly but surely, parents don’t really care if a child becomes gay or not, and eventually parents will have a similar relationship to sex work.

We’ve only had a few years to show you that we’re fine, we’re not mentally ill, and we don’t need to be converted.

I bet this sounds very familiar to gay men.

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