The WikiLeaks thing has had my attention for a while. The rape charges against Julian Assange leading to an Interpol arrest-warrant? Really? I have two words for you: Roman Polanski. If it’s not a big deal that Roman drugged and raped a young girl, then Julian’s charges aren’t a big deal either. We all know what it’s really about: countries being embarrassed. I’m not sure why. So China is tired of propping up North Korea and no one likes Iran. These are state secrets? This is news? As for the gossiping that politicians do behind each other’s back, well, they obviously forgot that their mothers must’ve said, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t put it in a fucking telegram!” Or something to that effect.

Honestly, every country’s media has churned out for more insulting things about each other than these world leaders ever said in these leaks. I’m still waiting for a devastating state secret to be unearthed (spies being outed isn’t the same level of secret; also, I’d like everyone to recall Valerie Plame). Far as I can tell, it sounds a lot like high school with nuclear weapons. (Singapore’s response, invoking their Official Secrets Act, is hilarious.)

While I’m very sure that not everyone agrees with WikiLeaks fulfilling its mission of making leaked material available to all, I think it’s a great way of leveling the playing field. Here’s a chance for countries to get really, really clean with each other. This could be a great experiment in peace and cooperation. The world being what it is, it probably won’t, and things will just remain as they are.

I personally hope that Julian makes it to Venezuela and enjoys a nice vacation courtesy of Hugo Chavez, my favorite contrarian world leader. He’s not a supporter of sex worker rights. If he only had any idea of how much it would piss off the US, I’m sure he would turn his attitude around in a heartbeat. I’ve often wished I could convince him of this.

Which brings us to our own little WikiLeak in the online escort world: the exposing of Alex/a DiCarlo.

I’ve collected an enormous list of posts/articles/etc about it, I’ll post that list if you really make me. There are only a few things I want to say.

Spending 23hrs/day online and being called a “marketing genius” (while selling absolutely nothing) is akin to being called a “business genius” when you have tons of venture capital behind you. Most escorts — myself especially included — fail at being “marketing geniuses” because we have a life (which often includes children), we see clients, we sleep, often we have other jobs and many actually are students! With classes and homework! Alex/a was a fictional example of an uber-impossible escort that, sadly, fed into way too many fantasies and stereotypes civilians have. Including the civilian behind Alex/a because…let’s face it…Pat was never an escort.

Some people still defend the writing as great fiction. I admit: it was. Not completely realistic, no. But great fiction. I have never been able to write about sex from the perspective of any gender other than my own.

Some people defend the writing as educational and informative. Pat was smart, no doubt. The writing was often highly intelligent and someone with that perspective and passion for sex workers could have been a valuable part of the sex worker rights movement (assuming they did not have nefarious motivations and were not possible child molesters as well). But I do not find the writing informative or educational on the whole because he was never an escort. I’m someone who does not believe that you should give detailed advice about a potentially-dangerous job if you have never faced those issues yourself. You can theorize, extrapolate and point to resources you feel are useful. You cannot, in any way or fashion, claim to have been there, done that.

More than once I saw my words on her blog. Tweaked, yes, but I recognize my words and thoughts just as easily I would recognize my clothes on someone else. I have not read all the escort books Pat did in his research — I’ve no doubt those authors saw their work replicated as well. It’s great that he recommended my books to people — probably because they gave him the best perspective on escort work out there. So for the folks who think Alex/a was a great escort who had a really strong handle on the work — ground zero is right here, baby. Don’t let my lack of explicit writing fool you, I assure you I’ve had more sex with men than Pat has.

Speaking of explicit writing; need I point out the main reason smart escorts don’t write explicit blogs is because they know it will haunt them? If an escort is writing explicitly about getting paid for sex, she will suffer real-life consequences (arrest and outing come to mind). The explicit blogging of Alex/a was always suspicious because it always read like someone who had nothing to lose. That’s not the escorts I know. Again, this played into civilian fantasies of escort work; not the often-paranoid and prosaic reality.

Nearly a year ago, several sex workers tried to speak up about Alex/a and were quickly silenced. Three were threatened, two were hugely affected by that threat of very real exposure. While I’m not claiming Alex/a’s blog was abusive, this is a sterling example of what happens when those without real power try to speak up about real problems and issues.

Someone obviously decided the only way to ever put a stop to all of this was to create a Leak. It sort of turned into a WikiLeak as various parts of the Internet community came forward and info was added. There have been rumors of repeating this action with various abusers in the community. EscortLeaks, anyone?

Sex worker rights is not a joke. Someone stepped forward to be a guardian. There is a renewed sense of the bond we have, the trust we must share, a sense of circling the wagons. There is an element of vigilantism that I cheer. We don’t get justice through the regular channels in the US. Much like dissidents in third-world, repressive regimes; the Internet was used as a tool for more than networking. I’m perfectly aware it could be just as easily used against us. So is everyone else. Those who wish our silence will try to feed that fear. I have a feeling that fear will be less and less easy to play as time goes on.

26 thoughts on “exposure

  1. I generally completely agree with you:

    “I’m someone who does not believe that you should give detailed advice about a potentially-dangerous job if you have never faced those issues yourself. You can theorize, extrapolate and point to resources you feel are useful. You cannot, in any way or fashion, claim to have been there, done that.”

    But there are 2 things I keep wondering about.

    Could a blog written by non-escort still be “educational and informative”? To claim you speak from experience is dangerous and misleading. But if a person simply put together a compilation of advice, information or thoughts with all the correct disclaimers and references, wouldn’t that be useful? For example, I feel that Chevalier’s blog, while written by a client, helped me learn a number of things about escorts that I did not otherwise know or think about.

    And technically, I was an escort myself (retired at the moment), so I could give someone advice. But I have never faced a physically dangerous situation – that I know from discussions between providers many others have. So, how much advice does that qualify me to give?

  2. Thais,

    I thought I answered your first question with this sentence: “You can theorize, extrapolate and point to resources you feel are useful. You cannot, in any way or fashion, claim to have been there, done that.”

    If you haven’t been there, done that, you cannot claim to (and Alex/a claimed quite a few things, starting with having a vagina). Otherwise…it’s pretty open. Chevalier cannot claim to be an escort (and he doesn’t) but he keeps his writing within the realm of reality, relevance and common sense. I cannot claim to be a client but I often write about clients.

    As you probably know, “danger” resides in many things that concern escorts. Screening, banking, nosy neighbors/family, romantic partners and a bunch of other things you no doubt have experience either handling or avoiding.

    XX

  3. Yes, Amanda, you are right. The sentence you refer to is descriptive enough. My mind just wanted to find reasons to keep mulling on the topic…

  4. Regarding Assange: I’d be a lot more likely to believe the charges against him if A) the Swedish prosecutor hadn’t reversed course on the matter twice; B) there were some concrete details of what he was supposed to have done; C) that it wasn’t so conveniently timed and D) that the Swedish government didn’t have a history of using the pretense of women’s rights to advance its own agenda.

    Regarding the wrongness of claiming to be something one is not: I totally agree. A con is a con, and it doesn’t become right merely because in the process one said some things some of one’s “marks” wanted to hear. I daresay most successful con-jobs include flattery, and candy-coated poison is still poison.

  5. I think that Mr. Assange is neither the hideous villian our government is trying to portray him as nor the hero he apparently fashions himself. More of a gadfly really. I agree completely about the inane or at least unspectacular nature of most of the leaks (Silvio Berlusconi is vain?! Really?!)

    As for Mr. Bohannan, can I link to my own comment here last year? (http://www.texasgoldengirl.com/afterhours/alexa-debacle/#comment-163125) Going back to read it again, I’m a little proud of it.

  6. Thais — Mull away!!

    Maggie — Agreed 100% on Assange. It seems Oz is backing him up and I’m glad of that. Surely Aussies love one of their own causing such a stir.

    You’re dead on about the “con.” I think that’s a very correct reading of the whole situation and why so many people have such vehement feelings over it: no one likes to be a patsy. Yes. Dead on, Maggie.

    Lee — Assange is a gadfly and I like gadflies, governments need more of them. After all, he merely provided a forum for leaks. Someone in very high places provided the actual info, it wasn’t him.

    I re-read my post from last year. That was me being nice, giving the benefit of a doubt AND not having all the info that has now come to light. Was miffed even then about my work appearing in altered form, though.

    Your comment still stands, IMO. Not surprising that someone writing about sensationalized sex from the perspective of another gender would have an immature voice about it. (It’s hard enough to have a mature voice when writing from one’s own perspective.)

    Your comments about activism were right on, though most civilians do not see it that way. There are still those who claim sex workers were “jealous” of her “success” and this outing was “turning on our own.” Big sigh.

    Your last paragraph — 😀
    XX

  7. OK, here’s an update on the charges against Assange: He’s being accused not of rape but of having consensual sex without a condom, which is apparently punishable in Sweden by a $750 fine. So what we’re being told is, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain; an offense only punishable by a small fine is grounds for placing a man on the international most wanted list!”

    http://m.gizmodo.com/5705430/wikileaks-julian-assange-is-not-accused-of-rape

  8. Maggie,

    WOW. Really, just WOW.

    This is so stupid. Osama bin Laden is still wandering around (presumably) and there are tons of other criminals harming plenty of people worldwide and THIS is who they focus their attention on.

    Sex workers are about to observe Dec 17 and Sweden is concerned about a dude having unsafe sex????

    XX

  9. If these “leaked cables” are true, what is all the fuss about? When the truth becomes illegal, maybe we are in more trouble than we realise.
    Sure if they are false, then wikileaks have some explaining to do. But no one is saying that the stuff is untrue, they’re just slandering the messenger. VERY inspiring, methinks.

  10. Amanda – That is a very good point about Assange only the leaks’ midwife, not their mother (and the soldier who leaked much of the Afghan war info was actually very young and not high ranking). It would be fitting for him to go to Venezuela; he and Chavez are two peas in a pod in many ways. (There must be room enough on “Aló Presidente” for an articulate, internationally-renowned author and courtesan to set him right, no?)

    You were giving Alexa/Pat the benefit of the doubt, but isn’t that the best way, in the long run (golden rule and all that)? When others wanted to string him/her up, you gave him enough rope to hang himself, and he did, albeit with some help in the exposure.

    I am a civilian as you say, and I don’t and never will personally know many of the aspects of sex work, especially some of the physical risks sex workers face on a day-to-day basis. But sex work, sex workers and the business of sex work are a major part of my life, for many reasons, and have been for a long time. It is personal for me, although not to the extent and differently from the way it is for you, and I feel passionately about it. On the other hand, I have met plenty of sex workers who are quite honestly and quite obviously blasé about it. Intellectually I can understand this, but emotionally it is baffling.

  11. “Osama bin Laden is still wandering around (presumably) and there are tons of other criminals harming plenty of people worldwide and THIS is who they focus their attention on.”

    Unfortunately, politicians seem to feel that the most important function of government is the protection of politicians. 🙁

  12. Jason — “If these “leaked cables” are true, what is all the fuss about? When the truth becomes illegal, maybe we are in more trouble than we realise.”

    GREAT statement! Yes!

    Lee — I don’t think Chavez is a great leader but I also think he’s out-there enough to be open-minded, if he can get over the Catholic thing. 🙂

    My mother’s approach to many parenting situations was to give us enough rope to hang ourselves. It usually worked.

    You’re a civilian and you don’t claim to be a sex worker, no. However, your observations are always welcome. You have a way of seeing a situation in a non-exploitative fashion, offering great observations and food for thought. If you wrote a sex work-themed blog, the focus wouldn’t be the cheap thrill or browbeating activists. Voices of reason are always welcome in any arena, I think.

    I’m guessing the blase sex workers are blase about a lot of things they don’t think affects them all that personally. OTH, sometimes a bit of distance is good; especially in sex work because the constant bad news can be terribly draining.

    Maggie — Can I quote you?? That was brilliant!

    XX

  13. Maggie — The more I read about the “rape” the less credible it seems, not the least of which is the timing, the original lack of interest in pursuing the matter and that the term “rape” seems to be a semantic argument instead of an actual event. That, and the whole Wikileaks thing, Interpol arrest warrant and the huge number of real rapists currently running around the world without arrest warrants.

    I really really wish they would go after men who really do harm women with such vigor.

    XX

  14. “I really really wish they would go after men who really do harm women with such vigor.”

    Unfortunately, too many of them wear uniforms and are therefore virtually immune from prosecution. 🙁

  15. The problem with using fear to control others is that it goes both ways.

    Often the Boy who is ready to expose the Wolf, is just as guilty as the Wolf. Otherwise, how would the Boy have info on the Wolf’s exploits?

    I detest when people try to take their shame and self-loathing and hurt others. Exposing a sex worker is not going to make a rueful client (or a nosy bystander) feel any better.

    As for JA, he is just a messenger, albeit one who feels vital and glorious. I have wondered who is the true disgruntled leaker of all the info.

  16. Liras — Yes, we’re all aware that fear goes both ways.

    “I detest when people try to take their shame and self-loathing and hurt others” Exactly. Completely.

    No one seems to be looking for JA’s source. Either that, or they ARE looking and haven’t found anything and so are just keeping quiet about it.

    XX

  17. Ok, at the risk of making Maggie upset at me, let me ask you Amanda why you wouldn’t consider it rape? Hasnt the concept of rape changed from violence to lack of consent? If one agrees to sex with a condom only, if they are tricked isn’t it then without consent?

  18. Ant — This is the first time I’ve felt that two public accusers of rape weren’t actually raped. The details of “sex by surprise” are so vague and the actions of the two women involved are so non-sincere (i.e. unmotivated by feeling harmed) that it makes a mockery of women who have been truly raped. Read up on what allegedly occurred. I’m not buying it.

    This does not mean I believe all rapes must be violent. There simply doesn’t seem to be a convincing element of non-consent here.

    As feminist-friendly as Sweden is, they apparently didn’t think the charges had merit the first time around. That also says a lot.

    XX

  19. I was nodding along until you got to the Hugo Chavez thing. The country is rather sexually conservative; I was friends with two Venezuelan brothers who came to the US for college. Let’s just say it took a lot of work to convince them not only that masturbation wasn’t wrong, but neither was pre-marital sex. (One would also freak out if you called him a “duck” because that was Venezuelan slang for gay, so we all called him one…)

    At any rate, I don’t think you would find much of a friend in Chavez except that he hates the US. But the enemy of your enemy is not always your friend, which seems to be especially true of sex workers imo.

  20. Renee — I was being funny. I’m perfectly aware of the Catholic influence in Venezuela and that it’s a conservative country (though I certainly don’t know the details). I can’t recall the news bit off the top of my head, but a couple years ago Chavez did something that affected the country’s sex workers negatively. I don’t recall it being horrible, just one more thing to get in their way.

    There are parts of the US where the sexual thinking isn’t any more advanced than Venezuela, BTW.

    XX

  21. Amanda – a belated thank you for your kind comments!

    I went back to the old Alexa post again, and the comment from Serpent was very good as well.

    Thinking about this more, and trying to separate my dislike of Assange’s personality from the substance of Wikileaks actions, I can see how some good in balancing what should be public and what secret can come from it.

    On one of the points Maggie made earlier on this post, I think part of the problem is caused by the belief that “the government” and “politicians” are some monolithic, self-contained thing(s) that have their own existence and are separate from the rest of society, ignoring the individuals (everyone else’s friends, neighbors, fellow citizens) who one-by-one constitute the elected, appointed and employed government. As if they act the way they do by their own nature, rather than by the nature of their position. Power corrupts. Power is also addictive. Being in a position of power, and having to make hard decisions and be accountable for them before the world brings out so much of what kind of character a person has, good and bad; in most people some of both. I think (at least in this country) that those who are elected as our representatives are very representative of the weaknesses, strengths, hopes, fears, abilities and interests of the country as a whole. Most of them are pretty average in their imagination, ability, courage, sympathy and wisdom. Some are exceptional for good or for bad, and most are at least a little more intelligent and motivated than average, but most of them are not a whole lot different than others would be if they were in the same positions. (And how many times do we hear people criticize politicians for not being leaders, but then those same people’s votes are motivated more by the narrow interests (often greed) of their own pocketbooks and wallets rather than with any view to the betterment of society as a whole.)

    From my own experience of having served on local and regional (county-type) government committees, I understand that it is often not easy. There is no lack of competing pressures and interests. But for far too many office holders today, the position itself and retaining it seems to be the overriding goal, rather than what they can do from their position.

    Or, to paraphrase how someone else put it, democratic government leads to the triumph of mediocrity, but it is entirely better than dictatorial government, which inevitably leads to the triumph of stupidity.

  22. Lee — I really have nothing to add except that I’m SO glad I got to meet you. Your comments are always so excellent, amazing and true. I hope everyone reads your comment here several times.

    XX

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