Barbados Sex Workers… or Prostitutes? Words Matter

At the Barbados Free Press, we often have very rowdy discussions about all manner of subjects – from children to politics to condoms in prisons, abortion, sale of land to non-Bajans, education failings and the price of a bit of swordfish.

We are by no means a group in harmony about all things – especially when the “big family” gets together for a party about once a month. Even Shona’s Auntie Moses can get a tad vicious about certain subjects. (Yes, darlin’… Frankie Sinatra was the best singer ever. Really. Yes, we know you saw him in the old yacht club days. Yes, he smiled at you… best singer ever. Really.) ;-)

But the one thing we all agree upon is that a prostitute is a prostitute – not a “sex worker”.

Lately, we’ve been seeing the term “sex worker” used by members of government to describe prostitutes. The Nation News has also been leaning to the term “sex worker” when they are not quoting someone.

Words Matter

The term “sex worker” tends to legitimize the, er, “profession”, while the term “prostitute” conjures up the dirty, shameful and illegal aspects of a young girl selling her body to old men who are unfaithful to their wives.

“Sex workers” are legitimate professionals.

“Prostitutes” are diseased women – perhaps of low morality, or enslaved by circumstance or threatened violence.

“Sex Workers” need no rescue.

“Prostitutes” need help, saving, grace, education, prayer and escape while they can.

The reality of “sex workers” is more properly described by the word “prostitute”.

Words matter… and our elected representatives should know the difference between “sex worker” and “prostitute”.

See the Nation News article CWC Lookout for Sex Workers

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24 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Culture & Race Issues, Island Life

24 responses to “Barbados Sex Workers… or Prostitutes? Words Matter

  1. Surely there is an argument for personal choice and freedom to do with one’s own body what one chooses to do. That being said, I don’t support prostitution in the current social environment as i believe it is implicitly exploitative of women. That is to say I don’t have a problem with prostitution; I have a problem with exploitation.

  2. william duguid

    Prostitute gives a gender bias to mean female. In this modern world alot of sex workers are of the male variety.

  3. Eve

    This is true, and sadly, we must also go one step further and include children.

  4. cat eyes

    So are we going to be protecting the sex market for locals only. That’s not allowed. Trade protectionism I mean.
    Sex sells like food and drugs. It is a commodity with a market; sizeable one at that. And as William Duguid so correctly pointed out, it is not a trade limited to women. Eve adds children(that gives me the willies).
    However, the reality is that as long as there is a demand, there will be a supply. Prostitution is labeled as the oldest profession, which means dampening demand will not happen in our lifetime. Attempting to stem the supply at the airport is an excercise in futility. No-one wears a t-shirt or carries a passport saying “Sex worker.”
    The common sense approach would be to increase the circulation of ALL STD information all like now, and intensify the programme during the World Cup period. Airport staff should be focusing on more productive pursuits.

  5. BFP

    “Attempting to stem the supply at the airport is an excercise in futility.”

    Nonsense, Cat Eyes, nonsense.

    Every day at airports around the world authorities detain prostitutes who are being shipped by their owners.

    Prostitution is for the most part slavery. The idea of the kindly woman with a big heart who lives in a little house at the edge of town with a path that enters from alley – is not the way things are done now.

    Women and children are the commodity – not “it”. The pimps are always there – always. Sometimes they now hide behind corporations, but they are still pimps.

    Those who think you can legalize prostitution to “empower” women had better take a trip to Amsterdam – because slavery, misery, drugs, violence and gangs are the natural friends of legalized prostitution.

    Darn some of you people are soooooo naive.

    And Dr. Duguid… the word “prostitute” always has been gender-free. Look it up in the dictionary. Those whose created the term “sex-worker” had and have a political and social agenda. Don’t fall for that.

    Darn some of you people are so naive.

    …and don’t ask how I know what I know is the truth.

  6. cat eyes

    Crap. Can’t agree with you there BFP. I don’t recall anybody saying that we should legalise prostitution – probably except Mia.

    Let’s leave out the emotion and examine the issue dispassionately and factually.
    Hundreds of prostitutes enter Barbados monthly, through our airport. The ones who are detained are few and far between, and usually they are coming in without doing the right thing. Don’t you be sooooo naive. The network is tight, tight, tight and reaches the highest levels in this soceity. Right now, some advertise freely in our daily newspapers and the Yellow Pages. You think the authorities you refer to don’t know and see these ads? It would be so easy to out them. But they don’t. The Nation even tried doing a story on the ones who masquerade as masseuses. But money talks. This indstry is big money in Bim from the top to the bottom, and it will be bigger money for 2007. More sophisticated pimps are in the market today. Right now we have blondes, Indians, and now some Chinese – male and female. The children are local and Caribbean, mainly Guyanese under 13 female. The slavery, misery and drugs are already here. Did you not hear of the man who ran out one of his prostitutes into the street with a dog hunter? You may be too sheltered to know what a dog hunter is; ask Willie.

    Where are you living??? This is Bim. It is an excercise in futility bro. Demand will determine supply. It is a commodity. And don’t ask how I know what I know is the truth.

  7. John

    A sex worker is often another word for a prostitute, male or female.

    But is a prostitute necessarily another word for a sex worker?

    Isn’t a public official who takes bribes also a prostitute?

    …. or the person who keeps silent about corruption to keep a job or for money likewise also a prostitute … especially if he/she knows better?

    We have several professionals, male and female, in Barbados who are very experienced and to whom the accolade “old pro” is often accorded.

    Why worry about the foreign strain when we are not dealing with the local variety?

    We seem to like it so.

  8. william duguid

    BFP
    Took your advice and looked it up on Dictionary.com

    This also relates to a prostitute being only of the female variety. I have pasted it here for you. And all the other euphemisms for the same concept.

    prostitute

    n : a woman who engages in sexual intercourse for money [syn: cocotte, whore, harlot, bawd, tart, cyprian, fancy woman, working girl, sporting lady, lady of pleasure, woman of the street] v : sell one’s body; exchange sex for money

    I believe the origins are from feminine latin origins

    Latin prstitta, from feminine past participle of prstituere, to prostitute

    Sex Worker instead is Gender Neutral.

  9. BFP

    Sure… feminine language roots, but contemporary useage prior to the imposition of a political and social agenda upon the word referred to Male and Female prostitutes…

    1. One who solicits and accepts payment for sex acts.
    2. One who sells one’s abilities, talent, or name for an unworthy purpose.
    tr.v. pros·ti·tut·ed, pros·ti·tut·ing, pros·ti·tutes
    1. To offer (oneself or another) for sexual hire.
    2. To sell (oneself or one’s talent, for example) for an unworthy purpose.
    [Latin prstitta, from feminine past participle of prstituere, to prostitute : pr-, in front; see pro-1 + statuere, to cause to stand; see st- in Indo-European roots.]
    prosti·tutor n.

  10. BFP

    Sex Worker legitimizes.

    We don’t call a thief a “theft worker”

    We don’t call a fraudsman a “fraud worker”

    “The term “sex work” was coined by long time prostitutes’ rights activist Carol Leigh as a way to designate all those who work in the adult industry.”

    online reference…

    International Sex Worker Foundation…

    http://www.iswface.org/whatissexworker.html

    So Doc, go ahead and use the term “sex worker” if you like – but it was coined by a prostitute to legitimize prostitution, and is serving its purpose well when even the educated adopt language coined to further a social agenda.

  11. Jane

    Whatever happens it will be business as usual. There will be the supply for the demand.

  12. BFP

    Hi Jane

    Of course it will be business as usual… always has been and always will be.

    But I refuse to use language designed to ease the path to respectability for prostitutes. When I see them hanging about, I always think that they are someone’s daughter or son.

    As for the pimps – I would show no mercy at all.

  13. blah

    To be honest, prostitution is very legitimate. It’s just that people are blind to the truth and rather be spoon fed what society gives them. Isn’t PORNOGRPHY legit/legal?……How is what a porn star does any different from a prostitute?…they both get payed for sex, only difference is, one is caught on video, along with some paper work ensuring the girls are over 18….

    (yea i know i some what STRAYED from the topic)

  14. BFP

    Hi blah

    You didn’t really stray from the target. Anyone who knows the porn, strip club business knows that the same people are involved with prostitution at all levels – filmed or not.

    Organized crime has a big piece of the whole setup.

    As to prostitution being “legitimate” – perhaps you would think differently if your 18 year old daughter or son was having sex ten or fifteen strangers a day.

    All manner of activities are legal these days – but that doesn’t mean you have to surrender your children to it – which is exactly what you are doing if you do not stand against it

  15. Rather than criminalize and demonizing prostitutes, who are in need of our help, surly efforts should be made to support them so that they can lift themselves out of this lifestyle? Surely a first step in helping them is to stop making them criminals… after all the prostitutes are, for the most part, victims in this trade.

  16. BFP

    If you de-criminalize prostitution, the only people you empower are the pimps.

    Look at Amsterdam – the real Amsterdam. Slaves, organized crime and anyone who wants to help hampered by the fact that it is a “real profession” now. The police have lost their tools and parents are told by sons and daughters being drawn into the “easy money” of prostitution, “it is legal. don’t demonize me for doing this”

    We will never eliminate prostitution – but if we take away society’s formal disapproval of law, social mores soon follow. Is that what you want for our island and our children?

  17. Decriminalize prositution.. make pimping.. or what ever the technical term is, illegal. Crimiinalize the exploites.. make it illegal to buy sex not sell it. That still tackles to problem and punishes the exploiters and not the victims.

  18. John

    I was searching for another article where the Reverand Joseph Atherly stated that Barbadians should cease being stewards of their country and become owners.

    I could not find it but came across this one where he took a position on the Church.

    http://archive.nationnews.com/archive_detail.php?archiveFile=./pubfiles/bar/archive/2005/September/01/Editorial/7735.xml&start=0&numPer=20&keyword=joseph+atherly&sectionSearch=&begindate=1%2F1%2F1994&enddate=7%2F27%2F2006&authorSearch=&IncludeStories=1&pubsection=&page=&IncludePages=1&IncludeImages=1&mode=allwords&archive_pubname=Daily+Nation%09%09%09

    What are we to make of these recent comments?

  19. I appreciate this discussion. I live in the hometown of COYOTE and Carol (San Francisco), so I’m thrilled that their political agenda – to mainstream prostitution as a job – is being challenged in Barbados. What COYOTE fails to address is the race and class prejudice that accompanies the lethal sexism in prostitution/trafficking. And they aren’t the only ones to do this: WHO, the ILO, UNAIDS and many others fail to listen to the voices of most of the women in prostitution who tell us: get me out. And I think everyone on this list knows what it takes to get her out. It takes stable housing, job training, decent pay, and medical treatment.

  20. SelfMadeBum

    To respond to the “prostitute” vs “sex worker” issue, the rhetoric surrounding the study of this subject has evolved the use of the former to the latter, much in the same way that “women’s issues” have become “issues of gender”. I would not argue that an agenda is not apparent in changing both labels.

    But the word “prostitute” does tend to have a female connotation, while “sex worker” recognises the male face of prostitution as well.

    Aside from that, I do think that the trade could better serve and be better served as a formally recognised and regulated profession.

  21. mario

    well then mr editor i suggest you give the sex workers, (prostitutes) each a job in your company and then, and only then you will kill two birds with one stone which would be the removal of SEX WORKERS and creating employment.
    your ideology is outstanding.

  22. Mike

    Why do you write “old men who are unfaithful to their wives”? What about men, young or old, who are single or, as in my case, sadly widowed. Aren’t they allowed to have sex as well? And with 40 years, I don’t consider myself that old…

  23. RUBY

    GREETINGS…
    THE TOPIC IS SENSITIVE IN MANY WAYS THAT I COULD JUST KEEP TYPING WITH INTREST THAT MANY HAVE NOT TOUCHED.
    SHORT FORM: SEX WORKERS COME IN VARIOUS FORMS. THEY ARE IN THIS JOB DUE TO VARIOUS REASONS THAT IF YOU KNEW OR TAKE TIME TO SPEAK TO INDIVIDUALS UNDERSTANDING AND REASON WOULD BE EASIER TO ABSORB. IT’S THE OLDEST PROFESSION IN THE WORLD AND ONE OF THE MOST WELL PAID PROFESSION IN THE WORLD. EVERY JOB HAS IT’S CONSIQUENCES JUST LIKE LIFE AND THE PATH WE CHOOSE. THERE ARE ALWAYS TWO SIDES TO A STORY. ASK A QUESTION FIRST BEFORE PASSING JUDGEMENT ON SEX WORKERS. EG. WHEN IT COMES TO THE DATE RAPE AND RAPE ITSELF IN ANY COUNTY, MINUS THE SEX WORKERS AND BOYS, GIRLS MEN AND WOMEN EVEN THE AGED PEOPLE WOULD BE VONORABLE TO THE FREAKS THAT THESE SEX WORKERS WOULD OF HAD TO DEAL WITH AND THE RAPE RATE WOULD SKY ROCKET. NO MAN IS AN ISLAND…. SORRY TO PUT IT LIKE THAT BUT WHEN YOU HAVE PEOPLE WITH AN APPETITE THAT IS OUT OF ORDINARY THE SEX WORKERS DEAL WITH THEM..DO YOU WANT TO HAVE ANYONE YOU KNOW FACED SUCH A TRAMA…I HOPE NOT… THAT DOES NOT MEAN HUMAN TRAFFICING AND UNDER AGE IS TO BE EGNORED…HELL NO… ONCE THEY DO IT AT THEY OWN WILL THE BEST WE CAN DO IS HOPE THEY USE THE LIFE AND MAKE SOMETHING TO FALL BACK ON WHEN EVER THE TIME COMES OR USE IT AS MEANS TO GET AT A LEVEL OF STABILITY THAT THEY NEEDED URGENTLY AND MOVE ONE WITH GOD IN MIND AND HEART…

    I DO HOPE YOU READ AND UNDERSTAND IF NOT PLEASE READ IT OVER…

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