Monthly Archives: October 2012

A band of men in Morocco organized a campaign to drive prostitutes out of town.

The [driving out of prostitutes from] Ain Leuh are being held up by some in Morocco as another triumph of the Arab Spring — testament to what can happen when ordinary citizens stand up for change and make life better for themselves.

Unless they’re prostitutes.

Mourad Boufala, 32, who runs a cigarette and candy shop in the main square, said he was not in favor of prostitution.

What does that mean?  Does he not have a wife?

“It got to the point where if you were a woman you could not say you were from here.”

I do believe that, though.

Whenever I hear groups of “Arab Spring” young men talk about freedom, justice, equality, etc. it gives me no confidence at all that they will extend those things to the women in their countries; see the negative reception that Egyptian demonstrators had on International Women’s Day.  I’m not saying this to bash that group of people specifically but rather to say that when men talk about equality you should at least remain suspicious.

Also, the article mentioned that prostitution is criminalized in Morocco only at the very end (“Mrs. Oulaaskri…is facing charges related to running a house of prostitution”), and never said that the neighbors’ reasonable complaints (rude, rowdy customers) could be solved if they could run like a regular business.


In response to yesterday’s post, thegreatantagonizer left me a question which said:

What I don’t understand is this: why do women feel embarrassed about showing their face — the part of us that most critically defines who we are. Faces are not sexual, they are practical expressions of who we are. Anyone who considers a face to be sexual should consider a voice to also be sexual and any other part of a woman to be sexual. So what is a woman to do in this situation, hide in a corner and not make a sound? This is impractical.

Thank you for the response!  My response is long and I felt that it warranted its own post.

Firstly, I am not sure who it is that you mean is embarrassed to show their face–women who wear niqab or women in general?  I’m unclear because embarrassment is not one of the reasons I come up with when I think of the reasons for covering/wearing niqab or some other head-covering garment. I can definitely understand how someone might feel embarrassed for men to see her face when those men automatically sexualize it, and for anyone who sexualizes her to see her likeness at all, but I think that’s more embarrassment of the situation than of one’s face itself. Maybe you meant that some women think being female is inherently embarrassing; I’m sure there are some people who think that, honestly I cannot say how prominent that is among the population of women who cover their faces or why they feel that way if they do, although I sometimes think a small part of me can relate.

I think there can be many reasons for covering one’s face, which I can elaborate on if you want, but one of my favorites is the desire to protect your skin (and hair) from the sun and the elements so that it will remain beautiful for your partner.

I think it’s empowering to be able to hide your likeness in general, but especially (as mentioned above) from people who would put unwanted advances on you, not just because they are then cut off from the sexual part of the interaction but because then you have near-complete control (that is, as much control as possible) over how much of an interaction they are able to force with you. It would be nice if no one ever said that being female is automatically provocative, but when they do say that I think it is better to have a way of working within the situation. I don’t think faces are sexual, either, but I gather that there are some people who do. You’re right that if a face is sexual then everything is sexual and I suspect that people who impose clothing standards on women would have no problem with forcing them to “hide in a corner and not make a sound” if they could.

I know that deciding to cover your face anyway in response to those kinds of people doesn’t solve the problem, and I guess in a way it’s because I think that attitude will never be solved, but I like that the niqab can be in response to both embarrassment and self-confidence, and can also be used to feign embarrassment and/or self-confidence depending on who is pushing you at that moment, and can also be used to hide your facial expression while feigning that embarrassment and/or confidence, etc. etc.  A covering garment can be a vehicle for nearly all things and I think it is the right of women to take those advantages in the exact amount that covering has been forced onto them in the first place.

It’s always the same conversation, every time.  When someone wants to discuss hijab she is locked into a set of talking points.  She can’t not say them–certain words automatically lead into certain phrases that cannot be separated.  When I try to avoid it it feels like someone else is talking through me.  I’m not sure I’ve ever heard an insightful conversation about hijab.

I like the hijab.  I like the niqab even better.  I think the munaqaba (niqabi) and the prostitute have more in common with each other than the everyday feminist whom most people consider to be in the middle of the two of them who has no consciousness about controlling her own sexual capital (whatever form she may choose that control to take).

But I think people have managed to make the conversation about hijab so confused and so simplified at the same time that they have ensured that no one will ever be able to say anything meaningful about it–the first sentence offers ten different ways for your female listener to derail you and your male listener to contradict you and the opportunities for people to give evidence about exactly what the rule is behind hijab (and different interpretations are welcome!) or about a real effect, negative or positive, that hijab has had on one’s life, are very rare.  They have made it so you look silly and the issue looks trivial, so that you talk forever without saying anything.

Men love suffering and that’s why I have no trouble including gay male prostitutes in the same category as straight female ones–it isn’t always about what is done to women but rather sometimes it’s about what is done by men.  I’m not saying girls are never terrible because they are and they may be just as terrible, but we do it for the outcome and men do it just for the suffering.

I understand that you might not like my tip walk, but that is the only time I make money.  You do not have to pay a cover.  People say stripping is trashy and I never thought that and I still don’t except for when no one is paying me and I am naked for free, like I have no standards.  Some people could sit there and see me naked multiple times and not even give me one dollar.  If everyone who saw me gave me at least a dollar I’d be good, but they don’t even do that much.

I know this has value because they are always reminding me of it even when I don’t want to be reminded.  There are other girls who complain about making a hundred when I’ve only made twenty and Baltimore said it’s because I have to learn how to hustle.  I told her I don’t know how to do that and she said that customers don’t like her because they know she’ll beat them up if they cross her, but they like me because they think they can take me out into the back alley and rape me.  She was right.

If he tries to talk me up when I go back to work tomorrow I know I’m going to fume.  The last time I was at the office I thought he was at least a decent person, but he has persuaded me.  Not an hour after I told them I had mono was he asking Faye for my home address so he could send me a card.  He was texting me all week to talk about work-related things almost none of which actually needed to be said, and also just to ask how I was doing, so along with being sick I had to find the energy to pretend to be happy to hear from this guy.  It is exhausting even when I’m well.

There was a man in the club who called me Emily even though that is not my stage name.  He kept asking me what I really wanted from life, and he was asking me over and over again and at first I thought it was because he was drunk.  Later I realized it was because he didn’t like my answer.

I know I’m going to go off tomorrow, at least on the inside, if I get forced into another one of these interactions for the twentieth fucking time since I got sick.  I know I will want to run out of the office and go back to stripping even though it could damage my internal organs to dance too soon before I recover.  This is why I strip, even if it pays the same (or worse) than data entry.  What does it feel like when your spleen is about to rupture?

Don’t act like he’s being nice because he is not.  He knows that I am diagnosed with a virus and that I can’t deny it or pretend to have started feeling better when he decides to check up on me.  He knows he has me caught and I have to be nice and give him my attention.  I’ve made it clear that I am not available and still he is doing things to make me feel obligated toward him; I’m not a cheat.  I went to office happy-hour for a bunch of weak reasons having nothing to do with this guy and at the last second he grabbed the waitress’ attention and said he was paying for me.  I wasn’t going to have that stupid back-and-forth argument just so he could push me farther into letting him do things for me–buying my dinner is a stronger act after I’ve asked you three times not to and three times you’ve declared out loud that you will.  Faye said that once she gives him my address she is removing herself from this “repartee.”  Why is she saying that to me?  I didn’t agree to be part of it either.

Whenever they say it’s about me, it’s not even just that you can be sure they mean the opposite, but that the situations that are about me are the best situations for them to take advantage of.  So in a way it really is about me and my feelings, as long as my feelings are exactly what they want my feelings to be, and if they aren’t they will ask me again and again until I tell them that what I truly want is to leave the man I’m seeing now, or to leave the club with a guy who thinks I’m librarian-cute which happens to be his favorite type and who is very sure that I am the smartest girl in there, and is so into me that he didn’t even give me a dollar while I was sitting with him and that if I were as smart as he thinks I am, I would realize that what I truly want is to forfeit all my money for the night and go home with him right then for free; in the club-universe, and really, with all male-to-female heterosexual sex, reaching my personal existential fulfillment is very earnestly the same thing as having no personal desires at all.

Ten thinks the customer who bit me is the one who gave me mono.  Ten does not have mono and I haven’t come into contact with anyone else.  I wouldn’t even mind that these people make it all about them if they paid me for letting them do it, but I’ve decided I charge twenty dollars for being bitten and when he didn’t pay me I had him thrown out.  Maybe it’s better that instead of breaking skin he gave me a month-long injury, so I don’t have to worry about his waiting for me out on Connecticut Ave after closing the next time he comes to town for his every-third-week on business.