Not For Sale: Rebecca Speaks Out Against Prostitution

April 5, 2008

I read Not For Sale by Rebecca Whisnant and Christine Stark recently and truly it is a powerful book. For me it highlighted the necessity of looking at prostitution with a race-based lense as well as a gendered lense. I always believed that to support prostitution you are supporting women-hatred and violence against women, but I hadn’t really thought about it as racialised woman-hatred until I read Not For Sale.

But anyways, it is a powerful book and it gave me heaps to think about, but of course it does not live with me in the same way as it does for Rebecca. Almost every time I visit Rebecca’s blog I am blown away by the strength and clarity of her writing, the rawness of her emotion. Even still, her most recent post has hit me harder than many of her other pieces. I have never met Rebecca, but she holds a very sacred, special place in my heart. Her courage, survival and integrity are truly incredible to behold and I am very, very privileged to call her my sister.

“not all women are prostituted, and that is a good thing. Not all women, that is, turn tricks for money, five times a day, thirty-five times a week, with two thousand men a year, while suffering at least the usual incidence of incest, rapes, beatings, and sexual harassment that other other women do. The prostitution is on top of that. Many women have to endure only pieces of prostitution, Many women are subjected to unwanted sex from men who objectify us, but not typically from two thousand men a year. Many women suffer serial battery from husbands or lovers, but not typically also at the hands of hundreds of relative strangers. Many women recieve money from a harassing boss in the form of a paycheck, but not typically in a context where the harassment is the job. Each of these transactions shares something in common with prostitution, but none of them is prostitution…. Rape is one thing, domestic battery another thing, sexual harassment another, prostitution another. All of these, nevertheless, involve some expression or manifestation of sexual ownership.”

Margaret A. Baldwin, “Strategies of Connection: Prostitution and Feminist Politics”.

This means a lot to me, for it makes sense of why the language of prostitution makes sense of my teenage years and early adulthood.

I call it incest, and it did not fit my life.

I call it rape, and it still would not fit.

I call it battery, and it still refuse to fit.

Then out of exhaustion, I named it prostitution, and my life made a horrible sense.

I knew I live through all the rapes, child sexual abuse and battery. They are deeply connected to being prostituted, but there are differences, and those differences need expression.

Rebecca Mott, Not For Sale

Please read and support her writing. Her voice is so incredibly important.


  1. Thank-you so much, thanks. I am so moved by your post. I am shaking with knowing that my words can reach into your heart. Thanks for calling me your “sister”.
    All the women who have supported me with my journey all very important to me. I have discover that I can belong, and do not always have to be alone. This is very new to me.
    Allecto, I hold you in my heart. Love, Rebecca.

  2. I read her article with a horrible, burning sense of self recognition.

    Throughout my childhood, I was my father’s sexual captive. I paid for my survival by staying where he could continue to sexually use me.

    All my life, I have hated houses, and hated beds. Sleep holds me captive, holds me in a place where “he” (they) can find me. All my life, I have feared going to sleep.

    In any situation where I have had to negotiate my survival with other human beings, I have felt, and continue to feel like a prostitute. Including with women. My mother pimped me to my father.

    How can we bear to think about these things, without wanting to flee from our lives, flee for our lives. But I’ve never known how to do that.


  3. Oh Rebecca, Mary, you have both made me cry. I am so, so very sorry for the violence you have both suffered. Know that you are both very dear to me and I love you both very much. Knowing that there are women as strong and brave as you in the world gives me so much hope.

  4. The three of you represent a powerful panoply for the suffering of your sisters. All grace and power to you all.

  5. Wow, what beautiful praise, Level Best. Thank you. I really needed to hear this just now. 🙂

  6. I have read that post before, it was grueling and amazing all at the same time. For Rebecca to have the courage to tell her story, such a painful one, for us is just incredible and it does show how strong she is. I want to let you sisters know that every time I see a strong woman, every time I encounter radical feminists/feminism, every time I hear about or experience sexual violence/terrorism, every time I encounter sexism, I think of you.

  7. I want to let you sisters know that every time I see a strong woman, every time I encounter radical feminists/feminism, every time I hear about or experience sexual violence/terrorism, every time I encounter sexism, I think of you.

    I second this. The sisterhood of us radicals online is so strong. You women keep me sane. Thanks Lara.

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    When Sexual Harassment Feels Like Prostitution, New Book on Amazon.com Jan 31st, 2010



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