This visit to Amsterdam was a little different from other visits because I’d booked a hotel outside the centre. It was near Museum Plein. The whole thing was cost driven. Since Brexit, the pound has been hit quite hard, while the cost of hotels has steadily increased. Anyway, the hotel is on a tram route and easy to access. I bought a 48 hour tram ticket on arrival and that served me very well. I was able to get into the centre easily but it also meant that I spent time in areas that I hadn’t previously explored. I also discovered that there was a bus on the route which went to Schiphol. I used it on the return journey. It took thirty minutes and cost me five euros. I think we can assume that the next time I do this trip I’ll pitch up at a hotel in the same area. An additional incentive is the fact that The Pijp, one of Amsterdam’s red light districts, is on the doorstep, so to speak.
I’m in Dam to give another talk to American students. I did it Friday morning, but it meant flying out early from the UK the day before. It involved a very early start, setting off at 6.30 am (to beat the cancellations and the bump-offs, and give us a second chance), but it was no great hardship. The weather’s fine and the prospect of a couple of days on a city break has a definite appeal.
I was actually in Dam, giving a talk to students on this particular course, exactly one year ago to the day. On the Thursday I’d voted to stay in the European Union, and the next day I woke to the news that we were leaving. No one thought it would happen, particularly the politicians who’d campaigned for it. What’s it been like since then? Well, have you seen that TV series called American Horror Story? Season Two is set in an asylum. The premise of the story is that the people in charge of the asylum are more nuts than the patients. It’s been a bit like that. But instead of a nun running the show it’s a vicar’s daughter who is clearly driven by an immigration obsession (I use that term loosely). She failed to control immigration as the Home Secretary and this is her chance. Unfortunately, that’s all she can see. The economically destructive nature of Brexit (the golden opportunities are bullshit) is completely beyond her mental capcities. Then we had a general election a couple of weeks ago (her decision) which instead of leaving her strong and stable left us with a hung parliament and her with a headache (I really hope that it hurts and won’t go away). I have to say that I was pleased with that result because the oxygen with would have come with a conservative landslide was cut off. Indeed, the mere fact that the conservatives don’t have a majority means that their totally nut’s plans will have to be tempered by a measure of common sense. Nevertheless, we’re racing towards the cliff edge with the mad people driving the bus. You’re right, there’s no shortage of metaphors to describe the current situation.
I’m in Dam for business but I have no hesitation in mixing business with pleasure. Late on Thursday afternoon I met up with a Romanian girl on the Pijp. We got off to a good start so I upgraded to half an hour almost straight away (there’s a logic to the way that I make these decisions). I discovered that she was Romanian as soon as I entered and went into my Romanian routine. Yes, she was surprised. So far so good. I felt encouraged to up the game. I went from fifteen to thirty minutes. Mistake. Two reasons. She wasn’t up to being romanced or played with. And I hadn’t fucked for two weeks. When I’m with a girl I know well I go into ain’t gonna cum soon mode, with a new girl the barrier comes down. So how did it go? She told me to lie down. I told her to lie down. She did. I played. It didn’t work. I may know how women like to be touched but it didn’t get a result. I suggested that we do sixty-nine. She insisted on performing fellatio first. Another signal that this isn’t working because she wants to delay the moment. Nevertheless, it was good. And it was good when she stopped sucking and started using her hand (she knows what she’s doing, even though it isn’t what I want). Actually, it was really good, so good I had to stop her. We did sixty-nine but she clearly wasn’t up for it. She screwed her arse to one side so that I couldn’t really get to her. And that’s when the thunder started. The rain had returned.
I had to stop her after a minute (I mean, look, she was still using her mouth to play with me). Any more and she would have finished me. And we were only five minutes into my time. I suggested that she went on top.
“Which way round?”
And she did and it was good. She took me completely inside her and rolled her hips and then she leant forward and rubbed her tits against me. The thunder rolled in time to her hip movements. I felt the stab of lightening every time she moved. I don’t recall ever having had sex during a thunderstorm before. If she’d acted a bit frightened and kissed and cuddled it would have gone from very nice to meltdown. But she didn’t. Another minute of fun and I had to stop her. We morphed into her leaning back and resting on her hands (she had to reposition her legs so that they faced forward and her heels were on the bed). She clearly wasn’t used to it. I got her to raise her arse so that I could fuck her properly and watch myself moving in and out of the tight little hole between her her legs (she has a seriously pretty vulva). She wasn’t used to that either (leaning back, I mean, or being fucked in this position). Looking back on this, it’s one of those cases where I needed to visit her three or four times and gradually seduce her into being relaxed and in tune with what I wanted. My guess is that all her clients are suck and fuck and they have a preferred position and that’s that. Unfortunately, although she’s pretty and has a beautiful body, she’s not girlfriend material (she’s not my type so it’s not worth the effort), so I won’t be going back.
After cowgirl we did a minute of missionary. Then a minute of doggy. This really was unfolding minute by minute because I was so close to coming. I made a few notes after the visit and I see that I described the doggy fuck as exquisite. It forced me to make a decision. Should I stay or should I go? This was the philosophical question which often tests my synapses. I elected to stay and I let it go. It was nice (if in a somewhat soft, lazy orgasm sort of way) but I’d paid a hundred euros for a fifteen minute fuck (fifteen minutes, touch and positions she’d said). I explained why I hadn’t lasted the distance. I don’t know why I felt compelled to do that, but I did.
“I haven’t had sex with a woman for two weeks.”
“That’s amazing. A lot of guys come as soon as I put the condom on them. Not enough, but quite a few!” Are you married?”
When I explained that I was divorced she started on about why I hadn’t remarried. And then she treated me to some free counselling. Apparently, I’ll regret not being married when I’m too old and too ill to walk and need a carer. She casually dismissed the fact that I wasn’t attracted to women my own age (I like women 18 – 28) and that developing a relationship with women in my target group was worse than unlikely (I mean, 35 is nearly twice 18). Apparently, sex isn’t everything.
I get that, really I do. But the relationships which are possible just don’t have any appeal. What I don’t get is that (well meaning) people don’t get that. As a result, I assume (OK, I know) that there must be a lot of people out there who are in ‘make-do-pointless-shit-just for-the-kids’ relationships.
Did I care about over-paying? No. I got what I came for. I’d set out to have short, sharp, sexual experience and, broadly speaking, that’s what I got. I left her room in the rain (okay, I wasn’t expecting that or the thunder and lightening) and sheltered in a nearby doorway. After ten minutes the sky lightened up, the rain stopped and I moved off. I went back to the hotel, went to my room, lay on the bed, and fell asleep. I woke around 7.00 pm and went into the Dam and then headed for one of the fine dining restaurants that I know. How was it? Pretty good.
So there I was on the tram heading for the venue for the talk on Friday morning. It’s a place I’ve been to before and it’s halfway between two tram stops. And I’d timed it perfectly. I would arrive at exactly 10.00 am. Well, I would have done if I hadn’t elected to exit the tram at a set of doors which wouldn’t open. By the time I’d adjusted and reached the other nearest exit the tram was on it’s way to the next stop. And that meant arriving breathless, overheated and late. Which I did to perfection, even if I do say so myself.
So how do you enter a room filled with some twenty-five twenty-one year old women and a couple of token males with a view to talking about fucking prostitutes? Like you’re meant to be there, that’s how. The door to the lecture room was open and I remember standing in the doorway and demanding to know who was in charge. Twenty-five heads swivelled towards the sound. I wondered what they were thinking: “Is this the care taker? Are we about to have a fire drill? Who owns the car which has been badly parked outside?” Luckily, the tutor was near at hand, and she welcomed me in and handed me over to the audience in one smooth movement. And I set about a performance (yes, it’s a performance) which lasted two hours. How did it go? Well, from my point of view it was another very agreeable experience with another delightful audience. What they made of it I can’t be sure. But it seemed to go OK.
The timing is the equivalent of the average West End play, feature film or the main act at a rock concert. From my point of view the time just flies by, and it isn’t long enough. You see, there are things that I need to cover in order to fulfil the basic contract, which is to explain why I first visited prostitutes, why I continue to visit, and to sling in some anecdotes and insights about the red light district. That takes about forty-five minutes. Then there’s the stuff that I want to say to the audience about prostitution in general and to challenge the negative narrative of the anti-prostitution lobby. Although I’ve been assured that the audience is exposed to a balance of opinions my guess is that negative views are pretty prominent. To do that I need another forty-five minutes to an hour. And finally, there’s the Q & A session, which usually lasts for an hour. In practice, I’m obliged to do a lot of editing, and talk fast, and hope that it hangs together (and I still can’t get it all in). Sometimes I explore the contribution of the church and feminists to the current debate and then rehearse the things which trigger moral decisions (the psychology of moral politics) and sometimes I just sling out a couple of book references and use the time for something else (Sex & Punishment by Eric Berkowitz and The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt are my recommendations). That’s what I did today. I used the time instead to challenge the trafficking narrative. My point was that it’s ridiculously easy for the anti-prostitution lobby to play the trafficking card but immensely difficult to challenge it. I tried to make the point by telling a story about something that happened in the UK where the population was systematically treated to misinformation by the press, the police, politicians, feminists and the church and how it took years before the story unravelled and was discredited. My message? It was something like you just can’t trust what people say and you definitely can’t take stats at face value. And although this is a UK example, my hypothesis is that it’s replicated time and time again all over the world, and it’s up to the audience to test the hypothesis.
Since then I’ve thought of another way to tell the story. It goes like this.
Once upon a time there was a group of people who believed in fairies and they wanted to know how many fairies there were in the country. They asked some underlings to find out. It wasn’t something that the underlings could do themselves to they commissioned a group of people who could count to do the work. Well, the counters set about it in a strange way. They assumed that about ten fairies met (and danced) every night at the bottom of every large garden in the country. Then they assumed that five fairies met at the bottom of every small garden each night and that two fairies met in small courtyards, where the house had no actual garden. They aggregated these assumed numbers and then said some magic words: Hocus pocus we’ve lost focus, hairy lairy where’s my fairy. At which point, the aggregated number grew and grew until it revealed the true number of fairies. There were thousands.
A couple of years later a newspaper ran a story about the fairies but instead of sticking to the facts (the what?) they made the claim that there were tens of thousands of fairies dancing at the bottom of gardens at midnight. As you can imagine, this excited the imaginations of quite a lot of people. The interest was so great that a group of fairy investigators set about capturing these dances on film (something that had never been done before). And they were hugely successful. And everyone was thrilled. Then one day a guy who had previously exposed Little Red Riding Hood and Snow White as hoaxes revealed the truth. The investigators, by their own admission (they were stupid enough to write it down in an internal report), hadn’t filmed a single fairy. They’d made it up, just like the original researchers had made it up and just like the newspaper had made its story up. Did anyone care? Not really. When challenged, the investigators said that fairies did actually exist, it was just really difficult to find the evidence and that the fairies were cunning and were always one step ahead (of anyone and everything, especially fairy investigators). They were demonstrating that they were suffering from cognitive dissonance (that’s the investigators, not the fairies) something I like to talk through and demonstrate to the students when I have the time (not today).
The truth is that I don’t remember (as always) many of the questions which followed, but I do know that there were quite a few about fairies. One question I have, though, is this. Why do good people lie in order to win an argument, why do they lie just to get their way? Is it simply a question of the end justifying the means?
I also remember a brief conversation I had after the formal session. One of the women commented that she’d approached this whole issue from a liberal point of view, in a sort of live and let live sort of way. If women were engaging in prostitution freely and no harm was being done, let it be. These are my words, incidentally, not hers. Then she went on to say that she was surprised at how much prejudice she was actually bringing to the situation: “I believe tI hold liberal views, but when I saw the women in the windows I found myself having negative, dark thoughts.” I found that very interesting. And if there had been more time I think I could have shed some light on that apparent contradiction. As it is, I’ll probably work that conversation into my next talk (the indications are that there will be one later in the year).
A final thought. The ‘reasons’ for continuing to visit prostitutes aren’t complicated to the point of being intellectually challenging but they aren’t straightforward. There are a variety of reasons. But one I neglected to mention is that while visiting prostitutes isn’t illegal (where I do it), it is very, very naughty. And as someone who sticks to the rules, takes ‘keep off the grass’ and sticks to the ‘keep right’ signs, etc., very seriously and feels very uncomfortable turning up late for an appointment, I get quite a kick out this particular naughtiness.
The Post-meeting Q & A Q & A!
I don’t always get to talk to individuals after the presentation and Q & A session, but on this occasion I was able to exchange a few words with some of the audience. I got the impression that there might be several who had questions that they thought more suitable for a one-to-one so when I got home I mailed the course tutor and explained that I’d be pleased to answer questions via this blog. She took up the offer and this is what she sent back.
Meanwhile, as the students will be aware, some of my responses can be unexpectedly long. That’s because (in my mind) this topic doesn’t lend itself to easy answers and glib responses. However, I’ll try to keep it manageable. And if I do give a few short answers, be assured I’m not being dismissive, it’s just that for once I’ve been tossed a question which lends itself to brevity (thanks for that!).
This Q & A will be removed Saturday 8th June 2017
This Q & A has been redacted