Dublins Writers Museum
I was over the moon when one of my favourite bloggers asked me if I wanted to do a guest post on his blog. Then I realised I had to both come up with something to write about and then I have to actually write it (what have I gotten myself into?). I ended up deciding to give a recommendation for a great place to visit if you are a fan of literature.
Ireland’s Capital Dublin is one of my favourite cities. I’ve been there quite a few times both as a regular tourist and to go over to visit friends and family. Some of whom think I should get a job with their tourist board seeing as it never rains when I’m there so I might be a little biased. As a tourist there are loads to do and see. Dublin has the nicest pubs, the Guinness Museum, the Jameson Distillery, if you decide to do a hop-on-hop-off tour of the city you’ll get to ride through a city that has a lot of literary history.
Right off O’Connell Street, the main shopping street in Dublin on 18 Parnell Square North is the Dublin Writers Museum. It’s inside a lovely Gregorian house. The moment you get in there you are hit with an atmosphere at all the literary genius that the museum presents to you and the artifacts they have collected since opening in 1991.
360 degree view of the gallery
I plugged in the headphones I was given when I got in the door and I immediately entered the magical world of the Irish writers. You wander through the history, life and works of Irish writers like Keats, Yeats, Beckett, Stoker, Joyce, Swift, Wilde, Doyle and many many more. They truly have a wonderful collection of different artifacts from the different writers and the voice-over gives you a lot of information about the writers and the times they lived and did their writing in. The collection of artifacts are mainly downstairs, and here there is also a little cafe. Upstairs there is a wonderful room filled up with shelves of books and a lovely gallery where they sometimes hosts literary events.
I want to end my post not only urging you to visit this lovely little gem of a museum if you should find yourself in Dublin with some time on your hands, but also with a poem that never stops striking a nerve with me:
He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams
-William Butler Yeats
Source: http://www.dublintourist.com/details/dublin-writers-museum.shtml, http://www.visitdublin.com/dublin-a-to-z/details/dublin-writers-museum/31258/#53.354366|-6.263985|16, http://ireland-calling.com/he-wishes-for-the-cloths-of-heaven/
Moran’s experiences as a street prostitute and, later an escort has lead the author to advocate that Ireland and other nations introduce the Swedish model under which people who pay for sex are criminalised while prostitutes are offered assistance to leave the trade. In Moran’s view men who purchase sex are abusing women and take positive delight in doing so. Abuse is by it’s very nature unacceptable and those who buy women’s bodies should be named and shamed.
Having just read Moran’s book I was unsurprised by what she says in the above mentioned article in the Irish Times. However the comments from those who are either (or have been engaged) in the sex industry which follow on from the article are of interest. Other prostitutes and those with knowledge of the industry question Moran’s perspective that prostitution is necessarily exploitative. She is accused by one lady in particular of misrepresenting the effectiveness of the Swedish Law on Prostitution in preventing the trade. The commenter further contends that in contrast to what Moran states the Swedish approach makes the lives of prostitutes harder than was the case prior to the introduction of the legislation.
In my short story, The First Time we meet Becky a young student who enters the world of prostitution as an escort in order to pay off her credit card bill. The psychological effects of working in the sex industry on both Becky and her fellow escort and Friend Julie are examined as are the ladies interactions with their clients. No doubt Rachel Moran would see the fictional Becky as being exploited by Mike, the first man who purchases her services as an escort. However Mike does not threaten Becky either verbally or physically. In fact Julie informs her friend that there are clients “much worse than Mike Carter” and goes on to describe an encounter with a client who wanted her to pretend to be his teenage daughter.
Moran has understandably been deeply traumatised by her participation in prostitution, however whether she can speak on behalf of all prostitutes is, to my mind a debatable question as is exemplified by the comments generated in response to the above article and memoirs of other prostitutes which do not paint the same picture as Moran. Whatever one’s views on the issue of prostitution I’d recommend reading Moran’s book. As it provides a fascinating portrayal from one lady’s perspective on the oldest profession.
I am currently reading “Paid For: My Journey Through Prostitution: One Brave Woman’s Account of the Violence that is Prostitution [Kindle Edition], by Rachel Moran (see http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00C7735X8?ie=UTF8&ref_=oce_digital). The author grew up with two mentally ill parents. Her father committed suicide when she was still a young girl. Rachel’s mother’s schizophrenia worsened following his death leading to increased pressure on Rachel and the other children of the family to grow up before their time. For example the author relates how she had to collect her younger sister from the hospital unaccompanied by her mother while still a young child.
The pressure cooker environment leads to Rachel leaving home in her early teens. She moves from hostel to hostel experiencing periods of homelessness in between. Due to hunger she turns to shop lifting but not being adept at it frequently ends up in the local police stations.
At the age of 15 Rachel’s 21-year-old boyfriend suggests that she enters prostitution. Believing that sex work will empower her Rachel agrees to this suggestion and at the age of 15 enters street prostitution.
I am under half way through the book and have therefore not formed a view as to it’s overall merits. What I can say is that Rachel Moran knows how to string a sentence together and that the reader feels compelled to agree with her assessment that given her chaotic childhood the author’s entry into prostitution was predictable (I don’t think that one can say inevitable).
I will post a full review once I have finished reading Moran’s book.
In February 2012 I published Samantha which tells the story of a young girl forced into prostitution in the English city of Liverpool by her brutal pimp Barry (see http://newauthoronline.com/my-books/). Samantha is subjected to horrific psychological and physical abuse. It is touch and go as to whether she will survive or end her days in the murky waters of Liverpool’s Albert Docks.
Not everyone shares Moran’s view that criminalising the purchasers of sex is the answer. It has been argued by opponents of the Swedish model that criminalising sex buyers means that clients who come across a person who is underage or who has been trafficked will be less likely to report the matter to the authorities than is presently the case. (In the UK it is not currently illegal to pay for sex but anyone who purchases services from someone who has been compelled into prostitution is guilty of a crime irrespective of whether he new that the prostitute was being coerced). Were the law to be further tightened buyers would according to this perspective be less inclined than at present to report their suspicions owing to fears of arrest due to paying for sex, potentially leading to more (not less) exploitation.
Another argument advanced against criminalising people who buy sex is that not all sex workers are forced into prostitution. In my story, The First Time we meet Becky a young graduate who enters the world’s oldest profession in order to clear her credit card debts. She fears being made homeless as a consequence of not being able to meet her bills and turns to escorting as a means of making money easily and quickly. Becky feels compelled by circumstances to become a sex worker however there is no brutal pimp, as in Samantha coercing her into sex work. Would it be right to punish men (and women) who purchase sex from escorts like Becky who have entered prostitution voluntarily? In response to that question proponents of the Swedish approach will respond that no one truly chooses to enter prostitution, they feel compelled to do so by circumstances which are often beyond their control. It is in other words a choice in theory only. Others will reply that not all who face the financial difficulties of Becky in The First Time choose to go down the route of selling their body, consequently Becky does, in the final analysis make a decision of her own free will to enter sex work.