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The Naked Anthropologist · Street prostitution | Sex work | Vans | France | Italy | The Naked Anthropologist

Dans la camionnette: Money-sex exchange inside vans: Italy, France

Commentators and laws make a crude distinction between indoor and outdoor prostitution, as though there were something essentially different in their natures. The photo below comes from Lyons, France; the short description from Paola Tabet is about an experience in northern Italy. In both countries, street prostitution is allowed whilst indoor sex businesses are prohibited and ‘street prostitution’ sometimes means money and sex exchanged inside vans. So which is sex in cars, inside or outside? Here Tabet reports the silent efficiency of one kind of sex-money exchange. [English translation below]

La banalité de l’échange. Entretien avec Paola Tabet pour Mathieu Trachman, Genre, sexualité et societé, n°2, 2009

Tabet: J’ai été dans la camionnette quand elles travaillaient, c’était assez marrant et parfois même lumineux. Là j’ai eu en effet l’illustration de ce qu’elles veulent dire quand elles déclarent : « Nous, au client, nous ne donnons rien ». Donc à un moment un client habituel, un homme d’un certain âge, arrive : « Bonjour !» « Bonjour, ça va ? » Il monte dans la camionnette. Moi j’étais assise devant, j’entendais tout. Au début, la fille lui dit: « T’as vendu ta vieille voiture ? », il lui répond « oui ». Elle lui demande de baisser ou d’ouvrir son pantalon et lui donne le préservatif, on entend le camion bouger pendant un moment, puis elle reprend : « et combien on t’a donné pour la voiture ? » C’étaient pratiquement les seuls mots échangés.

I have been in the van when they were working, it was rather funny and sometimes even brilliant. There I actually had the illustration of what [sex workers] mean when they say ‘We give nothing to the client.’ Then at one point an habitual client, a man of a certain age, arrives. ‘Hello.’ ‘Hello, how are you?’ He gets in the van. I was seated in the front, I could hear everything. At the beginning, the girl says to him ‘Have you sold your old car?’ He replies ‘yes’. She asks him to lower or open his trousers and she gives him the condom, you could feel the truck move for a moment, then she continues ‘and how much did they give you for the car?’ They were practically the only words exchanged.


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