For people who are still being exploited in prostitution…negative effects of the [sex purchase] ban…must be viewed as positive from the perspective that the purpose of the law is…to combat prostitution. - “An Evaluation of the Ban Against the Purchase of Sexual Services” (AKA The Skarhed Report)
Today is the tenth annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, which as I explained in last year’s column for the event, is…
…intended to call attention to the violence committed against whores by sociopaths, bad customers and especially the police…violence which is largely engendered and enabled by criminalization and the marginalization which grows from it. In recent years, some of the worst and most widespread violence against us has sprung from sex trafficking hysteria; the propaganda which drives this moral panic paints all prostitutes as pathetic, childlike victims suffering from mental illnesses which render us unable to make decisions for ourselves, thus justifying our abduction, imprisonment, deportation, robbery and rape. And though the actual violence is most often perpetrated on us by men, many of the chief enablers of the outrage are women: namely, the neofeminist prohibitionists who use us as scapegoats onto which they can project their own sick fantasies of gender war.
Nowhere is this more evident than in “end demand” campaigns such as the Swedish model and “sting” operations predicated upon “trafficking” mythology. “End demand” tactics disguise their backers’ inherent misogyny by aggressively persecuting male customers instead, even to the point of misrepresenting arrested transgender hookers as “clients”. “End demand” and Swedish model proponents ignore both history and economics (despite the pretense that the approach is based in economic theory), and respond to copious evidence that the approach harms sex workers by denying it, insisting that the harm is actually good (see epigram), or simply dismissing it as a “price worth paying” for their fanatical dream of a society in which sex is entirely under government control. Whether their motivation is violent misandry, self-hatred, plain tyranny or even vengeance (the ex-husband of a certain ultra-wealthy “end demand” backer is known to have been a frequent client of expensive call girls), the result is the same: normal male sexuality is demonized, a natural and pragmatic female response to it is pathologized, and governments are given yet another excuse for crushing individual rights under a bloated police state.
The observance was originally established by Dr. Annie Sprinkle, Stacy Swimme, Michael Foley and the late Robyn Few as a memorial for the victims of Gary Ridgeway, but quickly grew into a time for remembering all sex workers victimized by the violence which is a direct and predictable result of any form of criminalization, including Swedish-style client criminalization. Until sex workers’ right to own and control our own bodies and make our own choices is recognized in the US, sex workers in many countries whose governments are bullied by American threats and bribed by American money will never be free from organized violence. Only rights can stop the wrongs, and those rights can only be achieved by official recognition of the fact that sex workers are not intrinsically different from other adults and that sex work is work.