I’m nobody, who are you? - Emily Dickinson
It’s a kind of black joke among sex workers that everyone is an expert in our lives except us. That poorly-named, rare quality called “common sense” would tell anyone who possessed it that in order to understand what any given profession, trade, lifestyle or other social phenomenon is actually like, one must talk to those who actually live it. But because so-called “common sense” is anything but common, all too many fools are all too ready to listen to people who have never done sex work, yet proclaim themselves experts in our lives. What’s worse, they insist that they know them better than we do, that we are suffering from “false consciousness” and are therefore unfit to talk about what sex work is like…unless we agree with them, of course, at which point we instantly and miraculously become experts not only in our own experiences, but those of all other sex workers of every background, type and temperament in every country in the world.
And so, barely the week passes that we don’t see some new, self-appointed “sex trafficking” expert crawl out from under a rock, seeking to gobble up as much attention and money as possible before the hysteria ends. Interestingly, when these “experts” first appear, they often make unorthodox statements; before too long, however, they fall into line with the catechism, and nobody ever notices that they’ve changed their tunes. Here’s an example of one of these hyenas; I’ve chosen to feature her not only to demonstrate the rhetorical shift I mentioned and to highlight the nonsense these revolting opportunists vomit out, but also to share a rare example of whores being able to orchestrate an effective rebuttal to one of the yellow articles which mindlessly parrot the dogma. Her name is Lindsey Roberson, and I’m sure everyone reading this totally believes that her sex appeal had absolutely nothing to do with obtaining a spotlight for her wicked crusade against other women who use their sex appeal to make a living:
The elemental difference between sex trafficking and freelance prostitution is in who has the control and who is keeping the money, Roberson says. If a girl or a woman is being forced or coerced by a pimp to perform sex acts without monetary gain, that’s trafficking…Educating law enforcement, injecting hope for victims of sex trafficking and fear for the perpetrators of it in North Carolina has become 31-year-old Roberson’s mantle…[she helped write]…the…Safe Harbor bill…[that] would allow prostituted women to wipe their records clean…and…instill harsher penalties for pimps…the North Carolina Coalition to Combat Human Trafficking ranks North Carolina in the top 10 states for the problem. The convergence of three major highways connecting much of the East Coast, the state’s large transient military population, agricultural roots, and ports…all make it attractive to traffickers, Roberson says…Roberson’s interest in trafficking started with…New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and articles he wrote about sex trafficking…she…is also on the board of a new faith-based effort…called the Centre of Redemption…“Prostitution is not just the oldest profession…it’s the oldest oppression, and it has to stop.”
This hodgepodge is a lot more telling to those of us who are actual experts than Roberson might like. Of course there’s North Carolina’s unusually-idiotic entry in the King of the Hill competition (which bizarrely claims that low-population areas are especially attractive to “traffickers”), but we’ve seen that one before. No, the really interesting part is that though she’s solidly a fundie (who claims God wants her to persecute people), she’s “inspired” by arch-“progressive” nanny-state cheerleader Nick Kristof and is happy to use neofeminist terms and slogans, thus demonstrating once again the absurdity of the artificial “left-right” framework and showing that puritans will get into bed with anybody to advance their war on consensual sex. But though back in July Roberson admitted that many prostitutes were in the trade of our own free will and even seemed to imply we’re the majority, somebody must have “corrected” her because by late August she was saying this:
…Roberson adds that public misconceptions about sex trafficking are also part of the problem. ”There’s this myth of choice, that a woman chooses to get into this. Find me a college educated, well adjusted woman who’s had tons of opportunities in her life, who understands what a healthy relationship is and who’s actually experienced one and then chooses to sell her body for sex. Nobody does that. These people are coming from situations of desperation.”
The rest of the article is the usual “300,000 children-average age of entry is 13-Backpage is evil-selling their bodies” idiocy, right down to the Profession of Faith. But for some reason Roberson’s vile attempt to slander nearly every sex worker I know, her wicked attempt to erase us from existence, her disgusting declaration that I either don’t exist or am a liar, really pissed me off. So I commented on the story and then went onto Twitter to ask others to do the same: the result is an unbroken string of 11 women, mostly university-educated, repudiating Roberson’s claims. If any of you reading this haven’t added yours yet, please do so; we want everyone who reads that story to see the truth right next to Roberson’s lies. Will it do any good? Probably not discernibly so. But minds are changed one at a time, and I know I’ve changed many with this blog and via Twitter. If even a couple of people reading that story see through the “trafficking” scam because of those comments, the slight effort we had to expend was well worth it. And one day, after the hysteria collapses and we’ve repeated this sort of action umpteen thousand more times, the public will at last collectively come to realize that even if they don’t like our choices, they were ours to make and no mythic “pimps” or cartoon-villain clients forced us into them.