They’re parroting back what they’ve been told to say, as actors do, and they got their names in the headlines, as actors like. – Mistress Matisse
Just in case you somehow missed it on Tuesday, and in my news column on Wednesday:
Amnesty International has at long last come out in support of absolute decriminalization of sex work, as sex workers ourselves have wanted for decades. Amnesty has a tremendous amount of clout; this will strongly affect small countries, and even in big countries like the US some politicians may now begin to doubt the wisdom of backing laws that allow the cops to persecute adults for consensual sex. It will also undermine the prohibitionists’ arguments; they can no longer pretend that their views are common-sense and mainstream…
Here’s a video from Amnesty, answering the propaganda attacks prohibitionists have hurled at the organization in the past few weeks:
Sex workers all over the world were jubilant; tens of thousands of tweets went out in minutes. I retweeted many of them, texted Mistress Matisse, called Matt to tell him; the news spread like wildfire through the demimonde, and many a cheer and victory dance ensued. But as you might suspect, there was no joy in the Mudville occupied by prohibitionists; the ones on Twitter who dared to show their faces at all tried to piss on sex workers (without negotiation, consent or payment), only to be chased back to their troll-caves. The staunchly prohibitionist New York Times huffed,
…The proposal…provoked an aggressive lobbying campaign by international groups opposed to sparing buyers and pimps from penalties. Competing petitions were organized by women’s groups and celebrities— including former President Jimmy Carter…appealing to the group to…“stay true to its mission”…
It’s rather telling that the prohibitionists, including the senile evangelical Carter, are so blinded by their bigotry that they can’t see that Amnesty is staying true to its mission, which has always opposed criminalization of non-violent consensual behavior. Of course, the Times couldn’t be bothered to ask any uppity whores for our opinions; rather, it quoted prohibitionists foaming at the mouth about “pimps”:
“It is a myth about the happy prostitute who does this as a free choice. Unfortunately, I can now hear people saying ‘hurrah’ — all those johns and pimps who run the brothels. It’s a multibillion-euro industry.”
For those who have been asleep for the past few years, prohibitionists pretend that all the millions of sex workers who ask for decriminalization are disguised “pimps and johns”, or else poor victimized drug addict women with “Stockholm syndrome”. Stockholm, you know, like in Sweden. The Guardian was even worse:
…Many former sex workers have criticised the decision. “We feel that Amnesty International are supporting the men who are killing our women and it’s a slap in the face,” said Bridget Perrier, [a disgruntled former sex worker]…Fiona Broadfoot, [a former teen runaway, pretends that]…“The vast majority of women working in this industry are abused on a massive scale…Legalising it will not take away that abuse”…Broadfoot is a strong advocate for the Nordic model…Rachel Moran, [a paid shill for the violent prohibitionist group Ruhama who has never actually done sex work]…called the…decision “breathtakingly disgraceful”…
Yes, they quoted three prohibitionist “survivors” and not one single current sex worker. But as I’ve pointed out before, The Guardian is in business to make money, and so was happy to also carry this:
…criminalising sex workers contributes to their vulnerability to violence, exploitation, and HIV. Evidence from New Zealand and New South Wales…reveals that [decriminalization]…led to increased use of sexual health services…encouraged greater condom use and yielded fewer reports of harassment by police. Conversely research shows that countries that continue to prosecute sex workers have higher HIV rates, increased stigma and discrimination, increased violence and abuse against…sex workers, and limited access to health services and condoms. At the Elton John Aids Foundation, we continue to support organisations fighting for sex workers’ rights…We stand with Amnesty, and applaud it for its wise and bold approach.
That was written by the Foundation’s head, Scott Campbell, but given the number of songs he’s written about sex workers I suspect it closely mirror’s Sir Elton’s own sentiments. And because I’m not a prohibitionist, I’m going to close with the words of an actual, current sex worker, my dear friend Mistress Matisse:
…Phrases like “pimping” have a heavy sound—but technically if I call a friend and say, “I have a client who wants to see both of us—come on over,” that’s pimping. When I was 24 years old I managed a massage parlor…I was not coercing or harming anyone, but I was technically and legally a pimp…There are…bad and abusive husbands and boyfriends but we don’t outlaw marriage. There are bad abusive bosses in non-sex work jobs…In a decriminalized system a sex worker with an abusive pimp can go to the police and complain. And in countries where sex work has been decriminalized—Australia and New Zealand—that happens now…There are all sorts of institutions, and all sorts of legal employers, that harm women but there no other jobs that we point to say say, “The women doing that job have to be arrested—and arresting them is rescuing them!”
Fortunately, the world’s most respected human rights organization is not afraid to say that infantilizing sex workers and criminalizing our choices is bullshit; let’s hope some politicians (even in the deeply prohibitionist US) begin to recognize that the wind is shifting, and decide to stand with Amnesty and sex workers as we look toward the future and away from the fear of consensual sex.